7:29 AM 11/18/2005
According to Ellen Paladine, Neil Devitt was born in Ireland, and emigrated to the USA
though the port of Philadelphia, early in the 1850's. Devitt grand-children were said to
be proud of the fact that no Devitts came through Ellis Island. Neil stayed with relatives
before venturing out west, returning to Minersville, Schuylkill County, Pa, after becoming
involved in a murder case. Neil married Mary Mohan, daughter of Charles and Arretta Reed
Mohan, who ran the "Mohan Hotel" in that city. It is thought that William, first
born, was born in Minersville in 1865 or 1867, but by 1870, the family is found in
Ashland. Neil was, at that time, listed as working on the Railroad, and lived with
Mary,and children: William C, Annie, Susan, and Mary, and Anna Devitt. Neil's mother,
Anna, also lived in that house-hold, while the Mohans lived and prospered in Minersville.
It is mere speculation at this point, but that Neil had Devitt relatives also there.
A Winifred Devitt, born in Ballycastle, Ire. in 1829, married Valentine Poppert originally
from Germany, a Minersville settler as well, and according to the Poppert records, Neil
and his mother are recorded as sponsors of one of the Poppert children's Baptisms, in
Ashland. Further making the case, Mary T. Poppert's bridesmaid was a Theresa Devitt,
possiblly Neil and Mary Mohan Devitt's daughter. The Poppert/Ryan wedding took place in
Philadelphia, in 1892; Theresa would have been in her early 20's.
b) CHILDREN OF NEIL AND MARY MOHAN DEVITT
William C. Devitt was the first born child of Neil and Mary Mohan Devitt.
He was born in December, 1865, in Minersville, according to his youngest daughter,
Bernadette. The first record of him in the Census was in Ashland, in 1870. After William's
mother died, sometime before 1875, Neil accepted a commission to travel to South America,
with the Collins Brothers of railroad fame, and the female children- Annie, Susan, Mary,
and Theresa were sent to live with relatives- the Mohans, and the Thomas D. Brennans; both
families lived in Minersville. This is confirmned by the 1880 census. It has been written
that the surname is spelled "Beritt", not "Devitt" on that Census, but
it is a very understandable mistake, as the copies are very poor. However, William, then
14, is nowhere to be found in Minersville, and perhaps he joined his father in Bolivia,
working on an illfated railroad project along the Amazon River tributaries- Whether Mary
Mohan died before or after the expedition is mere guesswork.
It is known that William studied law, and became a member of the bar. For a time he was
working for Mr. McLaughlin, the District Attorney for Schuylkill County in the courthouse
in Pottsville, Pa.. He is described as a well known and much- admired member of the
William had clerked under Thomas F. Kerns, a lawyer and prothonetery also from Pottsville.
Thomas was also the president of the Standard Publishing Company, and in 1874, was
appointed to the Commission for the Antricite Hospital Assn, appointed by the governor. At
the time, the state was in the process of building a hospital in Ashland for the care of
William Devitt later married Mr. Kern's daughter, Anna Francis. The wedding took place in
St. Patrick's R.C. Church, Pottsville, on Oct. 16,1901, and was described in the
Pottsville newspaper thus:
Quiet and unassuming was the wedding of W. C. Devitt and Miss Anna F. Kerns, which took
place this morning at 8:30 o'clock in St. Patrick's Church. But a few of their most
intimate friends were aware of the date set for the nuptual ceremony, and at the church
this morning only the immediate members of the families and a few intimate friends were
present. They desired to have a quiet wedding without any display and its attending
excitement, and arranged to have the ceremony quietly performed, and then leave on a
wedding trip. A few minutes before 8:30 o'clock they arrived at the church, and at 8:45
o'clock, they were passengers on the P & H Flyer, bound for Philadelphia and other
will visit the Buffalo Exposition before returning home. They will make their home at
Ashland, where they will go into housekeeping.
The bride is the daughter of T. F. Kerns, of Garfield Square, and is an attractive and
popular young lady, of a lively and vivaciuos disposition and with the happy faculty of
making friends and retaining them. The groom is a well known member of the Schuylkill Co.
Bar, and resides at Ashland. He is Assistant District Attorney to District Attorney M.P.
McLoughlin. He is very popular not only in Ashland and Pottsville, but throughout the
The bride was attired in a browN broadcloth traveling gown, with hat and gloves to match,
and carrying a white prayer book. She was attended by her bridesmaid, Miss Sue
Devitt, of Ashland, sister to the groom, who wore a tan colored broadcloth and carried
white chysanthmums. Thomas Brehony, of Phila., a relative of the bride, was best man. The
marriage ceremony was performed by the
Rev. F.J. McGovern, after which the newly married couple left immediately for the depot.
They have the best wishes for the consummation of a happy and prosperous life and
[This account was reprinted as it appeared in the Pottsville Republican,
October 16, 1901, Wednesday, page 3, column 4.]
This article was sent to me via email from a dear friend and distant relative from New
Jersey, Barbara Bergfelder. Much of the information I have on the Kerns and Brehony
families comes from her as well. Interesting to note, as Barbara points out, that it was
Thomas Brehony's sister, Catherine, who married a Brennan. Much of the info comes from
Catherine Brehony as well. I wonder how or if the Brennans were related to our Thomas
D.Brennans from Minersville,Pa.
We found the obituary for William C. Devitt in the Pottsville newpaper, researched at the
library of the State University at Bloomsburg, Pa. There were actually two articles, one
announcing the death, and another, the funeral and burial in Ashland.
The articles appeared in the August 31 and Nov 5 editions of the newspaper,1945...
"Atty. W. C. Devitt, Ashland, Dies
William C. Devitt, attorney-at-law, 214 Centre Street, Ashland, died at his Summer home,
Stone Harbor, NJ, where the family Had been vacationing Since early this month. He was
taken ill Sunday night and died Thursday morning at seven o'clock.
Mr. Devitt was born in Ashland 78 years ago, a son of the late Neil and Mary Mohan Devitt,
and lived his entire life there. He was a member of the American Bar Association, the
Pennsylvania Bar Association, and had he lived until January first, he would have
celebrated his 50th anniversary as a member of the Schuylkill County Bar Association. He
was the last member of his class, and was the oldest member of the local Bar Association.
During the years 1900- 1904, Mr. Devitt served as assistant District Attorney, Was
chairman of the county Democratic Committee and was a delegate to the National Convention
in 1916. In that year he was admitted to the Supreme Court. From 1933-1935 he served as
the legal representative of the Home Owners' Loan Corporation. He was one of the
most active lawyers in the county during his many years as an attorney. He was a member of
St. Joseph's Church.
Surviving besides his wife,are two sons and three daughters: The Rev. Neal Devitt, Of the
Holy Ghost Order, serving as a curate in Philadelphia; Edward, Phila.; Mrs. Anna Paladine
and Miss Bernadette, Phila., and Miss Claire Devitt at home. There are five sisters: Anna
and Sue, Ashland, Mrs. John Noon, Brooklyn; Mrs. John McGuire, Asbury Park, NJ. and Mrs.
Catherine Hester, Phila.
The funeral will be held Monday morning. Mass will be celebrated in St. Joseph's Church,
and interment will be in the parish cemetery. M. J. Clarke, Girardville, is in charge.
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