52 Ancestors: #5 Tony McGuire (Son of Anthony Maguire?)

Remember that “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” thing that I was trying to do? Well, I guess I’ve turned it into more of a “52 Ancestors in However Long it Takes me to Write About 52 Ancestors (…which is definitely much longer than 52 weeks)” thing.  It’s week #40, and I’m on ancestor #5. Fail.  But at least I haven’t stopped completely…

Late last week, I received a message from an amateur genealogist in northern Minnesota wondering if the Tony McGuire they had found working as a log driver for Crookston Lumber Company near the Red Lake Indian Reservation was the same Tony (or Anthony) Maguire that I had in my tree. The Tony which they referred to in my tree, was not the Anthony Maguire, my brick wall, the one that’s consumed a large percentage of my genealogy research and presented me with the most mystery.  It was his son they inquired about, also named Anthony. Throughout my research, I’ve been trying hard to track down what has happened to all of my 2x great grandfather Anthony’s children, because much can be learned from them, especially through their death certificates and obituaries. But this is one that I haven’t yet tracked down. Tony the lumberjack’s age seems to match up quite well with my Anthony, and his parents were both born in Ireland according to the 1910 census, also true of my Anthony, so – yeah – maybe this is the same dude?

I don’t know much about my Anthony Maguire.  I knew that he lived with his parents (Anthony & Bridget) until at least 1880, when he was about 15 years old. By the next Minnesota state census in 1885, he was gone.  Not dead-gone, I was never able to find a death record or burial record for him.  But, outta here-gone. He left his family. And why shouldn’t he? He was old enough to go off and work on a farm to earn money – which was quite common for that time. I haven’t found him in census records after 1880, but I’ve found one or two possible census records that could be him. I just haven’t been successful in proving that any of them are actually him.

It killed me that I wasn’t able to get to the history center in St. Paul right away to pull the death certificate for lumberjack Tony (which would hopefully tell me his parents’ names and birthplaces), so I tried to find what I could online in the meantime. After checking ancestry.com, and familysearch.org, I like to check Chronicling America, a great online source for digitized newspapers from 1836 through 1922. It was there that I found some crazy things. Things that made me think, “If this is my ancestor, then….holy. crap.”

The first article that I found, on the front page of the Bemidji Daily Pioneer from 27 August, 1910, told the story of my possible ancestor being attacked by a “maniac” with an ax who was trying to kill the mayor of Bemidji, John Parker, after accusing his fellow lumberyard workers of building a gallows from which they were preparing to hang him, and then running off into the woods with his ax, likely to starve to death.

The next article I found, dated two days later, stated that the crazy person had not been found, that the victim was still in serious condition, and that the names of the two men involved had been mixed up in the previous article. So, if this Tony McGuire was my great grand uncle, then, well…I have yet another alcoholic in my family tree, and now add to that: an ax murderer wannabe.

The third article told of McGuire being found dead in the woods by a 12 year old boy who was out hunting, his body decomposed and his throat cut from a razor blade.  And then finally, a fourth article telling of the recovery of his victim, William Durkee.

Some crazy stuff, but I still didn’t know if this was actually my great grand uncle. This Tuesday, I was finally able to make it to MNHS after work to grab a copy of his death certificate. I had this strange feeling that I wasn’t going to learn much. My thoughts were that if this were my ancestor, he was far from home, in the woods, with no family around, a melancholy inebriate who probably didn’t have a lot of people in his life. Who up in that logging camp would know or care much about him? It felt unlikely that his fellow coworkers would have known his parents names and where they were born, or even where he was born. So what could his death certificate possibly tell me?  Nothing that I couldn’t glean from newspaper articles, it turns out.

Tony McGuire Death Certificate from MNHS 2014-09-30

Unknown, unknown, unknown, etc…

So now I think that my only chance might be scouring old newspaper articles in smaller papers that aren’t yet digitized on Chronicling America. The tiniest things were “news” back in the late 1800’s / early 1900’s.  If someone’s sister came to town to visit, or if someone’s uncle became ill, it made the local paper. Perhaps there might be an old fashioned status update about Anthony leaving his family in Sibley County to go work as a log driver in the northwoods. I’ve got more work to do.

