The O'Hara connection
Patrick O'Hara (1822-1893)

Patrick, we believe, is the second of three O'Hara brothers from County Sligo, Ireland, who came to America in the mid-19th century. After arriving in Ameica, Patrick O'Hara and his wife, Mary Freeman (1824-1899), lived for awhile in Mottville, New York, a community in the town of Skaneateles, then moved to Wisconsin, where they remained for 12 years before returning to Central New York.

According to the 1875 New York State Census, Mary and Patrick O'Hara had six children. Three of their sons would settle a few miles northeast of Skaneateles in the village of Camillus where they would become promininent in civic and social affairs.

The children of Mary and Patrick O'Hara:

1. John P. O'Hara (1850-1927) m. Catherine Durkan (1859-1937)

Syracuse Journal, June 13, 1927
John P. O’Hara, former president of the village of Camillus and proprietor of the O’Hara Hotel in that village, died early Monday morning after an illness of several months.

Born in Mottville, April 19, 1850, a son of Mr and Mrs. Patrick O’Hara, he moved with his parents to Lowell, Wisconsin, that same year. When 16 years of age they moved to Skaneateles to live. While in that village he engaged with his brothers, Michael J. and James W. O’Hara, in the cooperage business.

In 1885 he married Catherine Durkan of Skaneateles, and in 1891 the three brothers left Skaneateles to live in Camillus, where they engaged in the coal and cooperage business.

In 1907 Mr. O’Hara retired from that firm and bought a hotel, of which he was proprietor until the time of his illness.

From 1909 to 1919 Mr. O’Hara was president of that village. He was a communicnt of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, from where the funeral services will take place.

Surviving are his widow, Mrs. Catherine Durkan O’Hara; a son, William O’Hara; three daughters, Miss Louise O’Hara, Mrs. Frederick Donohue and Mrs. Frank Murray; three brothers, Michael J. and James W. O’Hara, all of Camillus,, and Thomas F. O’Hara of Newark.

John P. O'Hara and Catherine Durkan had four children:

Mary O'Hara (1891-1934) m. Frederick Donahue (1891- ) in 1923.

Louise C. Donahue (1924-1988) m. Clayton L. Dutton (1919-1979). They lived in Elbridge, NY, where she was active in the Republican party. He was a truck driver for Onondaga Supply Company and a member of the Elbridge Fire Department.
Judith Dutton m. Richard Strazzere
Elizabeth M. Donahue (1926-1993) m. Anthony Alesia. She worked in the accounting department at Sears Roebuck & Company.
Rick Alexia Home: Liverpool, NY

William H. O'Hara (1893-1937) He died in December, three weeks after attending the funeral of his mother. He was a resident of Mechanicsville, NY.

William H. O'Hara Jr. (1928- )

Elizabeth G. O'Hara (1895-1938) m. J. Frank Murray (1899- ) Home: Syracuse

Jane M. Murray (1926- )
Mary Lou Murray (1929- )
Ann Murray (1931- )
John (Jack) Murray (1934- )

Louise C. O'Hara (1897- ) m. John Varley. Home: Mechanicsville (1937) After the death of her brother, William, his son, William H. O'Hara Jr., lived with Louise Varley.


2. Margaret O'Hara (1852-1899) married James May (1854-1919) of Skaneateles. Admittedly there's a bit of guesswork involved. For sure a woman listed in Skaneateles records as Maggie O'Hara married James May in 1892. Apparently May had lost his first wife, Hattie Kelse of Harrison Valley, Pennsylvania, after they had had three children.

May was a railroad engineer and he lived in Corning, New York. Some time after he married Margaret O'Hara they moved to Lyons, New York, where she died in June 1899. The Corning Journal wrote that she died "of paralysis," which might indicate polio, which was perhaps the most dreaded disease of that period.

In those days small-town newspapers kept readers up to date on the comings and going of area residents, and James May's name shows up several times for visits he and his children made to the home of his late wife's cousin, J. T. (John Thomas) O'Hara of Skaneateeles. The 1910 United States Census has Mary O'Hara, the unmarried sister of J. T. O'Hara, living with James May and his three children in the role of housekeeper. The children of James May:

James H. May (1886-1919 ). James May moved to Skaneateles about 1917, perhaps to be closer to the O'Hara family. By this time his son James was living in Ashtabula, Ohio. James May Sr. died two years later, on November 13, 1919. The Skaneateles Free Press reported that his death resulted from injuries he had received a few years earlier in a railroad accident.

