Tag Archives: railroad

Anne Says: An April Round-Up

I want to make certain everyone sees Anne’s great comments, so from time to time I will compile her thoughts in a new feature…”Anne Says”.

On April 8th, Anne checked in with some local news. I bet the cake was wonderful:

Beth with one of her fabulous creations - visit http://www.beth'scakes.biz

Mary (Reardon) Langan ordered a cake from Beth for her coffee party Tues. March 13, 2012, and Beth made it that morning and delivered it to Mary in Benson at noon, and it was cut and served by 3 pm. Red velvet cake with white frosting and a shamrock in green on it! Mary’s guests were Mary (Manney) Chamberlain, Geneva (Ascheman) Cameron, Donna (Ascheman) Chevalier, Gert (Collins) Bouta, Donna (Fennell) Gode, Cele (Becker) Kent, Clara (Bouta) Brandt, Bonnie (Benham) Smith, and “yours truely”…. Thanks Mary L. We all enjoyed the afternoon. See Pg 3 of the Swift County Monitor this week! (April 4, 2012)
P.S. Bonnie & Ray have a new grandson from their son Justin and wife Lindsay. Nolan Thomas Smith was born Sat. March 24 at RIce Hospital in Willmar. (Justin has an older brother, Thomas). Bonnie’s mother, Bernice (Fennell) Benham lives in Benson. Ray’s mother, Laverne Bouta Smith, passed away just a few years ago.

Also on April 8th, Anne shared a bit about the priests of Clontarf and promises more in the future:

Fr. King was priest at St. Malachy in Clontarf for 33 years. I’ll find his obit and photo for June, okay? Fr. Cooney had grandparents buried at Clontarf so when he was assigned here, he got into the genealogy aspect of things and started planning our 90th celebration (1968) and then the 100th anniversary celebration (1978). Both priests are buried here at Clontarf.

In response to my post on the Reardon family (click here for original entry):

Great idea! More people/families should have their photo taken with the church in the background! I love it! Even after a baptism!….Speaking of babies, Ryan James Beyer was born recently and his mommie’s dad is the son of Marge (Reardon) Klucas.

And lastly, Anne’s reply to a question as to the age of the Clontarf depot. (View the original post here):

Clontarf Depot

Good question! You will see a shadow of a tall structure cast onto the depot…that was another elevator just to the south of the depot! Wayne Klucas answered my question about the two elevators when he said Peavey Elevator (the shadow caster) bought out the other (Cargill or Northwestern by name) and had it moved closer and attached to the Peavey. When the Elevator had spontaneous combustion occur, and the Elevator burned to the ground Sept. 28, 1948, it was a huge fire since it was actually two structures on fire. It was never rebuilt… Marge (Reardon) Klucas, Mel’s wife, told me there was a third smaller elevator to the north of the crossing at Clontarf and it was called the Monarch Elevator. I’m hoping to come across some documentation somewhere sometime that validates this.. Wayne didn’t give me a year when the two elevators were joined, but he remembered watching it, I believe. Wayne just passed away 3 yrs. ago or so. I’ll ask around to see if someone can answer your question. When we were gathering pictures for the 125th celebration here in 2003, we found a picture of the two elevators from the opposite angle(!) in Anna Shinnick’s collection (loaned to us by Tom Connolly’s family).We also have an aerial shot of the town of Clontarf from an airplane(!) and we can see the cattle pen where cattle were held till the train came to take them to market.. May I ask who were your relatives?

Thanks Anne!

1 Comment

Filed under Anne Says...

This & That

May Drawing Winner

Winner of the May drawing for a Clontarf Prairie Pub t-shirt is Eileen Doherty Bliss!  Your name was chosen from those who left comment on the blog in May.  I will send you an email to get your address.  Congratulations Eileen, and thanks for commenting!

There weren’t many comments in May, but I suppose that is because there were not many posts to the blog in May!  I will do better…more Clontarf history this summer…I promise!  What do you like to see on Clontarf History?  Photographs? Newspaper clippings?  McDermott Store ledger?  Family histories?  Let me know what you are interested in reading about!

