Tara Township Roots: The Shea-Dailey Family

I received a comment a couple of weeks ago from Ian, who is a descendant of Margaret Shea and Thomas Dailey.  He was curious if I had any information on these families.  Here’s an excerpt from his comment:

I was wondering if in your research you have come across any information on residents in Clontarf by the name of Shea or Dailey.

I am a descendant of Thomas E. Dailey, (born July 1, 1854 ?; died in December 1925 in Great Falls, Montana), married Margaret Shea at Clontarf, Swift county, MN in 1882.

I do not know however if my ancestors lived in Clontarf or in Benson (or somewhere in between). We have an album of photos dating from the end of the 19th century. Many are studio photos from the R. E. Brandmo photo studio in Benson. Judging by the quality, number and their clothing, they were relatively well to do.

It appears that Thomas and Margaret had a number of children in Benson/Clontarf area before moving to Montana; Francis Veronica (my great grandmother, married Patrick Kenny and moved to Montana as a school teacher), as well as Agnes, Michael, Thomas, Alice and Mary Ellen.

I recognize the Shea family name from the plat maps in Tara Township, and I’ve encountered Michael Shea in a couple of places – notably the Clontarf Township records and the McDermott General Store Ledger.  The 1880 US Federal Census indicates that Maggie Shea, age 21, is living with her parents (Michael and Alice) and siblings (James-20, Thomas-19, Nancy-16, John-15, Mary-13, and Alice-9.)

The first six of the Shea children were born in Wisconsin, and in 1860, the young Shea family was living in Alto, Fond du Lac county, Wisconsin.  The family includes James Shea, aged 70 – presumably Michael’s father (Ian – your great-great-great grandfather?)

In 1880 Thomas Dailey lived in Marysland Township (south of Tara) with his younger sister Julia; Thomas farmed and Julia kept house.  Margaret Shea and Thomas Dailey were married at St. Malachy Catholic Church on August 30, 1882.  The witnesses were John Cahill and Mary Dailey.  In 1900 the Dailey family lived in Benson, Minnesota where Thomas Dailey’s occupation is listed as “fire insurance.”  By 1910, the family has moved to Great Falls, Montana.

On the 1886 Tara plat map, , the Shea family owned the south half of section 32.  Michael, the father had 80 acres, son James another 80, and son Thomas, 160.  On the 1902 map, no Shea names are found, but Margaret Dailey’s name appears on the 80 acres once belonging to her father.

Please share any information you might have on these families…feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly by sending  an email to clontarfhistory@gmail.com.

A couple of messages:

  • Ian – I would check with the Swift County Museum for more information on the Dailey family.  Let me know if you would like copies of census showing the Shea and Dailey families – I can send them to you if you don’t have them.
  • Margo – remember when you asked me about the Shea family and possible connections to the McGeary family…were they in Fon du Lac county in Wisconsin?


Filed under Family Histories

7 responses to “Tara Township Roots: The Shea-Dailey Family

  1. Margo McGeary Ascheman

    Just a note as Mel and I are in AZ and I not have any info on this family. We will be going home the lst of April so will get in touch with ya then. My family came from Marysland twp. I can’t even tell you the exact address in Wisconsin this McGeary family came from… Love Margo

  2. Jim Egeland

    Hi Aine, I received an email from Ian Cochran this morning. He found me on ancestry.com. I am a greatgrandson of Thomas Francis Shea, a brother of Margaret “Maggie” Shea Dailey. I remember Thomas rocking in his chair when I was a child.
    I have been researching the Shea line for a couple of years now, but in earnest for a couple of months. I was thrilled to find your comments about the Sheas in 1860 as I had not found this census report (listed as Shay) until I looked them up this morning.
    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. Thomas, a farmer, moved his family to Columbia Falls, Montana around 1897 and then to Great Falls, Montana after a few years. His wife died in 1907 and the chidren were raised for a few years by his sisters.
    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.
    I am hoping to learn more about Michael, Alice and their family in Clontarf, what church Thomas and Jane were married it (all I have is the date of their marriage) and how these different Shea and Kenna families interacted around Clontarf.

  3. Anne Schirmer

    Clontarf has had 2 wood structure churches. The first was constructed 1877, and the second 1896. They appear similar from the photos I’ve seen, but I assume the second had a greater capacity. I haven’t come across anything that explains the need for the “new” church. They appear to be built at the same location, facing the same direction. One newspaper account says a play will be performed at the “old” church, so I’m curious to know if both structures existed at the same time for a while…The ball & cross where blown off in one newspaper account. The steeples are similar in both pictures I’ve seen. So, anyway, a marriage in 1893 would have been in the 1st church. Those people would have probably have been in the group photo of the 1st church, but there was a great many people in the photo, and it was taken from a great distance, and included the large (2 story) rectory, as well as the trees between the structures. And, why would they need to plant trees between the structures? I’m a bit confused by that. Aine, can you post that story from the Swift Co. Monitor-News from May 11, 2009 or was it 2010, about the bell at St. Malachy?

  4. Jim from Salem, OR

    I have one photo of St Malachy Church but don’t know where I got it. I can’t find any photos of either St Malachy Church and no photo showed up in my search of this site. Would you post any pictures you have and also any pictures of Clontarf in the early years? I’ve seen one photo ca 1920. Thanks, Jim

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