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]


Peter Miller, one of the first settlers of the north part of Wea township, a man highly respected by all who knew him, had a stroke of apoplexy on Friday afternoon, October 11, about 3 o'clock. He, with his son, Peter, Jr., was returning from Kansas City, Mo., riding on a lumber wagon. When two miles west of Belton, Mo., he suddenly spoke to his son, saying he felt rather queer, had a sensation of heat and fullness in chest and head, and in a very few minutes he leaned over the spring seat and became unconscious. He was carried into the house of David Roberts and Dr. Strether of Belton was summoned. The doctor remained the entire night with Mr. Miller and Dr. G. A. Boyle of Louisburg was called Saturday morning. The doctors pronounced his case as hopeless. Mr. Miller never regained consciousness and died at 5 p. m. Saturday.

The funeral was held at Wea church Tuesday at 10 o'clock, the Requiem Mass being said by Rev. Father Hohe, and interment in the Catholic cemetery.

Peter Miller was born in the Dukedom of Nassau, now a province of Germany, in 1831. Came to America in 1852 and settled in Pennsylvania, where he spent about three years as a wholesale grocer. He then came west and worked a year for the Delaware Indians and after that worked at the wagon making trade in Westport. In 1861 he enlisted in Company "I" Second Kansas and served three years.

Mr. Miller was married to Miss Anna McGuirk in Westport, January 6, 1863. He was a foreman for a time in the Great Western wagon shops and from there in 1864 he moved to his late home in Wea township. Nine sons were born to them, of whom two died in childhood and one, A. E. Miller, died in 1899. His wife and six sons survive him. Two sons reside in St. Louis, one in Greenwood county and three at home.


Another pioneer has gone, Patrick Rigney died at his home, ten miles east of Paola, and four miles southwest of Louisburg, on June 12, 1911, aged 80 years, 2 months and 25 days. Mrs. Rigney survives, and so do the following named sons and daughters: Mrs. Mary Thompson, wife of John Thompson, who lives in Sugar Creek township, this county; Mrs. Lena Barnes, wife of C. W. Barnes, of Richland township, this county; John Rigney and W. L. Rigney, of this county; Maurice F. Rigney of Kansas City, Mo.; Maggie Rigney, Charles and Harry Rigney at home.

There was a large funeral at Louisburg last Wednesday, the 14th inst., where Reverend Father Moehan conducted the burial service from the Catholic church. Interment was in the cemetery near there.

It was the 17th of March, 1831, in King's County, Ireland, that Patrick Rigney was born. When 16 years of age he reached America. From the Atlantic coast he came with the regular and ever-increasing hosts seeking homes in the west. Rugged of build, and with the strength of youth, he was a power among his associates. In fact, his was to lead and command. From Michigan he came to Kansas City and there he was married, in April, 1858, to Miss Katherine McGuirk. The couple went back to Michigan in a wagon and returned to Kansas City in 1861. Then Mr. Rigney crossed the plains to New Mexico. Upon his return in 1866 he moved to Miami County, and located on one of the Col. O. H. P. Polk farms in what is now Ten Mile township. Two years later he bought the homestead where he lived until the end, on the north side of what is known as "Little Wea," nearly directly east of Somerset, this county.

With his good wife all the hardships of early days were met and mastered. The hewn log house was Rigney's castle. It was good and stout because he reared it with his own hands. The next work to his own home building was the rearing of a school house and helping to build the little stone Catholic church in Paola. He held back from no task and shirked no hardships. When past sixty years of age he was still a man of powerful mold and it was easy for him to do two days' work in one. His honesty was of the early pioneer stamp that never needed re-enforcing in any manner whatever. In labor he saw dignity and a future competence. Homes he made, both for himself and his children and to each he gave liberally in property.

To his faithful wife, whose unselfish labors helped him to subdue the wilds of the west, and keep a roof o'er head and plenty beneath, is due in part the success and the good example Patrick Rigney gave to the world. To her in her sorrow, every old settler's heart goes out today.


Mrs. Anna Miller, one of the first settlers of North Wea township, a woman highly respected by all who knew her, died Sunday morning, June 28th, at 8:45 a. m.

The funeral was held at Wea church Tuesday, at 9 o'clock, the Requiem Mass being said by Rev. Father Hohe, and interment in the Catholic cemetery.

Anna E. McGuirk was born in Monaghan, Ireland, 1846. When a girl of six, with her parents she crossed the Atlantic and came to America. They settled in Kansas in 1852, living on a farm south of Westport, known as the Ward place. Here she lived until the breaking out of the Civil War, when with her mother she moved to Westport, her father Terrance McGuirk, having been killed by a horse, March 3, 1859.

