The History of Our Cradle Land
by Thomas H. Kinsella

Transcribed by Sean Furniss

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April 3, 1919

Dear Rev. Father Kinsella:

I am writing you a few lines to let you know the prominent facts in our family history. My husband, Patrick Mahoney, was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1833. My maiden name was Catherine Dalton. I was born in the County Tipperary and came to the United States in 1859. I was married to Mr. Mahoney in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1861 and came to Kansas March 17, 1876.

I was very much disappointed when I saw it after leaving "my old Kentucky home" for at that time it was mostly prairie country in Kansas. The first place we landed was east of Paola. I spent three years there. The next move was on a farm near Edgerton, Kansas, where we lived for six years, and from there we moved to the farm I now own in Richland Township, Miami County. The hardships were many and the struggle severe but through it all Mr. Mahoney was a great worker and a good provider. May God rest his soul.

I raised quite a large family of eight children, two sons and six daughters. My eldest son died when he was twenty-two years old, and my youngest daughter when she was only three years old. Mr. Mahoney, my husband, died about ten years ago. My son, Dennis, has been my only stay and my other children are doing for themselves.

After I was in Kansas for a while I liked it better, and when I got my own home I was still more satisfied, and, now, I thank God that I have prospered as well as I have.

I have roamed through many a land and many a friend I have met, not one fair scene or kindly smile shall my fond heart forget.

I am, dear Father, your child in Christ.
Mrs. Catherine Mahoney.


Mr. Langan may be regarded as one of the old Catholic pioneers of the West. He came to America with his parents from the County Waterford, Ireland, when a boy of eight years of age. They settled at Schullsburg, Wisconsin. The boy knew, of course, all the hardships of pioneer life, rendered all the more severe in that northern climate. It has made him robust, a man of sterling character and unflinching purpose. He has always been a consistent and loyal Catholic, a faithful attendant at church although living about ten miles from Paola. In winter as well as in summer the family were always in time for Mass when people living near by were often late. It has long been a subject of comment and a striking illustration of an old but familiar saying which need not be repeated here.

Martin Langan married his wife, Katheryn Quinn, at Houghton, Michigan, in 1864, and came to Kansas in 1879. He purchased a fine farm in Middle Creek Township, Miami County, and has become one of the substantial men of the county. His living children are:

Maurice Langan, who married Miss Anna Cunningham; Nellie (Mrs. Will Cunningham); Agnes (Mrs. Michael O'Connor), and Mary who lives with her father. Mrs. Langan died February 29, 1896, and rests in Holy Cross Cemetery. She was a lady of refinement and great benevolence. Her home was a house of prayer and a place of real happiness. She ruled her family gently but wisely and the Spirit of Faith, Hope and Charity harmonized with her natural disposition to such a degree that goodness was like a second nature to her. The people speak of Mrs. Langan with respect even to this day, her own household in reverent silence feel and know that she was a holy woman, a good mother, and a faithful wife.

Family Record of Elias and Mary Jane Pickles.

Elias, youngest child of Thomas and Ann Pickles, was born at Deep Dale, Gisburn, Yorkshire, England, March 23, 1831, where he lived until March 25, 1856. Then he sailed for United States of America, having been sent for to run some large flour mills that were built at Sparta, Randolph County, Illinois.

Mary Jane, eldest daughter of Captain John and Mary Ann Lickiss, was born at Hull, Yorkshire, England, November 2, 1840. Coming with her parents to America February 14, 1855, landing in New Orleans Easter Sunday, April 10, coming up the Mississippi, they settled near Georgetown, now Steelville, Illinois.

She and Elias Pickles were married at that place April 30, 1859. They lived at Sparta, Illinois, until the fall of 1860, when they returned to England, living at Preston for about two years. Returning to America August, 1862, they lived at St. Genevieve, then to Red Bud, Randolph County, Illinois, from which place they moved to Paola. Mr. Pickles coming in May, 1879, the family coming the first of July. Paola has been the home of the family ever since. Ten children were born to them. Alice Ann at home; Mary Louise now Mrs. William Fry, Osawatomie, Kansas; Thomas J., Paola, Kansas; Margaret J., Annie, now Mrs. John A. Fenoughty, Osawatomie, Kansas; Agnes, now Mrs. John T. Lyon, Paola, Kansas; Rebecca, now Mrs. Bert Stiles, Springhill, Kansas; John, Hillsdale, Kansas; Genevieve, now Mrs. Jasper B. Poteet, Paola, Kansas; Winifred, who died in infancy.

