More O’Malley

I have discovered more information about my O’Malley family in Minnesota. I found the source for the marriage record of my great, great-grandparents, I learned that Martin O’Malley died because of an accident, and I found a first hand account of the Dakota war from a resident of Mower County.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I had documented the marriage of Martin O’Malley and Anna Kirby as occurring on November 10, 1841, in the town of Islandeady, County Mayo, Ireland, but that I did not have a source for this event. I’ve since determined that a fellow researcher documented the source as “National Library of Ireland; Dublin, Ireland; Irish Catholic Parish Registers; Microfilm Number: Microfilm 04212 / 02.”

The record below is from the diocese of Tuam.

That same researcher added a note for Martin O’Malley’s death in April 1873, saying that he died at Carmen, Henderson County, Illinois. It said his death was “Caused by a ‘runaway accident’ per History of Mower County.”

A “runaway accident” is caused by one or more horses bolting and running away. That was a common occurrence when people relied on horses as their primary means of transportation, whether on horseback, in a buggy, stagecoach, or a wagon pulled by a team of horses.

I was curious to see if I could find details about Martin’s accidental death. I searched the newspaper archives in Minnesota and Illinois in April 1873 and found nothing specific to this accident. Nevertheless, the newspapers were filled with stories of “runaway accidents.”

I then went to Google books, searched for and found “The History of Mower County.” The book was published in 1911 and had several references to my O’Malley family. In addition, the book contained a narrative of the panic within the white settler community over the Sioux uprising in late summer or early fall of 1862.

Page 442 states: “Martin O’Malley located on the northeast quarter of section 6, where he made his home until the time of his death. His death occurred while he was in Illinois and was caused by a runaway accident. Martin O’Malley’s family are all dead except Mrs. William Meany, who lives in Windom, and Patrick O’Malley [my great-grandfather], a son, who is a railroad conductor in Kansas.”

Note the book does not give the precise location of Martin’s demise, so I am guessing there must be another source I’ve been unable to locate. Martin’s gravestone at Calvary Cemetery in Mower County is difficult to read. Still, it appears to say that he died in Austin, Minnesota, on April 20, 1873. The record states that he was buried on April 23, 1873.

Carmen, Illinois, is approximately 300 miles southeast of Austin, Minnesota, on the right bank of the Mississippi across the river from Burlington, Iowa. I believe one of Martin’s older sons was living in Illinois in the 1870s.

“Mrs. William Meany” refers to Martin and Anna’s only daughter, Katherine, who was born in Canada in 1846. Patrick’s siblings, who in 1911 had passed on, were his older brothers Peter, Michael, and James.

Page 632 states that the O’Malley family arrived in Mower County in 1856. Page 445 says that Martin was one of the original residents of what was then called Brooklyn Township and who, in 1858, voted for the formation of the county. The township name was later changed to Windom.

The book makes a scant mention of the Dakota war of 1862. Starting in the 1830s, when the area was part of the territory of Michigan, the US government began relocating the native American tribes further west through Wisconsin. Later they forced the tribes west of the Mississippi into what is now Minnesota and then onto reservations west of the Missouri river. In the summer of 1862, “less than twenty families of the Medawakantons and Wahpakootas were living off their reservation.”

In a chapter titled “Pioneer Girlhood,” there is a subsection titled “Indian Scare.” This chapter, presumably the only one written by a woman, is the most interesting in the book. It gives a detailed perspective of domesticity in the County of Mower in the latter half of the 19th century. Below is the full text of the section detailing the “Indian scare” of 1862:

“The people who lived in Austin in 1862, will never forget the night we expected the Indians, and they didn’t come. We made great preparations for them and posted our sentinels on the outskirts of town. The blacksmiths were running bullets all night. A company had just been raised in Austin and the towns and country around and had gone to reinforce General Sibley, who was then fighting the Indians, so our force of men was not as large as it would otherwise have been. We had brave ones left, however, and they worked with a will. Nearly all thought it not possible for the Indians to get here, but the people were coming in so thick and fast, hotel and private houses filling and many would not leave their wagons for fear they would not reach them in time to get away. [Apparently, this refers to refugees who were coming into Mower County from the Northwest.]

“When the Indians did come, such a frightened lot you never did see – children were brought in half dressed, women with no shoes on, or perhaps one shoe. It was enough to frighten anyone, knowing what had just been done around New Ulm [the site of a major massacre of white settlers; approximately 100 miles northwest Of Mower County].

“Father and mother were away and would not return until next day, so sister and I were all alone. We had friends that came to stay with us and finally two or three families that came to the hotel and couldn’t get in wanted to come to our house and we were glad to have them.

“Mr. Ackley told me if I could get father’s papers and our small silver in any shape that wouldn’t take up any room I had better get them ready; we would want some quilts, he would have his horses ready and could take all that was at our house if the Indians should come. I put three dresses on my sister and three on myself, put the silver and papers into two towels, sewed them securely, then put one on Della (my sister) and I wore one, bustle shape, and in that condition we waited and waited.

“Three shots in quick succession was to be the signal. Sometime after midnight the first one came. We were at the door in an instant, each with a bundle of silverware. But the other shots were never heard and about daylight, after much pleading and many tears, I allowed Della to take off some of her extra adornments.

“And so ended our Indian scare.”

The author of this chapter, Mrs. L. A. Sherwood , formerly Alta Belle Albro, added, “In looking over the past 54 years and thinking what Austin was and what she is today we feel we can well be proud of our little city we have never had a boom and for many years had no railroad. We had a great many things to contend with, but we have come out of the fray with our banners flying. We are a ‘city of homes.'”


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