Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
The Romance of Old Barclay by Clarke
Chapter Two - Why Dobbins Came to Barclay
The Romance of Old Barclay

By Staley N. Clarke

Originally Published 1928, Towanda PA

Photos by Joyce M. Tice October 4, 1998
Retyped for Tri-Counties by Richard Harris and Connie Unganst and Formatted by Joyce M. Tice

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[Page 5]



Tom Dobbins was one of the early residents of Barclay and the history of how he came to be there instead of with his family in Ireland is a highly interesting and dramatic story in itself. As related by his daughter, Mrs. Anna M. Sheehan of Bridge street, Towanda, it is as follows:

Tom’s father was John Dobbins, wealthy resident of Ireland, who had such a beautiful estate there that it won the name of "Dobbins’ Fair Lands." Hearing of the opportunities offered in America, he came here and started in business, being one of the first clothing merchants in New York City.

He was getting along well and the business was prospering when suddenly his life came to a tragic end. He and another business man, both carrying considerable money, were held up while driving through a clump of trees on the way to the station for some goods. Dobbins, realizing that the masked bandits would either get the money or take their lives in the attempt, immediately handed over his roll. His companion, however, could not bear the thought of parting with the money he had saved and had so much use for. He gave fight, was shot and killed. Then the question arose as to what to do with Dobbins who got down on his knees, pleading for his life. He said for the bandits to take his horses—everything—but just let him live. He pointed out that he knew neither of them and could do no harm. One bandit wanted to let him go but the other finally shot Dobbins dead.

The bandits were captured later as a result of their taking the horses. One of them turned state’s evidence and that was how the story was learned. He received a long prison sentence while the other bandit was hanged.

Upon the murder of John Dobbins word was sent to Ireland that some member of his family would have to come to New York in order to settle the estate. Mrs. Dobbins could not come because of her family and the son Tom received the burden on his shoulders despite his tender age. It was for that reason he came to New York.

After his return to Ireland the impression of America stayed with him and the yearning grew steadily stronger to come back. Finally at the age of 17 he ran away and came back to America. He saw the Fall Creek Company’s advertisement for men in a New York paper and came on immediately. He stayed at the boarding house operated by Mr. And Mrs. Michael Larkin and secured a job driving mules. Later he became a regular miner with wages varying from $4 to $8 a day.

He fully intended to return in a short time to his mother and brothers and sisters in Ireland but love stepped in to change his course of life. He met Mary McMahon at Barclay and they became so enamoured of each other that a marriage at Towanda resulted. Even after that, he always hoped to get back to see the old homestead and his dear family again but was never able to accomplish it. A few years before he died, however, his two brothers came to this country to visit him, but he regretted to his death that he would never be able to see his home again.
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Coal Mining Photos

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 9/13/99
By Joyce M. Tice