52 Ancestors: #1 Anthony Maguire (1840-1882)

Tonight I decided to take on the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, though I am already behind and have some catching up to do! I’m starting with the ancestor that has consumed the most time in all of my research, and the one you’ll likely hear me talk the most about if you ask me about my family history. The mysterious, great, great grandfather: Anthony Maguire.

Anthony was born around September of 1840 in Ireland to Patrick and Mary Maguire. I’ve spent an absurd amount of time trying to track down exactly where in Ireland he is from, and I am not going to quit until I find the answer. Every piece of information I’ve found on the man has helped contribute to this picture that I’ve painted in my mind of who he was. But really, I have no idea. He could have been a jerk.

He came to the United States in August of 1857 when things were less than awesome in Ireland. He came alone.  He was seventeen years old. SEVENTEEN.  I don’t know the circumstances. What of his family? Had they died and he had to survive, so he left?  Had his family pooled all of what little money they had to send him, the most able of the Maguire children, to America so that he could work, and send money for the rest of his family to follow? These scenarios were quite common, and I like to think that he left for some noble reason such as these, but I’m also prepared to learn that this wasn’t the case.  Did I mention he was seventeen? He had to have been one brave, independent, and grown-up seventeen year old.

He spent a small amount of time in Pennsylvania before making his way to Winsted, Minnesota in 1860, where he promptly married an Irishwoman named Bridget Cafferty, and began the naturalization and homesteading process while at the same time, starting a family. On his land and naturalization papers, he signed his name with an ‘x’ – so I presume he had no education, and could not read or write. Despite that, he seemed to be doing okay. I found a description of the work he had put into his homestead project:

anthony maguire homestead description

Sounds like a decent enough guy, eh? By the time he had completed the homesteading process, he could sign his own name.  And for that small achievement, I am proud of him.

In 1872, shortly after the birth of his 8th child, his wife Bridget passed away at the age of 37. Soon after, he picked up and moved to the tiny but quickly growing Irish settlement of Green Isle, Minnesota. In this town, he found a new wife, Mary Jane O’Meara, with whom he had 7 more children. He was doing pretty well in this town, and in January of 1882, he bought himself a  Saloon, which also happened to be the first building in the Green Isle townsite. Just shy of a  year later on November 27th, 1882, he returned from a funeral and went out to chop some wood at his home.  Not three sticks in, he fell dead from a heart attack at the age of 42.  His was the first death in the town of Green Isle. His in-laws, the O’Mearas, a very prominent, businessy and political family in the new town must have thought (at least a little) well of him, because they buried him in their family plot. Really very nice of you, O’Mearas, but I do kind of which you would’ve provided a little more info…



With every little bit that I pick up in my research, I feel like I’m getting to know him a little better. And I’m thankful that he survived the dangerous voyage to get here, and worked hard to have a decent, but short-lived, life in rural Minnesota. Nothing glamorous or shocking about his story (so far), but I’m okay with that. And like it, even.

Thanks, McG.

McG Stone


Marriage & Naturalization Records

Marriage Records

Saturday, I headed to St. Paul for some research; first to MNGS (it was Irish Day, where they have people on staff to help with Irish research), and then to MNHS.  At MNGS, my goal was to find the church records for Anthony & Bridget’s marriage on 12 Sep 1860.  These church records are housed by the chancery of the Archdiocese of St. Paul, but they have provided MNGS with some of them. The woman helping me says that the Archdiocese has recently put some sort of freeze on all of these records – meaning you cannot order them, or request them? I haven’t really been able to confirm this, but I am happy to report that they had what I was looking for.

The neat thing, is that this record is in Latin! FamilySearch has a handy Latin Genealogy word list that helped me translate a few of the words. Here’s what I could transcribe:

Antonius Maguire
Brigitta Caverty

A.D. 1860 [??] September 13 [??]  [??]  proclamation juncti in matrimonium Antonius Maguire [??] Birgitta Caverty. Testes Edwardus Essing [??] Kenna.

And then a few of the translations:

Juncti in Matromonium = joined  in marriage
testes = witnesses

I’m happy that I found this, but I wish it would have given me more information, and less confusion.  The confusion is regarding the marriage date.  The other marriage record that I have – the state record – says that they were married on 12 Sep 1860, but it was signed on 13 Sep 1860.  This new record says they were married on 13 Sep 1860, I think?

