LEONE LAVONN DOUGHERTY
Leone and Calvin Dougherty
Leone LaVonn Dougherty was born on March 28, 1906, in Billings, Montana, the second child of James Dougherty and Georgia Hill. Her brother, Calvin, was 18 months older than she. Her father was the son of Irish immigrants, and her mother was a German from Russia who emigrated to America as a child.
When Leone was born, her father worked as a miner and prospector. The family moved to Oregon and then to Washington, but they finally settled in Idaho. Her father bought the Wisconsin House, a saloon, in Sandpoint, Idaho. Her mother ran the hotel and the restaurant. Her father ran the bar, and being an Irishman, that was just his cup of tea!
By then, more children had joined the family: Helen, Hugh, and Birdie. The children were raised in the hotel until an accidental fire burned it down. The fire left the family without a home and without jobs and an income. They packed up what they could and moved over to Sagle on the other side of Lake Pend Oreille where they had a little summer home. That small summer home on the shore of the lake became their permanent residence.
Leone did not have a happy childhood. Because she was the oldest daughter, her mother put a great deal of responsibility on her. She was expected to keep the house clean and to take care of her younger sisters and brother. Her older brother, Calvin, ran away from home when he was just 13 years old. With him gone, Leone felt extra burdened.
Because of the harsh, snowy Idaho winters, when Leone was about twelve years old, she began boarding with the O’Rouke family across the bridge in Sandpoint. She earned her keep by working for the family. She did that for several years, only coming home during the summertime to resume her duties helping around home and taking care of her younger siblings. Her father was a miner at heart who would go away for months at a time, and in those days fathers didn’t send any money home. So, it was up to Leone’s mother entirely to manage the family. She grew a big garden that they lived off of all year.
After Leone graduated from high school, she immediately got a job at the courthouse. She had such gorgeous penmanship that they wanted her to make out the birth and marriage certificates and other documents. She worked in Sandpoint for a while, then moved to Seattle where her step-sister Peggy (also known as Irene, James Dougherty’s daughter from his first wife) was living. Then she moved to Oakland, California, where her brother Calvin was living. She did secretarial and bookkeeping work.
Leone and Harvey and their daughter
Leone met Harvey Walter Leming and after going together for a short time, they got married on October 11, 1928, in San Francisco. Harvey got a job with Pacific Gas & Electric and Leone stayed home. Their daughter, Dorothy LaVonn, was born in Oakland. Harvey’s job was to go house to house and collect monthly bills for PG&E. He’d be met at the door by pretty women and the temptation was too much for him to pass by. Despite Harvey’s unfaithfulness, he and Leone lived together until their daughter was about two.
It was the beginning of the Depression. Harvey sent Leone and his daughter to Tennessee where some of his family lived. Unbeknownst to Leone, she was pregnant again; however, she got terribly sick and had a miscarriage. Harvey had promised her that he would be back to get her, but he never showed up. After she recovered from the miscarriage, she contacted her folks and they sent money for bus fare so she and Dorothy could come back home to Idaho. It took Leone seven years to save up enough money to apply for a legal divorce.
She got a job at the Federal Land Bank in Spokane, Washington. She found a boarding house there, and the landlady was willing to take care of Dorothy during the day. But, during this traumatic time, Dorothy became very fearful of being left. She would have a fit and scream and carry on. Leone decided to put Dorothy in a more secure environment by taking her to Sagle to live with her family.
Dorothy and her grandparents
Leone came home to visit on weekends when she could, but, that was only about once every two or three months. Meanwhile, Helen came home from school on vacation and Dorothy got so attached to Helen that she started calling her “Mommy.” Leone came home one time for a visit and Dorothy’s “mommy” was Helen. Leone said, “That’s enough!” and she packed her bags, and requested that the Federal Land Bank transfer her to California.