Harry May (1888- ) settled in Corning,

Florence L. May (1890- ). Florence May lived in Newton, Massachusetts.


3. James W. O'Hara (1854- ) married Catherine (Katie) Griffin (1861-1921). They had one child:

Lloyd O'Hara (1900-1983) m. Emily Vertigan (1904-1989). Lloyd was a well-known pitcher in Camillus in the 1920s, presumably on a town team that played similar outfits from several Central New York towns. His nickname was "Fanny," which might have grown out of a nickname I spotted in a few news items from the 1920s, all in reference to pitching. He was the town clerk of Camillus from 1942 to 1963. A year later he and Emily moved to Brantingham, a lakeside community in Adirondack Park. Emily Vertigan was a native of Gananoque, Canada. Her family moved to Solvay, NY, where she graduated from high school. Lloyd and Emily O'Hara had four children:

Elizabeth O'Hara (1925-2011) m. Robert Smith (1920-1981)
James O'Hara (1928- ) m. Anne B. Sherry (1931- )
Anne B. Sherry was the youngest of four children in a rather amazing family.
Donald O'Hara (1929-2003) m. Barbara A. Benedict. Donald O'Hara, a graduate of Camillus High School, served in the U. S. Navy during the Korean War. He worked for O'Hara Coal Company in Camillus and graduated from the Syracuse Police Academy in 1956, at which time he joined the Camillus Police Department, serving as chief from 1963-71. Later he worked for Niagara Mohawk in Syracuse. After retiring, he and his wife lived in Brantingham, NY, where he died and was buried.
John R. O'Hara m. Carol ?? Home: Camillus, NY
Joseph P. O'Hara m. Bridgett ?? Home: Norfolk, VA
Mark C. O'Hara m. Karen ??Home: Raleigh, NC
Jeanne M. O'Hara m. Martin Bailey. Home: Onondaga Hill, NY
Maureen A. O'Hara m. Thomas Beckerman. Home: Virginia Beach, VA
David O'Hara (1936- ) m. Fanny Sternberg
Thomas O'Hara
Richard O'Hara
Daniel O'Hara
Kelly O'Hara
Heather O'Hara

4. Anna M. O'Hara (1857- ) married Frank McWilliams ( ??-1942) in 1895. They lived in Camillus for several years, then moved to Syracuse. He died in 1942. Date of her death is unknown, though it was before 1927, and very likely was before 1920. They had no children


5. Michael J. O'Hara (1858-1934) married Anna J. Major (1863-1931).

Marcellus Observer, September 5, 1934
M. J. O'Hara, who was recently stricken by a shock, passed away at his home in Camillus Saturday evening, Sept. 10, at 10 p.m. In the death of Mr. O’Hara, Camillus has lost one of its leading citizens, one who has done as much for the welfare of the village as any one man.

He was born in Dodge County, Wisconsin, on Sept. 29, 1858. There he spent his early life, coming to Skaneateles Falls in 1884, where he was interested in a cooper shop and in 1890 opened a cooper shop in Camillus, where he manufactured apple barrels. He was also in the coal business, which business he has continued.

During the $9 million improvement of the old canal, he had a boat loading contract and employed many men and teams.

In 1910 Mr. O’Hara opened a garage using his old cooper shop for such purpose and became an agent for Ford. This he continued up to the time of his death.

Mr. O’Hara established the bus route from Camillus to Syracuse in 1918 and continued it until it was taken over by the New York State Railway.

In 1926 Mr. O’Hara felt he should branch out and went to Syracuse, where he with his sons opened a salesroom for Ford vehicles and continued until the depression forced him to give up that business, but he has continued his gas and garage business here with the aid of his sons.

Mr. O’Hara was a school director for a number of years and was instrumental in the erection of the present school building. He also had a part in the organization of the Camillus Bank and was one of its first Vice Presidents and a member of its loan committee. He was a holder of much real estate in the Camillus village.

