March is known as a month of weather extremes in Minnesota. Blizzards, tornadoes, ice storms, flooding, and mild sunny days are all common occurrences in March. I am not sure what March 1884 was like in Clontarf, but odds are there was a little bit of everything in the weather department.
There wasn’t much going on in March 1884 at the McDermott General Store. The only clue as to the weather is that a number of pairs of boots and rubbers were sold. The regular customers came in for the staples – sugar, tobacco, and oil – but it looked like several residents were busy sewing new Spring clothes. The spools of thread, pins, and gingham fabric were flying off the shelves – well, that might be an exaggeration, but indeed many customers came in for these items.
My great-great-grandfather Francis McMahon was a loyal customer of Mr. McDermott. I may have mentioned before the frequency with which he visited the store. Even in the middle of winter, Grandpa Bushy (as he was known) managed a shopping trip at least once a week. The McMahon family lived in section 22 of Tara Township, and in 1884 the family consisted of five children under the age of seven. Most of the pioneer families of the Clontarf area would have had similar young, growing families. That translates into lots of sewing to keep everyone in clothes, diapers, bed-clothes, etc.
On March 17th, Francis McMahon came to the store and this was his tab:
.50 5 yards gingham
.50 2 yards ticking
.38 3 yards towling
.38 3 yards shirting
.25 1 potato dish
.60 1# tea
.25 2 tin cups
Grandpa Bushy returned to the store the next day for a pair of boots for $2.75 and 50 cents worth of sugar.
What would be the use for 1/2# of sulfur? John Ledwidge paid 10 cents for it, and Michael Donovan sold Mr. McDermott 5 and 28/60 potatoes @ .25. I wonder how they measured potatoes and had Mr. Donovan been saving them in his root cellar all winter? Maybe he realized he had more potatoes than he was going to use and unloaded them…any ideas? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment!
Do you have any stories to share?
Since we were talking about March 17th, are there any stories out there about St. Patrick’s Day in Clontarf? Let me know what your memories of the day are, or if you recall any stories passed down about the early days.
What about baseball in Clontarf? Does anyone have a photograph of a Clontarf baseball team or any information or history?