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


Kenna, John, blacksmith, Concord Railroad, house Jefferson


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)


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


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


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.


Filed under Early Settlers

9 responses to “Let your fingers do the walking

  1. Anne Schirmer

    In the school photo, remember Alice Chamberlain would still be Alice Johnson at that time. Her sisters were Florence (later married Leonard Mills (Sr.), and Mabel (later married Verde Smith) and a brother Lawrence (married Margaret Bouta). He was the youngest of the four, but died first (after shoveling snow!)

  2. Anne Schirmer

    I have a photo of 4 couples I believe I got from Kit Doherty. I have a copy, not the original. 4 Johns and their wives! They played cards together for years – men against the women, I am told….It’s Johnny Daniel and wife Clara (Chevalier), John Ascheman & wife Mary (Hartman), John “Ole” Olson and wife Helaine (?), and John “Albert” Johnson & wife Emma (Fennell). I dated the photo circa 1960.

  3. D. Chase

    Fisherville is the old name of the town border village of Boscowen and Penacook NH.
    The people you have listed in your article mostly resided there where the Concord Axle works had their factory. Others lived further down State street toward Concord close to where the (1880) present day NH state prison was built and where the Granite quarries; Swenson’s, Perry, and New England of Concord are located. More information about your founders might be found in the following books. History of Penacook, 1902, History of West Concord,1976 and the History of Concord Vol I & II, 1905.
    Good luck with your research

    • Thank you so much for the information. Do you live in Concord? I came across the 1902 History of Penacook on line a few years back and was thrilled to find an entry for the brother of my great-great-grandfather. Would their locations have been on the opposite end of Concord from St. John’s Catholic Church? Thanks for commenting! — Aine

      • D. Chase

        Hello, yes I am from Concord and am very interested in local History. Yes Penacook / Fisherville is at the extreme north -end of City proper while Saint John’s, located in the south-end, was the first Catholic Church in Concord and may have been the only option for baptism during the period of History you have reseached. History of Penacook mentions the start up of the Catholic Church there as meetings in private homes. If you send me Face Book, friend request, I may be able to e-mail you a Google Earth map with push pins of the areas and streets mentioned in your article. There was quite an Irish presence in Penacook according to the History of Penacook. History of Concord Vol I & II, 1905. is posted in PDF files on the City of Concord (government) web site under the history tab. Cheers, Dave

      • Dave — When I get my Concord “stuff” out and in front of me, could I pick your brain a bit? When my sister and I visited Concord last Fall, we went to St. John’s and chatted with the parish secretary. She made copies of baptisms from their old registry books. I will email you directly with some questions, if that is OK? Thanks again, and I will be in touch! — Aine

  4. D. Chase

    Please write, I would like to help you research these peoples’ presence in Concord NH. Dave

    PS I am on Face Book

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