Irish Sheepherders of Lake County Oregon
First Irish To Lake County
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Lake County Examiner
Thursday, March 14, 1968

    The Late Harry J. Anthony, a gentlemen of Irish Navtivity, in 1959 gathered notes about the early Irish settlers of Lake County for use in the progress edition which the Lake County Examiner published on June 25, 1959. From Mayor Anthony's notes, the following article was written by Leslie Shaw, who was not at that time connected with the Examiner.      One of the important social and economic factors in the development of lake County, since the earliest times, has been the leadership of men of Irish origination. The attraction of Lake County for the Irish , especially in the livestock industry, long ago earned this part of oregon, the name "Little Ireland" and since 1869 men from the Emerald Isle have been prominent here in sheep and business fields.
    One Story in point told in various forms, has to do with the farewells to a young Irishman who was starting his trip from Ireland to Lake County Oregon. He was advised, "Don't stop in the United States; go straight to Plush."
    One tragedy in Ireland's long history of calamities figured strongly in sending Irishmen to Lake County as well as to many parts of the world. The crop failure which started the great famine in Ireland in 1845 and grew most severe through 1847, started an emigration which lasted for more than 50 years and drained Ireland of at least half its population. According to history, over one million people left the country in the five years following the famine.
    For a period of some 50 years, Lakeview was the location of the only all-Irish organization in Oregon. This was Division No.1 of Lakeview, of the Ancient Order Of Hibernians.This fraternal group was disbanded here about 1950.
    In this brief history of the part played by men and women of the Irish race in development of Lake County, there may be some omissions due to lack of information. It treats only on those who came here between 1869 and later in the century. Since the turn of the century, greater numbers have come some of whom have been Lake County residents for 50 years or more and still are living here.
    Probably the first Irishman to come here was Michael McShane who arrived in 1869, about the time General Crook succeeded in quelling the Indian uprisings. McShane in 1883 acquired land in the Crooked Creek Valley one the earlier livestock ranches in the county which is known today as the Dicks ranch. Mike McShane has two granddaughters residing in Lakeview, and he was the father of the late James McShane, who died in recent years.
    The four Sherlock brothers were early arrivals, Thomas H. and Charles E. coming in 1871 and Richard L. Sherlock in 1872. the fourth brother, William was a first mate aboard a sailing ship and did not join his brothers here until 1888. The Sherlock's engaged in extensive sheep operations at Summer Lake and Lakeview. Ned Sherlock, son of Charles E. is the one survivor of this family group who still a resident in Lake County and he has the home ranch south of Lakeview. In the early 1900's the ranch was close around Lakeview and the original ranch house was located where today is the Lloyd Ogle home on F Street South.
    William Harvey was born August 21, 1845 in Northern Ireland. He first came to Califonia in 1870 and to Lake County in 1872. Returning to Califormia in 1875, he bought sheep there and brought them to Simmer lake where he acquired land Still in the family, the ranch is operated today by Harvey's son Bill Harvey.
    The date of John McElhinney's arrival in Lake County is not known, but it probably was about the same time as the earlier Sherlock, around 1871. McElhinney was born in Ireland in 1841 and died at Lakeview in 1904, having spent his adult life as a sheepman around Paisley and Summer Lake.
    The four Barry Brothers, whose sheep ranching activities centered in the Warner Valley, are credited with bringing many of the Irish to Lake county. First was Michael Barry, who brought sheep to Warner Valley from California about 1871. The other three Barry brothers arrived shortly after Michael: William K. Barry was born in 1847 and died here in 1914; Phillip K. Barry was born in 1841 and died in 1926; and James K. Barry was born in 1843 and died 1927. Most of the Irish who were brought here to work in the sheep industry came from Newmarket, County Cork Ireland.
    Also early in the Warner Valley sheep business were Phil and Tom Lynch and their half-brother, Mike Lynch, who arrived here in the late 1870's or early 1880's. Phil Lynch died here in 1912 at the age of 47. His son, Con now operated the home ranch, the JJ, to which has been added other lands. Mike Lynch died here in 1895, while Tom Lynch returned to Ireland years ago and died there in recent years at 85 years of age.
    The McKee family came to America in 1869, and while their ship was in quarantine in New York Harbor, a son James was born. The family came west to California by crossing the Isthmus of panama. James later came to Lake County and engaged in the cattle business in Warner Valley, the ranch now being operated by his son, Dee's. An older brother of James Bill Mckee, who was born in Ireland, died here a few years ago, the last survivor of the original family.
Dr. Bernard Daly