After a few paper jams while trying to print this record on an old microfiche reader/printer, they moved me over to a newer, fancier, digital-er microfiche reader/printer.  I didn’t even have to print it if I didn’t want to, because it scanned the images and made them digital. In all of my genealogy research, all of the microfiche machines I had used were totally old school and crappy. I think they didn’t put me on the new machine in the first place because they didn’t really know how to use it – I had to kind of figure it out on my own.  Helper woman told me that they used to sell flash drives for people to save their images, but they didn’t have them any anymore, and weren’t getting more.  Their computers let me access Google, so I thought I’d just scan and upload them to my drive – so convenient!  I didn’t have to print the marriage record, but I did anyway, to have for reference while I was there researching. Good thing I did, too; when I got home and downloaded all of my scanned images (.tif files), none of them would open.  GD. I had grabbed a few other records while I was there, but didn’t print them.  So I’ll have to remember to scan them again when I’m there next (and check them!)

Land Records

It seems that every time (lately) that I take a day to do research, I end up picking up a new hint or tip for something to try next.  That happened this time, too.  The woman helping me told me that if Anthony homesteaded, I could contact the Bureau of Land Management, and ask them to send me anything they might have on him.  Back in the day, when a person was homesteading, the government would “check up” on the person and their land, make an assessment of their property, and record the progress they were making on the land.  Adding to my to do list!

Naturalization Records

Next, I headed over to MNHS to try again at finding the rest of Anthony’s naturalization records.  I asked a nice volunteer about the record that I already had, and he confirmed that it was what I suspected – Anthony’s Declaration of Intent. I still had to find his “Final Papers”, the thing that would confirm whether or not he actually did become naturalized. And since you had to be naturalized to own land, and Anthony owned land, I was pretty sure that these records should exist.  It took a bit of effort, but we finally found it! On SAM 56-I Roll 1, McLeod County. District Court. Naturalization Records Index., I found Anthony, and by chance, two of my other ancestors (my Danish 2nd Great Grandfather Jacob Mathiasen, and my Polish 2nd Great Grandfather Lawrence Mochinske). The index gave me this, for Anthony:

Next I had to figure out which roll had “Vol. A-1. P.2” so I could find the actual record. Volunteer man helped me determine (from this list) that I would find it on SAM 56, Roll 3. And he was right.  The top portion of the image below reads,

State of Minnesota
September 15, 1868

Dist. Court 4th Judicial Dist.  McLeod County

September 1868

The following persons came into open court and produced the proof required by statutes and were admitted to [free?] citizenship.

Once again, I was kind of hoping for more information, but this is still cool. And the story is coming together! He came to the US in 1857. By law he had to live in the US for 5 years before he could apply for citizenship.  Shortly after his 5 years are up, he starts the process on 06 Mar 1863 and signs (marks with an ‘x’) his Declaration of Intent, renouncing his allegiance to the Queen of Great Britain & Ireland. Another 5 years have to go by before he can get his Final Papers and become a citizen, which he did on 15 Sep 1868.

I ran out of time, and wasn’t able to get the final papers for my Dane & Pole — next time.  (And now I know how to do it!)


I stopped by the MNHS gift shop on my way out, and I purchased a couple of really neat, small maps of old Minnesota – one from 1855, before we were a state, and one from 1860, shortly after we became a state. They are very cool, but now I don’t know what I’m going to do with them.  Maybe I’ll be able to use them in my research?

I’m also wondering if I should become a member of the history center. Every time I spend money there (copies, food, …maps, etc.), they ask me if I’m a member, and I say “no”, and I don’t get the member discount. I certainly go there often enough, and I give them money almost every time — maybe I should become a member?  I think I would feel good about helping them keep doing what they’re doing. I also wonder about volunteering at the library.  The thought is kind of appealing, and I’m sure I would learn a lot more about what they offer if I were to volunteer there. I always appreciate the volunteers that take the time to help me, like this weekend, especially when they’re busy running around helping other people as well. I don’t know that I have the time now, but I think that’s something I’d like to do, someday.

What’s next?

