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Daniel O'Day

Date of Birth: 
Feb 1844
Date of Death: 

Daniel O'Day was born in Kildysart, County Clare in February 1844.  His parents Michael and Mary O'Day moved to America and settled on a farm in Cattaraugus County New York State in 1845.

He left home at sixteen and got a job as a freight handler in a Buffalo warehouse.  He worked there for four years and then headed for the Pennslyvania oil country where he started a notable and pioneering career in the oil industry.

Daniel was one of North Western Pennsylvania's earliest independent refiners to be brought into John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company.  He eventually managed the crews that laid pipe to bring oil from wells to the railroads.  His crews were skilled and efficient and succeeded in laying these pipes before they could be destroyed thus ensuring that there was no longer a need for transporting wooden barrels of oil.  For the ensuing oil war, he demonstrated his skills as a negotiator and organizer for which he was highly regarded.  He deplored the waste of natural gas occurring in the oil fields and assured Rockefeller that they could pipe the volatile and invisible product safely and made pipeline management a profession and a science.  Standard's efforts, at that time, included building the world's longest natural gas pipeline, a metal line from the gas fields of Mckean County, PA to Buffalo, NY.  In the 1870's, Daniel laid the first oil pipeline to New York City from Titusville.  O'Day became one of Rockefeller's trusted lieutenants and eventually became the company manager and one of the 5 leading directors of the Standard Oil Company.  Further information on this period is available in "Titan", Ron Chernow's epic biography of how John D. Rockefeller created America's first and most powerful monopoly, the Standard Oil Company.  It suggests that "O'Day was a profane, two fisted Irishman who tempered ruthless tactics with wit and charm.  He inspired loyalty among subordinates and raw terror among adversaries.  On his forehead, O'Day bore a scar from an old oil creek brawl that was a constant reminder of his bare knuckled approach to business." 

Daniel went on to become involved as a director and president of numerous transport, power and banking companies.  In 1900, he reorganized the Atlantic Coast Realty Co. when the company purchased the land which is now the Borourgh of Deal in New Jersey.  It was the largest real estate transaction on the Jersey Coast up to that time.  The tract was entrusted to Nathan F Barrett, a landscape architect who laid out the plans for the section which extended from Neptune Avenue to north of Lawrence Avenue.  Part of the tract was formerly owned by Thomas Murphy advisor to President Grant.

In 1902, O'Day built a magnificent Tudor mansion on 85 acres along Deal Lake which he called "Kildysert" after the place of his birth.  When the estate was completed, he hosted a grand party for 2,000 guests on June 22 1903.  Entertainment was on a grand scale and the 69th Regiment Band of New York City played until the early hours.  Among the prestigious figures in attendance were former US President, Grover Cleveland and Governor Murphy of New Jersey.  All the guests were brought to Deal by special trains and the hosts even had 40 carriages ready at Deal Station to convey them to the house.

Daniel O'Day was only able to enjoy his beloved "Kildysert" for about 3 years.  He died in September 1906 while visiting his daughter, Mrs. S Triana in Rouen, France.  He was only 62 and was survived by his second wife Eliza and his 12 children.

His son Daniel married future Democratic politician Caroline Love Goodwin O'Day in 1901.  She remained quietly married to her husband for 15 years but his death in 1916 released an interest in activism that had lain dormant while a wife and mother.  She became committed to issues of social welfare and woman suffrage, and as a wealthy widow, she was able to use her financial assets to further these causes.  She became a supporter of Franklin Roosevelt and her assistance in FDR's campaign in 1932 was reciprocated when the President and first lady helped her win a congresssional seat in 1934.  She became one of the most prominent women in Congress and served 3 terms in the House of Representatives before she died in January 1943.

Thanks to James O'Dea, Dublin for this information.


Their children


Daniel O'Day

Charles O'Day

Frank O'Day (Oil City, Pennsylvania)

Mrs. Henry Dixon Morrison  (their sons  Henry Morrison and Robert Morrison)

Mrs E A McPherson  (Buffalo)

Mrs. John Hallahan (Philadelphia)

Mrs. S Triana

Mrs. A J Stone

Ruth O'Day

Geraldine O'Day

Dorothy O'Day

John O'Day


Daniel O'Day & Caroline O'Day had 2 sons -

Charles O'Day married Lydia Maria Diaz  in Caracas, Venezuela 1937 where he was US Vice Consul 

Daniel O'Day (3rd generation) married Ida Sadler 1937

Daughter Elia was an active supporter of Caroline's campaigns