The Danahers

My aunt Carolyn sent me a lot of photos hoping to solve a mystery. In the hopes that perhaps someone might happen upon this blog and help me identify the pictures, I plan to write a series of posts about what I know of the photos. I am going to start with some photos I do have identified. Carolyn suspects the photos are from the same family of Kennedys. My great-great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Kennedy Bowling was a member of this family.

Michael Danaher was born in Maryland to Irish immigrant parents and married Adelia Parthenia Kennedy in 25 Jul. 1866 in Fayette County, Tennessee. In the 1880 census, his occupation is described as owner and superintendent of a shingle mill, and the family were living in Ludington, Mason County, Michigan. I should note that some of his son’s records identify Michael’s birthplace as Pennsylvania.

Michael Danaher
Photo identified as Michael Danaher

Their daughter May became an artist. Here is her picture.

May Danaher
May Danaher

Isn’t she beautiful? She was my great-great grandmother Stella Bowling Cunningham’s first cousin. In her diary, she recorded that cousin May gave her a breast pin as a wedding gift. Stella married Amos Blakey Cunningham on 30 May 1894. Stella’s mother Mary Elizabeth Kennedy Bowling was sister to May’s mother Adelia Parthenia Kennedy Danaher. The fact that the Bowlings and Danahers stayed close is demonstrated by the fact that Mary Elizabeth Kennedy Bowling named one of her sons Oliver Danaher Bowling. Sadly, the child only lived to the age of two. Mary Elizabeth Kennedy Bowling gave birth to eleven children, but six of them would die in childhood. Stella refers to her aunt Adelia Parthenia Kennedy Danaher as “Aunt Delia” in her diary. Mary and Delia were daughters of William Wesley Kennedy and Cynthia Walker Palmer. I’ve seen some erroneous information on family trees linking William Wesley Kennedy to a woman named Malinda Richardson. To my knowledge, he was never married to anyone else, and his wife’s name on census records is always given as some variation of the name Cynthia:

  • 1850 Census, Tippah County, MS: Cynthia W.
  • 1860 Census, Tippah County, MS: Cintha W.
  • 1870 Census, Lauderdale County, AL: C. W.

The Alabama Marriage Collection also has a record of his marriage to Cynthia W. Palmer on 10 Mar. 1840. A reminder to check your sources before attaching people to your tree, folks. This is how major confusion sets in.

May Danaher painted this summer landscape in 1924 (found via Artfull Eye Gallery):

May Danaher art

Here is cousin May with LulaBab Danaher (her name is given as Lulu Babb on the 1880 Census). I am not sure of the exact spelling of her name, as it is given several different ways: Lula Babb, Lulu Babb, Lula, and LulaBab being some variations.

May and LulaBab Danaher
May and LulaBab Danaher

Here is a picture of their brother Palmer, whose name likely derives from his grandmother’s maiden name:

Palmer Danaher
Palmer Danaher

Palmer’s age was given as two on the 1880 census, but his World War II draft card lists his date of birth as July 14, 1879. He looks about four or so here, I estimate this photo dates from about 1883 or 1884. I’m kind of curious about Palmer. The 1920 and 1930 censuses list him as a roomer in what looked to be some sort of large boarding house. His World War II draft card reveals this location to be the Hotel Pines. It was located on Main Street, Pine Bluff, AR. His occupation is given as lawyer. I wonder what he was doing living in that place. He was single, so it stands to reason that he did it as an expedient—someone to take care of the wifely duties he perhaps didn’t want to perform. He certainly lived there a long time. He is listed as living with his parents in 1910, but his World War I draft card dated 12 Sep. 1918 lists his residence as the Hotel Pines, so he lived there over 20 years at least.

This last photo is a mystery. It’s Kent Danaher, but I’m not sure who he is or how he’s connected to the rest of the Danahers, unless he is May, LulaBab, and Palmer’s brother Kennedy Danaher. I can only find him on the 1880 census, so I wonder if he might have died young. He definitely resembles Palmer in the face.


