Looking back: Native Irishman lived in Boyle County

Published 9:10 am Sunday, June 20, 2021


Contributing writer

John Haggan, a native of Ireland, spent much of his life in Boyle County after coming to the United States. He arrived in Perryville about the mid-1800s and bought a farm in Mercer County in 1893.

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He and his wife, Elizabeth, had nine children, according to U.S. Census records. He was a gatekeeper and was a farmer.

The 1870 Boyle County Census lists Haggan, 45, and his wife, Elizabeth, 40, with seven children: Andrew, 12; Mary, 9; Jane, 7; Rosa, 5, and James, 5. In 1880, two more were added, Anna, 9, and John 6.

Buys farm

Haggan purchased 148 acres of farm land on Lexington Pike a half mile from Harrodsburg from the Society of Shakers in March 1893.

He paid $50 per acre for the “good farm and the price paid was a low one,” according to an article in the Kentucky Advocate.

The farm was adjacent to a farm owned by W.J. Lyle, who had earlier refused Haggan’s offer of $100 per acre.

Registers for war

Haggan was 38 years old and living in Boyle County, when he registered in 1863 in the Union Army for service in the for the Civil War. His occupation was a laborer.

Returns home

Haggin returned to his native Ireland in 1888 and visited for several months. It apparently was the first time he had returned to his birthplace.

On his return to Perryville in November 1888, he told the editor of The Advocate he enjoyed his visit very much,

“In all his travels he said he had never seen as good a country as old Kentucky.”

Dies at age 67

Haggan, who had been a gatekeeper on the Harrodsburg Road, died December 1893, at the age of 67. He was a devout member of the Catholic Church. His wife, Elizabeth, and four of their children, survived.

Haggan was described as a “warm friend, and a kind neighbor, whose demise will be sadly felt in the community.”

Haggan and his wife, were mentioned as being sociable and attended many parties with friends in Perryville, according to articles in The Advocate.