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Home: Surnames: Dignan Family Genealogy Forum

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Michael (Duignan) Dignan
Posted by: John Dignan Date: March 29, 2001 at 17:33:51
  of 170

This is the original post I put on the Duignan Family site. As it turns out, the Duignan quickly became a "Dignan". There is some update at the end.......................................................

My Great-grandfather was Michael J. Duignan (notice the spelling change). In 1911, his widow, Ann, requested documentation from the War Department of his service in the Union Army during the Civil War so that she could collect his pension. I now have his official discharge/certification. It is fairly large, about 18" X 24", and is in color. About 40 years ago, my father (Bernard A. Dignan) had the document laminated and mounted.

The "discharge" documents every battle and campaign that Michael J. Duignan took part in. He enlisted in Allegheny County, PA and went to "boot camp" at Camp Howe, Pittsburgh, PA on Sept. 1, 1862. His age at the time was about 14 years old. The record states that he "buried the dead at Bull Run" which is consistant with a job for a camp boy. He most likely did not fight, although it does state that he was "wounded by a shot on the shoulder and knee" in 1865.

Michael was a private in Comapny I, 139th Regiment Pennsylvania Voluntary Infantry commanded by Col. F. Collier. This was part of the 6th Corps of the Army of the Potomac. This unit took part in the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-4 and the pursuit of Lee, July 5 -24th, 1863. Michael was with the unit at Appomatox and was promoted th Corporal in March, 1865, about a month before Lee's surrender.

Michael and Ann Duignan had eleven children. They were - Mary A., Michael J. (jr.), Margaret, John, Bridget, Bernard X. (my grandfather), James, Edward J., William F., Thomas, and George.

Sometime after the War the family name was changed to Dignan (dropping the "U"). My grandfather told me that his father was the one who did this to avoid job discrimination against the Irish in the New York/New Jersey area. I am not sure this true since 'Dignan" is a fairly recognizable Irish name. Most likely it was a bureaucratic error along the way that my great-grandfather learned to live with.

My grandfather grew up in the Newark area, Essex County, New Jersey. All the siblings must have died at an early age or moved to other parts of the country because I only knew of my great-uncle Edward.

Please let me know if anyone has any other information that connects with this particular "Duignan"..................................................

Michael J. Dignan (now) moved to East Orange, NJ after the Civil War and married. There are various city records that show him and his wife, Anna, living with several sons. Michael J. Jr. - Bernard X. - Edward J. - William F. - George. Six siblings we can find no info on. Thomas, James, and John (sounds like the new testament, eh?) and Mary A., Bridget, and Margaret.

The family lived on Kearney St. from at least 1904 - 1928. And on Springdale Av. certainly in the 30's and 40's.


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