Ann Ellen (Sloan) O'Leary of Cleveland, Ohio

Ann Ellen Sloan was born about 1861, the daughter of James Sloan and Bridget Cunningham.1 She and Dennis Francis O'Leary were wed in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, on September 5, 1882. They were living at 1310 Broadway when their first child was born on June 16, 1883, or at about 4600 Broadway according to the current numbering system. By 1900 they had moved to Newman Ave off East 65th, where they remained at least until Dennis' death on February 11, 1920. Ann was living around the corner on East 65th when she died, July 15, 1939.

Ann and Dennis had nine children, four of whom lived to adulthood: Ann Ellen (born 1887), Dennis Charles (1893), Leo Cornelius (1896), and Mary Theresa (1899). Of these four only one had a child, namely Ann Ellen, who was mother to Dennis Stackhouse, born October 1911. And, from what I can tell, Dennis only had one child, a daughter born about 1938.

The Puzzle

Now apart from that straightforward summary, there is one mystery about Ann Ellen O'Leary, at least in my own mind. Here are the pieces of the puzzle that don't fit together:

  • When my mother's cousin, Nan (Gallagher) Fleming, researched our family history, she included a note next to Bridget Cunningham saying that she married a Sloan and that these were "Ellen O'Leary's parents." The Cunninghams were from Kilkeel, County Down, Ireland, probably from Ballymadeerfy townland.
  • Nan Gallagher evidently knew Ellen O'Leary and expected the rest of her family to know who she was referring to, since she didn't include any further explanation. So I am assuming that Ellen O'Leary was living near the Rodgers' clan in Cleveland.
  • Ros Davies' County Down Website, citing parish and civil records, lists a Bridget "Biddy" Cunningham of Kilkeel who married James Sloan May 20, 1846, at the Catholic church and was the mother of Bridget, born 1868, and Sarah, born 1871. This looks a lot like the same family that we have been discussing, since Ann Ellen Sloan was born before the Civil Registration of births began and wouldn't have been on those records.
  • However, the Ann Ellen (Sloan) O'Leary who lived in Cleveland almost always said she was born in Canada. But I didn't find her birth record in Canada, nor did I find her parents on the 1861 or 1871 censuses of Ontario or Quebec, nor the 1880 census of Cleveland. Nor did I find any border crossing records for any of them.

So is this the same Ellen O'Leary that Nan Gallagher included in our family tree as the daughter of Bridget Cunningham and James Sloan? If so, why does she say she was born in Canada? If it isn't the same person, it seems like a remarkable coincidence. Perhaps someone out there can provide the answer.


  1. The year of birth is only an average of her reported ages and years of birth on her records and her children's records. Her parents' names are found on her death record.

Other sources include censuses of Cleveland, Ohio Death Records at, and the Cleveland Necrology file. Detailed sources on request.