Originally from County Kerry, Ireland, Richard Shea’s ancestors went east in 1690 to aid the Jacobin cause against William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne. Stopped at the Shannon River, at the Lanesborough Bridge, they remained in the area, settling on an island in Lough Ree, in Rathcline Parish, County Longford. Richard Shea was born there on 7 July 1855 to Patrick O’Shea and Elizabeth Devany.

As a child, Richard Shea caught fish in Lough Ree and sold them in Lanesborough. He grew up in an impoverished family of fourteen children, on Inchenagh Island. When his father died in December 1874, Richard was the oldest son in the family. Meanwhile, British troops and British landlords were terrorizing the Irish.

About 1881, Richard migrated to America to work for his uncle, Daniel Devanney, who operated a tannery at 16th and Branch Streets in North St. Louis. Richard lived nearby, on Agnes Street, next to the slaughterhouse that provided them with hides.

In May 1889, Richard Shea married Catherine Cecilia Chandler of Monroe County, Illinois, a daughter of James W. Chandler and Julia Buckley. Three children were born of this union: Joseph Patrick in 1892, Julia Elizabeth, known as Bess, in 1895, and Francis, or Frank, in 1899.

In 1910, Richard Shea was a St. Louis City fireman. Later he worked at the electrical shop of his cousin, Joe Devaney. When Daniel Devanney died in 1913, he left his tanning business to Richard Shea.

When daughter Bessie died of influenza in 1918, the Sheas took in a niece, Margaret Sullivan, daughter of Kate Ann Devany.

In 1940, Richard Shea was living at 2623a Sullivan Avenue in St. Louis. A member of the Catholic Knights of America, he died on 18 November 1940. His wife Catherine died on 28 May 1944. They were buried in Calvary Cemetery, survived by two children and two grandchildren.

(Sources include church records, census records, obituaries, death and cemetery records, probate records, Shea family accounts, a book called Rathcline: Pathways to the Past, St. Louis fire insurance maps, Irish maps, and property records.)

Written by John Sullivan
September 2017

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Last Modified: 26-Oct-2018 19:23