The Federal Land Bank had a great big building in Oakland. Leone met a gentleman at work who had a nice house up in the Oakland Hills and he and his wife had a room to rent and a girl Dorothy’s age. Leone had a ride to work and back, plus by that time Dorothy was ready to go to kindergarten and there was a school close by. It was an ideal situation.
It was here in Oakland that Leone became interested in the Christian Science religion and became a very devout member. She also joined Soroptimist, a women’s service organization. She was president of her local Soroptimist club a couple of different times, and life-long friendships were formed.
After Dorothy graduated from kindergarten, Leone was doing well enough that she could afford an apartment of her own. So, they moved over to 16th Avenue in Oakland and rented a nice little three room apartment. The grammar school for Dorothy was only about three blocks away, and when Dorothy got home from school, the Swedish lady next door watched after her.
Leone took the streetcar to work every day down to where the company was located near Lake Merritt. She would get her hair done every weekend. She took a public speaking class at night. That was a good time in her life.
Dorothy and Leone about 1942
When Dorothy entered sixth grade, the Federal Land Bank moved to Berkeley. Leone had to commute, and it took her an hour by streetcar going and coming. That meant too many hours apart from her daughter, so she found an apartment in Berkeley and they moved.
In the day and age she lived, women in the work place were discriminated against. Leone was often overlooked for promotion for a man far less qualified than she.
Dorothy started junior high in Berkeley, and then Pearl Harbor was bombed and America was drawn into World War II. Leone was terrified because sirens and horns were going off all the time and people were afraid that the Japanese were going to invade the west coast. At night, the whole Bay Area was under “black out” orders.
Leone’s brother, Hugh, was working at the Farragut Naval Base in Idaho and invited Leone to come up and be his office manager. She thought that going to Idaho was the perfect thing to do under the circumstances. She gave up her apartment, put her furniture in storage, and moved up to Idaho. She lived in a dorm out at the Farragut base and Dorothy lived again with her grandmother in Sagle (her grandafther had passed away by then). Leone’s mother was running a boarding house at the time.
Leone and Rudy Kanka
Leone met Rudolph Emil Kanka at Farragut, and they got married on March 10, 1943, after a short three-week courtship. Rudy was a Navy medic and was shipped out shortly after their wedding. He first went to San Diego and then overseas to the South Pacific for a couple of years.
After Rudy left, and after threat of an attack on the west coast was no longer a fear, Leone and Dorothy went back to California and rented an apartment in the same complex where they had lived before. Leone got a job again with the Federal Land Bank, and then worked for the Atomic Energy Commission in the Berkeley Hills. She was one of their head bookkeepers and did very well financially.
When the war ended and Rudy came back, he went to work for the City of Berkeley. Rudy and Leone saved enough money to buy a nice piece of property in Berkeley. It was a duplex – one whole house on top of another – and there was also a little house in the back that they rented out. Dorothy attended school at Berkeley High Schoool. While working one summer at Lake Tahoe, Dorothy met Otis Allen Sharpe, Jr., and they eloped to Carson City. Leone became a grandmother a couple of years later.
Rudy and Leone sold the duplex property and bought a sandwich shop in Albany. They got up early each morning, and Leone made turkey soup, potato salad, and turkey sandwiches while Rudy made ice cream. They worked there for many years. The business did very well and they owned a nice home in El Cerrito. Leone got breast cancer and had to quit working at the restaurant. She had a masectomy.
The city of El Cerrito informed Rudy that there was a dangerous piece of cement that needed to be replaced in front of their home. They said that for a price they would come in and do it. Well, Rudy said he could do it himself for next to nothing. So, he tore out the old cement, mixed new cement, and was fixing the sidewalk when he had a massive heart attack and died on July 2, 1962.
After Rudy died, Leone answered an ad for an accounting firm and went into partnership with a man. Eventually she bought the business and was very successful as a bookkeeper and tax consultant. She sold her big home and moved out to Moraga where Dorothy and her family lived. She had a beautiful townhouse there with a swimming pool and other amenities. Her business was in San Pablo, so she had quite a commute every day, but she enjoyed being close to the family.
