The History of Our Cradle Land
by Thomas H. Kinsella

Transcribed by Sean Furniss

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Mrs. Ann Clark, widow of the late James B. Clark, died at her home in Paola, Kansas, on Friday, April 10, 1903, aged eighty years. She lived a useful life and died a Christian death, mourned by daughters, sons and grandchildren who rose up to call her blessed.

Born in Athboy Parish, County Meath, Ireland, she was 23 years of age when she landed at Utica, New York, in 1856. Later she went to Crawfordsville, Indiana, and there in 1856 she became the wife of Mr. Clark. Two years later the family came to Leavenworth, in 1859 to this county, locating in Rock Creek, in Richland township. A few years later they moved to the farm northwest of town about 4 miles, which was their permanent home till after Mr. Clark's death.

Then Mrs. Clark moved to Paola with her two daughters, Mrs. Mary Bittner and Miss Lizzie Clark. The two children, John B. and William D., are here, although John's place of business is in San Francisco, California.

The funeral at the Catholic Church on Easter Sunday and burial in the cemetery east of town, was attended by a long train of friends, the largest number of carriages out his year. Services were by Father Taton.

Thus has gone another of the revered matron whose 40 years of toil and kindness helped to people Miami county and fill the land with fruit and grain; to spread the mantle of charity, cheer the sick and nourish the weak; to make homes the center of devotion to parents, to industry and to God. May she rest in peace. Beside immediate connection, the following were here at the funeral: Mrs. Margaret Riley, Mrs. Mary Clark, Mr. and Mrs. James McCormick, Robert Miller, Patrick Murphy, and James Conner, of Kansas City, Mo., and Miss Mary Smith of Cherryvale, all relatives.


Morris Cunningham died at his home in Osage township, last Tuesday morning, October 9, 1906, aged 75 years. He had been in poor health for over a year. Mrs. Cunningham, whom he married in Indiana 50 years ago, survives him as also do the following named sons and daughters: George Cunningham, Stanton township; William H. Cunningham, who is on the home place; Mrs. John Chamberlain (Emma) and Mrs. Joseph Chamberlain, (Catherine) who, with their husbands, live in Osawatomie; Mrs. M. Langan, (Annie) who with her husband, resides in this city.

Mr. Cunningham was born in County Kerry, Ireland, in 1831, and came to America when 20 years of age. In 1857 he sought a home in Kansas and located in Osage township, where ever since he had lived till the final summons came. For 48 years he worked there to make a home for himself and family and contribute his share to the up-building of this county and State. The last year he was an invalid and couldn't work. A better and truer man never was enumerated among the honorable and the useful men of this county. Industrious, reliable and obliging, he did well his part, and besides a fair share of property, he gave to his family a good name.

The funeral yesterday at the Catholic Church in this city, was very large. Rev. Father Burk conducted the services and interment was in the cemetery east of Paola.


Had he but lived until September, Michael Allen would have reached his one-hundredth milestone. He died last Friday, April 11th, and was buried in the Catholic graveyard, east of this city, on Monday, April 14, 1913. Requiem Mass was sung at Holy Trinity church, conducted by Rev. Father Burk, and the last rites were observed at the grave. The funeral procession was nearly a mile long.

Mrs. Allen died August 25, 1900, and the sons and daughters, surviving are: Richard Allen of Hutchinson; Henry Allen of this city; Mrs. Ella McGrath, the wife of Robert McGrath, of Coffey county, and Robert Allen, who lives on the old homestead. There are many other relatives, direct and collateral, many of whom were in attendance at the burial.

Born in the County Kerry, Ireland, about the middle of September, 1813, Michael Allen lived there until past thirty years old. Considerable difficulty was encountered in determining his age, because the English laws of that period kept the Irish from being taught to read or to write, and prohibited the parish priest from even recording births or deaths. Irish families were still paying the penalty of the unsuccessful rebellion of 1798; the tyrant's foot was still upon their necks. Only by counting back through events by family traditions; by happenings of unusual moment such as the "big wind," the famine, the execution of Irish patriots; the "plague year," the summer of the "potato rot" were dates of birth in this era of oppression in Ireland determined upon. By such methods has many an aged Irishman had to fix the date of his coming into the world. Mr. Allen had a strong and bright intellect in which grew a memory of remarkable power. He could neither read nor write, and under the law passed by the recent Democratic Legislature of Kansas, he would have been disfranchised, but he knew more than many a college graduate. In the school of experience he became well informed.

"I was born, me boy, in 1813, but I didn't know just when, nor was I entirely certain of the year until I was about twenty. I put together things told me by father and mother, and I always carried in my mind big things that happened. Yes, yes, and this is the way I got back to the year and month of me birth." Thus spoke Mr. Allen to the writer, fifty years ago.

In 1848, Michael came to America and, with a companion or two, soon after landing in New York, he set out across the country. He worked with his hands at whatever turned up to be done for wages. He was in the land of liberty, and he longed to see the wilds. From the canals in sparsely settled localities he went westward, and in the early fifties he rounded up in Indiana, not far from what is now the town of New Castle. There he was married to Bridget Collins. This was in 1854. A few years later, in 1858, he headed an Irish colony for Kansas. These young pioneers took up homes in Osage Township. Mr. Allen pre-empted the quarter section upon which he lived and where he died.

