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Mahaffey is the only populated place in the US that I know of that is named for a relative of mine. There is a small lake named Mahaffie created by the US Farm Service out in Oklahoma.
I had been aware for some time that there is a place called Mahaffey in Pennsylvania, but it is only recently that my genealogical wanderings led me to a reference to the person it was named for, Robert Mahaffey, who was the grandson of my great-great-great-great-grandfather's brother. That makes him my second cousin, four times removed. It's probably more useful to say he was second cousin to my great-grandfather, Doc Mahaffie.
Back around 1750, a group of Mahaffeys emigrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania, settling originally in Cumberland County. There were either two sets of two brothers who were cousins, or more likely there were four brothers. Records are sketchy; our best source is a family history from the early 20th century.
In any case, one of those original American Mahaffeys was Charles, whose son Andrew changed his name's spelling to Mahaffie and produced JB, who produced Doc, whose son Charles was my grandfather. The elder Charles Mahaffey's brother Thomas, meanwhile, fathered William, who fathered Robert Mahaffey, who appears to have founded the settlement that now bears his name.
I had already shown Robert Mahaffie (1815 - 1900) in my family tree, but it wasn't until I found an extract from Twentieth Century History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, and Representative Citizens, by Roland D. Swoope, Jr. (published by Richmond-Arnold Publishing of Chicago in 1911), that I had a reference to a founder of Mahaffie:
Robert Mahaffey equaled his father in enterprise. He engaged also in lumbering and later cleared up a large farm in Bell township and also conducted a general store and in addition, operated a mill. His various enterprises prospered and each one assisted in the developing of the other and ere long many settlers had been attracted to his neighborhood, a village resulted and in his honor was named for the man of energy and progress, who had had the foresight to select this certain section of the wilderness as his place of investment.Today Mahaffey is something of an also-ran among the many municipalities and boroughs of Pennsylvania. I couldn't find a town government in my Google-searching. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania doesn't link to one. And I couldn't find anything via the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities or the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs.
The 2000 US Census found 402 residents; all of them white with a median age of between 39 and 40 years. According to the Bell Township/Mahaffey Borough Joint Comprehensive Plan (found via the PA County Planning e-Library) prepared in 2000, population at Mahaffey reached a peak of 801 in 1920. A lack of economic opportunities, likely tied to the shift away from an agrarian economy in the eastern US, led to high levels of out-migration.
But Mahaffey looks like an interesting place. It sits among the hills and along a mid-sized stream. There are some recreation areas nearby and a Mahaffey Camp, "A Christian Center for Spiritual Growth," up the road.
I think I may need to take a field trip to see the place for myself.