Her mother passed away in the spring of 1967 and Leone decided that she would move to Idaho and take care of her sister, Birdie, and the family home. She was up there for about 18 months and couldn’t stand it. So, she came back to the Bay Ara with Birdie. Leone bought a home in Richmond.
Throughout her life, Leone had various pets, most often a Boston terrier, a poodle, or a dachshund. For many years she had a big calico cat named Kitty. Being a business woman, she was always very punctual. She was a very organized person – even the spices in her kitchen cabinet were alphabetized! Ever learning, she attended classes yearly to keep up with the complex and changing tax laws and rules.
She enjoyed traveling and went on a trip to Boston, the headquarters of the Christian Science Church, to visit the Mother Church. She, also, went on a couple of cruises – one to Australia and another to the Caribbean. She enjoyed attending Soroptimist Conferences.
Leone’s 80th Birthday
She moved to Walnut Creek in June of 1976. She liked the quiet neighborhood and the fact that she could get out with her poodle, Sheila, and walk around. She was semi-retired, continuing her tax consulting business out of an office in her condo for only a few of her favorite clients. Birdie died in 1982, and as Leone grew older and her health began to fail, she moved over to San Rafael and lived with her grandson and his wife and family who provided the loving care she needed and who had a comfortable home with a room just perfect for her.
On a beautiful spring Easter weekend, family and friends gathered at Dorothy’s home in Walnut Creek to celebrate Leone’s 80th birthday. A great time was had by all! Her 80th Birthday Celebration was just a few months before her passing on September 24, 1986.
James Dougherty was born February 13, 1870, in Sandwich, Illinois, to John Dougherty and Hanna O’Donnell. He was christened in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Somonauk, Illinois. He was christened as “Jacobum [Doherty]” but was known throughout his life as James “Jim” Dougherty. I don’t know who changed the spelling of “Doherty” to “Dougherty,” but from this generation on, the spelling is “Dougherty.”
Jim married Anna Rice in Great Falls, Montana, in 1893, and they had two children, James Raymond and Irene. Jim’s wife Anna died in 1899. I have written for her death record to no avail, so I don’t know the cause of death. Jim’s mother raised his two children, keeping them even after he remarried.
Jim and his brother Tim were partners as gold miners. They used to grub stake and gamble. Jim Dougherty met Georgia Hill, who was a German from Russia.
A son, James Calvin, was born (1904) and then a daughter, Leone LaVonn, was born (1906) to Jim and Georgia. Jim was still gambling and prospecting. Jim and Georgia married in Sheridan, Wyoming. His Catholic mother was upset because he married a Presbyterian.
The family moved to Newport, Washington, for three years. While there another daughter, Birdie Hannah was born (1909). (The 1920 Census record says that Birdie and her sister Helen (1910) were both born in Idaho, but I have not been able to find vital records to substantiate which is right.) They then moved to Redman, Oregon, where their last child Hugh was born (1912). They lived in Redman where James owned a saloon and worked on the railroad. After the railroad was finished, the saloon dried up, and so they moved back to Newport, Washington.
They then moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, where James bought a hotel/saloon there called the Wisconsin Hotel. They spent their summers at Lake Pend Oreille for two months a year. A fire burned the hotel down, which was their business and their home, so they moved to the lake year round.
James bought a hotel/ bar business about [1930?] in Raton, New Mexico. Georgia refused to go to New Mexico and she began a boarding house. The Farragut sailors stayed at Georgia’s house. Farragut was a submarine training base in northern Idaho. Later Jim came back.
