Tag Archives: cemetery

No Place for Gentlemen

Last St. Patrick’s Day I posted a clipping from the Swift County Monitor which provided the slate of events for Clontarf’s celebration in 1899 – click here to read the article.

Clontarf resident Stephen Owens provides a first-hand account of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities the next year in a letter dated March 19, 1900 to his niece Celia Grimes of Skerries, County Dublin, Ireland. After thanking Celia for the shamrock she sent, Mr. Owens begins to tell Celia of “the grand time we had in the Parish this St. Patrick’s Day”:

First thing in the Morning all the Hibernians mett in their Hall at ten O clock in the morning Put on there Badges and marched in a Body to the Church…the Stars and Stripes on one side of the men and the Harp in the middle off the Green Flag off Ireland on the other side…the Band of Musick in the front as they Marched in to the Church, the Band Played Patrick’s Day in Style. Our Priest is a Noble Patriot and Irishman, at 5 O Clock in the evening we had a grand Oration on the life of St. Patrick in our Town Hall by a Lawyer from St. Paul a City in Minnesota Capitol of the State his name was McDermot very smart orator…

Mr. Owens then goes on to describe the evening’s entertainment. The play sounds like the same one from the year before – I believe the title mentioned in the newspaper was Shaun Aroon:

After that we all went to Supper…we went to the Hall it was then we had the time there was a Grand Irish Play by the young Local Talent, of the Parish…called itShan Rue in Seven Acts it was just splended the Priest was Training the young folks since the middle of January the Hall was crowded with Irish, and some Americans and Norwegians I bet youse did not Celebrate like that in Skerries. We are all Irish to the Back bone out here…

In the last part of the letter, Mr. Owens talks farming, explaining to his niece when farmers in the area will start putting crops in and when they will be harvested. Mr. Owens describes the kind of work that is available in towns such as Clontarf:

…there is no work here only in Summer and Harvest time and Thrashing in the Fall there is months in winter there is no work in summer a man gets one Dollar and a half per day and Board…in harvest time a Man gets from one seventy five and Board to 2 Dollars per day…this is not a good Place for a Labouring man Only for men that is Able to buy a farm and work it himself it is a good Country…for any one that wants to Play Gentleman, it is no place for him…

Good advice from old Uncle Stephen!

It’s hard to believe that Memorial Day Weekend is nearly upon us. Will there be a program at the Clontarf cemetery this year? What are your memories from Memorial Days of the past? Share your thoughts…leave a comment!

excerpts taken from a letter from the Stephen Owens collection at the Swift County Historical Society

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This & That

May Drawing Winner

Winner of the May drawing for a Clontarf Prairie Pub t-shirt is Eileen Doherty Bliss!  Your name was chosen from those who left comment on the blog in May.  I will send you an email to get your address.  Congratulations Eileen, and thanks for commenting!

There weren’t many comments in May, but I suppose that is because there were not many posts to the blog in May!  I will do better…more Clontarf history this summer…I promise!  What do you like to see on Clontarf History?  Photographs? Newspaper clippings?  McDermott Store ledger?  Family histories?  Let me know what you are interested in reading about!

Swift County Historical Society Program

Eileen McCormack will be speaking at the Swift County Historical Society  in Benson on Thursday, June 23rd @ 7:30pm.  The following appeared in the SCHS May/June 2011 newsletter:

The Dutiful Son

Mark your calendars.

Thursday, June 23 – 7:30 PM

Program at the Museum in Benson

The Dutiful Son Louis W. Hill: Life in the Shadow of the Empire Builder James J. Hill

Eileen McCormack, researcher for the new biography of Louis W. Hill, will give an illustrated talk on the book, The Dutiful Son. In addition to talking about the life of Louis Hill, the presentation will include a brief look at James J. Hill and his career as a builder of the Great Northern Railway and a Gilded Age capitalist.

Louis HIll’s life was more than railroads. Eileen will discuss his early life, marriage and family, development of Glacier National Park, involvement in banking and settlement along the railroad and his later life and personal philanthropy.

