Tag Archives: 1920s

A Photograph from Clontarf – 1920

We have two winners for the latest drawing here at www.clontarfhistory.com.  They have been notified by email and will receive their t-shirts soon.  The remaining Prairie Pub t-shirts are going fast…any ideas for a new Clontarf t-shirt design?  Does anyone out there do screen printing?  Please leave a comment and let me know…I would love to have new Clontarf shirts printed!

Jim from Minneapolis sent in a photograph of his grandfather’s sister, Kate McDonough Reardon taken in Clontarf in 1920.  Here’s the photo:

Kate McDonough Reardon - Clontarf - 1920

Here’s what Jim wrote:

Hi Clontarf Historians,

In my grandpa’s photo collection was this picture of his sister, Kate/Catherine Reardon (nee McDonough) who lived for a time in Clontarf along with her brother George McDonough I believe.  They worked for some local family there.

Here’s an excerpt from a family history about her:

“She acquired a job as a hired girl for Kate Tuske.  It was at this job she met James Reardon. They were married 9-3-12.”

The photo is yours to keep for your archive.  If you happen to know the location in the background, feel free to let me know.  If you happen to spot any other photos regarding these folks, I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,



Can we help Jim out?  I know there are lots of Reardons out there, but does anyone know who Kate Tuske was?  I don’t recognize that name.  Does the location of this picture look familiar to anyone?

Are James and Kate Reardon the ones who lived in the old jail building right after they were married?

Have a great weekend!



Filed under Clontarf, Drawing

Going, Going, Gone!

Conlogue Family (courtesy of Leo Holl)

Ellen Kenna married Michael Conlogue on February 16, 1886 at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Clontarf.  Ellen was born in Concord, New Hampshire on June 2, 1863 and moved to Tara Township with her family in the late 1870s.  Michael Conlogue was born in Ontario, Canada in 1856 and came to America in 1884.

Ellen and Michael met while Ellen was staying with an aunt in Lakeville, Minnesota, studying to be a teacher.  The couple purchased a farm in the northwest quarter of section 14 in Tara Township, and they farmed there until Michael’s death in 1922.  Ellen sold the farm in 1923.  The following auction notice appeared in the Swift County Monitor.  It is fascinating to see the items for sale at this auction – the notice serves as an inventory of the contents of the Conlogue farm, but we can assume many other farms in the area would have had similar components.

Conlogue Auction, Tara Township 1923 (courtesy of Leo Holl)

Click to enlarge

Thanks to Leo Holl, a descendant of Michael Conlogue and Ellen Kenna, for providing the photo and auction notice!


Filed under Family Histories, Tara Township

Clontarf Valentine

Anne sent me this story that appeared in the January/February 1989 issue of the Swift County Historical Society Newsletter.  It might be mild now, but read what can happen…

