First Communion 1929 – or is it?

August 4, 1929 First Communion Clontarf, MN (click to enlarge)

The 1929 First Communion at St. Malachy’s in Clontarf took place less than three months before Black Tuesday, the day the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began.  The 1920s had already been a tough decade for farmers and farming communities throughout the Midwest, but things were about to become even more difficult.

This photo is dated 1929, but I am not convinced that is the correct year.  There are too many children in the photo when compared to the  list of those receiving their First Communion at St. Malachy’s in 1929.  Perhaps children from other area churches came to Clontarf to receive their First Communion, but it was recorded in their respective church record books…just an idea.

Here is the list as it appears in the St. Malachy Sacramental record book:

First Communion

August 4, 1929

Patrick McMahon

Patrick Foley

Bernard Fennell

Charles Kent

Gabriel Burns

Patrick Reynolds

Howard Cameron

Harold Duresky

Genevieve Bouta

Dorothy Aschmann

Marjorie Reardon

Eleanor Goulet

Margaret Sullivan

Laverne Bouta

Catherine Molony

Theresa Burns

Bernice Fennell

Eileen Sullivan

Dorothy Cameron

recorded by Lawrence Lynch (page 104)

If you recognize anyone in the photo, that could help us identify it correctly.  I have the listings for all the First Communions, so we could match it up.  You can enlarge the photo by clicking on it.  You can get a really good look at it if you click again to magnify.  Let me know if you see someone you know!

Do you have a First Communion story you would like to share from Clontarf?




I dropped the ball for the September drawing, so I will combine September and October into one contest, with two winners.  So…comment away and build your entries!



Filed under Clontarf

12 responses to “First Communion 1929 – or is it?

  1. Eileen


    Maybe someone can identify the priest? That information might help date the photo.

    • Margo McGeary Ascheman


      Just a REPLY about who the priest was in Aug 1929 . In a Early Clontarf Church & kCommunity.. 90th Anniversary 1878 == 1968 .. 1922 Rev Lawrence Lynch was paster .then Rev Philip Casey came to Clontart to remain until 1933 . I not sure if that is who is in this picture. Then Rf King was there until 1958;’

      I am hoping that someone can tell me who the McMahan family are related to… My Hughes McGeary family has G Grandmother was a McMahan but I not find any of her family ties. The McMahan family I have is :
      Bridget Margaret McMahon McMahan Born about l837 in Ireland her parents are James McMahan and Margaret Carrol. My g=grand father is buried in Clontarf as he died Jan l879 and Danvers MN not have a church… I am hoping that I might get a little help… Ha… Margo Ascheman

      • Good to hear from you Margo! I will tell you what I know about the McMahons I am related to:

        Francis McMahon (my g-g-grandfather) came to US from County Fermanagh, Ireland in 1856 with his sister Bridget (married Patrick Clifford) and brothers James and Edward. Francis fought in the Civil War and farmed with his family near Red Wing, MN before coming to Tara Township in 1876. Is there any chance your Bridget McMahan came from Wisconsin? Francis McMahon married Catherine McAndrew from the Ellsworth, WI area. There were also McMahons living in that area. Perhaps your Bridget and my Francis were cousins? It is a possibility. I don’t think the spelling difference is a big deal. Francis McMahon could neither read nor write.

        When was Bridget married, to whom, and where? If the Wisconsin connection doesn’t pan out, we’ll see what else we can come up with!

        Thanks, and have a great weekend!


        Let me find the link

  2. Jackie Doherty

    Hi Aine,

    I enlarged the picture on the first Communion group. Am ALMOST certain that the altar boy holding the cross is Leo Molony (Alice Bird’s dad). He was born in 1914, so it would be reasonable for 1929. Alice is out of town this week, but I will e-mail her to check out the picture and send you her thoughts.

  3. Pingback: Odds and Ends « History of Clontarf, Minnesota

  4. JoAnn Grau

    Hello Aine,
    I found this site in searching for historical information for my Mom. She is/was Tressa Burns (her brother was Gabriel). She is 91, healthy, and living in Mesa, AZ. I’ll print out the picture, along with the list of 1st communicants, and bring it to her tomorrow. She’ll know for certain if she and Gabe are in it. I’ll let you know.

    (Her parents were Evelina and Benjamin Burns. Her grandparents were Phoebe and Charles Chevalier. Any info or pictures that you may have would be greatly apprciated. My little sister and I are trying to put together an album for her for Christmas).

    • Jeffrey A. Gossman (Burns)

      Tressa is my fathers, Benedict Burns, sister. I lived just outside Clontarf near the airport when I was very young. My mother, Jane I Finstad later remarried, Robert H Gossman , now in Harmony Mn. I currently live in Spostylvania, Va. Thank you JoAnn for finally finding me after 55 years! I always wanted to know more about my ancestry in the Clontarf area.

  5. Anne Schirmer

    Did you find sufficient info for the book you were creating for Tressa?
    I have a wedding photo of Charles & Phoebe from Addie (Daniel) Gilbertson collection after her passing. Phoebe & her sister Julia, LaDuc girls, were married in a double ceremony in St. Malachy’s Catholic Church in Clontarf. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1944, according to the article in the Swift County Monitor. Each couple had a studio photo done, I believe, for that event. Both couples had several children, so it must have been a huge event! Julia LaDuc married Frank (Jr.) Fennell. I haven’t yet seen the wedding photo of them. Frank, Jr., had a brother Thomas that married Catherine Curtis and had several children.
    I have a school booklet for the country school the Chevalier children and Fennell children attended in Pope County. Charles Chevalier was listed as member of that school board. The teacher was Eva Blackmun (her picture is on the cover of the booklet.) Eva’s name is written on the wall in the new city library in Hancock because she had been a librarian there! I should look for an obituary on her… Do you have a photo of the cemetery marker of Charles & Phoebe (here at Clontarf)?

  6. Anne Schirmer

    How long has Tressa lived in Mesa? Sounds like a name/face I should remember. My mom would also be 91 this year. Her name was Esther Ollendick. I grew up on the farm 6 mi. west of Clontarf in Tara Twp.
    She passed away June 15, 2002; my dad, Ray, passed away Apr. 22, 1970.
    My sister Lucy Kay Ollendick Gorres passed away Jan. 30, 1985.

  7. Jeffrey A. Gossman (Burns)

    Nice to see names and faces to my “roots”

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