Miss Anna E. McGuirk was united in marriage to Peter Miller, January 5, 1863. Nine sons were born to them, of whom two died in childhood and one, A. E. Miller, died in 1899. She leaves six sons, William, Jacob and Barnard, who are at St. Louis in business, Peter and Anthony are prosperous farmers, living in the northern part of this township, and Lawrence is on the homestead, where his mother died.

A Catholic funeral ceremony is very impressive. A large body of people were present at the funeral of Anna Miller last Tuesday, yet they were all subdued and thoughtful. There was no crowding into the church. No looking back at late comers. As the casket was carried from the church to the cemetery no one attempted to precede it, but all with bowed head and measured tread, silently followed all that was mortal of Anna Miller to its last resting place. And consistency is also found here, in that no elaborate monuments appear, it being held that only fleeting mortality which must soon return to dust lies buried there, that the living must not think of their loved ones as having returned to earth, but rather to hope and pray that their immortal spirits shall enter into eternal rest.


Mrs. Mary E. Burns died at her home in Louisburg, June 9, 1914, at the age of 74 years, one month and three days. With the passing of this remarkable woman is closed the last chapter in a life whose full years were beautifully rounded out in service to others. No persons knew Mrs. Burns who did not admire her, and none knew her intimately without loving her. She was possessed of a bright mind and remarkable memory which with her sunny disposition and her rare gift of entertaining conversation made her a most companionable woman. She was ever hopeful and helpful to others in all afflictions. Though her days were full of her own strenuous duties, yet, she was never too busy, nor too tired to server her neighbor in sickness or distress. Her ready sympathy went out to those in trouble and she rejoiced in the joy of others. Her optimistic theory of life never failed to shed its roses on those with whom she came in contact.

Mary E. McGuirk was born in Monaghan, Ireland, May 5, 1840, and came to America with her parents in 1852, where they located at Westport, Mo. March 11, 1855, she was married to William H. Burns, also a native of Ireland, and a man of education and travel, who at that time was employed as a stonemason for the Shawnee and Delaware Indians. Soon after this she removed with her husband to the newly opened territory of Kansas, where they settled at what was known as Delaware Crossing of the Kaw river. It was here that her husband, while in charge of a ferryboat, carried across the Kaw river, the members of the first legislative body that met in Kansas.

They moved back to Westport in 1856, then to Hayes Settlement in 1857, back again to Westport in 1859, where they lived until 1864. During these years Mrs. Burns passed through many interesting and perilous experiences attendant upon the Civil War. Her husband, then employed by the Bernard Co., wholesale dealers for the Mexican trade, was gone for many days at a time; and she, filled with anxiety for his safety, remained at home with her small children. The border troubles were every-day happenings with her, and the battle of Westport, and Quantrell's raid were at her very doors.

In 1864 she came to Miami County, where with her husband, she endured the hardships and privations of pioneer life. Here they broke the prairie, established a home and reared their family, suffering the same inconveniences with their pioneer neighbors, but enjoying with them the simple pleasures of that time.

She moved to Louisburg in 1884, then to Kansas City in 1892, where in 1894 Mr. Burns died. After his death Mrs. Burns made her home in Louisburg, where she gained a host of friends, all of whom have proven themselves to be "friends indeed." She was the mother of eight children, six of whom survive her. They are: Mrs. Ellen Kelly, Mrs. Susie E. Frank, Mrs. H. L. Williams, Mrs. Fred Weir and W. S. Burns of this city, E. J. Burns of Kansas City. Besides these there are two sisters and one brother, Mrs. Kate Rigney, Mrs. Margaret Miller and P. H. McGuirk of Louisburg. Among numerous other relatives are numbered eleven grand children and three great grandchildren.

She bore her last illness bravely and while suffering displayed a great patience and undying trust in her God. A few days before her death she repeated these lines: .

"Other refuge I have none;
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee
Leave, O leave me not alone
Still support and strengthen me." .

From the green old sod of Ireland she brought the Faith of her fathers, in light of which she walked unfaltering to the end.

The funeral services were held at the Catholic church in Louisburg, Wednesday morning, June 10th, conducted by Rev. Father McNamara. Interment was in the Catholic cemetery at Louisburg.

As a parting word on the Ellen McGuirk family let it be said that every one of them heroically kept the faith and endeavored to pass it on to their posterity.

A retrospective view of the lives of such people, as to the hardships they endured for their families along with the sacrifices they made for the faith, makes the thoughtful observer to wonder at times how lightly religion is accepted by some of the succeeding generations. The serious thinker is struck with amazement when he sees so many lightly casting aside the priceless heritage of faith which came to them as a birthright, showing no disposition to make any sacrifices in order to preserve it for themselves, or to pass it to their posterity.


[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.