The History of Our Cradle Land
by Thomas H. Kinsella

Transcribed by Sean Furniss

[Kinsella Home Page] [Previous Page] [Next Page] [Original Index] [New Index]


The first Catholic settler was James Poland. He arrived in 1854. Mr. Poland came from County Down, Ireland, and was accompanied by his wife Elizabeth, and his two sons John and William Poland. John went to California and William sleeps with his parents on the old home place. In the year 1856 a third son, Patrick, joined the family in Miami County and took a claim next to the father's about two miles southwest of Osawatomie. He had been married in New York to Elizabeth Robins, a convert to the Faith, a lady of education and refinement. She was the mother of seven children, named respectively: William, Mary Ann, James, Ellen, Anna, John and Margaret. William lives at Chickasha, Okla.; Margaret married James McRoberts and Elizabeth married Michael Mulvihill, both of Topeka; John settled in Butte, Montana, Mary Ann became the second wife of Michael Cunningham, her marriage being the second celebrated in the Old Stone church by Father Wattron on the 2nd of July, 1866. Anna Poland rests in Holy Cross cemetery. Father Schacht, the first priest who came to Miami County after the Jesuit Fathers left, said Mass at the home of the Polands late in 1858, and in Osawatomie the same year at the home of a widow lady named Mrs. Remington.

About this time a Dr. John Darr was appointed to an important position at the State Hospital at Osawatomie. He came from New Castle, Ind. It was through Dr. Darr's influence that the following families were induced to migrate to Kansas in 1858. They were all Catholics, closely related to each other, by marriage or by kindred. They had come in to Indiana from the west Coast of Ireland, and had kept together in all their wanderings.

As a preliminary to the exodus from New Castle, two of their number visited Dr. Darr at Osawatomie in the fall of 1857. Their names were Michael Allen and Maurice Cunningham. These gentlemen made a favorable report to their homefolks at New Castle. Preparations were at once made and arrangements perfected to start for the new land in what was then regarded as the far West. They had already crossed the Atlantic a few years before and had worked their way in to the wilds of Indiana as it then appeared to them, and now, to go out where the wild Indians still roamed the prairies, and where there was no church, no people of their own faith or nationality, seemed to be more than their courage could endure; but Dr. Darr, like another Moses, led them on to a land of vast expanse, fairer and richer than their native heath and in every sense a veritable "Land of Promise."

God bless Dr. Darr, and God bless the men and women who dared so much for their holy faith and for the welfare of their children and their children's children for all the years to come.

The story of the Pilgrim Fathers made the rock at Plymouth famous but the scene ends at the coast; while these new pilgrims dared and suffered all that the Puritan Fathers endured plus the long wanderings in the wilderness, confronted by like conditions on the part of the civilized brethren of other faiths as well as of savage men and savage nature everywhere. Some other and nobler pen than mine will one day illuminate the story of the first band of Catholic pilgrims, who laid down their burdens at the gates of Osawatomie on the 29th of March 1858, and there found rest. Their names were Michael Allen, his wife Bridget Collins, and children; Henry Allen, brother of Michael, his wife, Anna Carlton and children; Maurice Cunningham, his wife Mary Collins, and children; Michael Cunningham, brother of Maurice, his wife Nora Allen and one child; Michael Moran, his wife, Mary Allen and children; Richard Collins; Mrs. Catherine Sheehan, a sister of Richard Collins, a widow, mother of John and Ellen Sheehan. The party that left New Castle on March the 17th, 1858, consisted of six men, six women and eight children. They went by rail to Cincinnati. From there they took an Ohio river boat to Louisville, Kentucky, and from there they traveled by boat to St. Louis, and up the Missouri River to Westport Landing. They arrived at Westport Landing on the 26th of March. Hiring a four-horse team, the party drove inland towards Osawatomie, the women and children riding and the men walking the entire way, a distance of about 50 miles. On the 28th of March they passed through Paola and arrived at Osawatomie the following day. At once each family built a small cottage on ground donated by Wm. Chestnut in the town of Osawatomie. The men went to work at anything their hands found to do in order to amass means enough to establish their claims to some of the vast uncultivated land that lay on all sides. After a year or two each family had moved on to the claim selected, about six miles east of Osawatomie--the aggregation being henceforth known as the "Irish Settlement" and which now forms part of Osage Township.

This was the beginning of Holy Trinity Parish, Paola, and was one of the first Catholic settlements in Kansas.

In after years, about 1874, Joseph Dalton and his wife, Johanna Cunningham, sister of Maurice and Michael, came with their family to the "Irish Settlement" and have prospered. Their sons, James and Charles, are successful farmers in Osage Township.