Mr. and Mrs. Pickles were both reared Episcopalians but their second child was baptized in the Catholic Church at St. Genevieve when an infant. Mrs. Pickles and her family were received into the Catholic Church at Red Bud, Illinois, in the years 1873-74.

Mr. Pickles, though not being baptized in the Church, always made it a point to attend church with his wife and family, and to see that they got there. He was baptized on his death bed, July 22, 1901. Mrs. Pickles died September 13, 1915. She was a very devout and holy Christian woman whose influence stamped the lives of all her children.


The first German Catholic family to settle in the parish of Holy Trinity was Mathias Johann, who, with his wife, Katherine, came from Coblenz, Germany, in 1875. They were exceedingly poor when they arrived in Miami County, but by dint of toil and frugality this brave pair of honest strangers became the owners of 65 acres of good land in Middle Creek Township and there raised a family of eight children, namely: Kate (Mrs. C. W. Ames); John, Mary (Mrs. William Clawson); Dick, Bettie, Peter who died in young manhood; Sarah (Mrs. James Hammond) and Ella who became the wife of Frederick Sheets.

There are, in all, ten Catholic and eight non-Catholic grandchildren of Mathias Johann. It will be interesting to follow up the history of this family changed through the next generation and mark the results of American Social influence on the descendants of our first European Catholic settlers.


John B. Charland (De Francoeur) and his wife, Marie Louise Hamel, came to the United States from St. Jean Des Chaillons, Canada, in 1870. They settled first at St. Joseph, Missouri, and came to Paola in 1888. They became active members of Holy Trinity parish and soon won the respect and esteem of the people on account of their devout Christian lives and their refined and cultivated manners.

One of the splendid windows of the present church was donated by Mr. Charland and bears his name. The "pieta" together with its pedestal is erected to the memory of Mrs. Charland. This is perhaps the finest piece of art work in the church. The figures are almost life size, beautifully tinted and most striking in features, contour and pose. It is a copy of some great master piece which the people of Paola have learned to appreciate. There is nothing finer any where in the State. Mrs. Charland is well remembered and her name is affectionately and reverently spoken even to this day. She died July 13, 1896 and was laid to rest in Holy Cross Cemetery in the presence of a large concourse of people from the town and surrounding country. That Marie Louise Charland was a lovely character is the testimony of all who knew her.

Mr. Charland lived until January 11, 1917, and his remains rest beside those of his wife in our cemetery. He was a splendid type of his race, a good provider for his family in all things including education and religion. He was affectionate and domestic in habits--a faithful husband and a good father. There are four living children in this family: Emeline, wife of Mr. Edward McCluskey, resides in Colorado Springs; Joseph Emil is in business in Portland, Oregon; Mary Jane is Mrs. C. W. Boone of Paola, and Mary Teresa lives in Kansas City.


Secundo Balocca was born in Brusnengo, Italy, January 23, 1861, and came to America January 7, 1882, and then to Osage City, Kansas. He came to reside in Paola in 1914 and entered business. Mr. Balocca was married in his native town June 23, 1888, and is the father of seven children, namely: Rosie, Sophia, John, Adale, Joseph, Anna and Beatrice. Mr. Balocca and his wife, Mrs. Mary Balocca, are esteemed and respected by all our people. The family is refined, industrious, and thoroughly Catholic. They fill an important place in the business life of the community.


The following obituary notices of some of the first settlers are from the pen of the editor of the Western Spirit, Mr. B. J. Sheridan. These are exceedingly valuable as historical documents; the data is absolutely reliable and the story of each is given true to nature, beautifully expressed and masterful in style and sentiment.


