"The Quietest One of All" - Patrick Hanley (1887-1937)

What happens to the quietest ones of all in our family trees? Who will be there to tell their stories?

By all accounts Patrick Hanley (1887-1937) was a quiet and well liked man. This is his story, with a first hand audio account from people who knew him.


Patrick Hanley (1887-1937)

Patrick Hanley (1887-1937) is my 2nd great uncle. He was an older brother to my great grandfather, Michael John Hanley (1890-1964).

Patrick was born on May 10, 1887 near Houghton, Michigan. His father, also Patrick (1857-1923), was about 30 years old at the time and his mother, Ellen Sullivan/Kelly Hanley (1850-1938) was  about 37. He had four half siblings from his mother's first marriage. You read about one of his half brothers here: Blind Cornelius Kelly and the Beauty of Gaelic Prayer. He had seven full siblings, one of whom died infancy, and another at age 20. 

Here is the only photograph of Patrick that I have ever seen. He was a veteran of The World War (WWI) and he appears to be wearing his military uniform here. 

 Patrick Hanley (1987-1937)

Patrick Hanley (1987-1937)

Patrick never married and had no children. Census records indicate that he lived in Atlantic Mine, Michigan with his family of origin. He is listed on the 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 censuses. In the 1910 and 1930 censuses he is listed as a farmer, though this doesn't quite match up with any known family history.

About 10 years ago my father (Pat) interviewed his aunts (my great aunts) Beverly and Mary Ellen. Here is a clip of that portion of the interview where Beverly and Mary Ellen are talking about THEIR uncle (my 2nd great uncle) and the subject of this sketch, Patrick Hanley. You can follow along with the transcript below the clip.

The primary speaker is my great aunt Beverly. My father is asking the questions. My great aunt Mary Ellen also contributes. Beverly and Mary Ellen were two of my grandfather's sisters.

Here is a close approximation of the transcript.

Beverly:   Next Pat [Patrick, the subject of this sketch] was in the service. And he came home. And he died. He never married. Mary Ellen was his favorite. He liked Mary Ellen.

Mary Ellen:   He died of cancer in Mayos. [Mayo Clinic in Minnesota]

Beverly:   I think he turned jaundice and Mary Ellen said he died with cancer.

Pat:   Your mother and dad [my great grandparents] weren’t married yet?

Beverly:   No, No. Well, yeah, he was married by the time Pat died. Yeah…

[inaudible]

Mary Ellen:   I think uh Mike [my grandfather], your dad, Pat, and grandpa Hanley [my great grandfather] drove to Mayos when Uncle Pat was dying.

Beverly:   Oh, Okay. But dad was married at that time, wasn’t he? [asking Mary Ellen]

Mary Ellen:   Oh yeah. Mike was in grade school. The two of them went to Mayos.

Beverly:   I don’t remember Uncle Pat very much. In fact they said he was very, the quietest one of all. But, I don’t know who could have been quieter than my dad was…. So, anyhow, he liked Mary Ellen (chuckles).

The mention of the Mayo Clinic is consistent with information obtained from Patrick's obituary in the Ironwood Daily Globe (Michigan) on June 24, 1937.

The "Hanley Tavern" mentioned above serves as an important point of history and lore in our family. In fact, the front page of The Psychogenealogist features a cherished photograph of the tavern, a copy of which hangs prominently above the piano in my office.

 Hanley Tavern

Hanley Tavern

Our best guess is that John "Jack" Hanley (1885-1946) is the man tending bar in that photo. It seems likely that this photo was taken some time between the mid 1930s and mid 1940s.

Everyone who knew him was his friend and will mourn his untimely death.
— From the obituary of Patrick Hanley (1887-1937)

There is a lot more to learn about Patrick Hanley (1887-1937). But, I will leave his story here for now.

As you think about your own family trees, consider what happens to the stories of your quietest ancestors. What do their stories tell us and who will be left to tell them?


As I think about Patrick and my family tree I am reminded of the mission of The Psychologenealogist: Exploring the spaces where psychology, genealogy, and history converge - one story at a time. Here are some of the questions I have about Patrick:

Genealogy questions:

  • How did Patrick die? (I have ordered his death certificate from Minnesota.)
  • Where did he serve in World War I? (I have his WWI draft registration card, but no other military information.)

Psychology Questions:

  • How did Patrick become such an esteemed figure in the community?
  • How did my family deal with his traumatic and untimely death?
  • What impact did bereavement have on the immediate family and generations to follow?
  • Patrick's mother, Ellen Sullivan Hanley (1850-1938) died the following year. She was the matriarch of the family and her death marked an important generational transition. How did the surviving family members navigate this shift psychologically? 

This is the 5th of 52 weekly posts planned for 2018. It was inspired by the #52Ancestors writing challenge issued by professional genealogist, Amy Crow Johnson. The challenge: once a week, for all 52 weeks of the year, write about a relative in your family tree.