Obit Search at MNHS

I went to MNHS today on the hunt for obituaries.  I wasn’t expecting to find much, given how my last obit search went (found zip, zilch, nada), but that didn’t turn out to be the case today.  I found two McGuires and three O’Mearas!  The O’Meara obits were much more detailed and gave lots of good information, being that they were “pioneers” of Green Isle.  I would consider my Anthony McGuire a “pioneer” as well, but I guess he wasn’t an important one?  He does, however, get credit for being the first death and owning the first house in Green Isle, so that’s something? Much of this paper was incredibly damaged, and pieces of it were ripped out, so I’m pretty happy that this survived, being only a couple few inches away from a big ripped-out chunk:

Obituary of Anthony McGuire – Sibley County Independent, December 1, 1882 (photo)

We are called upon to record the first death in our young city, and the circumstances causes a gloom in our community. Mr. Anthony McGuire died at 4 o’clock, on Monday afternoon, he had been in his usual health and had been at the funeral of Mr. Davitt that day and went to cut some wood for the night. He had cut off but three sticks when he dropped down dead. Coroner Joyce was summoned and an inquest was held. Dr. Cash, of Norwood, was also summoned, when after due deliberation a verdict was given that the deceased died of heart disease.

The other McGuire obituary I found, (in a less damaged year of the paper) was for Anthony’s son, Charles:

Obituary of Charles McGuire – Sibley County Independent, October 19, 1917 (photo 1, photo 2)

On Thursday morning, October 4, occurred the sad and sudden death of Charles McGuire, at his home at 183 Genesee Street, St Paul, when he was stricken with heart failure. Mr. McGuire was an engineer on the Great Northern and came home from his run the previous day apparently in his usual good health; but during the night the Angel of Death stole in and robbed the family of their husband and father. Mr. McGuire was born on a farm near Glencoe in 1876. He came to Green Isle with his parents when but a small boy where he lived until nine years ago when he moved to St. Paul and accepted a position as fireman on the G. N. railroad and was employed there until his death. The past few years he has been an engineer.

In 1906 he was married to Miss Emma Grassinger of Henderson, who survives him, together with two sons Cyril, age 10 and David age 8. Besides his family he is mourned by two brothers, Martin McGuire of this place, Henry McGuire of Garland, Mont., and a sister, Mrs. Al. Davidson of St. Paul. Among us all, Mr. McGuire ranked always as a devoted husband and kind and indulgent father, to his friends the soul of fellowship.

The funeral was held Saturday morning at 9 o’clock at St. Patrick’s church, St. Paul, Rev. Father Quimm officiating. The remains were laid to rest in Calvary cemetery. — Green Isle Record.

I was having pretty good luck searching the Sibley County Independent, as they included news from surrounding communities like Green Isle.  In it, I also found obituaries for Mary (O’Meara) Clancy, Anthony’s second wife, and her parents, Patrick O’Meara (photo) & Margaret O’Meara (photo).  After today, I’m a little bitter that the O’Meara’s obits tell me all the things that I wish Anthony’s obit would tell me, like the counties in Ireland where they were born, and where they arrived when they came to America.  Grrr.

Obituary of Mary (O’Meara) Clancy – Sibley County Independent, November 23, 1888 (photo)

Died.- At her residence in the [village] of Green Isle, Saturday Nov 17, Mary Jane, wife of James Clancy, aged 36 years.  Mrs. Clancy leaves a large family, the youngest a baby 8 months old.  She had been sick for some time but had recovered so as to be able to get around, and her sudden death was a surprise.  Her connection with our village is something remarkable; her house was the first built; she had the first death, the death of her previous husband, Anthony McGuire; the first birth; the first marriage and she is the first woman that died.  Mr. Clancy has the heartfelt sympathies of the whole community in his sad affliction.

Then I moved on to the Green Isle Record. This paper wasn’t born until 1905, so there was no hope of finding Anthony & Mary there.  Maybe their children, though?  So I checked for the ones whose death dates I know: Margaret McGuire (1924), Martin McGuire (1937), and Henry McGuire (1857).  Both the 1924 and 1937 were nowhere to be found in the huge drawers of neatly organized microfiche (microfiches?).  What the crap?  And the rest of them only went up to 1853.  (Later research taught me that the paper was disbanded in 1853. Fair enough. But also…hey no fair!)

In summary:

I didn’t really learn anything new about McGuires today (except that Anthony was the first death in Green Isle, and that he chopped three pieces of wood before he croaked).

To do’s:

  • Figure out if and how I can get a hold of the Green Isle Record for the years 1924 and 1937.
  • Figure out what other surrounding towns I might be able to check for more write-ups about Anthony.
  • Look for an obit for Anthony’s first wife, Bridget.  Which paper(s) do I check?
  • Maybe consolidate my To Do’s?  And put them in a central place?

