Tag Archives: Father Oster

Noble Patriot and Irishman

Sandwiched between two legendary figures in Clontarf’s history, Father Anatole Oster and Father Patrick Kenny, was a young priest from Ireland who only served the parish for two years (1899-1901). Little attention is paid to Father McDonald in the history of Clontarf, but judging from letters written by Clontarf resident Stephen Owen, I think he deserves a closer look. (I typed the content of the letters just as it appears in the transcriptions…among other issues, Mr. Owens was not a fan of punctuation.)

Father McDonald

St. Malachy Catholic Church – Clontarf, MN

On December 4, 1899 Stephen Owens writes from Clontarf to his niece in Skerries, County Dublin, Ireland:

Dear Niece Celia I will let you know what this Parish of Ours is doing at Present Our Priest the Rev. Father McDonald is holding a three Days fair in the Town Hall. We have a nice one in the Town for the Benefit of Our Church it is a new one and there is Sixteen Hundred Dollars of a Debt on it so he expects to realize about 5 or 6 Hundred Dollars at this fair and then About two more years would wipe out the Debt on the Church. I think his fair will be a success there is great crowds here those last two nights and we expect a large attendance tonight. Our priest is a Kilkenny Man about 30 years of Age, a fine Man I like him very much he does come see us quite often I and him does have great times nights Playing Checkers he likes to get all the Games he don’t like me to Beat him at all…

This is our introduction to Father McDonald through Mr. Owens’ pen. Already we see that he was responsible for building the new church in Clontarf (the one standing today) and was working hard to pay for it by organizing events such as the fair Mr. Owens mentions. Plus, we learn that he was a competitive checkers player!

On March 19, 1900 Mr. Owens describes the St. Patrick’s Day festivities in town (I highlighted this in an earlier post – click here.) He writes that Father McDonald had been rehearsing the play since January with the young people. Mr. Owens writes, “Our Priest is a Noble Patriot and Irishman.”

On April 1, 1902 Mr. Owens has some sad news to share with his niece. He thanks her for the shamrock she sent him for St. Patrick’s Day and said he gave a sprig to the Priest, but it is a new Priest:

…his name is Rev. Patrick Kenny our beloved Father McDonnoll (sic) was Buried last friday in Calvary Cemetery in the City of Saint Paul. I am awfull sorry to have to tell you this news we will never get the like off him again he was so friendly and sociable I will miss him very much we use to Play so much Checkers in our House Lord have mercy on his soul He dies off Consumption he got a Cough and did not doctor for it until it was to Late he left here last September and went out to the State of Arizona the Doctors sent him there it is a fine climate and thought he would come Back Cured of his Complaint but failed to get his Health he was a fine strong healthy young man I never thought he could be taken away so quick…

I hope Mr. Owens gave Father Kenny a chance. By all accounts he was also a very sociable Priest – he was extremely popular with the Irish families in Tara and Clontarf. He visited folks frequently in their homes and was always ready for a game of cards. Not sure if he played checkers, however.

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What’s the gift for a 126th wedding anniversary?

We missed their special 125th wedding anniversary last year, so I am giving you a heads up for their 126th.

On February 16, 1886 Michael Conlogue married Ellen Kenna at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Clontarf, Minnesota. Sponsors were John Conlogue and Jane Kenna.

Ellen Kenna was born on June 2, 1863 in Concord, New Hampshire. The Kenna family moved to Tara Township in 1878. Michael Conlogue was born in August of 1858 in Ontario, Canada. He emigrated to the United States in 1884. The couple met in the Lakeville, Minnesota area where Ellen was attending school and boarding with her aunt Kathryn O’Leary, and Michael was working for local farmers. Ellen received her teaching certificate and taught at schools in Clontarf, Tara, and Hegbert townships.

Once married, the couple purchased a 200 acre farm in Tara Township, near the Kenna homestead. They raised eleven children – James, John, Mary, Ann, Jane, Gertrude, Florence, Winifred, Robert, Adeline, and Bernadette. John passed away at ten-days-old,  but the other Conlogue children all graduated high school.

Conlogue Family (photo courtesy of Leo Holl)

You can read more about the Conlogue family here https://clontarfhistory.com/2011/04/09/going-going-gone/ in a post from April 2011.