A Valentine Snow Storm

It was a calm, mild beautiful morning with just a dusting of snow on the ground that Feb.. 13, 1923.  Sylvia Walsh, (later Sylvia Chevalier) teacher of rural school District #68 in Sec. 7, Clontarf Twp., was walking along the new road to school in high spirits.  The weather was great, she had a wonderful boarding place at the Peter Razink farm, and then too, she was eagerly looking forward to the Valentine dance in Clontarf the next evening.   School was called at 9:00 am.  Opening exercises were over, the children had settled down, and the day’s work had begun. “All of a sudden there was a thunderbolt or an explosion.  A storm had hit!  All at once, the snow came down in sheets, the wind blew with a tremendous force, and there was a blizzard so thick that no one could see anything.  Sylvia said, “Looking out the window, you couldn’t see anything except the window!”   The children immediately became alarmed.  There was no telephone at the school house.  Sylvia soothed her pupils saying, “Oh no! We are going to save our lunches and have a good time!”   “About half an hour later, in walked Oliver Goulet and his hired man.”  The Goulets lived just across the road from the school house.  The men had tied a clothesline rope to the door of the Goulet house, and then proceeded across the road to the school house.  Mr. Goulet calling out jovially, “You are all going to come with us, and you are going to stay with us.”   Not much more was said, the preparations were made to leave.  Sylvia banked the stove and then told the children, “We’ll make valentines.”  They got together all kinds of construction paper, colored crayons, pencils, scissors, and paste to take with them to the Goulet’s home.  Each one carried a lunch pail,  Sylvia and the hired man carried the valentine makings.  Sylvia locked the school house door.  The men tied the clothesline rope securely to the door knob and the procession started on the trek across the road with each person holding onto the line.  Mr. Goulet was first, then the older children, the younger children followed, with Sylvia and the hired man bringing up the rear.  The smaller children would stumble, and the others would help them up.  All of them kept their hands on the clothesline, moving slowly ahead, and not being able to see anything for the driving snow.   Finally they got to the house.  Mrs. Goulet, smiling reassuringly, opened the door and invited them in.  “And all the children trotted in with their overshoes on.”The first thing they did was to sit down and eat their lunches.  The fun started; they began making valentine.  “All the children were happy, I know that,” said Sylvia.   Mrs. Goulet made supper for everyone, and then made beds for them.  One girl said that there were six in her bed, all lying crosswise.  Everyone was thankful to be safe and warm, and besides that, they were enjoying themselves.   The storm kept on with no let up for three days.  Poor Mrs. Goulet cheerfully kept cooking.  Their newly married daughter happened to be there, so she was snowed in along with the rest.  She helped her mother take care of the 18 extra people.  Finally the groceries started to run out, but Mrs. Goulet made pancakes, and more pancakes, which everyone enjoyed.  There was no problem with the children.  They were having fun!  They played games including “Button, button. Who’s got the button?”  Mr. Goulet played the violin, and they sang songs they had learned in school.   The storm was over the morning after the third day.  The fathers came with horses and sleighs to get the children.  By that time, there was no wind at all and it was not so very cold.   Due to the graciousness of their hosts and the ingenuity of their teacher, the children had no anxiety at all.  “It was like they were on a three-day picnic.”    One little girl didn’t want to go home!   The snow was piled high and hard.  Sylvia climbed over a snow drift which was higher than the chicken coop, and started out walking to her boarding place.  No doubt she was reflecting on the experience of the past three days.   This was Sylvia’s first school and she taught there for six years.  She also taught several others schools in the county.  She was married to Oliver Chevalier and after their family was raised, she taught for twelve years in the Beaver Lake School in Maplewood, St. Paul before her retirement.   One this is certain,—neither she, her pupils,the Goulets, or the parents, every forgot the February blizzard of 1923.

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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!


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Altar Boys: Corrections & Additions

I heard from several readers about the identity of the altar boys pictured below (you may also want to check out the earlier post here.)


Altar Boys, 1920

This is how the individuals were previously identified:

Father Patrick Kenney at very back

Back row: Melvin Klucas, unknown, Howard Regan, Robert Reardon (between two rows)

Middle row: Lewis Fennell, Clarence Hargreaves

Front row: ? Flynn, Donald Reynolds, Richard McMahon

Right off the bat, a few of you commented that Melvin Klucas was incorrect as he didn’t become Catholic until he married, and besides was only about five-years-old in 1920 (per Bob Klucas and others.)  Now that altar boy is unknown…could it be Melvin Daniel?

A Clontarf insider, who prefers to remain anonymous, thought the next boy in the back was a McCarthy (Joseph, Emmet, or John perhaps?), and agreed with Howard Regan and Robert “Bud” Reardon.

Next row, I believe everyone was OK with Lewis Fennell, but it was believed that Clarence Hargreaves was too young in 1920, but it could be an older brother (Leonard?).

Regarding the Flynn boy in the front row, I heard from Linda who is researching her husband’s Flynn roots, and she said that possibly it is Jeremiah Flynn.  There was some disagreement with Donald Reynolds (too young), and it was suggested that the middle boy in the front could be either Fred or Walter “Frenchie” Chevalier.  There was universal approval on the identity of Richard McMahon.

There you have it.  Any thoughts in light of the new information? We’ve never heard from any McCarthy or Hargreaves descendants with roots in Clontarf…


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Altar Boys Identified and Shopping in Clontarf

Altar Boys

No one had anything to say about the altar boy photo from last time, so here it is again, this time with most of the boys identified…

St. Malachy Altar Boys 1920

Father Patrick Kenney at very back

Back row: Melvin Klucas, unknown, Howard Regan, Robert Reardon (between two rows)

Middle row: Lewis Fennell, Clarence Hargreaves

Front row: ? Flynn, Donald Reynolds, Richard McMahon

We are only missing the identity of the boy second from the left in the back row, and the first name of the Flynn boy in the front.  Any ideas?