Mr. O’Hara married Anne Jane Major of Skaneateles Falls, who died several years ago. His death unquestionably was hastened by the sad death of his daughter, Loretta (Mrs. Paul Staats) just a few weeks ago.

He is survived by his two sons, Charles and Joseph O’Hara, and one daughter, Mrs. L. J. Edwards of Syracuse and several grandchildren. Two brothers, James of Camillus and Thomas of Newark also survive.

Funeral services were held from St. Joseph’s Church Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. where a high mass of requiem as celebrated. Burial was in St. Mary’s cemetery at Skaneateles Falls. B. L. Bush & Son were in charage of arrangements.

One of the most interesting family members, Michael J. O'Hara married Anna J. Major (1863-1931), a daughter of Charles and Margaret (Mallon) Major. Michael J. and Anne (Major) O'Hara had five children:

Charles P. O'Hara (1892-1958) m. Elizabeth Connors (1893-1972)

Charles Richard O'Hara (1921-1994) m. Josephine ?? (1922-2004) He was better known by his middle name.
Michael J. O'Hara m. Catherine Arlene Thurston. Home: Jordan
Charles Patrick O'Hara (1952-1994)
Rev. Daniel J. O'Hara
Thomas O'Hara m. Eileen LaFleur. Home: Brockport
Brian A. O'Hara
Robert E. O'Hara (1922-1942)
Anne Jane O'Hara (1926- ) m. Edward Francis Kurtz
Alice B. O'Hara (1929-1959)

Joseph F. O'Hara (1894-1971) m. Margaret Caveny (1894-1988)

Auburn Citizen-Advertiser, November 12, 1971
Joseph F. O’Hara, 77, of 82 Genesee St., Camillus, a former member and president of the Camillus Board of Education, died Thursday at his home.

A life resident of Camillus, Mr. O’Hara was associated for many years with the O’Hara Insurance Agency Inc. Before that he was owner of O’Hara Motor Sales.

Mr. O’Hara served 21 years on the Camillus Board of Education, including six years as president. He was an Army veteran of World War I and had served in Europe.

He was a trustee of St. Joseph’s Church for more than 40 years and was a member of the Holy Name Society.

Marcellus Press-Observer, March 2, 1988
Margaret Caveny O’Hara, 93, formerly of West Genesee St., Camillus, died February 25.

Mrs. O'Hara was born in Warners and had resided in Camillus since 1925. She was a 1912 graduate of Warners High School and a graduate of the Jordan Training Class. Mrs. O’Hara was a former teacher in Memphis and Warners.

She was a member of St. Joseph’s Church and was a former president of its Altar and Rosary Society. She was also a member of the church’s Golden Agers.


Margaret and Joseph O'Hara had two children:

Arlene O'Hara (1926-2007) m. John F. "Jack" O'Connor (19??-1975)
According to her obituary in the Marcellus Observer (April 18, 2007), Arlene O'Hara O'Connor was born in Syracuse on July 3, 1926, daughter of Joseph F. O'Hara and Margaret E. Caveny.

She lived in Camillus most of her life. She was a 1943 graduate of Camillus High School and received a B.S. from Cornell University in 1947 and an M.S. in education from Syracuse University in 1965. She was an elementary school teacher for the West Genesee School District for 24 years.

A funeral mass at St. Joseph's Church was concelebrated by her grandson, the Rev. Joseph O'Connor and nephew, the Rev. Daniel O'Hara. Burial was in Maplewood Cemetery, Camillus. Survivors included seven children, 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Catherine O'Connor m. David Okoniewski, Fulton, NY
Patricia O'Connor m. Richard Drachenberg, Fulton
Mary O'Connor m. John Gokey, Marcellus
Joanne O'Connor m. Mark Balduzzi, Syracuse
Robert F. O'Connor (1948-2012) m. Eileen McArdell, Syracuse
Kevin O'Connor m. Jaime ???, DeWitt
Daniel O'Connor, Syracuse
John "Chuck" M. O'Connor m. Cathy ?? , Syracuse
Marty A. O'Connor m. Patricia ?? , Louisville, Colorado

Edward J. O'Hara (1928- ) m. Lucille McCarthy (1927-2011)
On July 14, 2011, the Syracuse Post-Standard ran a story about Camillus residents who were asked by members of the village's Maxwell Memorial Library to talk about life in their hometown. Among those quoted in the story was Ed O'Hara:

As a native of Camillus and now residing in Onondaga Hill, Ed O’Hara decided to share his stories about what life was like in the village when he was growing up. He spoke of playing basketball in barns and swimming in Nine Mile Creek as a child for entertainment. He recalled how the village sewer was dug by hand with picks and shovels in ’30s. His father had a coal business and uncle owned a Ford dealership.