I would like to share the obituary for James Conlogue, eldest son of Michael and Ellen. It is a great tribute to a man from Tara. I wonder who the schoolmate was who wrote the obituary?

Swift County News - June 29, 1922

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Father Oster in Action

My mom reminded me of a photo she found at the Archdiocese Archives in Saint Paul, Minnesota…

Oster on the Farm, no date (courtesy of Archdiocese Archives - Saint Paul, MN)

Oster is the one with the beard. Does anyone recognize the two gentlemen and the boy baling hay with Father?

Note to Jim: I forgot about Shannon’s book – I do have a copy.  I need to look at his bibliography again. I still would love to find some sort of advertisement for the settlement at Clontarf.

 

Happy New Year to everyone!

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Heading East: The Cadegan & Kelliher Families

While browsing through some St. Malachy Catholic Church records today I came across a rare item.

Click image to enlarge

The name – Mary Anatole Cadegan – caught my eye. Back in September, Sean Fitzpatrick posted a comment on one of the McDermott General Store ledger entries. Two of that day’s shoppers were his great-great-grandfathers – Cornelius Cadegan and Patrick Kelliher.

In a subsequent email exchange, Sean told me that his ancestors had settled in Clontarf in response to Bishop Ireland’s colonization efforts, but the families went back east in the late 1880s, resettling in Boston, Massachusetts. Sean says, “Family lore is that the Minnesota winters and the tornadoes were just too much for them.”

Michael Francis Cadegan married Margaret Kelliher on November 23, 1882. Sean says they settled in the Six Mile Grove area after marrying. Mary Anatole was born on March 11, 1884 and baptized at St. Malachy Catholic Church on April 16th.

The church records spell the last name Cardigan but Sean tells me it is Cadegan, but also seen as Cadigan or  Caddigan…I wonder if Father Oster was trying too hard with this name, since I have heard Irish people say “cardigan” and it sounds more like “cadegan”. When they say Cadegan, maybe it sounds like “cardigan”????

Father Anatole Oster must have been a very important figure in the lives of the Kellihers and the Cadegans since Mary was given his name as a middle name at baptism. Judging from the church records, it seems unusual for an infant to be given a middle name at all at baptism. Father Oster was a tremendous help to the pioneer settlers in Clontarf, both in a spiritual sense and on a more practical level.

Sean remarked that although it has been more than one hundred years since his family called Clontarf home, they still appreciate their ties to the town out on the prairie of Western Minnesota.

Here on the blog we have heard from a number of people who trace their roots to Clontarf. Sean mentions that his family is scattered throughout the United States – the same can be said for nearly all the pioneer families who established the Clontarf Community from the late 1870s through the early 1880s.

I would love to find some proof of the Catholic Colonization efforts, like a newspaper article or advertisement, specifically naming Clontarf and the names of the communities from which the settlers came. Any examples out there? Send me an email (clontarfhistory@gmail.com) or post a comment!

By the way…I would love to see a photograph of the Kellihers and the Cadegans. Do you have any old photos, Sean?

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Memories & Looking Forward to December

Let’s take a look back at Thursday November 29, 1883 — Thanksgiving Day. Should have done this a couple of weeks ago…better late than never!

McDermott Store Ledger - November 29, 1883

Well, I suppose Thanksgiving Day is as good a day as any to buy a new pair of overalls, Patrick Langan.

I wonder what Thanksgiving was like for the pioneer settlers of Clontarf in 1883? Would they have killed a wild turkey for dinner? I don’t think I saw any turkeys being purchased at McDermott’s leading up to the big day. Maybe they had pheasant instead?

Alas, Thanksgiving is but a memory to us now. Time to look forward to December and the Christmas holiday. I wonder how soon the residents of Clontarf begin their Christmas shopping?

McDermott Store Ledger - December 1, 1883

Looks like Mr. McDermott is paying bills on this first day of the month. Rent is $5 per month. It could take him a few days to make that back in any given month!

What is the final entry for James Flynn all about? I can’t quite make it out.

On a sad note, Austin McGeary of Danvers passed away last Thursday, December 1st. I met Austin and his wife several years ago. My mom and I learned that Austin had boarded with my great-grandfather Neil Regan in Clontarf while he worked at Perrizo’s store in the late 1930s. Austin shared his memories of the time he spent at Neil’s as a young man, and for that we are very grateful.

