Captain John Dougherty
“A Brave Man”
“In these vexatious times we are burdened with responsibilities, anxious for the economic
contributions of our land, and anxious for the destiny of all the nations of the world.
But when we pause for a day like this, when we pay honor to whom honor is due, and when we pay tribute to one of our
distinguished forefathers Captain John Dougherty, we remember frightened initiations into the past when others had big tasks
to do and they had to exercise patience and bravery to perform those tasks.”
These words come from a speech I call “The
Stampers Creek Address”. It was delivered on October 9, 1960,
the year I was born, to an audience of family and friends at the Stampers Creek Primitive Baptist Church in Orange County
Indiana. The speechwriter, Gerene O. Pluris (deceased), was honoring her g-g-g-grandfather
in dedicating a monument to him and his family to be placed in the Stampers Creek Cemetery.
I first saw this speech on a visit to my aunt in
the mid-1980’s, when she pulled out some papers she had gotten from family in the mid-1960’s. I took it with me and typed it up on our (then) new computerized word processor. On our next visit she and I pored over the document like two detectives, our magnifying glasses providing
clarity where the old typewritten copy was fading into oblivion.
At that time, I was 25 years old and I had no real
interest in family genealogy. I put my copies in a files cabinet and there they
stayed. Fast-forward to early March, 2005, 20 years later. I now have a family of my own and family connections are much more important to me.
My sister mentions she is taking her daughter to
Europe next year for a graduation present. I remembered that the speech in my
filing cabinet mentioned a family castle in Ireland Pulling it out I read,
“The first known forefathers of Captain Dougherty had their castle in Ireland.
The exact location is at Innisowen, Lock Swilley, Donegal county, Ireland. Their
castle still stands, and family gatherings are still being held there, in that ancient stone battle scarred building.”
(Spelling is as speech was written).
My first thought was to go to the Internet and try
to get some information. I typed in a search engine “Innisowen Dougherty”
and within a few clicks had found the clan web site. I was thrilled to have made
a discovery of almost 800 living “family” members. I explored the
site into the wee hours of the night, reading posts, checking links, and making connections.
I saw the family coat of arms and recognized in it a drawing my aunt had shown me years before.
The next day I reread the whole speech. Now that I was connected, those weren’t just words on a page, they were words written by a family
member about other family members. I read eagerly how my ancestors came to this
country from Ireland. I learned about my g-g-g-g-grandfather Captain John Dougherty,
his wife Isabel, their eleven children, and the trials they overcame.
Now I had a burning desire to know more. I made connections on the clan site and a distant cousin in Indiana sent me pictures of the Dougherty monument
that was dedicated in the speech. I contacted the local county historian. I found web sites by other genealogical researchers who were related to, or had information
on my family lines. I watched the documentary on PBS “In Search of Ancient
Ireland” and am currently reading the companion book.
I searched the Internet for any mention of the speech
I had and found none. Now my goal was to share this bit of history with the whole
clan. I was put in touch with Cameron Dougherty who encouraged me to share all
this with you. I invite you to read the speech in its entirety on the clan site
I also reviewed the clan genealogical
information and found that I can contribute the details on my line from my g-g-g-grandfather Robert S. Dougherty down to the
present day, including subsequent family surnames of Reed, McClelland, Mahan, Bessette, Bassett, and Stevens.
I read about the family research groups in the clan newsletter #44, on pages 3 and 15. I’m getting involved in the Kentucky family group because that is where Captain John started his
family before they moved on to Indiana. If you get excited thinking about new
branches growing on your family tree through the power of making clan connections, then I invite you to get involved too.
I still have mysteries of the Stampers
Creek Address to solve. Such as Mrs. Pluris’ assertion that “All
who could prove their identity in the Dougherty clan could obtain a commission in the English Army or Navy.” Or, what happened to Captain John’s grandson William Charles Jr., whose parents both died when he
was so young? Captain John graciously turned over guardianship to another on
the eve of his own passing, when the boy was only 14.
wait to discover new stories about my ancestors and yours, the O’Dochartaigh Clan.
I hope you’ll join me!
By Cheryl Borgen