Swift County Historical Society Program

Eileen McCormack will be speaking at the Swift County Historical Society  in Benson on Thursday, June 23rd @ 7:30pm.  The following appeared in the SCHS May/June 2011 newsletter:

The Dutiful Son

Mark your calendars.

Thursday, June 23 – 7:30 PM

Program at the Museum in Benson

The Dutiful Son Louis W. Hill: Life in the Shadow of the Empire Builder James J. Hill

Eileen McCormack, researcher for the new biography of Louis W. Hill, will give an illustrated talk on the book, The Dutiful Son. In addition to talking about the life of Louis Hill, the presentation will include a brief look at James J. Hill and his career as a builder of the Great Northern Railway and a Gilded Age capitalist.

Louis HIll’s life was more than railroads. Eileen will discuss his early life, marriage and family, development of Glacier National Park, involvement in banking and settlement along the railroad and his later life and personal philanthropy.

The power point presentation will give guests an opportunity to view pictures of the Hill homes, family, and other aspects of their lives. It will give an insight to what it was like being a member of the Hill family. Eileen welcomes questions about the Hill family and their empire. Society members are asked to invite family and friends to this special program. There is no fee to attend. Refreshments will be served.

If you are in the neighborhood, plan on attending this program.  Eileen really knows her Hill family history.  Before becoming assistant curator of the James J. Hill Family Papers (formerly located at the James J. Hill Reference Library in St. Paul, now at the Minnesota Historical Society) Eileen was an interpreter at the James J. Hill House on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul.  Today, Eileen’s company (formed in 2007 with daughter Regan) Archival Solutions provides historical research and archival services for individuals, businesses, and local organizations.

Don’t miss it!

Find a Grave

Finally, I wanted to mention the website Find a Grave.  This site has added 118 graves from St. Malachy Cemetery, Clontarf to its database.  Check it out.  More information to come on how we can add more graves to the listing…this is a fantastic resource for genealogists, family historians, and anyone interested in where their family is buried.  Stay tuned…

Have a great weekend!


Filed under Clontarf, Drawing

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!


Filed under Clontarf Club

The Boutain Family & Clontarf’s “Hay Day”

This history appeared in the Clontarf anniversary booklet from 1978.  It contains a great story about when it was all about hay in Clontarf.

Edward Boutain, Sr. Family History

Edward Sr. was born in 1852 in Quebec Province, Canada.  He married Belsimire Mercier and came to Clontarf in 1900.  The family operated the Clontarf Hotel with their sons helping with the livery stable while the daughters worked in the restaurant.  The children born to Edward Boutain, Sr. and Belsimire were: Delvina, Georgiana, Thomas, Edward Jr. who married Mary O’Brien (Leona, William, Maire, Lucille, and Edward), Rosie, Leona, Clara, and Annie.

Edward Boutain, Jr. and his brother Thomas were engaged in the hay business at Clontarf during the early 1900s when Clontarf was the Hay Capital of the World.  Leona remembers how the farmers would squabble (fight) for the railroad cars as they came into Clontarf to pick up hay with many farmers running out to meet the train as it neared Clontarf – and climbing into the cars while on the move to claim them for their hay.

Everyone in Clontarf during this time was involved in the hay business.  If you weren’t growing hay, then you were buying and selling it.  I am sure my great-grandfather was not the only one in Clontarf to lose the “fortune” he made in hay nearly as quick as he made it.

I think I have mentioned before that we have quite a large collection of photographs which roughly date from 1900-1910.  Most of the photographs are formal and feature men and women who are well-groomed and in their Sunday best, bright-eyed and ready for the camera.  But there are a couple of the photos where the mood is much more relaxed – hats are askew, suits are  sloppy, and posture is slouched.  I have a hunch that it isn’t a coincidence that these are all-male group photos.  We have heard plenty of stories of farmers who went into town after a good harvest or market and didn’t come home for a week…maybe they stopped off at Brandmo’s for a photo so they would remember it when the week was up?

The man seated on the left is my great-grandmother’s brother Tim Foley, and the man standing on the right is my great-grandfather’s brother Jack Regan.  I am not sure about the other two guys.  Maybe they are Boutains?  Any guesses?

I’ve always kind of liked this one.