Jim was involved in the U.S.O. and was a member of the Sandpoint BPOE Lodge. Later in his life he got an infected jaw and all this teeth had to be pulled out. He died Sept. 22, 1938, a prospector. His obituary from the Battlecreek Enquier and Evening News, 19 Sept 1938, page 2 reads: James Dougherty, 68, of Sandpoint, Ida., died at 2:40 p.m. Sunday in a local hospital after an illness of five years. He had been in the hospital here for the last week. Mr. Dougherty was born Feb. 12, 1870, in Streator, Ill., and lived in Sandpoint, Ida., for the last 35 years where he was active in business until 10 years ago, when he retired. He was a member of Sandpoint B. P. O. E. lodge. Surviving are the widow, Georgia, four daughters: Mrs. Peggy D. Guerta of Seattle, Wash., Mrs. Leone Leming of Oakland, Cal., Miss Birdie Dougherty of Sandpoint, and Miss Helen Dougherty of Minneapolis; three sons, James R. Dougherty of Milwaukee, Wis., Calvin J. Dougherty of Vallejo, Cal. and Hugh Dougherty of Bremerton, Wash., and five grandchildren. The body has been taken to Sandpoint for funeral services and burial.
His obituary notice in the Northern Idaho News, Sandpoint, Idaho on Friday, Sept. 23, 1938 read: James Dougherty — Called to Reward — Early Day Resident of County Passes at Battlecreek, Mich. Sunday. Final rites for James Dougherty, early-day resident of this city who passed away Sunday at a sanitarium at Battle Creek, Mich. were held Thursday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the Moon Chapel, with Rev. W. L. Livingston, Spokane, formerly of this city, officiating. Pall bearers included Roland Parker, Don C. D. Moore, Caryl Wilson, E. W. Bridge, Harry Sedars and Elu Moore. Burial was in Pinecrest Cemetery. The pioneer resident of this county was born at Streeter, Ill., 68 years ago, and came west as a young man. He located at Great Falls, Mont., where he became interested in mining and followed that industry for a number of years. Later he came to Sandpoint, where he, with a partner by the name of Wilcox, operated the Wisconsin Hotel. He was also engaged in business at Newport, Wash., for several years. A life-time democrat, Mr. Dougherty served one term as county chairman of his party. He took a keen interest in political affairs until a few months ago when ill health forced him to seek medical aid. He went to Battlecreek, Mich., where death called Sunday. Mr. Dougherty is survived by his widow, Georgia, and seven children, James, who is manager of the J. C. Penney company store at Milwaukee; Irene, at Seattle; Calvin, at San Francisco; Hugh, Bremerton; Leone Leming, Oakland; Birdie Hannah at home and Helen, attending medical school at Minneapolis; two sisters, Birdie Keaster, Great Falls, and Anna Hopkins, Los Angeles; four brothers, Jack Dougherty, Sweet Grass, Mont.; Edward, Great Falls; Tim and Flint, Metaline Falls, and four grandchildren. James was at the bedside of his father when he passed away and brought the body here for final rites.
Georgia lived another 30 years and so she supported herself by selling farm products — eggs, cream, etc. After the war, the Farragut base closed. The last 10 years of her life she was supported by her children. She died March 31, 1967, in Sandpoint, Idaho, and is buried next to her husband in Pinecrest Memorial Park.
Her obituary notice appeared in Sandpoint News-Bulletin, Sandpoint, Idaho, on
Thursday, April 6, 1967: Georgia Dougherty — Funeral services were held Tuesday, April 4 at 1 p.m. at Moon Chapel for Mrs. Georgia H. Dougherty, 84, Lakeside Drive, Sandpoint, who passed away March 31 at Bonner General Hospital. Rev. Clarence Twigg of the First Presbyterian Church officiated. Interment was in Pinecrest Memorial Park. Mrs. Dougherty was born in Russia of German parents, and came to the United States at an early age. She lived in Nebraska until the age of 20 when she moved to Billings, Mont. She and her husband, James, operated the Wisconsin Hotel in Sandpoint from 1915 to about 1922, when they moved to their home on Lakeside Drive. She was preceded in death by her husband, James, who died Sept. 18, 1938; two sons, James D. and Hugh; and a daughter, Irene. Survivors include three daughters, Miss Helen Dougherty of Portland; Mrs. Leone L. Kanka, Moraga, Calif.; Miss Birdie Dougherty of Lakeside Drive, Sandpoint; one son, J. Calvin Dougherty of San Francisco; three brothers, Walter Hill of Tampa, Fla.; Fred Hill, Los Angeles; and Paul Hill, Santa Paula, Calif.; two sisters, Mrs. Jeff Wagner, Council Bluffs, Iowa; and Rose Hill, St. Paul, Minn. Mrs. Dougherty was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Sandpoint.