Mike Allen fought the fight and kept the faith. God had given him a big mind in a strong body. He was a born leader. All the others around him sought his counsel and heeded it. Through the hardships of territorial days; through ague and famine; through war; through lean years and through all the troubles incident to early Kansas, Michael Allen was a courageous, cheerful, steady worker. He led the way; he laid the first stone of the new Catholic church in Miami county; he picked out and measured the first Catholic burial ground; he helped to construct the first rude ferry boat that aided travel in crossing that treacherous stream known as the Marias des Cygnes. His hand helped to shape the first log that went into the first school house of Osage township, the little structure that stood on the Jimmy Williams corner, to mark the center of district number six. He was a delegate to the first Democratic county convention ever held here. "Who sent you, who sent you?" a friend once asked. "Why I sent myself. Sure and there was nobody to tell me to come," was his reply.

In stature Mr. Allen was about five feet, six and one-half inches high; round bodied; small hands and small feet. In his prime his hair was heavy and black. His average weight was about 165 to 170 pounds. He was active and quick, just the man who impressed his individuality on those around him in a new country. No horse was so wild that he could not tame it; no man so powerful that he could not hold his own with him. To build a house, swim a river, or to fight a bully was a simple task for Mike Allen. He was ready for either at the drop of a hat, and yet, with all his courage, he was charity personified. He loved children, and he was ever alert to help the weak. Tender-hearted as a girl and ever affectionate with his family, he was the well known man in his community for generousness, in doing good turns; in obliging all who came within his reach or touch. A prince fell when Mr. Allen died. A man among men; a leader of leaders; a person truly great in lovable things that he did for himself and for others.

His last visit to Paola was in the summer of 1912. He walked with steady step, and spoke with a mind clear as ever. "How long will I live, ye ask? Till after the next Democratic President is put in the White House, d'ye mind that?" Sure enough, he went to the polls in Fontana last fall and called out to those around him. "Boys, I going to vote a straight Democratic ticket, and live to see Wilson in the big chair at Washington!" To a friend a few weeks before his death, he said: "My time is about here. I am nearly one hundred years old. I have seen the country grow from a desert to bloom in farms and fine homes. I had no school in the old country. My children have been very good to me. Never have I wanted for friends. This is a great land, and it was a blessing upon me that I came here to live. I have done my best and am ready to go when it is God's will to take me."

Father Burk's sermon at the funeral was along the lines that have been touched upon in this obituary. Indeed, so forceful and so striking were the sentences from the lips of the priest that they could not be forgotten by anyone who listened to them. Michael Allen has gone but his deeds will live forever in the memory of the children, and the children's children of those who knew him.


Mr. Koehler was a citizen of Paola for forty-three years and the greater part of that time he was actively engaged in business.

He was born April 4, 1851 in Naurenberg Province, North Hessen Nassau, Germany, and with his brother, Frank Koehler, emigrated to America in June, 1866, locating in Kansas City, where an aunt lived. Mr. Koehler learned the baker's trade and became very proficient.

In 1871 he came to Paola. He was an untiring worker. Early and late, from year to year, he was constantly at his place of business, seldom taking any recreation and his vitality becoming weakened by over attention to his business is believed to have been primarily the cause of his sudden death, which occurred May 22, 1914.

Mr. Koehler possessed a calm, deep nature, an analytical mind and a wide knowledge of affairs. He had an equable temper and a pleasing disposition as a result of which he had many real friends. During all the many years of his active business relationship with the people of this county, he dealt honestly and justly with all. He was always ready to promote any good cause and he helped by his good works, his kind words and finance; besides he was a great man in the Church; for many years a committeeman; a Knight of Columbus and a fervent promoter of the League of the Sacred Heart.

He was largely instrumental in bringing Ursuline Academy to Paola. He was the one who made the leading move so that the Sisters would locate here and not go elsewhere.

Mr. Koehler was a real leader in the Church, was generous in all his contributions and was counselled in all its affairs. He was intensely religious and was a man who not only practiced his religion but one who could explain it as well as a clergyman, not in an ostentatious way but in order to enlighten and in order to do good. He had no diplomas from High Schools or Universities but he was a great reader in sacred literature and consequently well versed in all the teachings of Holy Mother Church.

Mr. Koehler was married in Paola in 1873 to Miss Catherine Klassen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M. Klassen. Their union was blessed with two sons and four daughters, Frank Koehler, Mrs. Grace Reimbold, wife of Ernest Reimbold; Mrs. Agnes Luby, wife of William Luby; Augustine J. Koehler of New York; Miss Mary Koehler, who is Sister Cecilia of Ursuline academy of Paola and Miss Antoinette Koehler.

Mr. Koehler was greatly devoted to his family, in fact, he lived and died for God and his family. "Sacrifice and duty" was the motto of his life and all who knew him realized how closely he lived up to it.