The power point presentation will give guests an opportunity to view pictures of the Hill homes, family, and other aspects of their lives. It will give an insight to what it was like being a member of the Hill family. Eileen welcomes questions about the Hill family and their empire. Society members are asked to invite family and friends to this special program. There is no fee to attend. Refreshments will be served.

If you are in the neighborhood, plan on attending this program.  Eileen really knows her Hill family history.  Before becoming assistant curator of the James J. Hill Family Papers (formerly located at the James J. Hill Reference Library in St. Paul, now at the Minnesota Historical Society) Eileen was an interpreter at the James J. Hill House on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul.  Today, Eileen’s company (formed in 2007 with daughter Regan) Archival Solutions provides historical research and archival services for individuals, businesses, and local organizations.

Don’t miss it!

Find a Grave

Finally, I wanted to mention the website Find a Grave.  This site has added 118 graves from St. Malachy Cemetery, Clontarf to its database.  Check it out.  More information to come on how we can add more graves to the listing…this is a fantastic resource for genealogists, family historians, and anyone interested in where their family is buried.  Stay tuned…

Have a great weekend!

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Time to Remember…

Memorial Day has long been a special day to the residents of Clontarf.  Click here to read my post from last year about how Clontarf celebrates the day.

I accompanied my cousin Cathy to Benson early last week so she could present a scholarship at Benson High School in memory of her mother Dody Fuchs Abbott.  Cathy’s family established this scholarship seven years ago following her mother’s passing.  Dody grew up in Benson and graduated from BHS in 1955.  Shortly after graduation Dody made her way to California, where she found a job, got married, and raised a family.  Dody never forgot her Benson roots, and she and her family returned to Minnesota every summer, spending time with relatives in the Twin Cities and Benson.  Cathy has wonderful memories of the time she spent in Benson with her grandmother Mary McMahon Fuchs.

Mary McMahon 1905

Mary McMahon Fuchs was my grandmother Agnes McMahon Regan’s  older  sister.  Despite an eight year age difference, my grandma said she and Mary were “great pals.”  Mary was the first child born to Thomas and Mary (Foley) McMahon in 1905.  Thomas and Mary grew up about a mile from one another in Tara Township and were married in 1904 at Clontarf’s St. Malachy Catholic Church.

On Monday Cathy and I paid our respects to three of the McMahon girls: Mary and Rose are buried in Benson at the Catholic cemetery, and my grandma Agnes is in Clontarf.  In Clontarf we also visited the grave sites of McMahon and Foley relatives.  Just yesterday I filled in the gap and visited Thomas and Mary McMahon who are buried in St. Anthony’s Cemetery in Columbia Heights, MN.

It was a quick trip – Cathy and I spent less than thirty hours in the area, yet I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to share this time with Cathy, attend the BHS awards ceremony, and exchange family memories.  I realized how important it is to get together with family and talk about those who are no longer with us.  When we actively remember our loved ones, whether by laughing at a family joke, telling an old story, or reflecting on difficult times, we are able to keep their spirits alive in our hearts.  This weekend may be a good time to pull out those old photographs, grab a cousin or a sibling and swap memories of your parents or grandparents.

I want to reprint the following list of service members who are buried in the Clontarf cemetery.  And for those of you who have other relatives buried there and have not been to visit, you will be pleased to know that the cemetery is in great shape and beautifully cared for.

Mexican War: William Schinnick

Civil War: John F. Boyd, John Connolly, S.H. Connor, Michael Donovan, Felix Duffy, Frank McMahon, Martin Mears

Spanish-American War: Maurice Cain

World War I: Frank Ascheman, John Chamberlain, Lawrence Chamberlain, Leon Chamberlain, C.C. Chevalier, Eddie Chevalier, Elmer Eve, Leo Eve, Joseph McDermott, Elliott Nelson, Roy Perrizo, John Reardon, James Reynolds, Cecil Robertson, Verdie Smith, Silas Tillotson

World War II: Ed Boutain, Joseph D. Christopherson, Dewey Eve, Bernard Fennell, James Kent, George Leslie, John McCarthy, Patrick E. McCarthy, John S. Nelson, Sylvester Reardon, Howard Regan, Donald Reynolds, Cecil Robertson, Chet Schirmer, Joseph Tillotson

Korean War: Elmer Brown, Lawrence Kepner, LaVern Robertson

(from p. 38 of Clontarf: A commemorative History, 1978)

Note: This list was compiled in 1978 and is therefore missing veterans who passed away and/or served after this date.