Children from first marriage:
1. James Raymond Dougherty was a manager for J. C. Penney. He had two children.
2. Irene “Peggy” Dougherty married and then divorced. She didn’t have any children.
Children from second marriage:
1. James Calvin Dougherty was a bridge builder and worked on the Golden Gate Bridge. He also helped build the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and the Carcinas Bridge in the San Francisco Bay area. He built a bridge in Sandpoint, Idaho, and also the Adam Bridge across the Columbia River. He built two bridges in Panama in late years. He married Thelma Daphne Kenney and they had two children.
2. Leone LaVonn Dougherty was a bookkeeper/accountant. She married twice. She and Harvey Walter Leming had one daughter, Dorothy LaVonn Leming. They divorced and Leone married Rudolph Emil Kanka. They did not have any children.
3. Birdie Dougherty never married. She lived at home with her mother for many years, and then after her mother died she lived with Leone. She won several beauty pageants when she was young. She was mentally disabled.
4. Helen Dougherty married twice but did not have any children. She was a lab technician who put her first husband through medical school and then he divorced her.
5. Hugh Dougherty became associated with the New York Life Insurance Company. He was appointed director of agencies for Alaska and lived in Anchorage. He had two children. He died in San Francisco on April 8, 1954, but is buried in Sandpoint, Bonner, Idaho.
The Doherty (Dougherty) family came from County Donegal, Ireland. John Doherty and Hannah O’Donnell were both born in Ireland in the 1840s. They were children when the devastating Great Potato Famine hit Ireland in 1845-47.
John and Hannah went to Scotland to be married in 1866. In Ireland, the Church of Ireland was the state church and was the only legally recognized church. John and Hannah must have wanted to be married in the Catholic Church, but wanted their marriage to be legal, so they went to Scotland. Catholics were especially persecuted in Ireland’s history and Irish Catholics such as John and Hannah must have been very strong in order to withstand the discrimination. In 1695, penal laws were passed in Ireland that “Catholics were not allowed to buy land or own weapons, enter professions, become educated, enjoy legal privileges, vote, or hold public office . . . Catholics were required to pay a tithe to the Church of Ireland, and the government passed laws that required Catholic landowners to will their land to all their sons equally unless one of them became Protestant. In that case, the Protestant son inherited all the property. This policy was intended to reduce the amount of land one person held to so little that it was insufficient to support life.” (BYU History 415 Syllabus, Irish Family History Research, p. 28-29). From the 17th to the 19th Century, life was understandably difficult for Irish Catholics. Under English rule, not only were Catholics discriminated against specifically, but the Irish in general were oppressed and living conditions were pathetic. The Irish were not welcome in their own country because of England’s domination. Many Irish people left their homeland and immigrated to other countries.
The following information about the Doherty family comes from distant cousin Dawn DiSomma:
John Doherty, his wife Hannah, infant son Hugh, and Hannah’s sister Bridget (Biddy), immigrated to America in 1868 on the ship SS Columbia which sailed from Glasgow, Scotland. They landed in New York then went by train to Sandwich, Illinois, where Hannah had some cousins. They lived in Illinois for 20 years (in Sandwich, Serena, Harris, and Streator) and became naturalized citizens in Fulton County, Illinois. John and Hannah had eight more children, and, typical of many Irish immigrants, John was a coal miner. According to a narrative by his daughter Bridget, “He was an organizer of the Mineral Union and took to politics like a duck to water.”
