Category Archives: Powers of the World

Harry Power – Australian Bushranger

Henry ‘Harry’ Power, born in Waterford in the summer of 1819, was to become one of Australia’s infamous bushrangers – an outlaw who lived in the bush.

Convicted as a young man of the theft of a pair of shoes, and a bridle & saddle, Power (under the name Henry Johnston), was convicted and sentenced to 7 years transportation, arriving at the age of 23 in Hobart (Van Diemen’s Land) in 1842, aboard the convict ship Isabella.

Having become a free man in 1848, Power now moved to New South Wales and began a career in cattle droving, exploring the mountainous terrain and becoming an expert bushman.  He also ran a horse yard out of Geelong.

harrypowerAttracted by the gold discoveries at Geelong and nearby, Power’s life was to be changed by one incident in 1855.

Stopped by two policemen while out riding, Power was accused by them of horse stealing, such was the magnificent steed he was riding.

In a later interview with ‘The GIPPSLAND Times” from 1877, Power gives his account of the incident :

—”I was going along quietly when down came the two troopers, hooting and shouting. I saw they were drunk … but they stopped me. ‘Whose horse is that?’ says one. ‘It’s mine,’ says I … ‘I believe you stole that horse,’ says the first.’ ‘You’re a liar,’ says I. ‘ You’ll have to come along with us,’ says the other. ‘I won’t do it,’ says I, getting riled. On that one of them drew his hanger, and said he’d make me. He charged at me, and I’d only just time to draw my revolver, or he’d have cut me down. I shot him, and then the other fellow rode up and fired at me, and the powder singed my coat. I shot him, and then rode off … But I was frightened, and rode across the colony, thinking to go and stay in New South Wales till the row was over. At the Murray I was stopped … They arrested me and brought me down to Melbourne, and I got 10 years. The men were not hurt much, and it was proved they stopped me without cause, or I’d have got more.”

Confined to prison, he initially was held on the prison hulk Success.  Prison hulks were ships no longer fit for sea, but converted into prisons, harsh and demeaning, even for the time, becoming a notorious way of holding law breakers.  Power served some 2 and a half years before being transferred to the prison at Pentridge, from where he escaped in 1862, taking to bush country, falling back on the skills he had learned earlier in life.

It was at this time, around the Ovens district of New South Wales, and in Victoria, that he became acquainted with other lawbreaking circles, including the Quinns and most notably, the Kellys.  It is said that the notorious Ned Kelly was his ‘apprentice’ for a time and Power was instrumental in guiding him and other would-be bushrangers in survival.

A prison hulk

Another spell in prison beckoned but Power once again escaped from Pentridge in February 1869, and turned to highway robbery, becoming very successful.

He held up mail coaches, committed other robberies and stole horses, having set up  permanent camp in the hill country behind the Glenmore Homestead of Kelly family relatives, Jack and Thomas Lloyd.  Incidentally, there is now an area close by named Power’s Lookout, named for Harry Power.

With a large reward for his capture, he was finally caught, having been betrayed for the reward by the Quinns, in 1870,  and was sentenced at the courts of Beechworth to fifteen years hard labour for bushranging, again being held at Pentridge.


Released in 1877 on the grounds of ill-health, he returned to the property of one of his female petitioners, a Ms. Clarke, and eventually became a guide on the now museum ship Success, where he had earlier been incarcerated.

As this article shows, in 1891 Power fell into the water at Swan Hill while fishing and visiting relatives, and was drowned.

Mass Irish Emigration to the USA

A phrase heard often in Ireland that “everyone has someone in America!” – meaning that it’s rare the family that doesn’t have connections in the United States, be they first generation or earlier.  The phrase is equally accurate for Newfoundland and Canada and in modern times,  Australia.

Throughout the centuries, Irish people, young and old,  have always left this island in their droves and for various reasons – oppression, famine, adventure, war and conflict, opportunity … it is interesting then to see the names of those Powers (and others, of course) that pop up in the pages of newspapers and journals, making their mark in one way or another, before the Internet and instant communication became ubiquitous.

There are some great online resources available, allowing us to delve into local (sometimes very local) US history – and when we find a subject – like the recent post on Sheriff John Powers of Nebraska – we take great pleasure in exploring a little bit more about the emigrant in question, trying at least in the broad sense, to add some social context and a sense of place to the individual and those they might have left behind on “the Ould Sod”.

An interesting snippet found its way to our keyboard recently, which perusing “The Daily Phoenix” of Columbia, South Carolina, from 1874.

The total number of emigrants from Ireland in the first six months of the present year was 45,781, of whom 25,163 were males and 60, 917 were females.  As compared with the corresponding period of 1873, there was a decrease of 14,359.  Since the 1st of May, 1851, the total emigration from Ireland has been 2,252,745.

