Tag Archives: Donovan

Return to the Reardon Family

Jim from Minneapolis, a reader of the blog with a connection to the Reardon family, sent me a copy of a typed history of the Henry Reardon family. The history was written by Ada E. Johnson. At the end of the five-page document is this note:

Written by Ada E. Johnson, I am now 90 years old and wrote this history at the request of my Grandchildren and great Grandchildren and I have at this time 28 Great Grand Children, Eleven Grandchildren and Two Great great grandchildren and two more in a couple of months.

Ada’s history is valuable, especially for its details of Henry and Bridget Reardon’s early story prior to arriving in Tara Township. We have touched on their story in previous posts on the blog. Jim’s grandfather had a  sister who married into the Reardon family. This branch of the family is addressed in a later addition to the history made by E.B.:

John, born in 1856, was married to Catherine Hogan and they had a son James born in Tara township in 1883. James married Catherine McDonough in 1912 at St. Marys Catholic Church in St. Paul. They had 6 children. Their first, a son Raymond died of diphtheria at 15 mo. Five daughters followed: Gertrude, Florence, Rose, Marjorie, and Eleanor. All were born and raised in Clontarf.

John died in 1934–James died in 1963. Both are buried in the family plot in St. Malachy’s cemetery, Clontarf, Mn. John’s brother Robert and James’ son Raymond are buried beside them.

Catherine “Kate” McDonough Reardon doesn’t get much attention in those paragraphs, but that’s OK…Jim sent some pictures!

Catherine McDonough and James Reardon wedding - 1912


Kate and James were married at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 3, 1912. The couple is seated in the center with the bride’s brother George McDonough on the left and Irene Reardon on the right.

Raymond Reardon - 1914

The couple’s first-born and only son, Raymond died of diphtheria at fifteen months. According to Jim, the family’s home was quarantined during the illness and James’ aunt Mary Donovan came to prepare the baby’s body for burial. Only Mary, Kate, and James were present at the burial.  Diphtheria was highly contagious, so people must have kept their distance until the incubation period was over.

Kate and James lived at the Jack Kent (also known as “Lockwood”, in Tara?) place before moving to the Hurley place (in Clontarf?). Apparently, James’ father John Reardon lived with the couple for a time – click here to read John Reardon’s obituary. I wonder where in Clontarf this photo of Kate was taken?

Kate Reardon - 1937 - Clontarf

When I get to the Swift County Museum in April, I will look up a few more Reardon obits, so I can find out some details on James and Kate’s lives.


Filed under Family Histories

Clontarf Tidbits and Galvin Family Genealogy

April 5, 1901 Swift County Monitor

Whenever I come across one of these Clontarf columns in a neighboring town’s newspaper, I am saddened by the fact that Clontarf never had a newspaper of its own.  I suppose I should be grateful for these sporadic reports of Clontarf events…at least it is something!

I obtained this clipping from the Swift County Historical Society when I requested an obituary for Tara resident Timothy Galvin.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the items mentioned in addition to the death notice (more about Timothy Galvin in a minute.)

A few things that stuck out in this clipping…”Sport” McDonald is one of my favorite Clontarf figures.  I like the nickname.  I wonder if he ever made it to Montana?  I know he made it back in time to woo and marry Michael Donovan’s daughter.  What were you doing in the woods all winter James O’Neil and W. Rutan?  And, the T. Foley mentioned here as delaying a trip to the coast with Ed. McCarthy is my great-grandmother’s brother.  I wonder if he ever made that trip?

Now back to Timothy Galvin.  A couple of weeks ago, Colleen left a comment seeking information on her Galvin and Fleming roots in Tara Township and Clontarf.  This is why I looked up this clipping in the first place.  I previously wrote a bit about her great-grandfather Timothy Galvin – click here to go to the post on Tara Township, section 10, Timothy Galvin’s home.

Unfortunately, the brief notice of Mr. Galvin’s passing does not provide many details about his life and family.  Several years ago when my mom and I were in Clontarf doing research, we came upon a typed genealogy (from the late 1960s?) of the Galvin-Fleming clan, completed by Robert F. Galvin of Saint Paul, Minnesota (I believe he would be Colleen’s uncle.)  The genealogy provides some data on Timothy Galvin, but there appears to be a couple of questionable dates – Timothy Galvin is said to have been born in 1860 and his wife Catherine Kelly in 1861.  I suspect this is incorrect since Colleen said the couple was married in 1872.  Both Timothy and Catherine were born in County Cork, Ireland.  Included are the names of Timothy and Catherine’s children, their spouses, and their children’s names.

