One of the still remaining homes connected to the 19th century Portland Irish community is that of Captain Daniel Bogan (1830-1912). Under renovations in recent years and still a private home, it illustrates that more than a few Irish immigrants did eventually own their own house.
Daniel Leo Bogan, one of the most popular towboat captains in Portland during the 1800s, was born in Shrove, County Donegal, Ireland, a son of Patrick and Alice McCormick Bogan. At the age of 14, he was bound for three years on a ship to learn the business of piloting. From 1844 until the 1860s, Daniel sailed on ships throughout the United States and Great Britain. He eventually settled in Portland, where his mother and brother James also settled. In 1870, Bogan formed a corporation known as “The Central Wharf Towboat Company,” and commanded many ships for this company. For 13 years, he commanded the “Warren,” and for many years also operated the “Comate” and the “Island Belle.” These ships carried many Catholic excursions to the Casco Bay islands. It was said Bishop Bacon made his first trip to the islands in the “Comate.” Capt. Bogan was, of course, a great lover of the islands and, according to his obituary, it was he who recommended that Big and Little Hog Islands be renamed the more attractive sounding Big and Little Diamond Islands.
When Bishop Bacon requested aid from the Portland Catholics to build a parochial school in Portland in the 1860s, Bogan advanced the bishop $1500 to get the project moving. When, with interest, the $1500 had grown to $2400, and Bishop Healy wished to repay Bogan, the sea captain gave the $2400 as a gift to the Diocese. The school became the girl’s school for St. Dominic’s Parish and was opened in December 1865.
Capt. Bogan was a trustee of the local Irish-American Relief Association and a longtime director of the Widow Woods Society for St. Dominic’s Parish. He was also a member of the Portland Board of Trade. At a meeting of the Board in 1895, Bogan suggested that Portland Harbor be dredged to a depth of 30 feet, up to the Rolling Mills (South Portland), which was indeed later carried out.
Capt. Bogan was thrice married, first to Bridget Sheridan, then to Catherine Gallagher, and finally to Margaret Gillen. He and one of his wives for many years operated a grocery store at their home on Danforth Street. Unlike many an Irish “grocery store,” the Bogans did not sell liquor. The captain was a staunch admirer of Neal Dow, the “Father of Prohibition,” and always wanted a “fitting monument” dedicated to Dow.
Capt. Bogan’s brother was James Patrick Bogan, another well-respected and successful local master mariner. James was the grandfather of Louise Bogan, a well-known American poet and literary critic.
RELATED SITES: Maine Irish Heritage Center (former St. Dominic Church)