Biographies and Obituaries
In loving memory
History of the Catholic Church in Indiana
Logansport, Ind.: A.W. Bowen & Co., 1898, Vol. 2, pp 402-404.
William Downey, one of the best known residents of St. Patricks parish, Daviess county, was born on a farm near Alfordsville, Ind., April 3, 1847, the seventh of a family of eight children (seven sons and one daughter) born to Thomas and Bridget (McAvey) Downey, of which children only two -- James and William are now living.
Thomas Downey, a native of County Queens, Ireland, was born about 1801, was reared a farmer, and there married Miss McAvey, who was born in County Kings in 1803. In 1830 Mr. Downey and wife sailed from Dublin for New York, and from the latter city went to Lancaster, Pa., where Mr. Downey for a short time was employed on public works; they next removed to Louisville, Ky., and then to Madison, Ind., where Mr. Downey was for some time foreman of a railroad section force, and in 1845 came to Daviess county, where he purchased a partially improved tract of 120 acres of land, which he farmed for twelve years and then sold. He then made a brief visit to Iowa, but returned to Daviess county and purchased a farm of 160 acres in Reeve township about 1856, which he later increased to 420 acres. He was one of the most respected men of his township and one of its most progressive and public spirited citizens, and a regular attendant at the old log church of St. Patrick's parish, to which he donated the land on which the present church edifice stands and also the ground for the cemetery. In politics he was originally a whig, but later become a Jacksonian democrat, and adhered to this political belief until his death. He lost his wife February 12, 1873, and his death occurred September 9, 1877, and the remains of both lie interrred in St. Patrick's cemetery, where a handsome marble slab marks their mutual grave.
William Downey remained with his parents, assisting his father in farming, until his marriage, April 23, 1874, to Miss Elizabeth Farrell, by Rev. William Doyle. Mrs. Downey was born in Daviess county April 18, 1847, a daughter of Andrew and Catherine (Smith) Farrell, and was confirmed in the Catholic faith by Bishop de St. Palais in the same class in which her husband was confirmed. Her father was born in County Longford, Ireland and her mother was a native of Maryland, and these were the parents of six sons and seven daughters, of whom nine are still living -- the eldest son, Joseph, being a farmer and grain buyer Fort Worth, Tex., and the youngest daughter being the wife of Michael Conlin, a railroad man, also of Fort Worth, while the remaining seven reside in Daviess County, Ind. The union of Mr. and Mrs. Downey has been blessed with one son, James C. , who was confirmed at ten years of age by Bishop Chatard, and is now an assistant to his father in his agricultural pursuits.
William Downey has passed all his life in Daviess County, has always been among the foremost in aid of his church, and was present when the first spadeful of earth was removed for the purpose of making room for the foundation of the present St. Patrick church edifice. In his early years he taught school in Reeve township for 106 days and for two years was engaged in merchandizing in Armagh, but is now engaged in agriculture, owning 189 acres in Reeve township, while Mrs. Downey owns forty acres in Harrison township -- the gift of her father. In politics Mr. Downey is a staunch democrat, and cast his first presidential vote for Horatio Seymour in 1868, and it may be added that James C. Downey cast his first vote for William J. Bryan. Although a democrat, Mr. Downey has been extremely popular with his fellow citizens of all parties, and served as postmaster of Armagh under the administration of President Grant. The family are devoted members of St. Patrick's church, and Mr. Downey is also a member of the Catholic Knights of America. No family in the county stands higher, socially, than that of William Downey.
Contributed by: John D. McMullen