  1. Contact Bureau of Land Management
  2. Find church marriage record for Anthony’s second marriage to Mary O’Meara

Family History Fair

Saturday morning, Kate and I went to a Family History Fair at the Hennepin County library downtown. For a free event, I think it was pretty awesome.  One of my coworkers has said that he likes to attend web-dev conferences so he can hear about/observe the latest tools and resources that others are using.  I found this conference pretty helpful for the exact same reason. Not only did we get to listen to professionals speak about mostly interesting topics, but we were tipped off to other genealogy websites that they use often in their research.

We stopped by the FamilySearch.org booth to talk to the volunteers there. They were able to give Kate some good info, but the moment I uttered the word “Irish” when asked about my research, they pretty much just laughed and said “good luck”.  And, “hopefully his mother’s name wasn’t Mary”.  “It was”, I sadly replied. They did have me talk to their one person with some knowledge in Irish research.  Apparently there is a new database on FamilySearch.org that is not yet public – it’s in some sort of beta stage – that could be very valuable for Irish researchers.  I’m not sure what it’s called, or even what it was exactly, but it was almost like a “family search” (ha) for very old Irish families; each result contained a person and their parents, but it wasn’t just a collection of personal family trees like you’d find on some search sites.  None of the first few results were obviously my Anthony, and there were a lot of records that I’d like to sift through someday when they’re made available.

The other tip the familysearch.org people gave us was that their website contains tons and tons of images that aren’t indexed.  But you can browse them! I think that I had only really used their search before, and didn’t realize I could browse images that weren’t indexed.  I’ve done this on Ancestry, when I know that my people should be in a census for a given year and place, but they didn’t show up in the indexed search results.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to use familysearch.org this way as well. After browsing for a while this weekend, I discovered that all of those birth records that I found while spending time at the courthouse in Sibley county are available in their browsable images!  These are the ones that I spent time transcribing while I was there, because they wouldn’t let me copy them.  So, hooray for that.

One of speakers I saw turned on a light bulb for me.  She made me realize that I might not have Anthony’s complete Naturalization records. I think I only have Anthony’s Declaration of Intent (which pretty much gives you nothing, except that the person has denounced the  king/president/leader/whatever of their homeland).  I might be able to find Anthony’s Final Papers, which could possibly tell me more? When I was searching for these papers long, long ago at MNHS, I don’t remember the circumstances, or results (other than the Declaration of Intent).  Maybe I did look for his final papers, and couldn’t find them? I guess that’s why I now have this blog, so I can remember what I did and when!

In between two of the sessions, I spoke to Ann from IGS about my Anthony mystery.  She agreed that I have quite a challenge.  But she said that I should check the Catholic church records in St. Paul for Anthony’s marriage record to Bridget, as I only have the state/county record.  She also said that engagements were typically 6 months, and the bride (or groom? I can’t remember) had to live in St. Paul for that time if they were getting married in St. Paul.  If that’s true, and they were married on 12 Sept 1860, and the 1860 census was taken in April of that year, shouldn’t I be able to find one of them in the 1860 census?  Why can’t I?

So tonight I’ve started reanalyzing the state/county marriage record I have for Anthony & Bridget in Saint Paul.  It is signed by the Catholic priest that wed them, and lists two witnesses.  (Wondering why I hadn’t dug into this before?).  The priest’s name listed is L. Caillet.  A little bit of Googling, and I found that his full name was Louis Eugene Caillet.  He was born in France, and recruited to come to America to serve the Diocese of Saint Paul.  The book, Some letters of Monsignor Louis E. Caillet and August N. Chemidlin, 1868-1899 , says that on August 21, 1857, he became an ordained priest assigned to the Cathedral of St. Paul after the death of Bishop Cretin (first Roman Catholic Bishop of Saint Paul).

I’m not Catholic, and call me ignorant, but I didn’t know what the difference between a Bishop and a Priest was.  Wikipedia to the rescue?  Catholic Church hierarchy.

