Tag Archives: New Hampshire

Happy Birthday Minnie!

Mary Foley, 1875-76

I originally posted this last year in honor of my great-grandmother’s birthday. Well, looks like that time of year is upon us, so I thought I would share this again. Happy New Year to you all!

Minnie was my great-grandmother, and according to my grandma she absolutely hated the nickname “Minnie”. Please forgive me, Great Grandmother, but I think it’s cute, and since your real name Mary is shared by about 75% of women in your family tree, I chose to call you Minnie.

Minnie Foley was born in Fisherville, New Hampshire on January 2, 1875. She was the fourth of five children born to Patrick Foley and Mary Crowley (their eldest son did not survive infancy.) She was baptized a few weeks later on January 24, 1875 at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Concord, New Hampshire. John Foley and Mary Casey were her godparents.

Three years later, Minnie and her family came to Clontarf, Minnesota with several other Irish families from the Concord, New Hampshire area, including the Regan family. Minnie and Nellie Regan were best friends from a very young age.

My grandma told me that Minnie worked hard her entire life, and that included working on the family farm in Tara Township while she was growing up. Her sister Maggie worked inside, while Minnie and her younger brother Jackie worked outside. My grandma confessed, she wasn’t sure where Minnie’s older brother Tim worked!

The McMahon family lived about a mile from the Foleys in Tara. Minnie married Thomas McMahon at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Clontarf on June 28, 1904. Minnie’s sister Maggie and Tom’s brother Frank were their witnesses. I imagine Minnie and Hoosie (as Tom is referred to in Minnie’s autograph book) having secret meetings over hay bales and missing chickens during their courtship…

Wedding photo, 1904

I won’t go into the entire McMahon family history now because this is about Minnie. She and Tom raised seven children and after giving farming all they had the McMahons moved to Minneapolis in 1925.

When she died in 1945, Minnie was living with my grandma, her husband John Regan, and their new baby (and my mother) Eileen. My grandma said that Minnie was smitten with Eileen. Minnie would say that she had never known a baby to sleep as much and as well as little Eileen. Minnie marvelled at how Eileen would even fall asleep with a bottle in her mouth.

In my grandma’s recipe book are a few recipes attributed to Minnie, her “Ma” – I think I will make “Ma’s Spice Cake” in Minnie’s honor today.

Nellie Regan Byrne and Mary Foley McMahon, about 1943

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These Old Houses

I posted this article on my other blog –http://www.theirishinamerica.com – earlier this week. Hope you enjoy it…

The first time I visited Ireland in 1988, I was struck by the number of derelict farmhouses dotting the countryside. “Why doesn’t someone just tear those old houses down?” I wondered. “That’s what we do in the good ol’ USA…we don’t leave houses to fall down on themselves. If we don’t want or need them, we get rid of them and build something new and better…”

Abandoned house near Ballyedmond, County Laois (all photos by Regan McCormack)

This sentiment came from a teenage girl from the city who spent more time in the countryside during six weeks in Ireland than she had in sixteen years back home – in the “good ol’ USA”. I thought I was so smart…

Fast-forward twenty years and I am closer to home, driving the country roads of Tara Township, crisscrossing its thirty-six square miles in Swift County, Minnesota. My maternal great-great-grandparents were among the pioneer 1870s settlers of this township on the vast prairie of Western Minnesota. This was my first visit to Tara. I had traveled three thousand miles from home on a number of occasions to visit Ireland, my “ancestral homeland”, yet I had never bothered to drive a few hours west to see where my people settled when they came to Minnesota.

Granted, as far as vacation destinations are concerned, Ireland is a bit more attractive than Western Minnesota, but it turns out, the two places have some things in common.

There are the obvious similarities in place names in this part of Minnesota. Bishop John Ireland established several colonies of Irish Catholic settlers with names like Avoca, Kildare, Tara, and Clontarf. Hundreds of Irish families from cities and communities in the Eastern United States seized the opportunity to own land and live in a community with its own church and priest, surrounded by fellow Irish Catholics.

The Depression came early to rural communities and persistent crop failures and changing farming practices combined to make farming unviable for most small farmers. My relatives moved to Minneapolis, as did several other Tara families. Some of the original Irish settlers had left Tara even earlier, moving further West, always in search of better land.