Four Guys from Clontarf


Filed under Clontarf, Family Histories

I say Bouta, you say Boutain

And I think we are both saying the same thing: boe-tay.  I am not clear on who is who in the Bouta/Boutain family.  I read up on the families in the anniversary booklet from 1978, and I quickly became more confused than ever over the spelling.  For example, there is an entry on Edward Boutain, Sr. and his wife Belsimire Mercier.  Then the next entry is for Thomas Bouta, “the son of Edward Bouta and Belsimire Mercier…”

But we are going to begin with another Bouta history from the Clontarf anniversary book…

Thomas Bouta – Jane Clint Family History

Thomas Bouta (sometimes spelled Boutin) arrived in the Clontarf area from the Province of Quebec, Canada in 1870.  His coming here coincided with the completion of the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad as far as Benson in that year.

Thomas married Jane Clint whose father was at one time foreman and later roadmaster of the Benson division of the railroad.  Thomas was foreman of the grading crew of the railroad and also helped construct the first section house in Clontarf.  A Catholic service was held in this section house in 1871 by a Father McDermott (no relation to the Dominic McDermotts).  The first child born to Thomas and Jane Bouta on July 10, 1876 was the first “Clontarf” child baptized in the DeGraff Catholic Church on July 28, 1876.  The church was then named Our Lady of Kildare (later to be changed to St. Bridget’s).  Margaret and Mrs. Oscar (Florence) Arne are the two remaining members of the Thomas and Jane Bouta Family.

Rose Bouta (a child of Thomas and Jane Bouta) married Edmund Columbe in 1898 and they had twelve children of whom five are still living viz. Edward, Rosella, Florence, Margaret who became Sister Wilma of the Order of St. Joseph, and Emma.

I wasn’t aware that there would have been a section house in Clontarf as early as 1871 – that’s even before Randall Station, the precursor to Clontarf, was established.

Just what I need, this story throws another spelling into the mix: Boutin!

I would love to hear any comments, insights, or anecdotes about the Bouta(in) names and families.  Please leave a comment!

Tomorrow we will look at the hotelier Edward Boutain, Sr.


Filed under Early Settlers, Family Histories, French

Now this is an obituary!

I just ran across this obituary.  It is taken from the June 26, 1934 edition of the Swift County Monitor.

(from the Swift County Historical Society)

John H. Reardon, Pioneer of County, Dies Of Old Age

John H. Reardon of Clontarf, one of Swift county’s earliest settlers and a resident for nearly 60 years dies at the Swift County hospital here at 9 o’clock Friday evening, June 22, from the infirmities of old age.  He had been ill and confined to his bed during the last year.

Funeral services were held at St. Malachy’s church, Clontarf, at 9 o’clock yesterday morning (Monday, June 25).  Rev. Richard King officiated.  Internment was made in the Clontarf cemetery.

Mr. Reardon was born in Credit River, Minn., February 26, 1856, and was 78 years old at the time of his death.  When a young lad he was employed on the crew that built the first railroad running through St. Paul and he was a member of a posse that tried to capture the James brothers, famed Minnesota bank robbers.  He came to Clontarf by ox team in 1875.

Always fond of the carpentry trade, he followed that trade at the Industrial School then located north of Clontarf and during his lifetime built many of the better homes in the Clontarf locality.  He dug the first grave in the Clontarf cemetery.  Mr. Reardon started for Alaska during the gold rush, but became discouraged after reaching California and walked all the way back to Clontarf.

He married Catherine Hogan at Clontarf in the spring of 1882.  Mr. Reardon is survived by one son James Reardon of Clontarf; five grandchildren, Gertrude, Florence, Rose, Marge, and Elinor Reardon; three brothers Henry and Robert Reardon of Tara Township and Thomas of Clontarf; and two sisters, Mrs. H. Donovan of Tara and Mrs. Mary Long of Hazel Park, St. Paul.


Judging from his obituary, Mr. Reardon could be looked at as a symbol of the “American Experience” – he helped build the railroad, was a pioneer settler, tried to nab Jesse James, and participated in the Gold Rush!

John Reardon built a house for his brother Thomas, and it is still there in Clontarf.  It is a pretty house.  Indeed one of the “better homes” of Clontarf.


Filed under Clontarf, Early Settlers