Mrs. Melinda A. Sheridan, wife of William D. Sheridan, died at her home on the farm near Vermillion, Marshall county, Kansas, at 8:18 p. m. on Saturday, January 22, 1898, and was buried in the Catholic cemetery, Paola, Kansas, at 12:50 p. m. on Tuesday, the 25th inst., after mass at Holy Trinity Church by Rev. Father Francis Taton. The following named old friends of the family were the pallbearers: F. G. Nolen, Col. Geo. H. Hume, W. T. Johnson, Major B. F. Simpson, Judge J. P. Ranney and Major J. B. Hall.

Melinda A. McLafferty was born in Clarion, Pennsylvania, February 1, 1835, and in her 17th year, on November 4, 1851, she and William Sheridan were married by Rev. Father Gray at Sugar Creek church, Armstrong county, Pennsylvania.

Three children were born there, Bernard J., John C. and Hiram D., and in February, 1859, the family came to Lykins (now Miami) county, Kansas Territory. Here they lived till the fall of 1860, the dry year, when they moved to Wisconsin, stopping for a few months in Missouri. In the summer of 1859, June 27th, the first daughter, Ellen C., now Mrs. Wm. Acker, was born in Osage township of this county. After living five years in Monroe county, Wisconsin, where Peter C. and William T. were born, the family went to McArthur, Vinton county, Ohio, going by way of their old home near Kittanning, Pennsylvania. There they resided two years where Frank M. was born.

In 1868 they returned to Kansas where Mr. Sheridan still owned 160 acres of land and here they lived for ten years and went to Marshall county, Kansas, where they have resided ever since with the exception of a few years across the State line near Wymore, Nebraska. The other children, Allen V., Sarah Ann, Mary C., and Grace E., were born in this county. All but two, Peter C. and William T., are living.

Through all this moving and the trials of rearing a large family, Mrs. Sheridan bore up with courage and patience. Educated in her girlhood, she was teaching when she was married and through all the years that followed she was a student. She was a great reader, not of books alone, for she read human nature with that quick penetrating insight of the highest order known--a woman's intuition. In the cabin or covered wagon, on the frontier and in the parlor with scholars, she was alike at home--the same bright mind that, unconscious of its power, swayed all around it. She never began a book she didn't finish nor dropped a task till it was done. Always frail in body, yet the stoutest by her side have yielded to hardships that she bore with an endurance supernatural. Fortitude and mercy were blended in her nature.

Years ago, after she took the grippe and lung trouble set in, she went on cheerfully, holding off death with one hand while with the other she set to rights the temporal affairs of her family and at last, calling husband and children about her, directed the details of her burial. Her last whisper was to bless them all and then she closed her eyes in death without a tremor, without a struggle.

It is hard to write of one so pure, so powerful, so loved. When for the first time the realization comes that the heart that nurtured your own into life is chill and still forever, language is but a feeble instrument of the will. Words seem only to baffle the emotions that struggle for expression when memories throng the brain and grief unnerves the man. Too much has been left undone by the hand that would pen a fitting tribute to the dead. Sentences can not be woven that will make reparation to the conscience for a single disobedience or set the mind at peace that devotion never faltered to the loyal one of earth who has gone. Tears alone are the language of sorrow when the lips that gave the first kiss and the last benediction are cold forever.

The only solace is a belief that she is in heaven. Surely there is a heaven for such a soul--there must be a heaven for a Mother. Else why venerate her grave? If that vital spark, that indefinable something we call life, is not immortal why did one so good walk the earth bearing aloft Faith, inspiring Hope and exemplifying Charity by good works? Why contemplate the mystery of birth or look with awe upon death? Heaven for the worthy, either a place or a condition, is the only answer that satisfies the mind of man. She is not here, she's surely there. All that's left to us is her sweet name to beautify an imperishable record of well-doing that will stand as a monument for her children to the remotest generation to look upon and say: "Blessed woman who entwined the sacred names of Wife and Mother with every enduring grace of humanity, we revere your memory."


William D. Sheridan died on Wednesday, August 7, 1901, at the home of Dr. Allen V. Sheridan, Paola, Kansas. He was in his seventy-third year and the immediate cause of his death was a second attack of the grippe last winter.