So, I wonder why I was surprised to find this in Tara Township?

Section 22 of Tara Township – the McMahon place

On nearly every section of land in the township stands an abandoned farmhouse, or at least a grove of trees planted by the original settlers to protect a house. And this in the “good ol’ USA” where we tear things down!

Folks in Ireland and Tara Township have the same reaction when I ask them why they don’t simply tear down the abandoned houses. They shrug and say that they are no bother and they can be used for storage. That is the practical response, but I wonder if there is something a bit more sentimental lurking beneath?

The abandoned houses got me thinking…A similar hopelessness that drove millions of Irish to America during the 19th and 20th centuries could be seen in rural Americans who fled the farm for the city in the 1920s. Major difference, of course, is there was not a famine like Ireland experienced, however there was tremendous poverty, crops failed miserably, families were split up, and life changed permanently and dramatically.

I am rather ashamed of my sixteen-year-old self for not being as smart as she thought she was. She should have realized that the same reason this stands today in Ireland…

Near Ballyedmond, County Laois – 2011

might be why this…

Cahir Castle, Tipperary – 2011

and this…

Rock of Dunamase, County Laois – 2011

and this…

Johnstown, County Kildare – 2009

are still here today. I doubt that the farmhouse ruins will have the staying power of the castles and abbeys of centuries gone by, but in the meantime they can remind us from where we came. Whether it is a farmhouse in Ireland or Tara Township, Minnesota.

Now, if I could only get Jimmy to fix up this old house…

Two Jimmy McCormacks at old family house in Ballyedmond – 2009
Have a great weekend and please visit http://www.theirishinamerica.com!

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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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Happy Birthday Minnie!

Mary Foley, 1875-76

Minnie was my great-grandmother, and according to my grandma she absolutely hated the nickname “Minnie”. Please forgive me, Great Grandmother, but I think it is a cute name, and since your real name Mary is shared by about 75% of women in your family tree, I chose to call you Minnie.

Minnie Foley was born in Fisherville, New Hampshire on January 2, 1875. She was the fourth of five children born to Patrick Foley and Mary Crowley (their eldest son did not survive infancy.) She was baptized a few weeks later on January 24, 1875 at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Concord, New Hampshire. John Foley and Mary Casey were her godparents.

Three years later, Minnie and her family came to Clontarf, Minnesota with several other Irish families from the Concord, New Hampshire area, including the Regan family. Minnie and Nellie Regan were best friends from a very young age.

My grandma told me that Minnie worked hard her entire life, and that included working on the family farm in Tara Township while she was growing up. Her sister Maggie worked inside, while Minnie and her younger brother Jackie worked outside. My grandma confessed, she wasn’t sure where Minnie’s older brother Tim worked!

The McMahon family lived about a mile from the Foleys in Tara. Minnie married Thomas McMahon at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Clontarf on June 28, 1904. Minnie’s sister Maggie and Tom’s brother Frank were their witnesses. I imagine Minnie and Hoosie (as Tom is referred to in Minnie’s autograph book) having secret meetings over hay bales and missing chickens during their courtship…

Wedding photo, 1904

I won’t go into the entire McMahon family history now because this is about Minnie. She and Tom raised seven children and after giving farming all they had the McMahons moved to Minneapolis in 1925.

When she died in 1945, Minnie was living with my grandma, her husband John Regan, and their new baby (and my mother) Eileen. My grandma said that Minnie was smitten with Eileen. Minnie would say that she had never known a baby to sleep as much and as well as little Eileen. Minnie marvelled at how Eileen would even fall asleep with a bottle in her mouth.

In my grandma’s recipe book are a few recipes attributed to Minnie, her “Ma” – I think I will make “Ma’s Spice Cake” in Minnie’s honor today.

Nellie Regan Byrne and Mary Foley McMahon, about 1943

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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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Let your fingers do the walking

City directories are a great tool for researching individuals who lived in larger towns and cities in the United States.  City directories are the city equivalent to the country atlas (plat map), and a precursor to the telephone book.

On my recent trip to New Hampshire, I found looking through the Concord city directories to be a highlight of our research.  I would like to share some of what I found, as it pertains to early settlers in the Clontarf area.  If you were to go to the Salem, Massachusetts Historical Society, there is no doubt you would find similar information on the Casey, O’Neill, Langan, and Freeman families.