From what I have heard, Father Kenney was a popular priest in Clontarf.  Any stories about him?  Please share by leaving a comment/reply.

McDermott General Store: November 1883

Just have a couple of pages from the November 1883 store ledger.  Let’s see what who was shopping…

November 5th

  • Priest Safleur: $2.15 for coffee, tea, sugar, and two stove pipes (.40)
  • John Gallagher: stocked up on some staples, including tea, coffee, matches, soap, nails, tobacco and then came back a bit later for 5 yards of denim (.60) and 4 skein of yarn (.48)
  • John Regan:  sold Mr. McDermott $4.05 worth of butter and received cash back
  • Mrs. James McGeary: lantern globe (.20), 2 yards blue denim (.40), 2 yards shirting (.28), 3 yards sheeting (.27), and thread (.05)
  • James Kent: sugar (1.00) and can of tea (.65)
  • William Duggan: 8 yards sheeting (.80), 3-1/2 yards flannel (.63), thread (.05), pins (.05), and elastic (.05)

November 8th

  • Mrs. John Casey: sugar (.50), 2# currants (.20), matches (.10), salt (.10), and nails (.10)
  • Industrial School: 4 dozen eggs (.80)
  • John Regan: sugar (1.00), kerosene oil (.30), Japanese tea (.45), 5# nails (.25), 4# prunes (.40)
  • John Regan, put on James Kent’s account: 2# nails (.10)

McDermott paid out about 12-1/2 cents per dozen eggs (see earlier post) and it looks like he charged the folks at the Industrial School 20-cents per dozen.

A fair amount of sewing would be done by Mrs. McGeary and Mrs. Duggan.  I didn’t realize elastic had been invented by 1883.  What do you suppose Mrs. Duggan was making with all that sheeting?

Anything stand out to you about these purchases?


I will get back to the family histories in upcoming posts.  Let me know if you have any suggestions for information you would like featured on the blog.


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School Picture and Altar Boys

It’s been a few weeks and I haven’t received much input on the Clontarf class photo I posted (see post here.)

Here’s the photo again:

Clontarf Class Photo

Tressa Burns (whose grandparents Charles and Phoebe Chevalier lived in Clontarf) had a few identification ideas:

  • Back row – boy on the left with hair parted down the middle – Phious Chevalier
  • Back row – girl on right with curly hair – Dela Fredrickson
  • Middle row – girl in dark dress, left of center – Louise Chevalier; boy to her left – “Red” Regan
  • Front row – seated in the middle in white shirt – Raymond Burns

Several years ago, my mother and I identified several of the students with the help of some former Clontarf residents.  Here’s what they told us:

  • Back row – starting fourth from left, light-haired girl Marie Fredrick, Susanna Olson, Agnes Fennell (taller), Loretta Foley, Marie Boutain, unknown with face turned, Alice Chamberlain
  • Middle row – fourth from right, dark dress is Florence Johnson, to the right is Emeline Mikkelson
  • Front row – seated, third from left is Thomas McCarthy, fourth from left is a Chevalier or a Fennell, sixth from the left is Herman Fredrickson?

Nothing really matches up with the two attempts at identifying these students, but the only conflict is the boy Tressa said was her cousin Raymond Burns and our informants said could be a Chevalier or a Fennell.  But that is kind of close, anyway!  Tressa identified my grandfather “Red” Regan, and I don’t see him, but it is neat that she thought of him! JoAnn – does your mother have any memories of John “Red” Regan, or maybe even of his mother?  They lived right in Clontarf.

Take a look at the photo again and see if these identification suggestions jog your memory a bit.  If you need clarification, please leave a comment and I will do my best.

Another photo to ponder…

1920 St. Malachy Altar Boys

If the date is correct, that would be Father Kenny, and it looks like him.  I have some of the boys identified, but I would like to hear what you think.  I will share who I have identified in a couple of days.


Filed under Clontarf