Monthly Archives: January 2011

It’s 1884 at the McDermott General Store

Judging from the records I have, business was anything but brisk in January 1884 at the McDermott General Store in Clontarf.  It stands to reason…January on the prairie could be (and is) brutal.  Most people came in to pick up the essentials: coffee, tea, oil, and tobacco.  There were a few purchases that stood out to me…

January 8th

  • James Flynn bought a buffalo robe ($4.50) and a cap ($3.30)
  • One pair overshoes ($1.75) was charged to Frank McMahon’s account by Tim. Cain

January 29th

  • Rev. Anatole Oster purchased 4# F.G. tobacco ($1.00)
  • William Purcell picked up 1 candy pail (.20)

January 31st

  • Frank McMahon parted with .60 for 1# wax candles
  • Charles Maguire purchased 1 bottle peppernuts (.25) and 1/2# tobacco (.15)

There were a couple of interesting transactions that could relate to some type of building or works project in Tara Township.  Patrick Foley, who was Tara Township clerk, was given $40.00 by a Swift County order.  On the same day, James Conaty was given $40.00 cash.  I know that Simon Conaty was responsible for building the current  St. Malachy’s in the 1890s, but I don’t know anything about James.  Any ideas?


On January 24th Tom and Jackie Doherty left the following comment.  I wanted to post it here to make sure everyone saw it, even if you don’t read the comments.  Enjoy!

In the 50′s and 60′s, everyone in attendance eagerly awaited the big event. It usually happened about midnight. Earl Gilbertson and Otto Sluter (sp?) would dance cheek to cheek on the dance floor. Any newcomer’s would really “gawk” at the scene. Afterwards, the two men would get lots of grins, laughs and applause. Earl’s wife was Jeannie Christopherson (Ma Pete’s daughter).
Also regarding the Clontarf Club – Before George Gilbertson sold to Lyle Kesting, there was a card room in the back part of the club. They had poker games that would last for days non stop. Some players would go for a day or two and then take a break and then come back. George was said to have played 4 straight days before he bit the dust one time.
Also – George used to tell me about the time my uncle Andy Doherty, went broke playing poker there. George then gave Andy some money to go and get him and the rest of the players something to eat. Andy took the $20.00 and drank most of the money up. He returned to the game with the food that he had enough money to buy – a box of animal crackers. George used to laugh so hard telling the story, he would be crying.

Thanks for a great story, Tom and Jackie!

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Filed under Clontarf Club, McDermott's General Store

Roy Perrizo: 41 years as Clontarf Postmaster

Since we are on the topic of the Perrizo family, let’s take a look at Roy Perrizo’s (son of Bruno and Melinda) story from the 100th anniversary booklet:

Prior to entering the U.S. Army in 1918, Roy Perrizo was a rural mail carrier at Clontarf. After he retired from service. he was employed at the Farmers State Bank of Clontarf. In 1925 he purchased the McDermott General Store and operated it until May of 1964 when he sold it to Victor Haroldstad who sold the business to Robert Fennell in 1965.  Roy Perrizo and Winifred McDermott were married in 1926 and in 1928 Winifred McDermott Perrizo died. Roy Perrizo was postmaster of Clontarf from 1926 until 1963 when he retired. He was a charter member of the American Legion, the V.F.W. organization, and the Benson Golf Club. He became a member of the Knights of Columbus in 1916.

In 1931 he married Rose Hughes of Tara Township. They had three sons, Richard, Burton, and Robert. Mrs. Rose Perrizo lives in Clontarf at the present time (1978).

Mark Becker, who so generously shared some Perrizo family photographs (click here to view the photographs), told me that his mother (Winifred Fiala Becker) was particularly fond of Uncle Roy and Aunt Rose and has warm memories of her Perrizo cousins.  Mark recalled many trips to Clontarf to visit Aunt Rose.

Next time we will take a look at Mr. McDermott’s ledger…


Filed under Clontarf

Some More Perrizo History…

Mark Becker, the grandson of Frank and Belle (Perrizo) Fiala, recently shared some great photographs, and I would like to share them with you…

Bruno Perrizo and his brothers - submitted by Mark Becker

Now, these are some great moustaches!  I am not sure which one is Bruno, and I don’t know if all of these men are actually Bruno’s brothers.  Maybe Mark will see this and help us out?

Bruno and Melinda Perrizo - submitted by Mark Becker

To read an earlier post on Bruno Perrizo family click here.

Belle Perrizo Fiala and sisters - submitted by Mark Becker

This is a photograph of Belle Perrizo and two of her sisters.  Not sure which sisters, but my bet is that it is Winifred and Della.  Just a guess…

Frank and Belle Fiala Wedding - submitted by Mark Becker

Mark told me his grandparents Frank and Belle (Perrizo) Fiala were married at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Clontarf.  His grandfather Frank suffered a fatal stroke while in the barber chair in Clontarf on August 18, 1937.  Belle then took over her father’s cafe, and Belle and her daughter Winifred (Mark’s mother) lived above the cafe in the old bank building.

Thanks Mark for the fantastic photographs and stories!  Much appreciated!

If you have memories or stories you would like to share, leave a comment or send an email to


Filed under Clontarf

A paved road, the Clontarf Club, and roller skates

I was chatting with my “Clontarf Insider” yesterday about the Clontarf Club.  She told me a bit about the origins of the Club…

About 1920 a gentleman from Benson started an oil company and thought that Clontarf was a good spot for a filling station, since the main road from Benson went straight through the town.  This was a great idea, until they decided to pave the main road, shift its course, and bypass Clontarf altogether.

Without the traffic from the main road, the station was not profitable, so it was sold to a local man named Patrick Regan.  Pat Regan started a garage, and throughout the 1920s it was known as much for the poker games played there as for the cars repaired.

Patrick Regan is seated on the left with Jim Duggan standing behind him. The two men on the right are unidentified.

George Gilbertson joined Pat Regan in a venture to remodel the garage, doubling its size, and turning it into the Clontarf Club.  Does anyone have a date for when the Club opened its doors?

I have heard that the lobster tail served at the Club was quite good…any other favorite items on the menu?

The paved road may not have been good for filling station business, but it did wonders for the recreational opportunities of Clontarf youth.  Donald and Gerald Regan (who happen to be sons of Pat Regan mentioned above), told me about how they would strap on their roller skates and skate the six miles to Benson on the smooth, newly paved road.  Then they would skate all night at the Armory, returning home on the midnight train to Clontarf.  Care to guess how much this one-way train fare cost in the 1920s?

Pssst…any ideas on the identities of the two gentlemen seated and standing on the right in the photo above?  Share your thoughts; leave a comment!


Filed under Clontarf Club