John Henry Devany was born in 1849 in Kilteevan Parish, County Roscommon, Ireland, the eighth and last child of Michael Devany and Bridget Hanly. John was born into the so-called potato famine, but missed the worst of it as the local potato crop was adequate in 1848. His people lived next to Lough Ree and were adept at fishing.

About 1872, John immigrated to St. Louis to join his brother, Daniel, who was working at Henry Schwaner’s tannery on 16th Street. They boarded around the corner at 1710 Salisbury Street. In America, he spelled his surname Devaney.

On 23 February 1879, John Henry married Catherine Theresa “Kate” Shea, daughter of Timothy Shea and Ellen Buckley, at St. Teresa of Avila church. They had six children: Ella Agnes Burton, Daniel Henry, Bessie, Kitty (Catherine) Huber, John Lawrence, and Joseph Francis, thus three sons and three daughters.

When his brother, Daniel, started his own tannery in 1878, John Henry went to work there, at 16th and Branch streets. After his marriage, he lived just down the alley, in the same city block 1741. About that time, St. Louis revised the street names, and his stone house address became 3428 N. 22nd Street.

In 1900, the Devaneys rented at 3633 Lee Avenue. John Henry became a naturalized citizen, still working for his brother. In 1906, he moved to 4120a N. Grand Avenue and went to work as a streetcar driver. At some time, he worked as a clothing salesman for Famous-Barr Co.

In the 1920s, he lived at 2922 Barrett Street and worked as a watchman. On this job he carried a revolver, and on 29 March 1929 John used that gun to end his life. John’s burial occurred at Calvary Cemetery with his wife Kate (1857–1926), who had preceded him in death.

(Sources include census records, city directories, fire insurance maps, church records, family accounts, death and cemetery records, and land and property records.)

Written by John Sullivan
July 2018
© 2018, St. Louis Genealogical Society

John Henry Devaney
John Henry Devaney
Photo in the collection of John Sullivan
Used with permission

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Last Modified: 23-Feb-2019 10:53