Thomas & Catherine (Finan) Horan
Violette (McDonough) McIver, May 16th, 1938 :
"He with his family, moved from Kyle Park, Tipperary County to Dublin, Ireland, where they lived in Pound St. It was during the frightful English oppression of Ireland when his father moved there to educate his children. He attended Maynooth College, located about fifteen miles west of Dublin. He did not graduate because after his father's financial difficulties or because at about this time, England did not allow Irish students to graduate from colleges. There was a law at one time forbidding Catholics any sort of education. It was some years later before this law and many other unjust laws were repealed. However, on leaving college, he struck out to earn his own living, eventually becoming superintendant for Sir Admyral Dancer at Modreeny, Tipperary County, at an early age. A superintendant had full charge of an estate. As some of the estates were often large, it was quite a responsible position to run one satisfactorily, hiring the men, overseeing their work, dispensing of alms, visiting the sick, keeping the books and holding to the budget. The head of the house was often away, so it was necessary to have a responsible man to take charge of things. A steward was very simial in capacity to a superintendant, though over a smaller estate. Sir Admyral Dancer was probably absent a good deal of the time until he retired. A good many English landlords spent very little time, if any, in Ireland. It was while he was at Modreeny in 1834 that he married Catherine Finan who's father was Steward at Belpark, which was but a few miles from Mudrinny. He was then 27 years of age. He was a great advocate of tempreance, taking his cue from Father Matthew who was mainly responsible for the sweeping wave of reform throughout Ireland. He served Mass for Father Matthew, took the remperance pledge and wore a medal that he gave him. He did not seem to be mixed up in politics as was the usual thing in those days, though he was a good friend of Daniel O'Connell and supported his plans to help Ireland. He belonged to some secret society pledged for the good of Ireland. There was a "treason song" that he used to sing, something about an "old grey mare", so disguised that no Englishman would ever suspect it. I think I have seen it in an old songbook called "Songs That Never Die". He had a good tenor voice and knew a great many songs. During the nine years that he spent with Sir Admyral Dancer he had picked up a little experience in bridge building and the time came when he made up his mind to go into that business and terminate his position at Modreeny. Sir Admiral begged him not to leave him but he had made up his mind to go to America where there was a good field for this kind of work. Letters from his friends were filled with accounts of their success. They were all getting rich and enjoying the freedom they never had in Ireland. The urge to go to American was so great among the Irish people at that time, that many thousands left Ireland yearly, glad to escape the famines and persecutions and to better themselves financially. He was 36 years of age when he took his wife and four children, John, Bridget, Timothy and Margaret and sailed for America on the "Bodicia Carrigan" in 1843. He had made previous plans to Dereham in the southern province of Ontario, Canada, where he was to meet a Mr. Hackett, a Scotchman, who would take him in until he could locate a place for himself and family. It was a long voyage of thirteen weeks. In this three months spent on the ocean, they went through many harrowing experiences that seemed to submerge any of the pleasant times they had on the trip. Ship fever, dreadful storms, some so violent they surely thought the sea would swallow them. Then they would huddle together, those that were Catholics, and recite the Rosary, led by grandfather, praying to God to save them. Their fright at times was so terrifying that many were ill, for they knew well that some of these sailings never reached their destination, i.e. the "Jane Black" that went down in the mouth of the St. Lawrence river, in full sight of land, with only a few souls to survive to tell about it. One survivor was so frightened by the horrible experience that she shook with palsy the rest of her life. I think her name was Winnie O'Meara. She must have shaken the "O" off her name. The saying, "What matters if we could only live under the water" is attributed to her. She was a friend of "Little Margaret Hoolahan", whoever she was, who was a great many ghosts in her time.
Of course they had the usual seasickness that is part of a voyage, rough or smooth, but all was forgotten when, with great joy, they sighted land and sailed up the big St. Lawrence river, on to Quebec. The trip was over at last, God be praised and a new life was soon to begin.
A few days before they landed, a great calamity befell them. Their youngest child, Margaret, had become seriously ill and died at sea. To grandmother, this was a very sad predicament, for, if it were known, the child would have to be buried at sea, in an unmarked ocean grave, which was a horrible thought for her, so she managed to smuggle her ashore quite well covered up in her arms, insisting "not to disturb the sick child".
When they said goodbye to the Captain, he presented grandmother with a prize, a pair of brass candlesticks, for keeping the cleanest and tidiest cabin aboard ship, and the best behaved children.
They proceeded on their journey as far as Brantford, where they buried Margaret. They were a sorrowing family that continued on to Dereham without her. With this sorrow and with the ties of old Ireland broken forever, their hearts were none too light when they first settled in Canada.
They were met by Mr. Hackett and stayed on with him for a year, grandfather helping with the farm, and doing a little bridge building on the side. He bought a nice farm near Ingersoll, on the town line between Dereham and Oxford. A government highway ran by the place. I think Oxford County. The farm was about two miles from Ingersol.