So, I know that this is the priest that married them, but now I want to find out where they got married. I’ll need to know this so that I can find the church records. You know that big beautiful Cathedral in Saint Paul?  It didn’t exist at the time of Anthony & Bridget’s marriage.  But they have a nice little history page on their website that tells me this:

This, the fourth Cathedral of Saint Paul, was the dream of Archbishop John Ireland, who secured the site in 1904. The Archdiocese was growing and Ireland saw the need for a “great Cathedral” to replace the third Cathedral, which was 46 years old at the time and too small for the growing congregation.

I think that this “third cathedral”, built in 1858, might be where they were married.  More Googling, and I found that the third cathedral has since been demolished to make room for the Hamm Building. Shucks!  But I did find a tiny picture of it on the current cathedral’s website:

Third Cathedral of Saint Paul, Minnesota
Third Cathedral of Saint Paul, Minnesota

I am also now wondering about a “second cathedral” and “first cathedral”.  It appears that these existed, too.  But when? (TODO)

Now, if this is where they got married, where do I find the church records? It looks like they might have them at MNGS. So my plan: next Saturday is Irish Day at the MNGS, and I think I will try going to that again. In addition to the church records (which might tell me Bridget’s parent’s names, and maybe Anthony’s mother’s maiden name), if I can talk to the same woman I talked to briefly on Saturday, she might be able to give me more advice on where to go or what to do next.

Oh, another TODO: dig into the witnesses that were listed on their marriage record: Edward Essing and Mrs. Kenna.

A lesson in Palaeography that I learned this weekend at the Family History Fair: in old writings such as this, when there were double s’s in a word or name, the first ‘s’ would look like an ‘f’, just like you see above in Edward Essing’s name!  Weird, eh?  Had I not gone to this fair, I might instead be wasting my time searching for “Edward Efsing”…

More after Saturday…

Probate Records: Patrick O’Meara & Martin McGuire

On Thursday, I got a call from MNHS saying that the microfiche rolls I ordered had come in.  So, today I spent the day at MNHS.  The first one I dove into was roll 39 for Patrick O’Meara.  The case file contained 60-something pages! Lots of legal documents, his will, copies of the checks that were used to disperse his estate, an account of what he left behind – money, furniture, land, etc.  And I made copies of it all. I’m not really happy about that, but I wanted to be able scour them later, and spend my time at the library searching for other things.  I haven’t really dug through all of those copies yet, but there was one page that stood out  to me a bit. It listed all of Patrick O’Meara’s living heirs, including some of my guys.

Rosa O’Meara aged 23 years Green Isle, Minn.
Margaret O’Meara aged 90 years Green Isle, Minn.
John O’Meara aged 50 years Green Isle, Minn.
William O’Meara aged 49 years Swan River, Man., Canada
James O’Meara aged 57 years St. Paul, Minn.
Martin O’Meara aged 46 years Green Isle, Minn.
Michael Young aged 33 years Minneapolis Minn.
Charles McGuire aged 30 years Green Isle, Minn.
Martin McGuire aged 27 years Green Isle, Minn.
Margaret McGuire aged 24 years St. Paul, Minn.
Henry McGuire aged 22/23? years Residence Unknown
Mary (Clancy) Wilson aged 21 years Glencoe, Minn.
Teresa Clancy aged 21 years Glencoe, Minn.
James Clancy aged 23 years Residence Unknown

The next roll I checked I thought would be more interesting: SAM 432 Roll 21.  And it was interesting, just not in the way I expected. I expected to find something similar to what I found for Patrick O’Meara, but instead for my great grand uncle, Martin McGuire.  Recently, I learned that Minnesota Probate courts handled cases other than estate/wills/whatever.  Insanity cases and guardianship cases were also handled by the probate courts.  And, apparently Inebriety cases were handled by them, too.  In Martin’s case file (01836) is first, a petition by Harry W. Davitt (the Mayor?) on the 18th of July, 1914 to get care for Martin, who,

[..] is a habitual drunkard and has been for the past three or four years.  He at times shows symptoms of delirium tremens and neglects to provide for himself.