John and his oldest son Hugh went west in the spring of 1887 and homesteaded some land north of Leeds, North Dakota, until they could afford to bring the rest of the family. They worked building the railroad all summer. The homesteading papers indicate that John went back to Illinois due to illness in the family. He was elected Police Magistrate there and served until the land at Leeds was surveyed and they had to file or lose their squatter’s rights. They then scraped up some funds and moved to North Dakota. The Doherty home was a lively place with six boys, three girls, and all their friends.
Hannah O’Donnell Doherty
John Doherty died in September of 1906 and his obituary pays tribute to him: “Judge Doherty, as he was called by his acquaintances, was considered an honest, upright man. He was a man of considerable natural ability, and could he have had better advantage in his earlier days, he would have been a power in the world of politics. He was a great reader and was well informed on the political history of the country…He was a great admirer of Bryan, and the last thing he read was an article in Bryan’s Commoner on the day before his death.”
Hannah moved to Canada where son Hugh was living in 1912. She raised two of her grandchildren, and took in a third when his mother died of typhoid fever. Hugh passed away in the spring of 1919 and Hannah died that fall. In her will, Hannah left her “heavy shawl and piano to Birdie and the family Bible to Mary.” Each of the children got a parcel of land. She obviously tried to be very fair with them.
1 Hugh Doherty was born in Scotland before John and Hannah immigrated to America. As a young man he was a professional boxer and won an award for featherweight title, a gold watch engraved with the date and occasion on the case. It is said that Hugh held the famous champion Joe Gans to a draw in a non-title match.
2. James “Jim” Doherty was born February 13, 1870, in Sandwich, Illinois. He married Anna Rice in Great Falls, Montana, in 1893, and they had two children, James and Irene (Peggy). Anna died six years later in 1899. Jim remarried a few years later to Georgia Hill. Jim and Georgia had five children. Jim was a gambler and bootlegger most of his life.
3. Mary Ellen Doherty, the oldest daughter of John and Hannah, was born in 1872. She became a teacher. In fact, according to Kathryn Reisdorfer who found school records for 1891-92, “several of the Doherty children were in Leeds Township School #2 and Mary Ellen, their sister, was their teacher.” Mary Ellen married Amos LaFrance and lived in Dunseith, North Dakota, where she raised her large family.
4. Anthony Joseph “Flint” Doherty was born in 1874 in Illinois. He was the first to go to Canada where he filed south of Whittla. Later he operated a lumberyard and an elevator. His wife died of typhoid fever, leaving a thirteen-month-old baby, Hugh. Hannah took in this grandchild, and when Hannah died seven years later the child went to live with his Uncle Jack. Later he went to live with his dad. Flint passed away in 1955 and is buried beside his wife in Medicine Hat Cemetery (Canada).
5. John Patrick “Jack” Doherty was born in 1876. He married Anna Reap in 1903 and they moved to Alberta, Canada, in 1911.
6. Anna D Doherty “Lady Hop” was born in 1879. She met and married Clarence Hopkins in Billings, Montana. He was from a wealthy family and was fresh from mining school in Michigan. He became a manager of the copper mines in Montana. Later he was transferred to Jerome, Arizona to the copper mine there. Annie didn’t like the idea of living in the “camps” so she talked Clarence into buying a place outside of Jerome. She made sure her children went to a private boarding school and not to the little public school in Jerome. Clarence cheated on Annie and so she determined to divorce him. About this time, her mother died and threw her into a deep depression. She checked herself into a nunnery and was secluded, but she kept getting mail from her husband’s attorney saying that her children were going to be taken away. She got out of her bed, drove out to Jerome, and checked into the Grand Hotel. She purchased some carbolic acid and waited for breakfast. At breakfast she tossed the carbolic acid into the face of the woman her husband was cheating with. There was no actual damage done, but the trial was long and very ugly. She got 15 years in prison. Some of the inmates of the women’s prison told her she would have been better off to kill the husband than attack the woman because, at that time, a woman who killed her cheating husband outright would only serve 4 years. She lost everything, including her three children.