Sir Admyral Dancer wrote to grandfather, begging him to come back to him, offering much higher wages, because the man who took his place di not please him, but grandmother would not consent to take that ocean trip again.
The community was quite English, especially the village of Woodstock, which was only six miles away. The climate was delightful, even in winter. Orchards were abundant, especially peach and apple orchards. Farming was very profitable, sheep raising as well. County fairs were great festivals. Horse racing was the highlight of sports. The Horans always had a horse or two, to enter the fray. Horse trading had developed into a very cunning art in those parts, and I guess the Horans, from all accounts, were as good as any of the other dealers who took a hand at it. Bigotry to ran riot, for many a bloody fight occurred on St. Patrick's Day when the orangemen flaunted their colors in the faces of the vindictive Irish, who when Orangemen's Day came along, would return the compliment with their green ribbons and clenched fists, until, at the drop of a hat, the battle was on. Tom Horan was greatly opposed to these outbursts of dissension, and was a leader in his community in controlling the young firebrand. After some years of bitter feeling died out and peace and plenty ruled the realm.
For some years this family kept up a regular correspondence with their kin, both in this country and old Ireland, but many of them had moved to other places, or had passed away, so eventually they lost all trace of each other. But in and around Ingersol, London, Woodstock, and Deerham there was quite a gathering of relatives and friends. The McDonoughs and the McSloys lived in that vicinity, and later we shall see shere three McDonoughs married three Horans; a rather unusual affiliation. Their family, the Horans, had increased with the births of Maria Caroline, Thomas, Jane, and Emmet. The children attended the school nearby, and were taught to be industrious at home.
There was much to do on the farm, so everybody was kept pretty busy. Sheep shearing was accomplished with the aid of their negihbors. Grandmother would spin the wool into yarn, and also dye it the color she wanted, which was quite an amazing process in itself. Later, it must be sent away to be made into cloth. She made all the clothes for her family, even to the suits of clothes and overcoats for the men. Sewing bees brought the feminine element together socially where articles would be cut out for different ones and then called off for the rightful seamstress to claim, after which these pieces would be sewed together to complete some garment for a particular individual.
Sugar bees also played an important part of farm life when a community would get together for a day of sugar making and festivities. Families, including all the children, would congregate at asome particular place, bringing quantities of food, which the comen would prepare and serve. There were some fine suger bushes in their community.
The three oldest children married and went to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to live: John Horan, the oldest, married Alicia McDonough; Bridget married Dennis Hogan, and Timothy married Elizabeth O'Meara.
Maria Caroline was sent to Brantford to attend the convent. She studied the "Use of the Globes" and many other subjects, but somebody may be able to recall the full list of subjects, as I cannot. It must have been very amusing and evidently intrigued the younger members of the family to memorize it as they did and to rattle it off in grand fashion.
The Horans had an unusual faculty for remembering or memorizing things. It was a strongly marked characteristic that probably came from grandmother's side. She herself could quote unerringly from the Bible, having read it from cover to cover three times in her lifetime. They knew no ends of songs and poetry, and grandmother could tell more English and Irish history than was ever printed in any history book. Jane, the youngest daughter, was particulary gifted for remembering, as was shown when she was but seven years old. She won the prize, a statue of the Blesed Virgin, for knowing the catechism the best in the clas that was being confirmed. She was the youngest and the smallest, so they stood her on a table so the Bishop could see her. He was so amazed at her correct answeres that he tried at length to catch her in a mistake, but to no abail. He complimented grandmother for such splendid instruction.
Holy Mass was often said by a visiting priest in their home. It was a great occasion, and the children would gather flowers for the temporary altar on which grandmother would put the best linen and the brass candlesticks. Grandfather would serve the Mass with great pomp and ceremony, answering the latin responses in loud voice and ringing the "Cow bell" with great eclat at the elevarion.
The neighboring Catholics would come, filling the house to capacity. Both grandfather and grandmother leading the prayers, and the family and the neighobrs responging. Both grandfather and grandmother were devout Catholics and very strict in conforming to the laws and discipline of the church. In Lent, the Rosary was recited nightly. Grandfather leading the prayers, family and neighbors responding.
After eighteen years spent in Canada, Thomas Horan had accumulated sufficient means to retire from active life, so he decided to move his family to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. His married children had located there, as well as many of his friends. It was a booming lumber town, which was later called "Saw Dust City" because of the great activity of it's five saw mills and logging business. His two oldest sons, John and Tim, were earning good wages at the logging camps, and later becoming bosses of their particular camps. The crew would go to the camps in the fall and would not return until the following spring, after the "drive" was over. A drive was the getting of the logs into the river, tying them into rafts, and following them down the river then it was high in the spring, and sorting them for the different mills. Many of the woodsmen were also river men who were a type by themselves, who sang their "chanty" songs as they floated down the stream. They had to be rugged men and very expert to manage the logs.