After the petition, a warrant was issued on 23 July 1914 to Sheriff Charles Wegge to “deliver” Martin to the State Inebriate Hospital in Willmar, Minnesota for treatment.  Sheriff Wegge must have been successful, because next is a 3 page medical questionnaire about Martin’s health, as well as the health of his family members (sweet!). Here are some of ’em:

1b. Age? 34
5. Is the patient educated? If so, to what extent? common school education, country school
7a. Did either of the grandparents of the patient suffer from insanity, rheumatism, consumption, headache, neuralgia, cancer, nervousness or inebriety in any form, and if so, from which?  no
8a. Did any of the aunts or uncles of the patient suffer from any of the diseases mentioned in No. 7, and if so; from which? three uncles suffered from inebriety.
8b. Are any of the paternal aunts or uncles of the patient dead, and of what disease and at what age did they die? unknown.
10b. Which parent does the patient resemble physically?  mother.
11b. What was the patient’s natural disposition? quiet disposition.
11f. Did the patient always finish any task undertaken?  no.
11h. What degree of self-control has the patient?  no self-control.
14a. Does the patient use morphine, opium, chloral, alcohol, cocaine, or other narcotic drugs? State what drugs are used and in what form: alcohol, whiskey.
14b. At what age did the patient begin to use them? 17 years old.
14d. To what extent does the patient use them now? (be specific): Drinks whiskey […] about a quart a day when he can get it, drunk for last 5 years most of the time.
14e. Has their use been steadily increasing, variable, or decreasing of late?  increasing.

Very sad questions and answers, yes, but I am given a little bit of genealogy-research-hope from questions 8a and 8b.   I know that Martin’s mother, Mary O’Meara had 5 brothers. And I should confirm this, but I think most of them were pretty successful and beloved businessmen in Green Isle. Would they have been drunkards? I wouldn’t think so.  I guess I don’t know that much about Charles and James, so maybe they were.  But those questions makes me wonder if one or more of the three uncles he’s referring to are brothers of Anthony’s?  I have absolutely no paper record of Anthony having any siblings (but I have a feeling that he did–does that count?).  Regarding 8b, and the death(s) of his paternal aunts/uncles: wouldn’t they have written nothing or something other than “unknown” if he didn’t have any aunts/uncles on his father’s side?

Following the questionnaire were monthly check-ins from Martin about his condition, weight loss/gain, eating and sleeping habits, work, and alcohol use. Each month the reports were “good”; he hadn’t used alcohol, had steady work (first farm work, then janitorial work at a school). It’s unclear to me if he was living at the hospital during this time, or back in Green Isle, and I’m not sure how to find that out.  I guess I would think that he was at the hospital, I don’t think it would be so easy to just sober up so quickly if he were still living in Green Isle.  He made parole on 18 January 1915, about 6 months after being taken to the hospital.

After copying Martin’s case file, I went on to check a couple more: Mary O’Meara’s probate case file, and Margaret O’Meara’s file as well. Mary’s case file was not the Mary I was expecting – and, duh – she would’ve had a different last name if it were who I was expecting.  This Mary was the wife of Martin O’meara, and there was nothing really of interest to me in that file.  Margaret’s file was a guardianship probate case file for Martin & Mary’s daughters, Margaret & Sarah.  Nothing really for me there, either.  Except, now I know what a guardianship probate file looks like.

This is Insane.

In my last post I mentioned a probate index I found at MNHS, with Anthony McGuire listed as “insanity of”, instead of “estate of”.  Around the time I found this record, a new genealogy question and answer site on a familiar/beloved/reputable network was being born.  Since this record confused the heck out of me, I posed my question the day the site when into beta.  I learned that Minnesota Probate courts handled some cases other than estate cases.  They sometimes handled insanity cases, guardianship cases, and more. Somehow, I need to see if I can get a hold of the “Insanity Books” for McLeod county, if they even still exist.  MNHS does not have them, so I’ve sent an email query off to the McLeod county probate courts.  We’ll see what I hear back from them.

I’ve gotta say though, if this really is my McG, I’m a bit surprised that he might be an “insane” person. Would they let an insane person own and operate a saloon? It sounds like it would have been a petition to have him declared insane, so maybe the attempt to commit him did not go through? Or maybe this isn’t my McG – maybe it’s his son of the same name? I don’t know what happened to him, and he doesn’t show up on censuses that I can find, so…maybe? Either way, it’s got to be one of the two; there weren’t many (any?) other McGuires in McLeod county at this time.  Oh how I want to get my hands on these court files.

