Biography of John W. Leahy
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

JOHN W. LEAHY, an able and prominent member of the bar of Cleveland, Ohio; has been engaged in the practice of law in Ohio for more than forty years, and since 1909 he has maintained his home and professional headquarters in the City of Cleveland.

Mr. Leahy was born in Abbeyfeale, County Limerick, Ireland, on the 15th of January, 1851, and was twelve years of age at the time of the family immigration to the United States. He is a son of the late Thomas and Ellen (Hartnett) Leahy, and he has the distinction of being a scion of one of the oldest families of the Emerald Isle, the genealogical record tracing back through the many generations to Milesius, of Spain, who married Scota, daughter of King Pharoah of Egypt. The seventh son of Milesius was Heremon, who, with his brother Heber, went from Spain to Ireland and, in the year 1099, B. C., the two brothers became, jointly, the first Milesian monarchs of Ireland, the Milesians having possessed and. ruled the Kingdom of Ireland for 2,085 years, under 183 successive monarchs, or until their submission to King Henry II of England, who was a prince of their own blood. From Milesius, through the line of his son Heremon, is traced the descent of Colla da Chrioch, the ancestor of the O'Leahy family, the ruler of Ireland and Alba (Scotland) and the head of the Colla clan, who were the Milesian rulers of Ireland from 320, A. D., up to the reign of Henry II, 1186, A. D. The O'Leahy family, as members of this historic clan, were made chiefs of Hy-Maine, a territory in the Irish counties of Galway and Roscommon, in the reign of the Clan Colla. Following the invasion by Henry II of England, the main branch of the O'Leahy family went south to County Kerry, and there the ancestors of John W. Leahy, the Cleveland lawyer, were born. In the Anglicized form of the name O'Leahy the "O" has been dropped. On their shields and standards the Milesians bore the figure of a lion, and this ancient symbol is retained by representatives of the family to the present day, the Leahy coat of arms including also the fleur de lids.

Thomas Leahy, father of the subject of this review, was born in County Kerry, and his wife in County Limerick. In 1863 they came to the United States and settled at Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio. Later they established their home on a farm in the Van Metre district of the Mohawk Indian reservation in that county, where, in Eden Township, Thomas Leahy purchased a farm. There he continued a representative of farm industry during the remainder of his life, both he and his wife having died on this old homestead. Of their children John W., of this sketch, is the eldest; Maurice is a representative physician and surgeon at Tiffin; James F., who was formerly engaged in the practice of law at Tiffin, is now connected with a banking and discount institution at Detroit, Michigan; Miss Mary A. lives with her brother, Rev. Father Leahy, and Margaret, who died June 17, 1923, and who, until her death, also lived with her brother, Father Leahy, pastor of St. James Catholic Church in the City of Lakewood, Ohio; Thomas F. is a stock grower and dealer at Tiffin, Ohio; Richard P. is a capitalist at Bay City, Michigan; Rev. Michael D., pastor of St. James Church, Lakewood, Ohio, was the next in order of birth, and Dr. Jeremiah E. is a successful physician and surgeon in the City of Chicago.

John W. Leahy gained his rudimentary education in the schools of his native land and was, as before stated, twelve years of age at the time of the family removal from Ireland to the United States. He continued his studies in the schools of Seneca County, Ohio, and advanced his education by a course in Heidelberg College, at Tiffin, that county. For a number of years he gave effective service as a teacher in the public schools, and in preparation for his chosen profession he read law in the offices of McCauley & Pennington, at Tiffin. He was admitted to the Ohio bar December 6, 1881, and later was admitted to practice before the United States District Court. He continued in the active practice of law at Tiffin from 1881 to 1903, and from 1903 to 1908 he was head of the legal department of a large commercial enterprise carried on at Toledo, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan, as well as of the legal department of a manufacturing and shipping business carried forward at Mobile, Alabama, and Havana, Cuba.

In 1909 Mr. Leahy established his residence in Cleveland, where he has since continued in the active and successful practice of his profession. In 1917-18, after the nation entered the World war, Mr. Leahy served as chief registrar and associate member of the legal advisory board in connection with the selective service law, for District No. 14. He is a member of the Cleveland and the American Bar associations, and of the Academy of Political Science, of New York City; is past exalted ruler of Tiffin Lodge No. 94, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, of which he has been a member since 1890, besides which he has been a member of the Ohio Grand Lodge of this fraternity since 1894, was a member of its ritual committee in 1894-95, and was district deputy grand exalted ruler of northern Ohio, in 1896, and is otherwise prominent and influential in the fraternity. He has contributed much to papers and other publications of the Elks, and has been called upon to deliver memorial addresses before many lodges of the order in Ohio and other states. Since February 10, 1919, Mr. Leahy has been a member of the League to Enforce Peace, and he was a member of the platform committee of the Great Lakes Congress for the League of Nations (to promote peace), held at Chicago in 1919. Mr. Leahy is a loyal and effective advocate of the principles of the democratic party and has been active in campaign service from the time of attaining his legal majority, though he has never sought political office. He and his family are zealous communicants of the Catholic Church.

On the 23d of October, 1893, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Leahy to Miss Marie S. Lawler, who was born at Steubenville, Ohio, and whose parents, Michael and Mary (Devine) Lawler, were born in Ireland, and their descent is also traced through the lines of Colla da Chrioch, to Milesius of Spain. Mr. and Mrs. Leahy have two daughters: Ellen M. is the wife of William J. Harshaw, of Cleveland, and they have one son, William A.; and Emma Louise, the second daughter, remains at the parental home.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

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