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!






Filed under Early Settlers

3 responses to “Heading East: The Cadegan & Kelliher Families

  1. Jim Egeland

    Your wish is my command. A simple google and I came up with “Catholic Colonization of the Western Frontier” by James P. Shannon. I was able to view enough pages of this book to know that they may as well named the book Catholic Colonization of Minnesota. Swift county is noted on a lot of pages and Benson and Clontarf are noted on a few pages. This book is out of print but I just went to Amazon.com and found that there are several books for sale cheap. I bought one for $3.60 + $3.99 shipping. There are two or three more at this price. I felt it was worth having for genealogy reasons. A wonderful post with great results. Thanks Jim

  2. I really enjoyed the content in your blog today. Feel free to share some deep linking with me. I would be happy to increase your blog awareness by providing a deep link on my own blog.

  3. redheadednurse

    My great grandmother was Margaret Lee McBride of Chester, Orange County, NY. Her brother was Edward Lee of Boston. They both emigrated from Ireland. Edward Lee’s daughter Eleanor married Michael F Cadegan, who was born in MN and whose mother was Margaret E. Kelleher, his father was Michael Cadegan. I have been trying to find this family for some time. I would love to connect with Cadegan cousins. I actually grew up back east but lived in Saint Paul for 23 years so I was surprised when I found this MN connection.

    Elizabeth Olmstead McBride

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