John Mahoney and Patrick Gilligan’s Death – 1898


John Mahoney, my great-grandfather, was again mentioned in the newspaper, Brooklyn Eagle, on 7 November 1898, in the case of Patrick Gilligan’s death. Here his address was slightly wrong, it should be 1424 Gates Avenue, Brooklyn. Most of the New York City newspapers had at least one article about this case between November 5th and 7th of that year. Then the story seems to disappear. The last line in this article is very close to what I heard from my father and his siblings. Our family thought that the reason John Mahoney fled Brooklyn, NY for Harrison, Hudson County, NJ, was that a man had been killed by either a train or trolley car, and in some way he was responsible, or had been with the man. In order to avoid manslaughter charges he took his wife and children across the Hudson River to New Jersey.

Not a single newspaper article states that he was charged, but only held for questioning. I’m sure for a poor Irish immigrant there weren’t many avenues for legal aid in Brooklyn at that time. When I used Google to find where John Mahoney and Patrick Gilligan lived, I saw that they lived right around the corner from each other in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. They both attended Saint Bridget’s Roman Catholic Church, a church founded by Irish immigrants, of which Patrick Gilligan was a trustee.
Saint Brigid’s Church, Brooklyn, NY –

From under the message boards for the surname Gilligan, I did find someone from the family also searching for answers. You can go to to read the thread, but basically Susan’s grandmother had been a cousin of this Gilligan family. She said the Gilligans had lived on Knickerbocker Avenue in Brooklyn from the 1890s to the 1930s. Patrick and Bridget Gilligan had at least four children that lived to maturity – James, John, William, and Frank. She had also read in the Brooklyn Eagle that Patrick Gilligan had been possibly murdered. Three of the Gilligan sons had ran a coal and ice business in Brooklyn from about 1920 to 1930. On an interesting note she mentioned the Irish Mafia or Mob, and my father had also mentioned this, but possibly both of our fathers mentioned the mobsters with other matters.

From the newspaper articles it is clear that Patrick Gilligan was a wealthy builder – a handsome man – that liked wearing expensive jewelery, and that he usually carried large sums of cash. The contractor that Patrick Gilligan had worked for, David Quinlan, was a stonemason at 75 Sutton Street, Brooklyn. How Patrick Gilligan ended up dead in Newtown Creek seems to have never been solved.

What happened to the other people mentioned in the articles? Of the other workers detained, I know nothing. The Brooklyn coroner, Dr. George W. Delap, had been elected by the Tammany administration in the Fall of 1897. By 1901 he had been arrested for extortion with taking bribes for multiple cases, and had bail posted by his wealthy friends. On September 13, 1901 he had died from complications of Bright’s disease. The Evening World’s Night Edition newspaper ran the headline, “Delap Faces a Higher Judge. Accused Brooklyn Coroner Dies at His Home” (page seven). Dr. Alvin C. Henderson, Coroner Delap’s post-mortem examiner, had previously died on February 6, 1899 from complications after he had removed a corn from his own foot, it had become infected and he had had his leg amputated, and then gangrene set in [Source:
New York Tribune (New York, NY) February 7, 1899, page 5, accessed through].

John and Mary Carter Mahoney never moved away from Harrison, NJ. They lived in an apartment building next to a Harrison police officer, and my great-grandmother, Mary, took in his wash, and also  other Harrison cops uniforms, to make extra money for the family. Mary Carter Mahoney was said to have the Irish gift of second sight, and at times foretold the future. Their children that lived to maturity were: John Francis (1893-1933; Mary Margaret (1895-1961); Timothy Joseph (1896-1947); and Peter Patrick (1904-1951). My great-grandfather, John, worked as a laborer the rest of his life, dying at age 55 in 1916.

Below are two more PDFs. The first is the death certificate for Patrick Gilligan that I ordered from NYC Department of Records, Municipal Archives, 31 Chambers St., New York, NY 10007. The other is another article from the New York Sun (New York, NY), from 6 November 1898, from Library of Congress. Clicking on the links will open the PDFs up.



I would really like to find out more about this case, and hear from some of the descendents of the men mentioned.

4 thoughts on “John Mahoney and Patrick Gilligan’s Death – 1898

  1. Maybe the next thing we can do is research all of the men involved, including the contractor Patrick got the contract from. I’ll start searching on their names in the Brooklyn Eagle archives tomorrow.


    1. Thanks Veronica! Coroner George W. Delap comes off as a very crooked individual – taking bribes, etc. I bet that was well known in Brooklyn before he was indicted. Good luck searching on the other men.


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