Jeremiah Shay 1857-1937 Family Portrait 1904Jeremiah Michael SHAY (SHEA) was born July 13, 1857 in County Kerry, Ireland to Patrick SHEA (later SHAY) and Elinor DRISCOLL. The whole family – his parents and brothers and sisters – arrived in the U.S. in 1871 or 1872. (I still haven’t found their arrival.)

Jerry worked for several railroads, moving around New York and Pennsylvania as jobs changed. He worked in Corning NY, Wellsboro PA, Blackwell PA, McHenry Twp PA, and Towanda PA. His responsibilities increased until he was the Supervisor of the Maintenance of Way for several railroads.


Jeremiah SHAY married Jane Ann GRADY in 1879. They were found with her parents in the village of Millport, Town of Veteran, Chemung County, New York in 1880 during the census though they might have been living in Corning, Steuben County, New York about that time.


They moved to Corning, Steuben County, New York and their first 5 children (Pat through Jen) were born there. The family then moved to Blackwell, Tioga County, Pennsylvania where Lena and Liz were born while Jerry worked on the Fallbrook Railroad.

The family moved to Wellsboro, Tioga County, PA where young Jerry, Art, Francis, and Desalles were born. The family lived at 15 Cone Street but, unfortunately, the street was renumbered so we can’t tell which house was theirs. Jerry did put an addition onto the house while he lived there.

When the Fallbrook Railroad was bought by the New York Central Railroad, Jerry lost his job as the head of track maintenance so he moved on. They moved to Lock Haven or MyHenry Township, Clinton County, PA where Adrian was born.

And, finally, the family moved to Towanda, Bradford County, PA where Paul, Muriel, and the unnamed stillborn boy were born. Jerry worked for the Susquehanna & New York Railroad (S&NY) until retirement.


Jane and Jerry had 15 children:

  1. Patrick Henry “Pat” SHAY (1881-?)
  2. Mary Ellen “Mayme” SHAY (1882-?)
  3. Katharine M. “Kate” SHAY (1884-?)
  4. James Joseph “Jim” SHAY (1885-1948)
  5. Jane Loretta “Jen” SHAY (1887-1965)
  6. Helena Adelaide “Lena” SHAY (1892-1963)
  7. Elizabeth Lucille “Liz” SHAY (1893-1977)
  8. Jeremiah SHAY (~1896-~1899)
  9. Arthur Leo SHAY (1897-1978)
  10. Francis SHAY (~1898-~1899)
  11. Margaret Francis deSalles “Desalles” SHAY (1899-?)
  12. Adrian Cyril SHAY (1902-?)
  13. John Paul “Paul” SHAY (1904-1973)
  14. Muriel Louise “Louise” SHAY (1905-1995)
  15. (stillborn) SHAY (1907-1907)

Two children – Jeremiah and Francis – died young of summer’s complaint when the family was living in Tioga County, Pennsylvania about 1899. The last child, a boy, was stillborn at about 8 months.

Family Stories


A family story says that Jeremiah SHAY left Ireland when he was 11. He left with a brother whose name no one can remember. The story goes on to say that his mother wrapped her shawl around him because he had no coat. There is no evidence that this story is true. I have not been able find Jeremiah or a brother in the available ship’s passenger lists. I did find his sister Mary and mother Elenor living in Horseheads and backtracked the mother into Millport in the 1880 census. I haven’t found his parents in the passenger lists yet.

Name Spelling

Another family story says he changed the spelling from SHEA to SHAY because there were 5 other Jeremiah Shea’s living nearby and Jerry never got his mail. The “SHAY” spelling, however, seems to have appeared soon after they arrived in the United States.


COUNTY KERRY, IRELAND – July 13, 1858 – Jeremiah SHEA/SHAY born to Patrick Shea and Eleanor Driscoll. His brother, James Patrick Shay, claimed he was born in April 1857 so one of them was wrong.

MILLPORT, NEW YORK – Abt. 1872 – Patrick and Eleanor emigrated from Ireland with their 6 children.

WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK – OCT 1879 – Jerry became a naturalized citizen.

MILLPORT, NEW YORK – late 1879 – Jeremiah Shay married Jane Grady and they lived with her family for a while.

TOWANDA, PENNSYLVANIA – 7 MAY 1930 – Jeremiah SHAY was working as the caretaker (sexton) for the Riverside Cemetery on Williams Street in Towanda. His grandson D. Philip DALY later recalled that his parents lived in the caretaker’s house while Jeremiah kept the cemetery. Jeremiah lived with one of his daughters, possibly Lena, during that time.

TOWANDA, PENNSYLVANIA – July 2, 1937 – Long-time resident, Jeremiah SHAY, died today from an infection related to a recent surgery that removed his appendix. He was almost 80 years old. Jeremiah SHAY was buried next to his wife in the SS. Peter & Paul Parish Cemetery on James Street. (Headstone added decades later.)



  • 1880 U.S. Census, Population Schedule, Millport (village), Veteran, Chemung County, New York. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Film Roll 817, Series T9. Enumeration District (ED) 88, Page Number 25 (5 of 5), Line 5. LDS Family History Library (FHL) Film 1,254,817. Enumerated 30 June 1880 by Bennet J. Denson. Household: Patrick GRADY 2nd (lines 2-6).
  • 1900 U.S. Census, Population Schedule, McHenry Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Film Roll 1,437, Series T623. Enumeration District (ED) 55, Sheet 8, Page Number 262A (16 of 23), Line 47. LDS Family History Library (FHL) Film 1,241,437. Enumerated 23 June 1900 by Claude A. Campbell. Household: Jeremiah Shay (47-57).
  • 1910 U.S. Census, Population Schedule, Towanda (Ward 1), Bradford County, Pennsylvania. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Film Roll 1,319, Series T624. Enumeration District (ED) 40, Sheet 8A (15 of 27), Line 26. LDS Family History Library (FHL) Film 1,375,332. Enumerated 22 (unreadable) 1910 by (unreadable). Household: Jeremiah Shay (26-36).
  • 1920 U.S. Census, Population Schedule, Towanda (Ward 1), Bradford County, Pennsylvania. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Film Roll 1,541, Series T625. Enumeration District (ED) 42, Sheet 7B (14 of 25), Line 95. LDS Family History Library (FHL) Film 1,375,332. Enumerated 8 Jan 1920 by Alice D McCabe. Household: Jeremiah Shay (95-100; page 8A, line 1).
  • 1930 U.S. Census, Population Schedule, Towanda (Ward 1), Bradford County, Pennsylvania. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Film Roll 2,006, Series T626. Enumeration District (ED) 8-47, Sheet 12B (24 of 24), Line 65. Address: Third Street. LDS Family History Library (FHL) Film 2,341,740. Enumerated 7 May 1930 by Benjamin T Hea(unreadable). Household: addition to some household “line 55-8”. Naturalized: 1888. Occupation: Sexton @ Cemetery.
  • Jeremiah Shay of Towanda, Pennsylvania (death certificate). Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (PA), Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. File Number 68256, Registered Number 180, Primary District Number 080641. Robert Packer Hospital, Sayre, Bradford County, PA. Address: 512 Third Street Towanda PA. Wife: Jane Grady Shay. Birth Date/Place: July 13, 1857 Ireland. Death Date/Place: July 2, 1937 Sayre PA. Age: 79 Years, 11 Months, 19 Days. Parents: Patrick SHAY, Ellen _____. Cause: acute gangrenous appendicitis, perforated; appendectomy performed June 21.