Richard Wolfe, whose mother was Ellen Collins, was also a late addition to the settlement. He married Margaret Dalton, daughter of Joseph, and raised a family of five children. Including these latter, the settlement had 48 living children of the first generation. Henry Allen did not settle on the land but continued in the railroad construction business in which he was an expert. The first Mrs. Michael Cunningham and Mrs. Richard Collins are buried together in a well-kept spot on the prairie, on what is now known as the "Whiteford place." Rest to their ashes: they were truly brave and noble women whose memory should be cherished by all our people.

In March, 1859, William D. Sheridan, father of Bernard, John, Hiram, Allen and Frank Sheridan, came to Miami County, remaining until December, 1860. He returned again, however, in November, 1868, and made this his final home. In writing of this period, Benjamin Miller, ex-Mayor of Paola, states: "During the great drouth of 1860 there was absolutely not enough rain to lay the dust from the middle of September, 1859, to the 17th of March, 1861, anywhere within a hundred miles of Kansas City. All the people in those parts," continues Mr. Miller, "being new comers and poor when they came, it is easy to imagine their condition." Many left the state, others sought more favorable locations while those who struggled on, finally became rich and their children are prosperous citizens of Kansas today.

ROBERT McGRATH and his wife, Alice Maloney, came from Ireland in 1849 and after many wanderings settled in Linn County, Kansas, in 1858. Finally removing to Miami County in 1866 they purchased the Baptist Mission farm near Paola and made that their permanent home. There were nine children born to Mr. McGrath and his good wife, all of whom, except one, have remained faithful to the Church. All have prospered and their children's children have increased and multiplied and have preserved the high moral standard of their venerable and truly noble ancestors. A granddaughter is a Sister in the Ursuline Convent at Paola.

F. G. NOLEN came in 1868 and is still living, one of the few remaining patriarchs of the olden days. His wife died May 23, 1903. His son, J. W. Nolen, is in business in Paola and his daughter is now Sister St. John of the Order of the Good Shepherd. There are five children living.

ANTHONY STRAUSBAUGH came to Kansas in 1871 and to Miami County in 1873. He was born in Adams County, Pennsylvania, in 1835. Married Elizabeth Thompson, a native of Belfast, Ireland, at Forreston, Ogley County, Illinois, in 1845. There were eight children in this family. Mr. Strausbaugh died June 5, 1918, aged 83 years.

JACOB KOEHLER came to Paola from Germany in 1871. Mathias Johann and wife in 1875. Frank Koehler, brother of Jacob, came in 1875. It would now be interesting and, in fact, entirely feasible, just now, to note down and trace out the wanderings and varied fortunes of the descendants of these first settlers. From Miami County they have branched out into all parts of the United States and beyond. They have multiplied, in two or three generations, into a mighty host of self-respecting, industrious American citizens and faithful Christians.

Now Marysville Township.

The first Catholic settler of Bull Creek District was Patrick Maloney, who came in 1860. His wife, Mary Maloney, was the mother of nine children, named respectively: Anna, William, James, Mary, Jane, Elizabeth, Patrick, Agnes and John.

JOHN AND MARY JOSEPHINE CONNER came about 1860. Their children were Charles, James, Mary, Ellen and Agnes.

HUGH AND MARGARET RILEY came to Kansas in 1866 and to Miami County in 1867. Their children were Elizabeth, Catherine, Margaret, Sarah, John and Teresa.

JOHN AND CATHERINE RILEY came to Kansas in 1866 and to Miami County in 1867. Their children were Margaret, Hugh, Mary, Catherine, Ellen, James and John. .

WILLIAM AND MARY McCORMICK came to Kansas in 1866. Their children were named respectively, Mary, James, William and Peter.

PATRICK AND CATHERINE SMITH. Their children were Philip, Margaret, Mary, John, and Catherine.

THOMAS AND SARAH CLARK came to Rock Creek (Edgerton) in 1858. To Miami County in 1868. Their children were John, William, Mary and Elizabeth.

JAMES AND ANNA CLARK came to Rock Creek, Johnson County, in 1858. To Miami County in 1868. Their children were John, William, Mary and Elizabeth.

JOHN AND MARY HARKIN. Their children were George, Bernard, Ellen, Mary, Margaret and Susan.

PHILLIP AND MARGARET CASEY. Their children were Michael, Margaret and Mary.