Mrs. Koehler, wife of Jacob Koehler, was the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M. Klassen of Paola. She was born in Chicago, Ill., December 21, 1856, and a year later went with her parents to Kansas City and in 1861 came with them to Paola, where she grew to womanhood and made her permanent home.

She was one of the pupils of the first schools in Paola and her last teacher was Prof. D. M. Ferguson, about 1871. She was known to all of the early residents as a charming, light-hearted, happy girl, a pleasing entertainer and a favorite among the young folks. She was married to Jacob Koehler, October 8, 1872, and surrounded by every comfort they lived happily until his death May 22, 1914. After that she went with her youngest daughter "Nettie" to live with her son in New York, where she died of heart trouble August 22, 1916.

Mrs. Koehler was brought up in the Catholic Church and was devoted to her faith and family. She was one of the first women to lend her efforts and assistance to the Church on all occasions. She was president of the Altar Society and was appointed president for life of the Catholic Ladies Sewing Society. She, too, with her husband was a fervent promoter of the League of the Sacred Heart. For many years she took charge of the sacristy, the altar linens and the decoration of the High Altar. Regularly on Saturday afternoon she could be seen going to the church after a hard day's work with a basket of flowers she had raised in her garden for the adornment of the altar.

Her live work though seemingly brief was well done. She was a woman of rare worth. Christian devotion was the leading trait of her character and a more exemplary church member never offered prayers to God. To her husband she gave help, to her children she gave good character and to the world she gave an example that today is her crown among the saints.


Mrs. Alice McGrath, widow of the late Robert McGrath, has gone to her reward. She was a character of excellence that will never come again. In her was combined the patience, the with and the piety of women of Irish blood. Had she lived until next month she would have reached her ninety-fifth birthday. .

Death came as a gentle messenger on Easter Sunday, April 12, 1914. She was then at the home of her son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Dore, near Waverly, Coffey county, Kansas. The body was brought to Paola on Tuesday, the 14th inst., and burial was in the Catholic cemetery, east of Paola, on Wednesday. Solemn Requiem Mass was chanted by Rev. Father Scanlan of Sheffield, Mo., in Holy Trinity church here, and he was assisted by Rev. Father Burk, of this parish, and Rev. Father McDonald, Chaplain at Ursuline academy. Father Scanlan, who delivered the beautiful sermon is a nephew of the deceased. There was a large attendance of those who knew Mrs. McGrath in her lifetime.

Maloney was her maiden name, Alice Maloney, and she was born in the county Limerick, Ireland, May 16, 1819, became the wife of Robert McGrath on February 16, 1847; sailed for America two years later and reached the state of New York, by way of Quebec, Canada, and Mr. McGrath, with his brother-in-law Thomas Dwyer, engaged in contracting in the building of the Erie railroad. In 1850 the family moved to Ohio, and lived there eight years. it was in the spring of 1858 that Robert and Alice McGrath landed at Arrow Rock, on the Missouri river, below St. Louis. From there they traveled behind ox teams to Linn county, Kansas. Mr. McGrath bought a claim for $75.00 and pre-empted this quarter section of 160 acres. Through the war the family lived in Linn county and in 1866 they moved to the old Baptist Mission farm, just east of the city, which Mr. McGrath bought. It was here that he died in 1870. The wife had nine children to look after at the time of his death, the youngest only three years of age. Then came the test of excellence, of her ability to manage, and of her patience. She proved equal to every emergency. Industrious, religious and obliging, she quietly but firmly followed her own plans. The result was she reared sons and daughters to bless her life, cherish her memory, and keep the name clean before the world.

In 1898, the family being all grown and married, she went to make her home with her daughters and her sons, but lived most of the time with Mr. and Mrs. Dore. Last August she fell from the porch and was severely injured. From this time she never recovered.

Her sons and daughters living are Thomas McGrath, of Paola; Mrs. Mary Fenton, of Drexel, Mo., Patrick H. McGrath, of Gardner; Mrs. Amelia Dore, of Waverly; Mrs. Margaret Koehler, of Wichita; Robert I. McGrath, Waverly; Timothy W. McGrath, Idalia, Colorado; and Christopher C. McGrath, Waverly. Mary's husband, John Fenton, died a few years ago, also Maggie's husband, Joseph Koehler, is dead. He died about twenty years ago. John McGrath, a son, died here when he was about twenty-one. There are thirty-six grandchildren and twenty-eight great grandchildren.

Mrs. McGrath was not schooled and yet she was educated. She had a mind that took in everything around her. Common sense and purity of heart were her leading traits. She knew how to support a home, how to regulate a school, how to conduct a church and how to train children that they would become useful and honorable. She was intensely democratic, not in the partisan sense, but in the deeper and broader meaning of the word. She loved liberty and feared oppression. She saw clearly into the future. Time proved her excellence in every way and especially her foresight. Often those about her couldn't understand her plans and her predictions. She was ahead of them in that intuitive knowledge which enables the true mothers of this country to shape its destiny.


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