Tag Archives: O’Neil

Spring at McDermott’s

It’s been awhile since we’ve taken a peek at the McDermott General Store Ledger.  The month of May saw many of the typical purchases: tea, tobacco, soap, coffee, nails, sugar, and yeast cakes.  There was much building and a quite a bit of sewing going on in the Clontarf area during the Spring of 1883 as well.

One transaction that caught my eye came on May 18, 1883 when Frank McMahon bought 1 pkg envelopes and some letter paper (10-cents each.)  This stood out to me because Frank (my great-great-grandfather) was unable to read and write.  The paper and envelopes must have been for his wife!

Albert Hilla purchased 3 cigars, some ginger snaps, and a can of oysters for a grand total of 45-cents on June 7th.  Michael O’Neil spent 80-cents on a brand new manure rake.  I would bet that Mr. Hilla enjoyed his purchases more than Mr. O’Neil!

Maybe those of you who know something about construction could help me figure out what Frank McMahon was building with these supplies (I can’t even decipher some of Mr. McDermott’s script):

  • 904 ft. Dimension (?)
  • 1100 ft.  Shapers (?)
  • 1200 ft. Siding
  • 800 ft. Flooring
  • 7 X Shingles

All of that for $119.23…I can’t read the second item on the list, and I don’t understand the first one.  Any ideas what he was building?  Leave a comment!


Don’t forget about Eileen McCormack’s talk at Swift County Historical Society this Thursday (6/23) @ 7:30pm.  She will be discussing her latest project, a biography of Louis W. Hill, son James J. Hill.  Copies of the book,  The Dutiful Son Louis W. Hill: Life in the Shadow of the Empire Builder James J. Hill, will be available for purchase or order at Thursday’s event.  Please attend if you are able.


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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.


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