Irish Day @ MNGS

Today I set off for the Minnesota Genealogical Society in South Saint Paul. I hadn’t been there before (whaaat?), so it was kind of exciting for me. It was also their “Irish Day”, where they have volunteers that specialize in Irish research – exactly what I needed: some professional, expert help. A sweet old woman with an Irish surname sat down with me to help me figure out my Anthony mystery. I explained to her everything I know about him, and told her everything that I would like to know. One of the things that really makes him difficult is that I cannot connect him to any siblings or parents that also came to America. As far as I know, he came to America on his own, at age 17 in 1857 (sounds like something I would have done).

We first looked at a book she had (can’t remember the title, and I didn’t write it down – shucks), to see how common Maguire/McGuire is as a surname. In 1890, there were 74 Maguires and 300-something McGuires in Ireland: a small number compared to the thousands of Sullivans, Murphys, Kellys, etc., but quite a lot compared to my other Irish surname, Cafferty, where there were only 6 in all of Ireland. Good news, I guess? A less common name might make it easier? The book also told us where these surnames were more prominent. The Maguire spelling was much more common in Fermanagh and other parts of Northern Ireland (I kind of already knew this after researching the Maguire surname on my own, but it was nice to have the confirmation).

She also had some thoughts on the spelling: Maguire versus McGuire. She thought because it is written on his gravestone as Maguire, she would think that that is the way he preferred to spell it, because his family, the ones who took care of giving him the stone, would’ve known how he liked it spelled. I don’t know if I completely trust it though, because that family was really his wife’s family, the O’Mearas. Maybe they didn’t know him that well? But maybe they did? Also – Anthony could not read or write; would he have even had a preference?

The sweet woman also had me check some books that indexed “The Search for Missing Friends”, advertisements that were placed in the Boston Pilot by Irish immigrants that were looking for their family and friends that had also come over, but who they had lost touch with. I only found one entry that could maybe, with a 1-in-a-million chance be somewhat useful, someday:

The Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements placed in the boston pilot.
Book: Volumne v1 1866-1870
15 October 1870 Missing Friends

Information Wanted:

OF THOMAS MAGUIRE, native of the townland of Monion, county Fermanagh, Ireland; when last heard from, about fifteen months ago, he was in Cohoes, New York. Information of him will be received by his brother Patrick Maguire, Schenectady Locomotive Works, N.Y.; or his sister, May Ann Maguire, 1500 Pine Street, Philadelphia.
-New York Herald and Albany Knickerbocker please copy

The only reason I gave this one a glance is because Anthony had children named Patrick and Mary Ann, and it was (is?) very common to name your children after your parents, siblings, etc.  In fact, it was pretty standard for the first son to be named after the father, and since Anthony’s father’s name was Patrick, I’d like to think that maybe Anthony had an older brother named Patrick.  Anyway, maybe someday, when I prove that Anthony had any siblings, I’ll come back to this.

Today I also learned that before Ellis Island was opened, people came in through Castle Garden, but a search there didn’t really give me anything good.

And I was given a long list of websites for Irish research. Maybe once I’ve had a chance to check them out, I’ll post them here.

But ultimately, it was decided that I needed track down obituaries, and try to find mention of any siblings that Anthony might have had, and a town or county in Ireland where he came from.  So I thanked the lady for her help, left, and went straight to MNHS to search some newspapers.  This is not my favorite genealogical activity.  Old obituaries are hidden deep within the other content of the newspapers; they rarely had headings or anything to set them apart, and were often scattered around, so they’re difficult to find, and it’s very time consuming.  I searched for Anthony in the nearby Belle Plaine Herald, as my friend at MNGS suggested (MNHS unfortunately does not have a Green Isle paper for 1882).  No luck. I also checked for Martin McGuire’s obituary from 1937 in the the Minneapolis Journal, Tribune, and Star – a more recent death – perhaps I’d have better luck.  Nope.  I think I also checked for Margaret (McGuire) Davidson’s obituary: also no luck.

So that was my genealogy day.  Until next time.

“New” Genealogy Blog

I decided to migrate my genealogy blog from Blogger into WordPress.  I’m paying for hosting and a domain, so why the heck not?  And I just like WordPress slightly more than Blogger (no offense, Blogger).  I’ve had this blog for a while and haven’t been very active on it, but I think that might change, as I’m starting to get more serious about this genealogy stuff. I figure this will be a good place to track my progress on my hunt for dead people.


A couple of months ago (yeah, this post is a little delayed…), I decided to play hooky at work and take a day to do some genealogy research.  Bright and early, I set off for the tiny, tiny town of Green Isle, Minnesota. My main destination was the Sibley County Courthouse in Gaylord, but I wanted to stop by St. Brendan’s Catholic Church in Green Isle and tromp around the cemetery for a bit to look for…I dunno…anything? Of course, I was secretly hoping to find the grave of my great, great grandfather, Anthony Maguire (McGuire? I haven’t figured out which is right), but I had no paper evidence that said he was buried here, so I wasn’t expecting to find anything. But prior to this little expedition, I had just finished reading A History of St. Brendan’s Parish, the Village of Green Isle and Minnesota’s First Irish Settlement, which, in addition to crediting Anthony McGuire as the buyer of the town’s first house (a saloon), talks about some of the other Irish families that played significant roles in building the little village.  The O’Meara’s were one of these families, and Anthony’s second wife was Mary Jane O’Meara. I don’t have a complete grasp on all of the O’Mearas of Green Isle (and how Mary fits in with all of them), but I expected to find some of them in this cemetery.  And even if I didn’t find a single thing in Green Isle, I wanted to go just so I could see the town; I wanted to see what my ancestors had built.  So there I was, standing in a small town Catholic cemetery, at 8am, on a very gloomy Thursday morning in May.