Born in Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, July 15, 1829, his boyhood was spent there and there he was married in 1851 to Miss Melinda McLafferty. In the winter of 1859, he came to Kansas, then a territory, with his family and the following spring took a claim in Osage township, Miami county, then Lykins, a quarter section of the prairie sod, planted out an orchard and raised a good crop. But the next year, 1860, he raised nothing, his orchard died, the family was sick and some of his stock died with murrain, a disease prevalent in different localities that season. In December, he moved to Liberty, Missouri, and got work with his oxen on the railroad, then being built, and the next spring moved to Wisconsin where his brothers, James and Bartholomew, lived, and located near Sparta, Monroe county. Here he cleared out two different farms and in the winter of 1866 returned with the family to Pennsylvania, expecting to resume his early calling, that of contracting ore and coal to the iron furnaces.

Things were changed, however, when he got back to Pennsylvania and he didn't stay, but went to Vinton county, Ohio. Here he got contracts and handled a large force of men for Vinton and Zaleski furnaces, making considerable money. But he saw no future for a large family there--no chance to get lands and homes--so in October, 1868, he again moved to Kansas, landing at Kansas City the morning before the Presidential election of that year and reaching Paola the night after. That winter the family lived in a little log house on the Mike Allen place in Osage Township and the next spring Mr. Sheridan bought land of Maj. Baptiste in Middle Creek township near where Somerset was afterward located. This he improved and sold in 1876 to buy a place northwest of Paola. After living there for a few years, he sold out and moved to Marshall county, Kansas, later to Gage county, Nebraska, and finally back to Marshall county, here he improved the farm of 160 acres near Vermillion which he owned at the time of his death. Since the death of Mrs. Sheridan in January, 1898, he had lived with his children most of the time. He spent part of 1899 at his old home in Pennsylvania and early in 1901 came to Paola. He went to Marshall county in April and came back in June. There are eight children living. Bernard J., Frank M., and Allen V., live here; Mrs. Wm. Acker, Mrs. Frank Gaylord and Mary in Marshall county; Hiram D. in Montana, and Mrs. George Flaherty in Wyoming. John C., Clover P. and William T. are dead.

The live of William Sheridan was one of activity and hardship. He was a hard worker and ever restless. By days of labor, by contracts on public works and by farming he made much money and spent most of it supporting his family and moving from place to place. With his own hands, helped some of his sons, he made nine different farms from the raw land, some of them in heavy timber; he owned, at one time and another, more than a dozen different homes in different states; by overland, by boat and by rail he traveled with his family nearly ten thousand miles and as many more by himself; he built houses, bridges and road and helped to build school houses and churches. His career was one of good example in truthfulness, charity, industry, courage and honesty.


Another honest and honorable pioneer left us last Sunday, February 26, 1899, when James B. Clark died at his home four miles northwest of Paola. He took pneumonia two weeks ago and might have recovered but that his once iron constitution was worn to the breaking point by toil, trouble and time. A few months more and he would have been 80 years old. He was born near the close of the year 1820, in the county of Meath, Ireland, and spent his boyhood on the "Old Sod." He was, like most other Irish lads, poor, patriotic and ambitious. After the failure of the uprising in 1848, in which he participated, he saw no future, no liberty in the dear land of his birth and he came to this country, landing in Boston in 1849.

From there he drifted to New York and then to Crawfordsville, Indiana, working steadily at whatever he could turn his hand to. He was industrious but restless and, in 1854, went to California, going by way of the Isthmus of Panama. His career on the Pacific coast was full of adventure and, at length, he resolved to settle down for life. Returning to Crawfordsville, he married Miss Ann McCormick in 1857 and by his side she stayed until his body was laid to rest last Tuesday in the Catholic cemetery, a mile east of this city.

Four children were born to this union, John B. William D., Mary, who is now Mrs. Robt. Bittner, and Elizabeth, who is still home. Jim Clark located in this state in 1858 and lived several years on Rock Creek. In 1867 he purchased the farm that has since been his home. He was a plain, upright man, who hadn't the least trace of sham in his make-up. Steadfast in beliefs, loyal in friendship and obliging to neighbor and wayfarer alike, every friend he made he kept to his death. His family grew up an honor to his name and he left the world better than he found it. His elder son is in business in Kansas City and doing well; William is our well known loan broker and Mrs. Bittner, with her husband, resides on a farm adjoining the old place, while Lizzie lives with her mother at home. Rev. Father Taton conducted the burial services at the Catholic Church and at the grave.


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