    Probably the most noted among the Irish Immigrants in Lake County was Bernard Daly, Doctor of medicine, banker, rancher, attorney county and circuit judge, legislator, educator and founder of the famed Bernard Daly Educational Fund. Born February 17, 1858, in County Mayo, Ireland. Daly was brought to the United States at the age of five years by his parents who settled in Alabama where the boy was educated in the public schools. In 1886, he graduated from the medical department of Ohio State Normal University, at Ada, Ohio, and a year later from the University of Louisville (Kentucky). He came to Lake County the same year and established a medical practice here.
    During his years as a doctor, this man became widely loved for his untiring efforts in behalf of the sick, offlicted, and injured. His range of services covered a radius of more than 100 miles around Lakeview, and he was never too tired to answer a call with in his reach, traveling by buggy, buckboard or horseback. At the time of the Christmas eve, 1894 disastrous fire at Silver Lake, 100 miles north of Lakeview, Dr. Daly was the only physician within reach. The fire had killed 47 persons and injured many more. Dr. Daly received word on Christmas Day and, in company with Willard Duncan, he started for silver lake at 4 p.m.. They traveled by buckboard to Paisley, and horseback from there with the snow many times reaching the bellies of the horses. Daly arrived at 6 a.m. the next day and begun at once treating the injured.
    Entering politics on the Democratic ticket in 1892, Dr. Daly was elected that year to the Oregon House of Representatives, serving until 1896 when he was elected to a four-year term in the state Senate. In 1900, he was his party's canidate for Congressman from the first Oregon district, and was defeated by Thomas H. Tongue.
    In 1902, Dr. Daly was elected county judge of Lake County, serving three terms until 1914. He was admitted to the Oregon bar and was appointed by governor Withycombe as the first circuit judge of the 14th judicial district, Lake County, which was created in 1914. he served through 1917.
     An early interest in Education led Dr. Daly to serve for 26 years on the Lakeview scholl board and one time he was a member of the board of regents of the Oregon Agricultural college at Corvallis (now Oregon State University).
    The Doctor was an organizer of the Bank Of Lakeview in 1908 and served as its president until the time of his death. A few years before death, he retired from the medical profession in order to devote most of his time to banking. He died January 5, 1920.
    He was an organizer and president of the Lake County Land and Livestock Company which owned the extensive 7-T Ranch at Plush. For 12 years, he was president of the Lake County Agricultural Society.
Daly Fund Set Up
    The Bernard Daly Educational Fund was established by his will which, after a few bequests, left the bulk of an estate which neared one million dollars to provide scholarships for graduates of Lake County high schools. The first scholarships were awarded in 1922, and through 1967 they have been available to 782 high school graduates with more names being added each year. 'This scholarship fund is the only one of its kind in the nation. Administered by a board of trustees under jurisdiction of the circuit court, the fund pays scholarships from the earning of the invested principal. Selection of beneficiaries is based on results of scholastic test, and those who receive the awards must maintain certain standards of grades during college to receive the benefits each year.
    The early Irish were the counterparts of other American pioneers in carving Lake County from the wilderness. These early settlers, Irish and Americans side by side, contributed greatly to the local economy and citizenship. Although the main effort of the Irish was in the field of sheep production, which peaked at more than 300,000 head in this county during the years around the turn of the century, many of the Irish have been successful in other fields including business. While a few Irish immigrants returned to their native land, most remained to live and die in their adopted Lake county, adding not only to the Wealth and Prosperity of the area but also to the high quality of individual initiative and progress.

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Last updated: January 17, 2008