The Farley-Lass-McGuire-O'Connor Families
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The Farley/Lass/McGuire/O'Connor Families of Beresford, South Dakota

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German flagThe Coopers

Barbara Cooper was born in the kingdom of Prussia in Germany. She married John Cooper and had one of four known children, Regina, in 1842. At the age of 32, Barbara moved with her family to America in 1850. They lived in Galena, Illinois for two years before moving to Sugar Creek, Iowa, where Regina married Peter Lass. In 1872, the Coopers moved to Union County in Dakota territory where they homesteaded at Emmett township.

Source: Beresford- 100 Years (1983)

Irish flagLawrence and Mary Farley

Laurence Farley was born in County Meath, Ireland. He married Mary Goff; and, the couple lived in County Meath, where the first four of their five children were born. These children were Anna, Patrick, James, and Mary Ann. They lived about 20 miles from Dublin.

Historical accounts show that "The Great Famine" began in 1846 as the indispensible potato crops of Ireland failed everywhere due to a blight. As typhus followed the famine, vast numbers died. It became worse and more generally spread in 1847, making emigration the only means of escape. Despite aid from other countries, numerous people continued to flee, causing the Irish population to drop by 1,950,000 between 1845 and 1851. According to an oral account passed down by Laurence's grandson, James P. Farley, Laurence's family slipped out of Ireland "in the middle of the night" because of this Irish potato famine.

On July 10, 1851, Mary and the children arrived in New York on the ship, Shannon. Records indicate that Laurence probably traveled separately. However, the entire family eventually reunited and made a home for themselves in Illinois, where they initially spent some time living in Meredosia, the birth place of their youngest child, Lawrence. The family finally settled in Stephenson, County, where they had a farm and raised their kids in the Freeport area.

Mary (Goff) Farley died when her son, Lawrence, was only a year old; and, this reportedly occurred in the town of Waddam in Stephenson County, Illinois, where she was said to have been buried. For a time, her name was unknown to descendants, who searched unsuccessfully for this grave. Since then, records have revealed her maiden name; but, subsequent attempts to locate her grave have also proven unsuccessful.

Larry FarleyLawrence "Larry" Farley arrived in the Beresford area in 1875 and married Elizabeth O'Conner in 1887. In 1880, his father, Laurence (also spelled Lawrence), filed on land in Section 10 of Prairie Towship. Then, the younger Lawrence proved up on a homestead of his own in Prairie Township, three miles east of Beresford, in 1883.

Lawrence and Elizabeth Farley had eleven children, out of which nine reached adulthood. Most, if not all, of the Farley descendants still living in Beresford today are descended from Larry and Elizabeth Farley.

Beresford- 100 Years (1983)
obituaries (Patrick Farley, Lawrence Farley, and Mary Ann Jennings)

German flagPeter and Regina Lass

Peter Lass was born in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany in 1836. In 1852, he came with an uncle to America and moved to Clinton county, Iowa. He worked on a farm there for board and clothing for three years, until striking out for himself at age 18 and hiring out as a farm laborer by the month. In 1862, he married Regina Cooper at Sugar Creek, Iowa.

The couple lived on a rented farm, until Peter Lass bought a piece of property in Jackson county, Iowa. The couple had six children. They remained there until moving to Dakota territory. In 1870, Peter Lass selected a homestead in Union County as a claim, then returned to Iowa. The following spring, Peter Lass and his family moved to the property, where he and his family continued to live for many years to come. During this time, the couple had an additional six children.

Peter James Lass was one of five children of Peter and Regina Lass who married five of the children of James and Bessie McGuire. Peter married Mary "Mamie" J. McGuire in the early 1890's. Mamie died twelve days after the birth of their youngest child, Mary. Joe and Katie McGuire raised Mary until her father married Katherine Kennedy in 1905.

Katherine Kennedy was born in a log cabin in 1877 to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Kennedy, immigrants from Ireland. Her father, Thomas, fought in the Civil War for four years and was said to have been in the famous March to the Sea of General Sherman. In 1907, after two years of marriage, Katherine found it too difficult to continue teaching; so, she gave it up to focus on the farm. In 1908, the Peter and Katherine moved west and proved up a homestead claim 14 miles northeast of Philip, South Dakota. Peter and Katherine raised Peter's three children from his previous marriage and had three more.

