Author: John Outcalt (1925)


A well-known grain and stock man of the San Joaquin, Peter Rahilly is a native son of Merced County, born on January 18, 1879, the fifth of nine children born to Michael and Ellen (Walsh) Rahilly, who were then living on a ranch four miles south of Merced. Michael Rahilly was a native of Kerry County, Ireland, and his wife, Ellen, of Tipperary, that country; he came out to Napa County, Cal., in 1866, and she followed in 1868, and their marriage occurred in
Napa County. There he worked for wages for five years, driving a plow-team at fifteen dollars a month in order to get a start in the new country. He had served in the United States Union Army during the Civil War, and came west at the close of the conflict, to seek his fortune.

In 1877, with the Dugans, Sullivans, Grogans, Thorntons, Sheehys, Bairds, O'Donnells, and others to the number of thirty-six, he moved to Merced County
from Napa, and he invested his savings of $1300 in a 160-acre ranch and started farming on his own account. In the meantime, on account of three dry years and one year when the wild cattle ate his crops, he worked out on the harvesters and headers, and with his yearly savings added more land to his holdings, until he finally owned 5600 acres and was identified as one of Merced County's extensive grain and stock men. The community where he settled had in the beginning but three neighbors, in 1877, August Smith, Charles Healy, and E. T. Givens; and the miles were many between ranch homes. By the practice of strict economy, this sturdy pioneer made rapid strides in the farming business, and he remained active through his eightieth year, his death occurring at the age of eighty-one. The wife and mother passed on when fifty-seven years old, from an attack of pneumonia.

Peter Rahilly received his education at the Russell district school, and with his parents became closely identified with the agricultural progress of his district, which line of work he has followed all his life, and he is now the owner of 800 acres of ranch property, and a newly constructed residence with all
modern improvements, both in his home and ranch equipment. He specializes in grain and stock raising, and his firsthand knowledge, gained while growing to maturity on the home ranch, has made success assured. His stock, 160 head of cattle, and thirty-five mules and horses, is in the best condition, and he is known throughout the district as a pioneer's son, who works for the good of the community, as well as for his own interest. He served as clerk of the Russell school board for eight years, and is a member of the U. P. E. C. of Merced.

The marriage of Mr. Rahilly, in August, 1908, united him with Miss Mary Furtado, born at El Nido, Merced County, a daughter of the late John F. and Mary
(Silva) Furtado. She was reared and educated in the Russell school district. Five children have blessed their union: Peter Jr., Ellen, Michael, Margaret, and Jack. Mrs. Rahilly is clerk of the Russell school board.

John F. Furtado, deceased pioneer, was a prosperous rancher of the El Nido District. He was born at Flores, the Azores, and was preceded to California by a brother, Antone, who was a successful rancher at Suisun, in the sixties. John worked on his brother's ranch for three years at fifteen dollars per month. He had no knowledge of English, but was a good worker, and knew how to save the money so hardly earned. At the end of that time, coming to Merced County, he entered the employ of August Smith, at twenty-five dollars per month, and at the end of seven years was made a partner with Smith in the sheep and wool business and bought land, 160 acres at ten dollars per acre. This was in 1876, and from that time on he prospered, and by subsequent purchases added to his land to the extent of 4000 acres. Great credit is due his foresight and integrity, without which he could not have made the success which was his, and which placed him among the highest ranks of Merced County's ranchers at the time of his death. Besides becoming a citizen, he was active in the Republican party, and was a member of the Merced County Central Committee. His death occurred at the early age of fifty-eight years, while his good wife passed on aged fifty-two. She was also a native of Flores, and eight children blessed their union: John, William, Mary (Mrs. Rahilly), Margaret, Lena, Minnie, An-tone, and Ella.

Additional Comments:

Biographical Review
The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been
Identified with Its Growth and Development
from the Early Days to the Present



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Joy Fisher