Born in Camillus and a 1946 graduate of Camillus High School, located in what is now the senior housing on First Street in the village, O’Hara went on to graduate from Niagara University in 1950 and then was drafted. He served two years in the Army during the Korean War and was stationed in Munich, Germany. He returned home to Camillus, where he had an insurance business in the village for 40 years.

One of his fondest memories includes playing on the Camillus High School basketball team.

“We won the Section III state championships two years in a row in 1945 and ’46,” O’Hara said. “With only seven people on the team, it was kind of a miracle, but we actually had a good team.”

An obituary in the Syracuse Post-Standard said Lucille McCarthy O'Hara was a lifetime resident of the Camillus and Syracuse areas, graduated from Liverpool High School and Crouse-Irving Hospital School of Nursing, and was a former nurse with Bluto & Palmer Family Practice. She also was a member and past president of Camillus Business and Professional Women's Club.

Lucille and Edward O'Hara had eight children (and my hunch is that at least one of them played lacrosse at Syracuse University):

James O'Hara m. Gail ?? Home: Syracuse
William O'Hara m. Jean ?? Home: Skaneateles
Eileen O'Hara of Bradenton, Florida
Daniel O'Hara m. Sheila ?? Home: Rutland, Vermont
Timothy O'Hara m. Kristen ?? Home: Camillus
Michael O'Hara m. Louise ?? Home: Syracuse
Patrick O'Hara m. Robin ?? Home: Stamford, Connecticut
John O'Hara m. Jennifer ?? Home: Camillus

Margaret O'Hara (1895-1920)

Lucy Arlene O'Hara (1897- ) m. L. J. Edwards

Loretta B. O'Hara (1899-1934) m. Paul Staats (1893-1968)


6. Thomas O'Hara (1863-1936) m. Annie E. Hohl (1866-1926). They lived for awhile in Camillus, then settled in Newark, NY, about halfway between Syracuse and Rochester. There he operated a barber shop.

Bertha O'Hara (1892- )



Baldwinsville Messenger, March 19, 2003
The O’Hara family of Camillus
Ed and Arlene O’Hara have many fond memories of Camillus and, especially, the village. The only unpleasant memory they share goes back to June of 1934 or 1935.

At that time, an auto came down the west hill out of control. It struck their father’s vehicle, driving their car up onto the curb in front of the Market Basket Grocery Store. Ed and Arlene, who at the time were waiting in the car for their father, were about 5 and 7 years old. Luckily, neither was injured, but their car was totally demolished.

Through the years, Ed and Arlene have been very strong and active members of St. Joseph’s Church. Arlene serves as Eucharistic minister and trustee.

Ed has served as trustee in the present church and his father served as a trustee in the old church in the village.

Ed and Arlene have always made it a point to attend village-wide functions, whether sponsored by their church or another in the village.

From 1983 to 1985, Arlene served as president of the Camillus Business Professional Women. Ed, in turn, served on the Camillus Town Board for six years. In the past, Ed has also served as president of the Maxwell Memorial Library and commander of VFW Post 8664. Arlene is also a member of the Camillus Historical Society and the Erie Canal Park.

Charles O’Hara served on the board of Camillus Bank, Lloyd O’Hara served as town clerk for many years and Donald O’Hara was the first full-time police chief for the town of Camillus.

Joseph F. O’Hara died in 1975. His wife, Margaret Caveny, died in 1988. They are buried in St Mary’s Cemetery in Skaneateles.

The O’Hara garage is gone. After being vastly remodeled, Pasco has their business at this site.

The home that once was located on the corner of Genesee and South streets is also gone. The Camillus Animal Hospital has been located at this site for many years.

We can be thankful that, in early years, the O’Hara Bros. chose the village as a place to establish their business. What they did, as a large family group, will long be remembered.

Editor’s note: Ralph Sims is a member of the Camillus Historical Society.