Despite the inaccuracy in the sum of the first two figures, the last line in that article is simply nothing short of astonishing.  Whole cities worth of people were moving lock, stock and barrel from Ireland during this time, and the figures quoted don’t even go back as far as 1847, when the Famine was at it’s height.

As a concept, Irish people of today readily acknowledge the Great Famine and all its terrible loss and suffering, but I don’t think we can equate today’s sense of space and freedom with just how many more people were on our island just 150 odd years ago.

And to sign off, and as was bound to happen, not all the Powers who made the journey managed to keep their noses out of strife !

Cincinnati, Ohio, 1875

PS : That’s  a $4000 fine today !


“Honest John” Power – Sheriff, Douglas County, Nebraska

2016-06-22_0955 “Honest John” Power (1949-1916) was Sheriff of Douglas County, Nebraska, having emigrated to the New World at the early age of 16.

Born in Waterford, Ireland in 1849, in the teeth of the Irish Famine, he arrived as a teenager in the city of Philadelphia he trained as a cooper (barrel maker), before later living in Kansas City, Missouri and eventually settling in Omaha, Nebraska.

In 1882, he, like many enterprising Irish emigrants before him, started a business of his own on 4th and Jones Streets, Omaha and soon built up an extensive trade.

As Edward Morearty mentions in his book “Omaha memories : recollections of events, men and affairs in Omaha, Nebraska, from 1879 to 1917”,

He is known as “Honest John,” a title which he justly deserves, as all who have come in contact with him, either as a private citizen or a public official, can fully substantiate. He made one of the best sheriffs that Douglas County ever had.

In politics Power was a Democrat and was elected to the office of Sheriff of Douglas County in 1899, an office which he held for several years and through several re-elections.  Having retired from law enforcement, he once again entered the trading arena, this time in addition to cooperage, he bought and sold coal, as president of the Power-Heafey Coal Company.  His company also engaged in the manufacture of some of the first washing machines.

A dedicated family man, Power had many wide interests and was amongst others, a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.  He married twice, first to Mary Quinlan (d. 1888) and then to Mamie O’Malley (d. 1915 who also predeceased him.  He has at least 4 children that I could find.

From 1914
From 1914








He died at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Omaha, surrounded by his sons and daughters, of heart failure, in 1916.  For a wonderful tribute paid to the man, by the Omaha Jacksonian Club, of which he was a prominent member, see this reproduction of the article from the “Omaha Daily Bee” newspaper, from Omaha, Nebraska, January 1916.

TC Power & Bro, magnates of the American Frontier

Thomas C. Power

“T. C. Power and Bro” was a prominent mercantile business started by Thomas Charles Power (left) (1839-1923) and his brother John (1844-1901), who were to become well established traders in Montana and across several southern Canadian provinces.

Of Iowa and Pennsylvania Irish Catholic stock, their parents Michael Power and Catherine McLeer arrived in Iowa, via Missouri in the 1830s.  Their father Michael, himself an established mercantile man, had came to the United States from Ireland as a young emigrant.

In 1867, Tom C. Power,  having completed his private schooling in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin, travelled up the Missouri River to Fort Benton, Montana and opened a general mercantile store, in partnership with his brother.  During the years of the US Civil War, the Powers were involved in trade along the mighty Missouri River, primarily dealing with steamboats.  TC Power eventually became president of a steamboat line, at one time owning and operating 9 steamers.


The Power brothers gradually established themselves in the trading business and this enterprise was to become very profitable, with thirteen stores being established on the norther US border with Canada and two on the Canadian side.

John W. Power

“Power and Brother”, and other notable firms, dominated trade and freighting on the northern plains of the USA by the mid 1870s.  Throughout their time in business, the Powers were involved in military and Indian trade (particularly buffalo hides), steam-boating, freight shipping, stage coach lines, mail contracts, cattle ranching, banking, bridge building and town planning.

By 1875, their trade with local tribes for buffalo hides reached an incredible 36,000 in number, which they sold to markets in New York, Chicago and other cities.   This was a remarkable feat in both accomplishment and value, as a hide was approx USD$2 at the time, translating to roughly US$750,000 or €660,000 nowadays – one hunting season’s gains!

When the buffalo herds declined, they continued a profitable trade with miners and stockmen in the area around Fort Benton, Montana.  This trade also helped the city of Fort Benton (called the Birthplace of Montana) become an important river trading post, the town, established in 1846, already being one of the oldest settlements in the American West.

As Henry Classen puts it, in his paper “Shaping the growth of the Montana Economy: T.C. Power & Bro, and the Canadian Trade 1869-93” :

Fort Benton’s two largest merchant
partnerships, T.C. Power & Bro. and I.G. Baker
& Co., became leaders among the pioneers in
the big business of Canadian prairie trade during
this period. They created international marketing
and purchasing networks for importing
buffalo robes and furs and for exporting foodstuffs,
ready-made clothes, metal and wood
products, and livestock to Canada.

