Tag Archives: Casey

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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Filed under Clontarf

McDermott General Store: Late October Business

During the last week in October of 1883, the McDermott General Store was busy with customers settling their tabs and selling butter (and other products) for credit on their accounts.  For instance, on October 6th Patrick Langan sold a 211-pound hog @ 6-cents a pound.

I gather hunting was on the minds of several Tara residents, including Frank McMahon who purchased 2# shot (20-cents) and 1/2# powder (20-cents) and Tim Galvin who picked up 1 box caps (10-cents) and 1/4# powder (10-cents).

In preparation for the cold season fast approaching, people bought lots of yarn, no doubt to create scarves, hats, and mittens to ward off the winter chill.  More kerosene oil was purchased as well, to shed a little light on the long, dark evenings spent knitting or crocheting.  Thomas O’Brien would stay warm that winter in his 2 suits of scarlet underwear.  They better have kept him warm, he paid$4.75 for the two pairs!

The biggest ticket item sold that week was a $7.00 shawl purchased by Stephan Owens on October 23rd.  He also received some sort of “cash advance” from Mr. McDermott as “cash – $2” was added to his total bill.  I wonder what that could have been for?

With Halloween just around the corner, I had hoped to see some purchases that would indicate a celebration of some sort.  Maybe the peck of apples John Maher bought for 50-cents were for a rousing game of bobbing for apples?  There was one suspicious purchase made toward the end of the month.  In order to protect the good names of her descendants I will keep her identity to myself, but it’s interesting that Mrs. X just had to have a new broom on October 29th…

Psst…I left a clue to the woman’s identity…care to guess?



Filed under McDermott's General Store

Let your fingers do the walking

City directories are a great tool for researching individuals who lived in larger towns and cities in the United States.  City directories are the city equivalent to the country atlas (plat map), and a precursor to the telephone book.

On my recent trip to New Hampshire, I found looking through the Concord city directories to be a highlight of our research.  I would like to share some of what I found, as it pertains to early settlers in the Clontarf area.  If you were to go to the Salem, Massachusetts Historical Society, there is no doubt you would find similar information on the Casey, O’Neill, Langan, and Freeman families.


1872 Concord City Directory Advertisements (click image to enlarge)

Concord City Directories

available at the New Hampshire Historical Society


Kenna, John, blacksmith, Concord Railroad, house Jefferson


Foley, Patrick, laborer, h. Crescent, Fisherville

Kenna, John, blacksmith, Concord Railroad, h. Main

Kent, James, stone-cutter, h. 227 State

Quigley, Matthew, dresser, A. Harris & Sons, h. Tremont (Boscawen)


Donovan, Michael, stone-cutter, boards 225 State St.

Foley, Patrick, laborer, h. Spring, n. Centre, Fisherville

Kenna, John, blacksmith, Con. RR , h. Main, opp. Abbott Downing factory

Quigley, Matthew, woolen dresser (rest same as 1872)

Regan, John, laborer, h. Church, Fisherville


Duggan, Wiilliam, stone-cutter, house Church

Foley, Patrick, laborer, D. Arthur Brown, h. Spring n. Center, Fisherville

Quigley, Matthew, woolen dresser (rest same as 1872)

Regan, John, laborer, h. Church, Fisherville


Foley, Patrick. laborer, (rest same as 1876)

Quigley, Matthew, overseer, (rest same as 1872)

Regan, John, laborer, h. Church, Fisherville

In the 1880 Concord city directory, they are all gone.  “They” meaning the early settlers of Clontarf and Tara.  Michael Donovan had left a few years earlier – his obituary states that he came to Swift County in 1875.  Michael Donovan’s obituary also says that a brother living in Concord, NH survives him.  His name was Daniel Donovan and he appears consistently in the directories I studied.

In fact, most of “our guys” left brothers behind in Concord.  I only  know about men since women were not listed unless they were widowed.  I believe John Kenna had a brother Martin (who mysteriously changed the spelling of his last name to Kennar at some point), John Regan had a brother Jeremiah (Jerry), and Patrick Foley had a brothers Andrew and John.

So, this means I could still have some cousins in the Concord area.  Funny I didn’t come across any while I was in town.  And Leo, if you are reading this, you could have some more Kenna cousins as well!  Not to mention those of you who claim Michael Donovan as an ancestor.

Something I am curious about…those who are occupied as stone-cutters only show up once or twice during this period of time.  I know that William Duggan and James Kent had several children each who were born in Concord.  Do you suppose their work kept them away from home, so they didn’t always appear in the directory?  Would they have had to be “on the road”, traveling from quarry to quarry all over New Hampshire?  There was a lot of stone to be cut – New Hampshire is known as the Granite State, after all.

