Editor’s Note: Our progenitor Anthony Canavan, Sr. was born in Ireland in 1822 to his namesake father Anthony Canavan and his mother Catherine (Kitty) Kirby.

Anthony CanavanBecause the son Anthony Canavan, Sr. and his wife Ann Hughes emigrated to the United States, were a successful farm family and raised an enormous flock of offspring, it is this second Anthony that we know a lot about. Therefore, he is our progenitor of choice among all the Canavans. Notwithstanding being named after his father, an obituary when he died in 1890 denoted him with the Senior suffix, in spite of having a father with the same name. I decided not to quibble with this lapse of the Kankakee County Portrait and Biographical Record, since using it here helps underline for purposes of this website that our progenitor, Anthony Canavan, Sr., is the Canavan.

But I drew the line when this same obituary in the Record reported that Anthony Canavan, Sr. and Ann Hughes had only 11 children. According to Joseph Hart and other Canavan descendants who’ve looked into this, the better count may be 13, counting Augusta and Edward Canavan, who were apparently overlooked by both my mother, Mary Gwinn Bowe in The Families, and the Kankakee Record in its 1890 obituary. Anthony Canavan, Sr.’s own birth date is far from certain. I’ve used the 1822 date from the contemporaneous item in the Kankakee County Portrait and Biographical Record, but my mother favored 1818, and references to 1819 (his Manteno, Illinois burial marker) and 1820 are not uncommon either. With regard to birth dates of their children, though the evidence is also somewhat mixed and ultimately unclear. My best guess is that Patrick Canavan was more likely born in 1854, with the first Thomas being born and dying as an infant in 1855.

The 13 children of Anthony Canavan, Sr. and Ann Hughes were:

James Canavan (1841-1912)

John Canavan (1843-1926)

Anthony Canavan (1845- )

Mary Canavan (McNulty) (1847-1912)

Augusta Canavan (1850- )

Austin Augustine Canavan (1852-1917)

Patrick Canavan (1855-1915)

Thomas Canavan (1856-1856)

Thomas Canavan (1856-1923)

Catherine Collette Canavan (Parish) (1859-1940)

Edward Canavan (1860- )

Ellen Francis Canavan (Bowe) (1861-1943)

Margaret Elizabeth Canavan (Casey) (1864-1938)

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Only a handful of Ann Hughes and Anthony Canavan, Sr.’s offspring were needed to connect to the vast crowd of Canavan descendants found on this website.

When their daughter Catherine Collette Canavan married William Parish, Sr. the Parish families and the Skura families entered the picture.

When Canavan daughter Ellen Frances Canavan married John Joseph Bowe, the son of primogenitor Moses Bowe, more Bowe, Walters, Thompson, and De Rosa families followed. And when Ellen’s cousin Mabel Canavan, married Edward Lecour, and their daughter Julia Lecour married Augustine Joseph Bowe, there were two separate paths of Canavan kinship to the Bowe family.

Anthony Canavan and Ann Hughes’s son John Canavan married Anna Doyle. Their daughter Anna Delores Canavan married James Francis Hart. Thus another large offshoot of the Canavans began, spreading first to Iowa, the northwest and elsewhere.  

James Francis Hart and Anna Delores Canavan Hart had seven children:

James Austin Hart, born in 1915;

John Hart, born in 1917;

Joseph Hart, born in 1918;

Laurence Michael Hart born in 1921;

Paul Hart, born in 1922

Peter Hart, born in 1924; and

Bernard Hart, born in 1926.


Anthony and Ann Canavan’s son Patrick Canavan’s daughter Elizabeth Canavan married John Hanley. As usual, that led to more Hanleys and the Dunn family.

But it was Anthony and Ann’s daughter Margaret Canavan’s marriage to John Dominic Casey that was particularly prolific. It produced not only downstream Caseys, but Danielaks, Lynches, Heffrons, Cains, Turners, Romanos, Reyeses, Terpstras, Dwyers, Pleils, Sundstroms, Williams’s, Gomezes, Meyers, Hecks, Truskeys, McPhersons, and Wernstedts.

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