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A Brief Biography of

Private Patrick Claffey

1st Marine Battalion (Reinforced), Co. D

(November 16, 1873 – December 8, 1919)

By Suzanne E. Woods-Connaughton (Great Granddaughter)
Patrick Claffey, 1st Marine Battalion, 1898
The only known image of Patrick Claffey, taken from his identification card at the Charlestown Navy Yard from later in life.
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Patrick Paul Claffey served with the 1st Marine Battalion (Reinforced) , Co. D at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, taking part in the Battle of Cuzco Well.

The Biography:

Patrick Paul Claffey, son of John Claffey and Bridget Byrne, both of Kiltoom, was born November 16, 1873 in Kiltoom, Athlone, Roscommon, Ireland.  He emigrated to the United States between 1889 and 1890, arriving in Boston, Massachusetts.

Claffey, who had been working as a laborer, enlisted as a private in the U.S. Marine Corps on December 10, 1897 in Boston for a period of five years. He initially served briefly aboard the U.S Receiving Ship LANCASTER at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard at Seavey Island, Maine and then at the New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn. Claffey was assigned to the First Marine Battalion (Reinforced) at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, joining the battalion on April 20, 1898. The First Marine Battalion (Reinforced) served with distinction at Guantanamo, Cuba. As a member of Captain William F. Spicer’s Company D, he would have participated in the Battle of Cuzco Well, in which the Spanish forces were routed.

After the war, Patrick Claffey is known to have served on the Cruiser COLUMBIA when she served as a receiving ship in 1902, immediately prior to Claffey being honorably discharged on December 9, 1902 at the New York Navy Yard. Colonel Meade of the New York Marine Barracks was listed as a reference to his character as a soldier and citizen when Patrick later applied to join the Legion of Spanish War Veterans.

After being discharged from the service, Patrick relocated back to Boston where he later met Ellen Agnes Donnelly, an immigrant from Patrick’s hometown in Ireland. It is not known if they knew each other in Ireland but a very good probability.  Patrick and Ellen were married in Boston on April 27, 1910 and had four children, Catherine Elizabeth Claffey, John Joseph Claffey, Helen Elizabeth Claffey & George Edward Claffey. The family lived at 14 Lafayette Park in West Roxbury.  Patrick worked as a crane operator in the Hull Division at Charlestown Navy Yard, a position he continued to hold through World War One. Patrick Paul Claffey died on December 8, 1919 in West Roxbury, leaving behind his young family. His cause of death was listed as chronic nephritis - the advanced kidney disease.  He is interred at New Calvary Cemetery in Mattapan, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

After Patrick’s death, wife Ellen filed a widow’s pension on December 7, 1922.  It is believed the money she received from Patrick’s pension is how she and the children could afford to move to Waltham, Massachusetts where Ellen purchased a two-family home and ran a boarding house on Robbins Street from the early 1920’s until her death in 1944.

As of 2007, there are six generations of descendants of Patrick Paul Claffey and Ellen Agnes Donnelly.


Pension Records for Claffey - U.S. Marine Corps; Dependent: Ellen A. Claffey, widow: Widow Application 1197587 filed 07 DEC 1922 in Massachusetts; Widow Certificate 945099; Remarks: Died Dec. 8, 1919, Lafayette Park, Roxbury; XC2712465.

Legion of Spanish War Veterans Application for Patrick Claffey

Charlestown Navy Yard Pass for Patrick Claffey

Muster Roll, Portsmouth Navy Yard, December, 1897

Muster Roll, U.S.S. PANTHER, April, 1898

Muster Roll, 1st Marine Battalion, Camp McCalla, Cuba, July, 1898

Muster Roll, U.S.S. COLUMBIA, October, 1902

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