Read Austin’s obituary here: http://www.wctrib.com/event/obituary/id/87235/. Our thoughts are with the entire McGeary family.

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November 3, 1883 @ McDermott’s

November 3, 1883

 

Nothing too out of the ordinary this day at the store – nails, tobacco, sugar.  I wonder what Father Oster was up to?  I wonder how often he purchased items for area residents?  I know he played an instrumental role in helping get new settlers established in the area.  Sometimes it seems like he purchases an odd assortment of goods at the store.

Note: Julia Axion (spelling?) was Father Oster’s housekeeper.

*The McDermott General Store of Clontarf ledger books can be viewed at the West Central Minnesota Historical Research Center at the University of Minnesota – Morris.  Visit their website for more information on their extensive collection.

 

 

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Shea-Kenna Connection

Thomas F. Shea & Jane I. Kenna - 8 Nov 1893 (from Jim Egeland)

Father Anatole Oster married Thomas Shea and Jane Kenna on November 8, 1893 at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Clontarf.  Witnesses of this union were James Shea and Margaret Callaghan.  Thomas and Jane were Jim Egeland’s great-grandparents, and he provided the following history:

Thomas Francis Shea married Jane Irene Kenna in Clontarf on 8 Nov 1893. Jane Irene Kenna was the daughter of John Edward Kenna Sr. and Jane Howard Kenna. Thomas and Jane had 5 children, Francis, Mary, John, Jane (my grandmother), and Dorothy. I know that Thomas Shea’s two oldest children, Francis and Mary, were born in Clontarf. Thomas, a farmer, moved his family to Columbia Falls, Montana around 1897 and then to Great Falls, Montana after a few years. When Jane Irene Kenna died in 1907,  Robert (her brother) came to Montana and he and Thomas took her body back to Clontarf  to be buried with her mother as was Jane’s wish. The (Shea) children were raised for a few years by his sisters (in Montana.)
The children of Thomas grew up, not knowing anything about the Kenna relatives until the early 1960′s when the Kennas who were doing genealogy found the family.

Taking a step backwards, I thought I would share some of the Kenna family history that Jim received many years ago from a Kenna family member:

John Edward Kenna, Sr was born in 1834 in County Cork, Ireland, and was married to Jane Howard, born March 21, 1835 in Ireland.  The date of marriage was May 9, 1858.  They emigrated to America and settled in Concord, New Hampshire where their children were born.  The children, Ellen, William, Jane, Robert, and John, Jr. who was born May 5, 1871.  When the youngest, John, was 9 or 10 they moved to Swift County, Minnesota and bought a farm at an Irish settlement, Clontarf, near Benson.  A year or so later, on August 7, 1882, John Sr. was killed while digging a well on the farm by suffocation with gas in the well.  Jane continued on the farm with the help of her children until her death Feb. 27, 1897.

Additional information passed along about the Kennas in the area at that time:
Ellen Kenna married Michael Conlogue of Clontarf.
William married Margaret Kent of Clontarf.
Robert married Anne Allen
Jane Irene Married Thomas F. Shea of Clontarf.
John Edward Jr. married Ursula McShane of Benson Nov 1900.

ca. 1900 Group of Guys

I may have previously posted this photograph, but I thought we could get some fresh eyes on it.  The man standing on the right is John Foley (brother of my great-grandmother Mary Foley McMahon) and seated on the right is John Kenna.  The other three men are unidentified…any ideas?

Both the Foley and Kenna families came to Tara Township from Concord/Fisherville, New Hampshire.  Perhaps these men represent other families who also came from New Hampshire?  Maybe a Duggan or a Kent?

I would love to learn more about the Shea family.  I know they were early settlers in Tara Township.  Tiffany shared some information on her Shea ancestors last week:

Parents: Michael and Alice Shea

Children: Thomas F Shea, Margaret (Maggie) Shea, John Shea, James Shea, Nancy Shea, Mary Shea, and Alice Shea.

In 1886, the Shea family occupied the southern 320 acres in Section 32 of Tara Township.  By the 1902, the only Shea that remains on the plat map is Margaret Shea Dailey who retains 80 acres.  Did the rest of the Sheas all move to Montana?

Through Ancestry.com and this blog  several Shea descendants have made connections.  This is exciting, and I hope they continue to share their discoveries with us!

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