 

1872 Concord City Directory Advertisements (click image to enlarge)

Concord City Directories

available at the New Hampshire Historical Society

1867

Kenna, John, blacksmith, Concord Railroad, house Jefferson

1872

Foley, Patrick, laborer, h. Crescent, Fisherville

Kenna, John, blacksmith, Concord Railroad, h. Main

Kent, James, stone-cutter, h. 227 State

Quigley, Matthew, dresser, A. Harris & Sons, h. Tremont (Boscawen)

1874

Donovan, Michael, stone-cutter, boards 225 State St.

Foley, Patrick, laborer, h. Spring, n. Centre, Fisherville

Kenna, John, blacksmith, Con. RR , h. Main, opp. Abbott Downing factory

Quigley, Matthew, woolen dresser (rest same as 1872)

Regan, John, laborer, h. Church, Fisherville

1876

Duggan, Wiilliam, stone-cutter, house Church

Foley, Patrick, laborer, D. Arthur Brown, h. Spring n. Center, Fisherville

Quigley, Matthew, woolen dresser (rest same as 1872)

Regan, John, laborer, h. Church, Fisherville

1878

Foley, Patrick. laborer, (rest same as 1876)

Quigley, Matthew, overseer, (rest same as 1872)

Regan, John, laborer, h. Church, Fisherville

In the 1880 Concord city directory, they are all gone.  “They” meaning the early settlers of Clontarf and Tara.  Michael Donovan had left a few years earlier – his obituary states that he came to Swift County in 1875.  Michael Donovan’s obituary also says that a brother living in Concord, NH survives him.  His name was Daniel Donovan and he appears consistently in the directories I studied.

In fact, most of “our guys” left brothers behind in Concord.  I only  know about men since women were not listed unless they were widowed.  I believe John Kenna had a brother Martin (who mysteriously changed the spelling of his last name to Kennar at some point), John Regan had a brother Jeremiah (Jerry), and Patrick Foley had a brothers Andrew and John.

So, this means I could still have some cousins in the Concord area.  Funny I didn’t come across any while I was in town.  And Leo, if you are reading this, you could have some more Kenna cousins as well!  Not to mention those of you who claim Michael Donovan as an ancestor.

Something I am curious about…those who are occupied as stone-cutters only show up once or twice during this period of time.  I know that William Duggan and James Kent had several children each who were born in Concord.  Do you suppose their work kept them away from home, so they didn’t always appear in the directory?  Would they have had to be “on the road”, traveling from quarry to quarry all over New Hampshire?  There was a lot of stone to be cut – New Hampshire is known as the Granite State, after all.

That’s all for our detour to New Hampshire.  We will come back to Minnesota this week, with another page from McDermott’s ledger and maybe something about a First Communion class at St. Malachy.

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A Path to Tara Township

 

State House - Concord, New Hampshire (1816)

 

The Patrick Foley family lived just a few blocks from the New Hampshire State House in the Fisherville neighborhood of Concord during the 1870s.  This was before the family settled in Tara Township.  The four Foley children – Timothy, Margaret, Mary, and John – were baptized at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Concord.  Patrick worked at the Concord Axle Works, as well as in a machine shop.

 

St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church Concord, NH

 

Patrick Foley was able to read and write English, which were unique skills among immigrants from County Cork, Ireland during this period (he immigrated in 1864.)  I knew that Patrick had served as a Tara Township clerk for many years, and I learned in Concord last week that Patrick served as secretary and president for both the St. Patrick’s Benevolent Society and the Catholic Temperance League.

By the 1886 Tara plat map, Patrick Foley owned 80 acres in section 16 and 240 more in section 21.  Matthew Quigley, who also came from Concord, was sandwiched  in between, owning 80 acres in the northeast quarter of section 21.

When Patrick Foley died in October 1913, his pallbearers were, according to his obituary, “Thomas O’Brien, James Flemming, D.F. McDermott, J.L. Doherty, John Gossen, and James O’Donnell.”  All men were either Tara neighbors or fellow pioneer settlers in Clontarf.

I will have more to say about other Tara pioneers who came from Concord once I sort through my research!

 

Photographs taken by Regan McCormack

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