Margaret Maher (also spelled Meagher) was baptized on February 26, 1829, in Duagh, County Kerry, Ireland. Her parents were Patrick Maher and Ellen Wolfe Maher. She had eight siblings: Patrick (b. ca. 1831), Elizabeth (b. 1836), Johanna (b. 1838), Honora (b. ca. 1842), Bartholomew (b. 1846), Mary (b. 18418), Ellen (b. 1850), and Catherine (b. 1853).
In 1849, Margaret Maher joined her mother’s brother Maurice Richard Wolfe and his family when they immigrated to the United States. They sailed from Liverpool to New York aboard the Senator, a 777-ton ship of the Black Star Line, owned by Samuel Thompson, arriving on September 22. Wolfe appears to have treated Maher as his own daughter, and after his death in 1870, she was named as an heir to his estate.
During the 1840s, many Wolfes left Ireland, including Margaret Maher’s uncle John R. Wolfe and his cousin Maurice, who sailed together in 1847; her uncle Thomas R. Wolfe, who said in 1848; her mother’s cousin Richard Wolfe, who also sailed in 1848; and her uncle Richard Wolfe, who sailed separately from her in 1849. A cousin, John E. Wolfe, also came to the United States, and all of these Wolfes, including Margaret Maher, settled first in LaSalle County, Illinois. Some went on to Clinton County, Iowa. Maher’s sister Elizabeth also immigrated, sailing to New York probably in 1857 before settling in LaSalle County.
On June 26, 1854, Maher married James Twohey, a native of County Cork, in LaSalle County. The couple had nine children: Jeremiah (b. 1855), Mary A. “Mollie” (b. 1857), Ellen Honora (b. 1858), John Joseph (b. 1860), Jeremiah Lawrence (b. 1861), James William “Will” (b. 1864), Thomas Francis “Frank” (b. 1867), Clara Elizabeth (b. 1869), and Margaret I. (b. 1872).
The family lived and farmed in Rutland Township, LaSalle County, Illinois. On October 30, 1872, Margaret Twohey died while giving birth to her daughter Margaret. Her husband, James, died on October 23, 1890, of asthma, in Rutland Township. They are buried together at Saint Columba’s Cemetery in Ottawa, Illinois.
images: undated photograph of Margaret Maher Twohey (Ann McClary / Find a Grave); detail of ship’s manifest for Senator, arriving New York, September 22, 1849, showing Maurice R. Wolfe and family (National Archives)