John and Hugh Riley were born in County Westmeath, Ireland, in 1837 and 1839, respectively. They came to America in 1857 and located in Montgomery County, Indiana. At this time the two brothers purchased land in the new territory of Kansas, hoping, some day, to make that their future home. John married Miss Catherine McLoughlin at Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, in June, 1861.

He left Crawfordsville for the west in the spring of 1866 and arrived in Johnson County, Kansas, on the fifth of March that same year. After a short stay on a place near Edgerton he moved on to the farm now owned by Sol George in Miami County, and the Spring of 1867 saw him housed in his log cabin on his farm located in the Bull Creek district, now Marysville Township. After a few months he went to Kansas City and worked there for two years. Having saved his earnings he returned to his farm and there with his good wife and seven children toiled and labored happily until the day of his death which occurred April 13, 1905.

Hugh Riley's life-story is different; his earlier years and later years, 'tis true, ran parallel in fate and fortune with that of his brother. There was a warm brotherly affection in the hearts of these two men that nothing could affect or destroy.

While still working in Indiana, Hugh Riley enlisted in the army and fought through the Civil War from 1862 to 1865, finally receiving an honorable discharge from Governor Martin of Indiana at the cessation of hostilities. His rank was that of First Lieutenant with the papers made out conferring on him the rank of Captain when peace was declared by President Lincoln. He was acting captain at the time, the regular officer of that rank having been killed in one of the last battles of the war. Lieutenant Riley was mustered out in June, 1865. He was regarded as a brave soldier and an excellent officer. In after life he proved himself a good husband and father and won the respect and esteem of all who knew him. Hugh Riley was married in February, 1866, to Miss Margaret McCarrick, a native of Canada, at Crawfordsville, Indiana, and immediately set out for Kansas. He arrived in Johnson County in 1866 and finally settled on his farm in Miami County in 1867 where, with his wife and children, he remained until the fall of 1877. Then he removed to Kansas City where he died December the twenty-fifth, 1883. The death of his only son while on the farm caused him to abandon the land and seek the educational advantages of the city, for his growing daughters. The results have proven his wisdom and his foresight.

The scant outlines revealed in this short chapter of human interest is a fair example of the struggles of each and every man and woman who came to Miami County in the early days. We can read between the lines, if we will, more than tongue can tell, more than is now believable, of persistent effort, of hardships, sickness and death, all enshrouded in a loneliness such as civilized man had never known before; nor can we today realize what is was to cross the ocean than, and to travel far afield to find a little spot somewhere and to call it "home."

NOTE--There were about fifty children of the first generation in the Bull Creek district, and these, with the children of the "Settlement" on the South, made a throng of happy faces each Sunday in and around "the church." Great changes have come to all of these people of the first generation. Like those of the "Irish Settlement" they are scattered far and wide and a new people have largely taken their place.


Anthony Fenoughty and his wife, Catherine McAndrews, emigrated from County Mayo, Ireland, in 1847. They came to Kansas in 1868 and to Paola in 1870. There were four children in this family, all having lived to be over eighty years of age in Kansas.

One of the son, Michael Fenoughty, married Cecelia Davis in St. Ann's Church, Jennings County, Indiana, on May 2nd, 1866, and immediately set out for Kansas. By good fortune they were directed to Stanton Township, Miami County, where they procured 320 acres of rich land and there established their home.

There are nine children in this family. Although living at a distance of about seven miles from Paola they were never known to miss Mass on Sunday even when the lumber wagon was the only mode of conveyance.

The result of the good example of the parents is seen in the children. Mary and Ella became nuns, Sister Angela and Sister Veronica, respectively, of the Sisters of Mercy, and Joseph is a distinguished priest of the Society of Jesus. John, the eldest son, married Miss Anna Pickles and resides with his wife and three sons on a farm near Osawatomie. Henry and George are in business in Illinois. Emma married W. J. Sheehy of Paola. Frank is married and lives on an extensive ranch in western Kansas, and Charles entered the army during the great European War. He is now married and occupies the old home place.

Mrs. Cecelia Fenoughty was greatly loved and respected by all; a splendid Christian woman, a faithful wife and a kind and gentle mother. Her death took place on May 27, 1916, at the age of 72.

Michael Fenoughty is still active in his old age. His only sister, Mrs. John Dyer, lives with her daughter, Mrs. Charles Butel, near Paola. Her two other daughters are Sisters of Charity of the Leavenworth Community.


[Kinsella Home Page] [Previous Page] [Next Page] [Original Index] [New Index]

Comments -- Miami Co. Home Page -- KansasGenWeb

The KSGenWeb logo was designed and copyrighted by
Tom and Carolyn Ward
for the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.