St. Brendan's Catholic Church & cemetery in Green Isle, Sibley County, Minnesota

I found a number of McGuire/Maguire stones with names that I did not recognize, and I couldn’t tell you if I am related to them.  I also found many O’Meara stones. One O’Meara stone I was especially happy to stumble upon, because guess who was on it? Mr. Anthony Maguire! Or, McG, as I now like to call him.  And just my luck, his part of the stone gives me no information other than (most of) his name.  His elusiveness continues…

There was a small stone for each person listed on the big stone: Brother, Sister, Father, Mother, and…McG.

His wife, Mary was on the stone, too.  On the opposite side, along with her first husband, Michael Young. This was news to me – I didn’t know Mary had another husband. But not surprising; perhaps she re-married after Anthony died in 1882.  I needed more paper documents to figure out what was going on here.  But after my cemetery visit, I could add the following to my collection of known information:

  • Mary O’Meara’s death date: 17 Nov 1888.
  • Mary O’Meara had another husband: Michael Young
And then I was off to the Sibley County courthouse in Gaylord, to find documentation for the McGuires. I was mostly hoping to find birth and death records for any of Anthony’s thirteen offspring.  I found lots of things.  (What follows is a lot of detail that I’m recording for myself, so I have something to look back on when I ask myself things like “How do I know when this person died?  Do I have his/her death record?, Where did I get it? When did I get it?”  Actually, this blog exists exactly for that reason. I can’t imagine I have many (any?) readers that aren’t relatives who find this the least bit captivating.)
  • A birth record for another child of Anthony’s – that makes 14 kids! The new one: Patrick McGuire, born 24 June 1874.
  • The death record for William McGuire, son of Anthony & Mary. Died 14 Feb 1892.  I knew about William’s death from a previous trip to the McLeod County Historical Society, where I found his death notice in the Glencoe Enterprise.  The death notice says he was age 16 when he died of inflammatory rheumatism, but I recorded age 19 from Sibley county.  I trust the photocopy of the death notice more than I trust that I transcribed the correct age from the book.  I want to double check this the next time I go back.
  • The death record for Mary O’Meara’s first husband, Michael Young. Died 26 April 1872 in Green Isle from a kick to a horse. Age 30, born in Ireland, parents: Thomas and Jane.  So Mary was married to Michael before she married Anthony!  Why is she buried next to Michael – who she was married to for 2 years, rather than Anthony, who she was married to for 9 years and with whom she had at least 6 children?  Was this a cultural norm or tradition for the Irish?  Don’t know.
  • Death records for Mary O’Meara’s parents:
    • Patrick O’Meara: born 02 Jun 1815 in Ireland, died 02 Feb 1907 in Green Isle, MN, parents: James O’Meara and Margret Hibbits.
    • Margaret Delaney: born 24 Dec 1816 in Ireland, died 16 Sep 1909 in Green Isle, MN, parents: John Delaney and Mary Delaney (Delaney wouldn’t be her maiden name, it was just recorded that way).
  • Marriage record for Mary Jane O’Meara and Michael D. Young, married 09 Apr 1871 (found in book B, page 9).
  • Marriage record for Anthony McGuire and Mary Jane Young; they were married 03 Oct 1873. I paid $13 for a photocopy of the record, which is found in book B, Page 83.
  • Marriage record for Charles McGuire (son of Anthony & Mary) and Emma Grassinger, married 28 Nov 1905 (book I, page 58).
  • Marriage record for Martin McGuire (son of Anthony & Mary) and Margaret Agnes, married 05 Jun 1917 (book K, page 355).
  • Marriage record for Mary Jane McGuire to James Clancy.  Since my trip, I’ve learned from a connection on that Mary married a third time after Anthony died in 1882.  She married James Clancy on 13 Nov 1883.  Good thing I copied this one down.
  • Birth record for Maggie Maguire.  One of the records I was hoping to find!  Born 14 Aug 1881 to Anthony and Mary in the town of Grafton?  That last part confuses me a little.
I copied a lot more down from those ancient books, but I’m not sure they are all connected to me – so I’m not going to list them here.


  1. I didn’t find birth records for all of Anthony & Mary’s children.  It seems like Anthony spent time in both McLeod and Sibley county, so I’d like to take a trip to the McLeod county courthouse to see if I can find any birth records there.
  2. Go back to the Sibley county courthouse and dish out the $13/page for photocopies of the birth records. I don’t want to have to distrust my transcribing anymore.
  3. Maybe move this blog to my own host/domain, because I’m paying for it and barely doing anything else with it?