2016-06-21_1250This advertisement, from paper “The Mineral Argus” of Maiden, Montana (1886) and advertising their store in Lewistown, Montana, gives and interesting look at their stock, their large area of trade and a good insight into the firm.

When their establishment was incorporated, Power was president of T.C. Powers & Co. and T.C. Powers Mercantile Company of Fort Benton, Montana. After settling in Helena, Montana in 1876, Power started another firm, T. C. Power and Browhich, a prominent mercantile company which served the northwestern United States and western Canada. He also served as president of the American National Bank of Helena and represented the state in the US senate, serving from January, 1890 to March, 1895.The town of Power, Montana was named in TC Power’s honour.

We would urge the reader to invest some time in a more in-depth biography of both remarkable men which can be found in the early 1900s publication “Progressive men of the state of Montana”, now available online.

Irish Emigrant Trails

Visit Ireland's Emigrant Trail websiteHere at the Power Clan Gathering, we’ve taken a step into family history and have started an exciting new project called “Irish Emigrant Trails“.

Our aim is to assist those of you who are planning a trip to Ireland with your family history, and then, based on the results, develop a trail for you to follow when you get here – either with us as a guide or by yourselves.

By tailoring the trail around the research we do before you arrive, visitors can get right down to it – we aim to find homesteads, grave sites, parishes, villages/towns etc. where possible, all while seeing the wonderful sights Ireland has to offer.

We’d be delighted to hear your feedback on this new project and if we can be of any assistance to anyone planning their next trip (or maybe the first ?), please contact us over at Irish Emigrant Trails … or via Facebook.

As the slogan says, “Come find where it all began …”

Nicknames Competition !

COMPETITION TIME AGAIN in partnership with WLR fm

We want to know your Power Clan nicknames and the stories behind why each branch of the clan was know as such.

There were so many Power families in Waterford and surrounding areas that they had to be differentiated by nicknames … and we’re sure there are some funny or unusual ones about.

For example, one of our committee member’s family is known as”The Mountain Powers” to distinguish them from the Power families who lived at the bottom of the mountain – “The Jeffs” !

So please leave your stories and nicknames in the comments and we’ll give 2 tickets to our Gardenmorris BBQ and Ceilí event on June 2nd to the winner !

Ridgley C. Powers – Governor of Mississippi

Ridgley Ceylon Powers (1836-1912) was a Union officer in the American Civil War and a Mississippi politician who served as that state’s Governor from 1871 to 1874.  Born in late 1836 to Milo Powers and Lucy Ann Dickinson,  his education was attained at the University of Michigan and at Union College in New York, where he took classes in 1862.

rcpowersDuring the Civil War, he served as a private in Company C of the 25th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and rose to the rank of colonel by time of his discharge in 1865. After his military service, he moved to Mississippi and settled in Noxubee County, where he ran a cotton plantation. Powers joined Mississippi’s newly established Republican Party in 1868 and was elected lieutenant governor in 1869. Although most Republican officials were very unpopular during the period after the war, Powers retained the confidence and respect of the people during his term as lieutenant governor and later as governor.

Powers died in Los Angeles, California in 1912.

Dermot Power – Digital Artist

Dermot Power from Dungarvan, Co.Waterford is a digital artist and concept designer who has worked on many well known films, adding to them with his wonderful artwork.

dermotpowerartHis name may not be as famous as those on whose films he worked, but among his credits to date he can include the Harry Potter films, Batman Begins, Beowulf and Star Wars : Episode II – Attack of the Clones.

Dermot Power has also painted the artwork for several Batman trading cards, and a number of illustrations for the Magic: The Gathering and Warcraft card games.  He currently lives and works out of London.  For those of you into illustration or digital art, his website is well worth a visit.

David Powers – aide to JFK

David ‘Dave’ Francis Powers (1912–1998) was Special Assistant to President of the United States John F. Kennedy during the latter’s term in office.

The son of immigrants from County Cork, Powers was born in 1912, in the Charlestown area of Boston – a waterfront district of three-decker tenements. His father died when he was 2, and at age 10 David got a job as a newsboy, a position that he later said helped him get to know nearly everyone in the area. He attended college at night before joining the Army Air Force in 1942. He served for three years in Asia before being discharged at the end of World War II as a master sergeant.

kennedy-powersMr. Powers was in the motorcade in Dallas when Kennedy was killed, and after the assassination, Mr. Powers remained close to the Kennedy family, visiting often with the slain President’s children, Caroline and John Kennedy Jr.

He went on to assemble and catalogue thousands of pieces of Kennedy memorabilia and to raise money for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum which opened in 1979.