That’s all for our detour to New Hampshire.  We will come back to Minnesota this week, with another page from McDermott’s ledger and maybe something about a First Communion class at St. Malachy.


Filed under Early Settlers

Back to School, Back in Time

School District #25 was established on March 19, 1878 by a petition signed by John Casey and eighteen other Clontarf residents.  The first teacher was Kate Shinnick, daughter of William Shinnick, and classes were held in the Catholic Church until a schoolhouse was built in 1880.

By the 1914-15 school year the two-story frame school building was showing its age.  Timothy P. Foley, the school board member who completed the District #25 Record of Application for Special State Aid on June 8, 1915, reported that the building was in “very poor” condition.

Enrollment for the 1914-15 school year was 74, with on average 55 students attending class each day.  The school had one twelve-inch globe, and the library contained 304 volumes, forty of which were purchase from St. Paul Book and Stationery, Co. on January 13, 1915.

The students received instructed from two teachers.  The principal teacher was Loretta Fogarty and the assistant was Mary McMahon.  The principal was rated a “very poor teacher” by Mr. Foley while Miss McMahon did “excellent work”.  I can imagine that Mary McMahon was a fine teacher.  After all, she was my great-grandfather’s younger sister and my mother remembers her as having a great sense of humor.  I suspect, however, that Timothy Foley’s report is not without bias; he was married to Mary’s sister Bridget.

The 1978 Clontarf anniversary booklet indicates this picture is from about 1915.  The old schoolhouse is pictured behind the Clontarf students.  The school was located on the site of the Anna Shinnick home on Armagh Street.

1915 Clontarf School District #25

A brick building replaced the old schoolhouse in 1917 at a cost of $60.000.  It served the  Clontarf community until 1972 when the Clontarf school district merged with Benson.

I am sure many readers of this blog have memories of that schoolhouse.  Please share them…

1917 Clontarf School District #25


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A Page From Mr. Oleson’s, I mean Mr. McDermott’s, Ledger

On August 27, 1883 William Duggan of Tara sold 13 dozen eggs to Mr. McDermott for $1.62.  That seems like a lot of eggs.

I know I shouldn’t rely on a TV series from the 1970s as my frame of reference, but on Little House on the Prairie, Caroline Ingalls would walk into town with a basket of eggs over her arm to sell to Mrs. Oleson at the mercantile.  If 13 dozen eggs only fetched $1.62 in 1883, then Ma’s measly dozen or so (whatever her little basket held) would have hardly put a dent in the Ingalls’ tab at Oleson’s Mercantile.  LHOTP took place ten years earlier than the McDermott ledger, so Caroline probably would have made about a dime.

It will be difficult, but I need to  refrain from making comparisons to LHOTP every time I look at the McDermott Store ledger.  Not all of my historical context comes from TV programs.

Back to McDermott’s.  Pork was a popular item at the store this day.  I had not noticed it in the ledger before, but Frank Casey picked up 16-1/2 pounds of pork, M. Chennery bought 24-1/2 pounds, 18-1/2 pounds for Michael O’Neil, and 22 pounds for Thomas O’Brien.

Of course there were also the usual purchases of assorted dry goods, tobacco, and lamp oil.  Something a little different – Stephan Owens of Tara (later of Clontarf) purchased 50-cents worth of black berries.

A note to Keith: an entry in the ledger reads, John Casey (Marysland).  I think this confirms what you thought about a previous John Casey entry.


Filed under McDermott's General Store

Clontarf and Tara: Twin Townships

On December 16, 1878 William Duggan, Michael Shea, Edward McGinley, and James Kent resigned as officers of Clontarf Township.  They no longer lived in Clontarf, but they didn’t move.  The township records state they “resigned on account of town separation”.  Because of the influx of settlers, Clontarf Township was divided in two and Tara Township was born just west of Clontarf Township.

With the Tara cadre gone, the doors were opened to more Clontarf residents wishing to dip their toes in local government waters.  On December 16th Frank Roll and John Ledwidge were elected to the positions of supervisors, and our old friend and general store owner D.F. McDermott became the new treasurer.  Their terms would expire on March 11, 1879.

A couple of other faces familiar to readers of the blog joined the board on March 11, 1879: John Casey as “Assessor”, Michael O’Niell as “Constable”, and Thomas Casey as “Overseer Road District 2”.

D.F. McDermott remained Treasurer for years and must have been an influential figure in the early days of Clontarf.  Legend has it that Mr. McDermott attempted to control, or influence, the government of Tara Township by sending messages via the influential Tara resident Michael Donovan.  Many of the residents of Tara resented these attempts at manipulation.  At least one Tara resident became Republican in response to the Democratic tendencies of Mr. McDermott.

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