Tag Archives: winter

Snow, snow, snow…

We are in the midst of a blizzard here in Saint Paul, and throughout Minnesota.  I have lost count of how many inches of snow have fallen and how many miles per hour the wind is blowing.  At this point, I don’t even care.  I am safe and warm in my condominium with a batch of chili on the stove and a pan of johnny-cake just out of the oven.

Swift County is under a blizzard warning, and I can’t even imagine what it must be like out on the prairie.  I don’t know how you all do it today, much less how our great-great-grandparents who settled in Clontarf and Tara Townships in the late 1870s managed.  I know there are some fantastic stories and legends out there about Clontarf residents coping with the treacherous winter weather.  Please share these stories – leave a comment!

On the third of December 1883, Mr. McDermott made a special delivery to a Mrs. Forster (or Fortser?) – I don’t recognize the name.  Any ideas about who she was?  At any rate, she had quite an order…

  • 1 Mallard coat ($3.50)
  • 67 yards cotton flannel (($1.04)
  • 10 yards shirting ($1.25)
  • 4 spools (.20)
  • 5 rolls batten ((.85)
  • 1 shovel (($1.00)
  • 1 skirt (.75)
  • coffee (.50)
  • baking powder (.20)
  • sugar (.50)
  • prunes (.25)
  • kerosene oil (.08)
  • D apples (.25)
  • coffee pot (.40)
  • arithmetic (.50)
  • needles (.03)
  • 2 copy books (.20)
  • comb (.25)
  • soap (.25)

That’s quite a list!  Not sure what “D apples” are…dried apples?  This list looks a bit like it is for someone who is going to stay in for a while.  Maybe a blizzard was on its way to Clontarf?

Stay warm.


Filed under McDermott's General Store

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