McLeod & Sibley Co. Research Trip

I took the day off work on Friday for a genealogy research trip to the McLeod & Sibley counties.  The last time I went to Sibley county, I found a number good records (birth and death) that I transcribed.  But I didn’t find everything I was looking for; I haven’t tracked down the birth records for all of Anthony’s children.  Since he kind of teetered between McLeod and Sibley counties, I thought for sure I would find the missing pieces in McLeod county.  I arrived at the McLeod County courthouse in Glencoe, which sits on the edge of town, practically in a corn field, just before 8:30am, thinking I would need to spend the majority of my day there.  Well, I think I had my hopes set a bit too high.  They didn’t seem to have any birth or death records prior to 1870,  so finding anything on most of Anthony and Bridget’s children was probably not going to happen.  I did come away with two new things though:

  1. The record of birth for yet another child of Anthony’s that I did not know about: Kate Maguire, born 23 June 1872.  That makes 15 kids from one man! Damn, Anthony!
  2. The record of birth for Henry Maguire, born 15 Oct 1879. (Mother: Mary O’Meara)

Some thoughts on the first thing:  wife and mother, Bridget died less than a month after Kate was born.  Do I assume that Kate died too?  She was not on the next census in 1875, and there was no death record for her that I could find.  Was she given away or put in an orphanage? (did they have orphanages back then?) Was she sent to live with a relative?

While I was there, I was determined to get actual photocopies of the records I found. The last time I did this, I only transcribed the birth and death records, because there were quite a few that I was interested in, and these record books are quite large and awkward for copying. But I find that I second guess some of my transcriptions after the fact, and so I must get photocopies, if at all possible. So I asked, and at first the woman helping me said something like, “Oh, I don’t think we can do that”.  But somehow it turned into, “Sure, that’ll be $2 a copy”.  (Quite the deal, compared to Sibley county, where they’re something like $9 a copy!).  So I came away with those two records, plus a photocopy of the death record for Bridget Maguire (not a new-to-me record).

I finished up there sometime before 11am, and then headed over to the McLeod County courthouse in search of probate records for Anthony. I don’t know if they exist, and I don’t know what to expect to find in them, but I hear these records are often overlooked and can contain some good information.  When I got there, I was told that there was nobody working in Probate today, so they weren’t sure what they could give me – “sorry”.  Meh, whatever.  On I went.

(Lunch break at DQ in Glencoe, where they did not accept credit cards, and where I read an article on the wall about a famous race car driver from Glencoe, while standing a few feet away from said race car driver as I waited for my food. We have the same birthday, according to the article.)

Then to Gaylord, for the Sibley County courthouse.  First to Probate, where a kind woman tried to help me.  They didn’t have records as old as what I was looking for; they had all been sent to MNHS for archival, but she did have an index, which did not contain Anthony’s name.  I still might check out the records at MNHS, though.  Moving on, I thought I would go back to the third floor to get photocopies of some vital records that I only typed up last time.  But more disappointment: they no longer make photocopies of the ledger style books.  So, I looked through a few books, to see if my eyes would spot anything new — they didn’t, and then moved on.

Next, on to Green Isle?  I don’t know why – just compelled to, I guess.  I thought I might try the church there, to see if they had any baptism records, but I had a sneaking suspicion that they were closed, and they were.  Since I was there, I stopped by McG’s grave. I doubt he ever would have imagined that 130 years after he’d passed on, some weirdo girl would visit his grave on multiple occasions. But this guy, at age 17, and on his own, risked his life to escape poverty in Ireland and come to the US to start a new life here.  And if he hadn’t done that, I might not be here.  So I feel like I owe him something, like a visit. I’ve been to visit twice since discovering it – and I feel like most people might consider that kind of weird. It is, and I am, probably. And I don’t know why I have such a high degree of interest in this morbid topic, but I do, and I can’t stop it.  It’s like solving a mystery, and I don’t think that I will stop until I’ve solved it.  (But, crap – how will I know when I’ve solved it? Where does it end?)

Now that I’ve gone all gushy, I’ll end with this: a genealogy friend of mine just returned from a trip to Ireland, where he found this:

Maguires Convenience Store in Dublin

So now, in addition to my castle, I have a convenience store.