Memorial and Biographical Record (copyright approx. 1900)
Beresford 75 Year Jubilee (1959)
Beresford- 100 Years (1983)

Irish flagJames and Elizabeth McGuire

Elizabeth "Bessie" Swift was born in County Managhan, Ireland in 1839. She started for America with her father in 1855; but after he died of cholera on ship and was buried at sea, Bessie arrived in America alone at the age of 17. Bessie went to Galena, IL, where she met and married another Irish native named James McGuire. In 1870, the couple moved to Dakota Territory, where they homesteaded in Emmet township in Union County. James and Bessie McGuire had nine children together. The house where they lived was still standing and being occupied as recently as 1984.

Source: Beresford- 100 Years (1984)

Irish flagCanadian flagJames and Bridget O'Connor

James O'Connor was born to parents, Michael and Elizabeth (Betts) O'Connor, in Limerick County, Ireland in 1821. He moved to Rawdon, Quebec, Canada for a time as a boy. Bridget Jennings was born to parents, Michael and Bridget (Donaghy) Jennings, in Kings County, Ireland in 1831. She emigrated to Canada with her family in 1837. While in Canada together, James and Bridget met and eventually married in 1848. The couple moved to Elizabethtown, Wisconsin in 1854, where they lived for many years and raised their children. The couple had eleven children in all. James and Bridget were intrigued by the good things they heard about Dakota territory and decided that it would make a good future home.

In 1873, James and Bridget brought their children; Patrick, Michael, and Mary; from New Lisbon, Wisconsin to Emmett Township, Dakota Territory. Each filed for a quarter of land in the township and then built small shacks on the land to make improvement to fulfill the Homestead Act. Patrick and Michael farmed; while, Mary cooked, washed, and sewed.

When Patrick fell ill in 1874 and was no longer able to cultivate, James and Bridget brought the rest of the family down from New Lisbon, Wisconsin to Emmett Township, Dakota Territory to homestead more land.

Beresford- 100 Years (1983)
obituary (James O'Connor)


Surnames Forums

Forums include the surnames: Farley, Farrelly, Goff, McGuire, and O'Conner.


Forums include the surnames: Farley, Goff, and McGuire.

Regional Forums


Forums include the countries: Germany and Ireland.

Forums include the German regions: Prussia and Schleswig-Holstein.

Forums include the Irish counties: Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Monaghan.

Forums include the US counties: Stephenson County, Illinois and Union County, South Dakota.

Forums include the US states: Illinois, Iowa, and South Dakota.

Local Ireland

Forums include the Irish counties: Cork and Meath



The British Library Newspaper Library: a catalog of the British Library's newspaper collections, including Irish newspapers.

Canada's Geographical Names: search for geographical names in Canada.

Coats of Arms: free coats of arms from Ireland and from around the world.

Information on Co Mayo, Ireland

The Farrell Clan: a genealogical site for families with names derived from Farrell, including Farrelly and Farley.

Genealogical Society of Ireland: Irish genealogical newsletter.

GenUKI: genealogy of Ireland and the UK.

German Migration Resource Center: a discussion group, links, and other items for people researching German ancestry.

Irish Family History >Foundation for your Irish roots.

Irish Migration Resource Center: a discussion group, links, and other items for people researching their Irish ancestry.

Local Ireland: information about Ireland, including genealogy and genealogical discussion groups for various Irish counties.

Juneau County Genealogical Society: genealogy of Juneau County, Wisconsin.

Quebec GenWeb Project: genealogical records and information from the Canadian province of Quebec. The site is written in French with some English translations. French-only material can probably be translated using Alta Vista's Babelfish.

Rawdon Historical Society: a society devoted to the history of Rawdon, Quebec, Canada.

South Dakota Birth Records: find birth records from before 1900.

South Dakota State Historical Society: history and genealogy of South Dakota.

South Dakota GenWeb (Union County): find cemetary and death records, genealogical societies, and other information.

