John was Michael and Martha's first child. His wife's mother, Mary Harris, had survived a direct Indian attack in which her father died. As the story goes, she and her mother fended off an attack until they were able to flee to safety. By 1904, John and his wife Mary Harris Love Hanley had both died, leaving three daughters and a son. Alex, age twenty was old enough to fend for himself. Claire Hanley, only six years old, went to live with her Aunt Alice on the Hanley Farm. The other two girls, Martha, age seventeen, and Mary, age eleven, lived with other relatives.