Another Obit Search Day @ MNHS

I thought I might go to MNHS today to search for more obituaries.  I didn’t decide to go until sometime after noon, and didn’t end up getting there until shortly after 1pm.  I had until 4pm to dig through papers. And the night before, I had only briefly considered what I might try and find.  I thought I might look for Bridget Cafferty’s obituary.  But I didn’t have high hopes of finding it; she died in 1872, and MNHS only had 1 paper for McLeod County during that time (Glencoe Register) that I could check.  So I checked it, and nothing.

So then I spent some time pulling up the obituaries I found last time.  The last time I was here, I was definitely not a good genealogist.  Sure, I copied all of these obituaries, but…I forgot one important piece: the things needed for citing sources!  So I looked them all up again and copied down page numbers, volume numbers, column numbers, and what have you.  Now my research can be all proper, and reliable.

So, after that, I wasn’t really sure what to do.  I decided to spend some time just reading the Sibley County Independent.  It was fairly consistent, and had  a little section for Green Isle on the front page of almost every issue, called “Green Isle Dew Drops”.  I thought I’d start with the issue where I found Anthony Maguire’s obituary, and then work my way back.  So before they closed, I made it from Dec. 1st, 1882 back until  March 17th, 1882 (happy Saint Patrick’s Day!).  I didn’t find much, but I found a couple of O’Meara bits…

Sibley County Independent, Friday, October 27, 1882. No. 29. Page 1. Column.4

O’Meara’s new building was formally opened on Friday. He is now ready to serve customers in the most approved style.

Sibley County Independent, Friday, October 20, 1882. No. 28. Page 1. Column 2.

DIED. – At Henderson, October 17, 1882, of diphtheria, Hannah O’Meara, daughter of James O’Meara, aged 4 years.

Sibley County Independent, Friday, May 12, 1882. Vol. 10 No. 5. Page 1, Column 1.

Also, Mr. Michael O’Neil, of Faxon, to Miss Mary E. Cunningham, of Green Isle, sister to Mrs. O’Meara of this place.

I’m sure these are somehow related to Mary O’Meara, but, unless the things I find on her can somehow tell me something about Anthony, I don’t know that I’m that interested.  So I’m kind of letting these go for now.  The next thing I found was a little more interesting, however:

Sibley County Independent, Friday April 14th, 1882. Vol. 10.  No. 1. Page 1, Col. 3.

Green Isle.
April 4th, 1882.
DIED– Mr .Patrick Maguire, on Saturday the 1st inst.

What? A Patrick Maguire in Green Isle?  Could he be related? I kept going, and found more…

Sibley County Independent, Friday April 7, 1882. Vol. 9. No. 52. Page 1. Col. 1.

DIED — Of typhoid fever, at Green Isle, on the 1st day of April, Patrick McGuire, at the age of 58 years.

Sibley County Independent, Friday March 24, 1882, Vol. 9. No. 50. Page 1, Col. 5

Green Isle
March 20, 1882
Patrick McGuire is sick with a fever which accounts for the apparition he saw last week. We understand he is very low to-day.

Sibley County Independent, Friday March 17, 1882. Vol. 9. No. 49.

Green Isle
March 14, 1882.
Mr. Patrick McGuire was taken seriously ill last week and imagined he saw a man on horseback without a head standing at his stable door.

And that’s the last thing I found, as they were shutting off the lights.  So I quickly transcribed the last bit, and left.  To the Liffey for some Guinness and dinner (and knitting) I went.  The weather was absolutely perfect, and every other song playing was either Prince or the Replacements; I didn’t want to leave their rooftop patio.  While I was sitting there, I thought I’d use my all-knowing smrt phone to check findagrave.com for this Patrick McGuire that I had found.  Well, he was there, but I now I don’t think that he is directly related to Anthony, because his father’s name is John.  But I guess it’s possible that he’s a cousin.  Filing this info away for one day when I might need it…

I think next time, I might keep going back in the Sibley County Independent?  Or I might try the Green Isle Record, but that one doesn’t go back this far, so I’m not sure how helpful it will be (unless I can dig up some crap on Anthony’s children?).  No research next Saturday, as it’s the annual MN Irish Fair!

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.