Remembering Julia

Julia Duggan Regan passed away 35 years ago today, February 22nd.

Julia was born on the Duggan family farm in Tara Township on July 15, 1885. She was baptized on August 2nd at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Clontarf, with James Kenna and Margaret Duggan as sponsors.  Julia was the youngest child of William and Julia (Creedan) Duggan. The Duggans were among the pioneer Irish settlers of Tara Township who traveled west from Concord, New Hampshire in response to Bishop John Ireland’s Catholic colonization efforts.

Over the past eight years, I have had the pleasure to get to know two of Julia’s sons, Donald and Gerald Regan. Donald and Gerald have shared many stories of growing up in Clontarf. Individually, their memories are sharp, but when you get them together, the brothers play off of one another’s recollections, with amazing results. Without Donald and Gerald I never would have gotten to know my great-grandmother (and their aunt) Annie Hill Regan (click here to read what I learned about Annie.)

From what I have heard about Julia, she was practical, hardworking, and devoted to her children. For all intents and purposes, Julia raised her seven children on her own, and it was an ongoing struggle to provide for the family. But with determination and resourcefulness, Julia did just that…and more. Julia wanted the best for her children, and did what was necessary to provide them with every opportunity. Her children were educated, served in the military, became teachers, and a mayor. Gerald got his start in a railroad career in part on account of his beautiful penmanship – that surely is a sign of a good mother!

Julia was always trying to improve her home, make it more efficient and more comfortable. Apparently, Julia could not bear to see a good outbuilding go to waste and sent Donald and Gerald out to rescue countless unused structures from family and neighbors in the area. Julia had vision – her brother’s old chicken coop would make a perfect garage and that shed from her parent’s place in Tara would be the ideal addition to the hay barn. Like the good sons they were, Donald and Gerald carried out her plans, moving the buildings and setting them up for their new purpose at Julia’s.

Julia Duggan Regan

And to top it off, Julia made delicious doughnuts. I would say she was quite a woman!

Her grandson John Conroy of Hancock has shared a number of historical items with my mom and me over the years. Julia’s older sister Catherine had put together a fantastic postcard collection and a photo album. Most of the people in the album are unknown to me, but there are some great photographs I assume are of Catherine’s sisters and friends. Like this one…

Duggan Family Album, courtesy of John Conroy

The woman on the right resembles Nell Regan (Julia’s future sister-in-law) and the other two could be Margaret and Catherine Duggan. The only photo with anything written on the back is of my great-grandmother’s brother. It says, “To Kate”.

Tim Foley, courtesy of John Conroy

But of all the photographs in this collection, my favorite is a little snapshot that was tucked at the back of the album.

Donald and his sister Kathryn, courtesy of John Conroy

Take a minute today to remember Julia, and if you live in the Clontarf area, you might just run into someone who could tell you a thing or two about the woman who made Clontarf her home for over seventy years.

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10 Comments

Filed under In Loving Memory

10 responses to “Remembering Julia

  1. What a nice article about our grandma! Thanks, Annie.

  2. Eileen Doherty Bliss

    I remember Julia well. She sat at the end of “our” (The Dohertys) pew in church when I was young. Also, we made sure to go to her house every Halloween, as she always made her famous doughnuts for the trick or treaters!

  3. Bob Lageson

    When a cousin called me to tell me she ran across “Remembering Julie”, I reviewed the article and pictures and immediately called my sisters, my wife and all of my children so they could review it as well. The article gave great insights into Grandma Julia, not only did she make great doughnuts, but she made a heck of a pancake from scratch! Thank you for sharing it with all of us!

    P.S. a big thank you also to Uncle Gerald, Uncle Donald and cousin John for sharing their memories and photos — well done!

    Bob Lageson

    • You are welcome, Bob! I came across Julia’s memorial card and I realized I had never written anything about her. Talking to Donald and Gerald about the “old days” has truly been a treat. Thanks for sharing the blog with your family!

  4. Pingback: A New Bank for Clontarf! | History of Clontarf, Minnesota

  5. Anne (Ollendick) Schirmer

    And the house she lived in still stand in Clontarf, MN, in case anyone was wondering…It stands a little higher since a new basement was added under it, and there is an addition onto it, but it is the original house. I remember the donuts at Halloween, but I can’t remember her face. Thanks again, Eileen and Annie, for all your research and sharing.

  6. Debbie( Ascheman) Andrews

    yes, I too remember going over on Halloween and getting fresh donuts and we always had to go in and see her daughter who was bedridden. We were happy to show off our costumes.. but those donuts.. people are always amazed when I tell that story.. someone was actually making homemade donuts for trick or treaters?

  7. Pingback: Remembering Donald | The Irish in America

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