My apologies for the lack of new content on the blog over the past few weeks. I will spare you any excuses and get right to some Clontarf history…
Anne has been learning a lot about the Clontarf Club and adding the new information in the comments of the Clontarf Club page. Click here and scroll down to read the comments. Hopefully we can compile all of these bits into a narrative telling the story of the Club. Stay tuned!
Recently we have had some visitors to the blog with ties to the Fennell family of Clontarf. Anne Schirmer shared the following photograph with me from her Clontarf genealogy collection:
Thomas and Catherine (Curtis) Fennell Family - 1922
Thomas Fennell was the son of Francis and Armeline Goulet, who were early settlers in the Clontarf area. Thomas was the youngest of eight children born to Francis and Armeline in Glencoe, Minnesota. Who are the members of this handsome family? I am unable to identify them precisely in the photo, but I will share the information I have on the children.
In no particular order (but could be roughly by age)…
- Eva “Evie” (1901-1976), married Clarence Ascheman.
- Margaret, married Henry Peerboom.
- Joseph, married Eleanor Bouta.
- Agnes “Toots”, married William Wallace.
- Martha, became Sister Marilyn, a Sister of Saint Joseph.
- Louis “Buster”, (1909-1987), lived in Benson.
- Thomas Anthony.
Please let us know if you are able to fill in any of the blanks. I will share the entire Fennell Family history from the Clontarf anniversary booklet in an upcoming post.
I wonder if the Dick Fennell who gave my grandpa John Regan the card pictured below is the same Richard Fennell, son of Thomas and Catherine? It’s a cute Valentine…
I wonder what happened to Dick Fennell? Share if you know!
Anne Schirmer shared this gem with me on my last visit to Clontarf in April:
A Jack Langan Production.
Anne had a chat with Mary Reardon Langan, wife of play producer Jack Langan, and Mary shared some of her memories of the play…
Mary said the action of the play centered around a game of Buck Euchre, which apparently was a big part of “a typical business day in Clontarf” during the 1920s and 1930s! The actors are listed on the left and each portrayed a Clontarf resident from back in the day. A couple of guys (Bob Perrizo and Jim Benoit) did double-duty playing two characters. Jack based the play on his first-hand observations of these Clontarf businessmen and card players, according to Mary.
Mary also remembered some of the special guest celebrities: Brother Bones was played by Dick Perrizo, and The Dolly Sisters were Gretchen and Robbie Apitz. This must have been quite a production! I bet the people of Clontarf really enjoyed themselves. I love the idea of an old-fashioned basket social.
A couple of other notes from Mary…
- The first actor on the list should be Jerry Goulet, not aTerry.
- “Gus’s” Place refers to Gus Heschke’s.
- Sis Mikkelson was responsible for creating many plays in Clontarf over the years, especially St. Patrick’s Day productions.
Anyone out there remember this play, or events like this in Clontarf? I am not sure if Mary and Anne came up with a year for this…maybe the late 1950s? I must say that I am impressed by Mr. Langan’s production, and I would love to know about others he presented in Clontarf over the years. Please share any memories you have by leaving a comment. Let me know if you have any photos from this time (school photos, baseball team, etc.) or any other momentos…it would be great to see them.
Many thanks to Anne and Mary!
Have a great weekend!
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.
August 4, 1929 First Communion Clontarf, MN (click to enlarge)
The 1929 First Communion at St. Malachy’s in Clontarf took place less than three months before Black Tuesday, the day the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. The 1920s had already been a tough decade for farmers and farming communities throughout the Midwest, but things were about to become even more difficult.
This photo is dated 1929, but I am not convinced that is the correct year. There are too many children in the photo when compared to the list of those receiving their First Communion at St. Malachy’s in 1929. Perhaps children from other area churches came to Clontarf to receive their First Communion, but it was recorded in their respective church record books…just an idea.
Here is the list as it appears in the St. Malachy Sacramental record book:
August 4, 1929
recorded by Lawrence Lynch (page 104)
If you recognize anyone in the photo, that could help us identify it correctly. I have the listings for all the First Communions, so we could match it up. You can enlarge the photo by clicking on it. You can get a really good look at it if you click again to magnify. Let me know if you see someone you know!
Do you have a First Communion story you would like to share from Clontarf?
I dropped the ball for the September drawing, so I will combine September and October into one contest, with two winners. So…comment away and build your entries!
At least one Frenchman other than Father Oster went to McDermott’s store…yesterday in 1885 (August 10th), Frank Goulet bought some tobacco and matches from Mr. McDermott.
I am sure I am just missing pages with other French shoppers since we were looking for Irish residents in our research and didn’t copy every page of the ledgers, however, Mr. Goulet is one of the first Frenchman I found. My hunch is that the French-speaking residents of Clontarf may have done their regular business at another store. Anyone have an idea where that might have been?
I wanted to include the Goulet family history here, but I couldn’t locate anything this far back, nor could I find a Frank Goulet. Can anyone out there claim Frank Goulet as an ancestor? I bet Anne can help us out with this one! From what I can gather, the first Goulet to live in Clontarf was Ernest George (married Marie Boutain at St. Malachy’s in 1931), and he came from Hancock.
Later this week, maybe I will tackle the Boutain family…