Category Archives: Mystery Photo

New Sign & Mystery Photo

Clontarf, Minnesota (Anne Schirmer 2011)

Look at the great new sign welcoming residents and visitors to Clontarf!  The sign went up last month and is the Clontarf Haymakers 4H Club Community Pride project for 2011.  Great job!

I don’t remember where we left off with the Mystery Photo feature…let’s say #6.  What can you tell me about this one?  Anne shared this photo with me when we were in town last time…so she knows what it is!

Mystery Photo #6

What Clontarf building was home to this?  If you know, please leave a comment.  The first correct answer will receive one of the few remaining Clontarf Prairie Pub T-shirts!

By the way…how did St. Malachy Church Summerfest go earlier this month?  I hope it was a success!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

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Go West

My mom just returned from a trip to Glacier National Park for the Park’s 100th anniversary.  It was a good opportunity to promote her book, recently published by Ramsey County Historical Society –  The Dutiful Son: Louis W. Hill.  Click here for a synopsis of the book and more information.  My mom, Eileen McCormack, did the research for the book.  She worked for a number of years as a curator at the James J. Hill Collection and is one of the most knowledgeable people around in the history of the Hill family. 

(Note: the Hills I mention in this post are not related to the Empire Builder; the name is purely coincidental.)

On her way back to Saint Paul, she stopped in Chinook, Montana and met her cousin Jack O’Brien for the first time.  Their grandmothers were sisters – my mother’s was Annie Hill Regan and Jack’s was Mary Hill O’Brien.

Early on, Mary Hill was one of the big surprises in our research.  We had no idea that Annie had an older sister in Clontarf who arrived from Ireland nearly ten years before Annie.  Below is the Kildare, Ireland church in which the Hill sisters were baptized.

St. Brigid Church Kill, Co. Kildare, Ireland (photo by Regan McCormack)

In 1889, Thomas O’Brien purchased the north eighty acres of the northwest quarter of section 10 in Tara Township.  Tom’s first wife Ann Owens passed away in 1892, and he married Mary Hill in 1894.  Although we have learned much about the O’Brien family, we still are unable to figure out what brought Mary Hill to Clontarf.  We suspect the Catholic Church had something to do with it – where else does a young widower with two small children go for a wife in the late 1800s in Clontarf?  If anyone has any ideas, or if an ancestor of yours followed a similar path to Clontarf, please share your stories and ideas.

By 1914, the O’Brien family moved to Chinook, Montana.  Tom died in 1917 and Mary  in 1924.  A couple of the O’Brien daughters visited Clontarf during the 1920s to spend time with their Aunt Annie, Uncle Neil, and cousin John Regan.  I have previously posted a couple of photographs from the album of one of the O’Brien girls here and here that were taken during such visits to Clontarf.

The eighty acres Thomas O’Brien owned was purchased by Neil Regan in March of 1914.  Neil, Annie, and John Regan lived there until the autumn of 1920 when they moved to a little house on Cashel Street in Clontarf, across the tracks from the Patrick and Julia Regan family.

What did eighty acres cost back then?  In 1889 Thomas O’Brien purchased the parcel for $664.  Neil and Annie Regan sold it for $12,000 in 1920.

In case you were wondering, Mystery Photo #5 could have been the house where the O’Brien family and then the Regan family lived.  It was located on the eighty acres in section 10.  You will have to take my word for it, because a couple of years ago the place burned down.  Good guess, Regan!  Indeed, there is a good chance your grandfather did live in that house.

Next time we will continue our historical jaunt through Tara section 10 by looking at the land owned by the Duggan family.

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Another Corner of Section 10 (plus Mystery Photo #5)

Section 10 in Tara Township figures prominently in my research of the Irish settlers in the Clontarf area.  Personally, I can make several connections to occupants of this single square-mile of land.

The southwest quarter of section 10 was owned by Timothy Galvin on the 1886 plat map.  Mr. Galvin came to Tara Township from County Cork, via Illinois.  A Timothy Galvin appears on the ship manifest on a 1864 sailing from Queenstown, Ireland, and his name appears right next to Patrick Foley and John Regan.  There is a very good chance this is the same Timothy Galvin and he went to Illinois while Foley and Regan headed to New Hampshire.  Coincidence or not, they then met up in Tara Township about fifteen years after arriving in America.

Timothy Galvin’s name appears until 1912 when it is replaced by D.H. Lawler.  But by March 1913, John Regan buys the 160 acres for his son Jerry.  By 1913, my great-great-grandfather John Regan was an old man and had sold his farm in section 7.  The house John had built on the land served as his home until his death in 1924.

Jerry Regan Home Tara Township

Jerry Regan died in 1933, leaving his wife Agnes and six children.  The family moved from the farm the following year.

Jerry wasn’t the only Regan to live in section 10.  Next time we will look at the history of 80 acres in the northwest quarter.

If you grew up in Tara, do you have any memories of this house?

I will leave you with a mystery photo.  If you get this one, you will deserve a special prize!  The real mystery might be…whose finger is that?

Mystery Photo #5

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Mystery Photo #4

On warm Sunday afternoons, what do most of us like to do?  Go to the lake, play with the kids, have a picnic, relax with family and friends…

A little bit of all of that is going on in this Mystery Photo, except for the going to the lake part – unless Byrne “Lake” or “Lake” Malachy counts.*

Mystery Photo #4

Do any of these people look familiar to you?  Click on the photo to make it larger.  I believe this photo was taken in 1918, could be Tara Township or Clontarf.  Actually, I suppose it could be almost anywhere.

The woman on the far left is my great-grandmother Annie Hill Regan, standing behind her in the vest is great-grandfather Neil Regan, and in the front on the left is my grandfather John (“Red” as he was known in Clontarf) Regan.

Any ideas? Something to ponder over the weekend…

*Byrne Lake and Lake Malachy show up on Plat maps, although their existences can’t be proven.

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