Kent Danaher
Kent Danaher
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14 thoughts on “The Danahers”

  1. Hello, I am a danaher descendant… from the city of toronto canada, my danahers are from limerick city… john dan(a)her and Jane Baines. Do you know where your Danahers are from back in Ireland? My mother mentioned several times from her mom that the danahers had kennedy/fitzgerald links.. just a hunch I am going on and need to know if we connect… fyi

    Paul Rutledge
    Toronto, Canada

    1. Hi Paul. I am not sure where they came from. The Danahers are only related to me by marriage—rather distant cousins. I just became interested in them because May Danaher was an artist of some note and my great-great-grandmother Stella frequently mentioned her Danaher relatives in her diary. As I learned more about them, I thought they were an interesting bunch. They may indeed have links to the Kennedy/Fitzgerald families; I don’t know. I can tell you that the Kennedy family they married into (Adelia Parthenia Kennedy Danaher) is NOT the same bunch of Kennedys, but their history is no less interesting for all that. 😉

  2. This is great! I was born in Pine Bluff son of James E. Danaher. Uncles Palmer and Walker Danaher had a law firm together in downtown Pine Bluff that my dad inherited. All of them Palmer, Lulabab, Walker and others are buried in Little Rock in one cemetery. I am one of six children and we all have some of May’s paintings. Would love to talk sometime.

    1. So glad to hear from you! I don’t know if you had the pictures I shared or not, but I’m glad you stopped by. I hope you have a chance to read Stella’s diary, too. She talks about her Danaher relatives in it.

  3. I have never seen these pictures before. How do I share more photos? I have pictures of the grave stones from the cemetary in Little Rock. Lula Bab’s gravestone has her name spelled this way.

    1. Well, you could send them to me via email dana dot huff at gmail dot com. If you like, I could then post them here. I would be grateful! Feel free to download the pictures I shared and share with your family. I assume my Aunt Carolyn inherited them and that they had originally been given either to Stella or to her parents.

  4. Thank you so much for all that you’ve shared. I’m a descendant of Alexander Kennedy through his daughter Annis Kennedy. I was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Pine Bluff was a major center for cotton trading in the 1800s, was quite a cultural center as well, and boasted many lovely homes. You mention the Pines Hotel where Palmer lived. Until the 1950s it was an elegant, refined hotel with many amenities where, in addition to providing lodging, it was the site of balls and receptions.

    1. Yes the Pines Hotel was elegant … I remember it from my childhood. There was a coffee house which I remember entrance on Main St. I went inside once as a teenager. I’ve been told the “well off” people patronized the hotel and fancy functions there.
      After my retirement I moved back home to PB to spend time with my parents, Henry (Shorty) and Betty Jean Light.
      A group was formed named CUSP (Citizens United to Save Pines). I received a plaque for my help which was a small part. The ones that worked diligently I would have to get information on them as I don’t remember all their names. Kathy Majewski diligently did a lot for Pine Bluff saving the Community Theater and tried hard to get funding for the Saenger Theater as well. She can give someone a lot of history information on the hotel. Joy Blankenship worked with city in a small historic home by the courthouse which is on 2nd & Main Street. Many others (first names only I remember) Pat (lived in Rison?) Monica and another Pat. Bob Abbott would have a ton of history information for you. Both his and Kathy’s number are easily gotten. I’m not sure right now if he purchased the building on 2nd Street that was the law firm … I have a wooden box with papers Mr. Paul Danaher has correspondence letters … I have not gone through the entire box … letters from other law firms etc from 1926.
      I will be happy to scan some of these to you sometime if you are interested. Would need an email address.

      1. Also there is mention of Mr. Palmer as well on a few of these papers. If you wish them scanned to you send email address. I’ll be happy to do that sometimes after the holidays.

    1. I have some stored away Paul. In my library book case I have some of the old law books from Austin & Danaher law firm.

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