McMahon family headstone -- Clontarf, MN

I have been thinking about a project, and let me know if anyone is interested in participating…I thought it would be great to compile photographs of the grave markers at Clontarf cemetery.  We could begin by compiling photos that have already been taken and then go about taking pictures of the rest.  I have some photos of some markers, and I believe Anne does as well.  This could then be a great resource for individuals conducting genealogy research.  Any thoughts????

Enjoy your Memorial Day!

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Now this is an obituary!

I just ran across this obituary.  It is taken from the June 26, 1934 edition of the Swift County Monitor.

(from the Swift County Historical Society)

John H. Reardon, Pioneer of County, Dies Of Old Age

John H. Reardon of Clontarf, one of Swift county’s earliest settlers and a resident for nearly 60 years dies at the Swift County hospital here at 9 o’clock Friday evening, June 22, from the infirmities of old age.  He had been ill and confined to his bed during the last year.

Funeral services were held at St. Malachy’s church, Clontarf, at 9 o’clock yesterday morning (Monday, June 25).  Rev. Richard King officiated.  Internment was made in the Clontarf cemetery.

Mr. Reardon was born in Credit River, Minn., February 26, 1856, and was 78 years old at the time of his death.  When a young lad he was employed on the crew that built the first railroad running through St. Paul and he was a member of a posse that tried to capture the James brothers, famed Minnesota bank robbers.  He came to Clontarf by ox team in 1875.

Always fond of the carpentry trade, he followed that trade at the Industrial School then located north of Clontarf and during his lifetime built many of the better homes in the Clontarf locality.  He dug the first grave in the Clontarf cemetery.  Mr. Reardon started for Alaska during the gold rush, but became discouraged after reaching California and walked all the way back to Clontarf.

He married Catherine Hogan at Clontarf in the spring of 1882.  Mr. Reardon is survived by one son James Reardon of Clontarf; five grandchildren, Gertrude, Florence, Rose, Marge, and Elinor Reardon; three brothers Henry and Robert Reardon of Tara Township and Thomas of Clontarf; and two sisters, Mrs. H. Donovan of Tara and Mrs. Mary Long of Hazel Park, St. Paul.

Phew!

Judging from his obituary, Mr. Reardon could be looked at as a symbol of the “American Experience” – he helped build the railroad, was a pioneer settler, tried to nab Jesse James, and participated in the Gold Rush!

John Reardon built a house for his brother Thomas, and it is still there in Clontarf.  It is a pretty house.  Indeed one of the “better homes” of Clontarf.

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Memorial Day, Part II

I just ran across this listing of service veterans buried in the Clontarf cemetery:

Mexican War: William Schinnick

Civil War: John F. Boyd, John Connolly, S.H. Connor, Michael Donovan, Felix Duffy,Frank McMahon, Martin Mear

Spanish-American War: Maurice Cain

World War I: Frank Ascheman, John Chamberlain, Lawrence Chamberlain, Leon Chamberlain, C.C. Chevalier, Eddie Chevalier, Elmer Eve, Leo Eve, Joseph McDermott, Elliott Nelson, Roy Perrizo, John Reardon, James Reynolds, Cecil Robertson, Verdie Smith, Silas Tillotson

World War II: Ed Boutain, Joseph D. Christopherson, Dewey Eve, Bernard Fennell, James Kent, George Leslie, John McCarthy, Patrick E. McCarthy, John S. Nelson, Sylvester Reardon, Howard Regan, Donald Reynolds, Cecil Robertson, Chet Schirmer, Joseph Tillotson

Korean War: Elmer Brown, Lawrence Kepner, LaVern Robertson

(from p. 38 of Clontarf: A Commenorative History, 1978)

Note: This list was compiled in 1978 and is therefore missing veterans who passed away and/or served after this date.

McMahon headstone, Clontarf cemetery

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