The genealogy on the Fleming side is much more detailed and includes entertaining narratives of the lives of James P. Fleming and his wife Bridget (Delia) Fleming.  James fought in the Civil War and was one of the original settlers of Tara Township.  I will share more about the Fleming family in my next post.

In the meantime…does anyone have anything to say about the Clontarf column from above?  Any names or events stick out to you?  Anything you would like to know more about?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!


Filed under Clontarf, Family Histories

In like a lion…or maybe it was a lamb?

March is known as a month of weather extremes in Minnesota.  Blizzards, tornadoes, ice storms, flooding, and mild sunny days are all common occurrences in March.  I am not sure what March 1884 was like in Clontarf, but odds are there was a little bit of everything in the weather department.

There wasn’t much going on in March 1884 at the McDermott General Store.  The only clue as to the weather is that a number of pairs of boots and rubbers were sold.  The regular customers came in for the staples – sugar, tobacco, and oil – but it looked like several residents were busy sewing new Spring clothes.  The spools of thread, pins, and gingham fabric were flying off the shelves – well, that might be an exaggeration, but indeed many customers came in for these items.

My great-great-grandfather Francis McMahon was a loyal customer of Mr. McDermott.  I may have mentioned before the frequency with which he visited the store.  Even in the middle of winter, Grandpa Bushy (as he was known) managed a shopping trip at least once a week.  The McMahon family lived in section 22 of Tara Township, and in 1884 the family consisted of five children under the age of seven.  Most of the pioneer families of the Clontarf area would have had similar young, growing families.  That translates into lots of sewing to keep everyone in clothes, diapers, bed-clothes, etc.

On March 17th, Francis McMahon came to the store and this was his tab:

.50     5 yards gingham

.50    2 yards ticking

.38    3 yards towling

.38     3 yards shirting

.05     Pins

.25     1 potato dish

.60     1# tea

.25     2 tin cups

.10     candy

Grandpa Bushy returned to the store the next day for a pair of boots for $2.75 and 50 cents worth of sugar.

What would be the use for 1/2# of sulfur?  John Ledwidge paid 10 cents for it, and Michael Donovan sold Mr. McDermott 5 and 28/60 potatoes @ .25.  I wonder how they measured potatoes and had Mr. Donovan been saving them in his root cellar all winter?  Maybe he realized he had more potatoes than he was going to use and unloaded them…any ideas?  Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Do you have any stories to share?

Since we were talking about March 17th, are there any stories out there about St. Patrick’s Day in Clontarf?  Let me know what your memories of the day are, or if you recall any stories passed down about the early days.

What about baseball in Clontarf?  Does anyone have a photograph of a Clontarf baseball team or any information or history?

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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

The Reardon Family: Long Journey to Clontarf

Each week we will profile a family with its roots in the Clontarf area.  Since there has already been some interest, we will start with the Reardon family.  The following was taken from an entry in the Swift County History book published in 1979:

Henry and Bridget Reardon

Henry Reardon and his wife, Bridget, were both born in Dublin, Ireland.  They both left Ireland at the time of the potato famine, about 1845.  They went to Australia separately and met and were married in Melbourne, Australia.  Then they left for America and landed in New York where they stayed for a time.  In a few years they decided to move west and bought horses and a wagon which took them as far as the Mississippi River.  Here they hired a boat which took them north to Minnesota.  They settled first in Credit River, Prior Lake area in 1855.

In 1876 they and several other families moved to Clontarf Township, in Swift County.  Henry and his wife Bridget settled in Section 2 of what is now Tara Township.  Henry made several trips to and from Credit River moving other families to the Clontarf area.

Henry and Bridget had the following children: Andrew, Robert, John (Catherine Hogan), Henry (Sarah Byrne), Hannah (Michael Donovan), Mary(Long), Meg (Vorwick), Bridget (Ledwidge), and Thomas (Bridget McElgunn).

From this information, the Reardons arrived very early in Clontarf, before the colonization efforts by Bishop Ireland had begun in earnest.  The Reardon family is typical of many of the immigrant settlers in that Clontarf was not their first stop in America.  The Reardons had quite a journey – Dublin to Melbourne to New York to Credit River to Clontarf.

Dominic McDermott, who ran the first lumber yard in Clontarf and a general store also came from Credit River.  I believe Father Oster, the first parish priest in Clontarf, was in Credit River for a time as well.  Do you know of any other Clontarf families who came from Credit River?

Just a note – Tara Township was originally part of Clontarf Township.  It became its own entity in 1878.  Tara is west of Clontarf.

If you are a Reardon from Clontarf, we would like to hear from you!  Please add a comment.


Filed under Clontarf, Early Settlers, Family Histories, Irish