7. Thomas “Tim” Doherty was born in Streator, Illinois, in 1880. He and his brother Jim were partners as gold miners in Montana. They would “grub stake” and gamble. Tim and his wife Irene “Reena” moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, with Jim and his family around 1910. Tim worked for a cement mill and at Priest River in the card room at night. He didn’t have any children. He died in Metaline Falls, Oregon, where he ran a pool hall/bootlegging business.
8. Edward “Eddie” Doherty was born in 1884 in Streator, Illinois. He married Nellie Foss in Hazen, North Dakota, and they had three children.
9. Grace Bridget Genevieve “Birdie” Doherty, the baby of the family, was born in 1887 in Streator, Illinois. “Birdie” is a common family name in the Doherty family. This particular “Birdie” had ten children including two sets of twins. At age 65 she went to college and then taught for two terms after she was 70!
Doherty Sons. Back: Flint, Jack, Edward, Tim
Front: James and Hugh
Other tidbits of information:
Out of the 100 top surnames in Ireland, Doherty ranks 15th, O’Donnell ranks 44th, and Boyle ranks 47th, so my research in Ireland has been almost like looking for Smith or Jones in America. Given names in the family are John, Hugh, Hannah (or) Ann, Mary, Bridget (Birdie), Patrick, Thomas, and Edward – very common Irish names.
An Irish Records Reference Book at my local library says that Donegal “was the territory of the powerful O’Donnell family. The other major families in the county were O’Boyle, O’Doherty …” This reference book, as well as another Irish History book I read, referred to Red Hugh O’Donnell, a chieftain who joined with the O’Neills in a rebellion against the English. It will be interesting to see if a connection can be made to the Doherty’s and O’Donnell’s of “Irish royalty.” If so, your family lines will shoot back several generations. However, research in Ireland is difficult because of the loss of many vital records, including censuses, which were destroyed in the Civil War of 1922.
A website entitled “The Doherty Clan of Ireland” at www.odochartaigh.org has lots of information about the Doherty family in Donegal. The following summarizes these findings:
There are many ways to spell Doherty, with or without the O. Translated from Gaelic, it means obstructive. The O’Doherty’s are descended from one of the eight sons of Niall of the Nine Hostages, a legendary Irish chieftain. The O’Doherty’s owned the Inishowen Peninsula until the early 1600s when Cahir O’Doherty was accused of treason and he was killed. That ended the O’Doherty lordship of Inishowen. After that the English crown granted the land to Scotch planters and took over all the O’Doherty lands. “The keep, all that remains of the fine castle built by the O’Doherty’s in 1430, still stands at Buncrana.”
The O’Donnell’s were princes and earls of Tirconnel (which later became know as Donegal). They also descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages. The Irish name “O’Domhnaill” means mighty. This powerful family ruled in County Donegal for many generations – from the 5th to 16th centuries. Like many of the ruling families at the time, they were warriors. Chief Hugh Roe O’Donnell built a castle and monastery at Donegal. The castle was regarded as one of the finest Gaelic castles in Ireland (and it still stands today). His grandson was the famous Chief Red Hugh O’Donnell (1572-1602). After Red Hugh died at age 32, his brother Rory O’Donnell assumed the chieftainship. He also died young at the age of 33. There was much in-fighting and tribal conflict. After the disastrous Nine Years War, the leaders of the O’Donnell clan left Ireland in the Flight of the Earls. In the early 1600s the castle and its lands were granted to an English captain.