He sold the farm and shipped the best of their furniture on ahead. In 1861, with a few precious things and a crate of prize chickens, they drove to Detroit in a large pleasure sleigh, snuggly equipped with huge fur robes and drawn by a span of frisky young horses (one of them was a race horse). There was plenty of room for all of them, grandfather, grandmother, Maria Caroline, Tom, Jane, and Emmet, including young Frank McDonough, a lad of fifteen, who wanted to start a career in the lively town to which they were going; and in the McDonough history, you will find that his early amibition was to carry him far in the realm of success that came to him in later years.
At Detroit, they went by train, sleigh, and horses, and all, via Chicago to Sparta, Wisconsin, where, after the sleigh and horses were made ready, they proceeded on their journey as far as Cataract Falls, where thet spent the first night. The next day, they covered the distance to "McLellans" for the second night, then on to Trempleau, where they stopped the third night, and then on to Eau Claire. The total distance from Sparta was about eighty miles, but they enjoyed every bit of the drive.
Grandfather rented the Becky Springs farm (now Silver Springs Farm) for a year or so, then bought a small farm on the east side hill, walking distance to town. during the next five or six years in Eau Claire, all the remaining children were married.
After all of his children were married, he bought Dr. Galloway's house on Wisconsin St. Here he and his wife lived quietly by themselves, though grandfather Horan mixed in the political circles where his Democratic cohorts held sway. All the Horans were staunch Democrats, and grandmother was staunchest of the lot.
On his property, at the corner of Wisconsin St. and North Barstow St., he erected two adjoining brick buildings, which he rented out. One building, upstairs, contained the old Hibernian Hall, and adjoining it were quarters, where the Catholic Benevolent Society, formerly the "Choral Aid", used to hold forth under the strict guidance "Robert's Rules of Order". Here, it was, that one rather lethargic soul, Mrs. McIntyre, fell asleep under the din of lengthy argument to wake up after the motion was passed to cry, "I say aye to the organ" dirsputed question being whether or not the society would help pay for it; and here it was, at elections, that "the white balls elect, and the black balls eject". It was a splendid battle ground for the two different factions in the society. Across the street, where now stands the Commerical House, formerly the Frawley House, was Henneberry's Hall, a crude building with a leaking roof, that offers space for early St. Patrick celebrations. It was here on one of these occasions that Mr. Henneberry made his celebrated speech; a speech that grew famous because of the splendid adaption of my mother, who for many years was pressed into quoting this honorable gentleman's rendition of "the Days We Celebrate", or more generally known as the Henneberry Speech. Mother told it a bit differently each time, but it was a perfect gem of disordered oratory. All of the preliminaries add that Mr. Henneberry was a very learned man, a Trinity graduate, and was considered a very able speaker, but on this particular St. Patrick's Day, the fates must be blamed for his confusion.
Thomas Horan died at his home. He was buried in the Irish Catholic Cemetery. I never had the pleasure of knowing him as he died before I was born, but from all accounts, he seemed such a worthy person, tall of stature, like his sons after him, his complexion was fair and his eyes were blue.
Grandmother after his death, divided her time with her sons and daughters. When her son, Tom, lost his wife, she stayed with him, helping to raise his children, Kittie and Tessie, whom she loved very much. The latter part of her life, she spent entirely with her daughter and it was while she was with us that I got to know her so well. I grew very fond of her, and missed her terribly when she was gone. I still think of her very often. Her eyes failed her in late life so that whe could not read, but mother, or we grandchildren, would read the news to her. She kept up a great interest in politics until the end. I can remember father teasing her about some political issue, but she could hold her ground ably against him. Often, when my brother, Frank, would read the news to her, he would make up some items about her sons or grandchildren, and che was gullible enough to halfway believe him. I still say that he was pretty clever at it. It seemed to be another trait of the Horans to read off very soberly some made up story of interest to the listener that was not in the papers.
She used to wear little black lace bonnets with touches of lavender ribbons, and always a black dress, not too fussy, wool in winter, and silk in summer. She was a very cozy person to be with when she would recount the incidents of her old life, giving such vivid pictures of the past. She loved her past, and dwelt much of the time on it, and I assure that I was a most attentive and appreciative listener. It is too bad that all of her stories were not taken down. She had so much to tell that was interesting, and she possessed the special gift of a good reconteur.
She loved her grandchildren, and her children, very dearly. she was always kind and generous and ever ready to help others, never uttered a bitter word against anyone. She nver forgot her customary presents of one dollar on our birthdays, nor the additional dollar if we played "St. Patrick's Day in the Morning", on the piano, when that feast came along.
She was nearly ninety years of age when she fell and broke he hip. She never rallied after that and died in then Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Thus, ended the lives of Thomas Horan and his wife Catherine Finan. Lives so large and wonderful, so kind and faithful, so exemplary and inspiring, that no one could help but love and admire them."