South Dakota Obituary Project: on-line obituary indexes to newspapers published in South Dakota.

Time Passages: genealogy of the Dakotas.

Union County Historical Society: history and genealogy in Union County, South Dakota.

U. S. GenWeb: genealogy links as well as an on-line archive of indexed and transcribed documents categorized by U. S. Counties, including Morgan and Stephenson Counties of Illinois, and Union County of South Dakota.


The genealogical data in the following pages was obtained from a variety of sources. Some came from the sources listed above; while, much of it came from the grave markers at the Emmett and Beresford Cemeteries. Some also came from other research, including records available on line at South Dakota Gen Web. Also, my grandmother wrote a few notes for me during the last six months she was alive; and, those have proven to be extremely helpful.

According to an oral account passed down by Laurence's grandson, James P. Farley; Mary was actually Laurence's third wife, with the first and third wives both being Catholic, and the second one being a Methodist. According to the account, the first two wives died and were buried in Ireland. However, the names of the first two wives are still unknown.

The oral accounts of events in the family history passed down by James P. Farley were given to me by James' daughter. The elder Laurence Farley was alive during the early years of his grandson, James; and, the two were said to have been close.

The Farley family name was reported to have been spelled "Farleigh" in Ireland, but was shortened to "Farley" after the family moved to America. However, according to a story passed down through Len Farley's family, the family name was originally spelled "O'Farrelly," with the "O" being dropped while the family still lived in Ireland, and the spelling being changed to "Farley" once Laurence and Mary came to America.

It has been revealed that Lawrence's father's name was actually spelled "Laurence Farrelly" in some Irish records, including the birth record of his daughter, Anne, from 1839. The earliest known use of the modern spelling, "Farley," was in the Shannon's ship manifest from 1851. American records spell Lawrence's father's first name as both "Laurence" and "Lawrence," with records from Union County, South Dakota favoring "Lawrence."

The "Beresford Republic" obituaries of Patrick H. Farley and Lawrence Farley both reported that they were from a family of five children. However, for a time, only four of them were known by name and known to have come to Dakota Territory with their father. But, Lawrence's obituary in the "Beresford News" revealed that his brother, James, had died while a resident of Illinois. However, the date of James' death is still unknown, as is his marital status.

As of this writing, there appear to be no records on the location of Mary's grave. It is believed to most likely be located in one of the many cemeteries called St. Mary's in or near the Freeport area. It is also possible that the family could not have afforded a proper grave marker at the time and that they might have opted for a temporary marker which was ultimately never replaced. A temporary marker might have consisted of wood or even a simple boulder that was left to mark the spot, either of which would be next to useless in helping to identify her grave today.

The notes written by Mary C. Farley in 1991 report that James McGuire was born in County Cork, Ireland. However, James' obituary published in the "Beresford News" in 1914 reports that he was born in County Fornaman, Ireland. A listing of Irish counties reveals no County Fornaman; and, the only county with a name resembling "Fornaman" is County Fermanagh.


Since the original version of these web pages were posted, more than one researcher has come forward. Bob Jennings has been very helpful in providing a great deal of information on Lawrence Farley's mother and siblings. Beth Orsi has provided a wealth of information on the O'Connors. Harriet Dias has provided a large amount of Maher information. And, Sammie Dudley has researched Mary (Goff) Farley's burial location and has managed to locate the passenger list of the ship, Shannon. A number of other researchers have also come forward; and, all have shared information. Their contributions are greatly appreciated.

Although this work is far from finished, I would like to thank my cousins, Charlotte and Edna Farley, for their time and assistance. Edna was reported to have started work on a family history paper; but sadly, she became ill and passed away before the paper could be finished. And, her sister, Charlotte, was unable to locate any copies of Edna's papers. However, Charlotte was able to share some of her own notes and personal recollections (as well as hospitality) before the time of her own passing.

I would like to dedicate this page and the related research to the memories of both my grandmother and mom, both of whom were very enthusiastic about genealogy and were proud to be members of this family. And through this work, I continue to feel close to them.

Copyright © 2002 Brian M. Hass