My Minnesota Garveys
A Sort of Sesquicentennial Celebration of My Garveys in Minnesota

Excerpt from"The Blue Tent"
(Copyright 2009 Dennis W Garvey)




I don't know the first name of my great-great-grandfather Garvey - simply because he didn't seem able to figure it out himself. It was either James or John. He and his wife first show up in a census in 1855 in Brookfield, MA as John and Mary Garvey. He is buried under a tombstone in the Jessenland cemetery that says "John Garvay". That would seem to make it simple. But there is a problem. His blacksmith brother is buried right next to him under the name "John Garvey". During the whole time in Henderson, Minnesota between his arrival in 1856 (or 1857), until his death in 1861 he went by the names James/Jim/Jimmy. All we will ever know about that strange issue comes from a letter written back in the 1930's to Fr. John Garvey from a spinster school teacher (Mae Sweeney) who taught at Winona State. Mae Sweeney was the granddaughter of the blacksmith "brother" John Garvey and she seems to have been the family historian back then. Her nephew Fr. Garvey was trying to do some research into the Garvey history and must have written her with questions. Here's basically what she said in that letter "There seemed to be two brothers named John, and I never quite knew what the deal was with that - but the one usually went by Jim or Jimmy". So there you have it.


This notice appeared in the Henderson Democrat on Saturday, Feb 9, 1861:

"Frozen - We regret to learn that James Garvy was frozen to death on Thursday night last, near his residence about six miles west of Henderson. He left Henderson in the evening to walk home, and had nearly attained his journey's end, when it is supposed that the cold overpowered him and he sank down and died."


James/John seemed to have both worked the farm and helped his brother in his blacksmith shop in Henderson, so that's where he may have been coming from that night. Family stories say that he'd been blinded by the snowstorm and ended up walking in circles not too far from their house. Family stories also say that his wife Mary found him and brought him tea and blankets, but she couldn't save him. James/John's tombstone documents an even more heart-wrenching detail. His tombstone is a double tombstone, with a son born the day after he froze to death. So part of the reason she couldn't help him was that she must have been very pregnant. The inscription on the tombstone also says "Erected by P.J. Garvay" and I have never been able to figure out for sure who that was. It may have been a Patrick Garvey who was in the area at that time (Faribault?), who married Mary Killelea and later moved to St. Louis, Missouri. (It gets confusing because there was another Patrick Garvey in the area at the same time. That Patrick married Bridget Hyland and was from Headford, Co. Galway. And to make things even more confusing, one apparently once stood up for the other at their wedding.)

Figure 1. Double tombstone of James/John and his son.

A picture still exists of the widow Mary (born in Ireland in about 1821, maiden name possibly Hill) standing with her children in Mounds Park in St. Paul in about the 1870's. Estelle Archdeacon (Frank's daughter) said that in that picture the widow Mary "had been a little demur woman with her hair pulled back and a hankerchief around her neck." and that the original picture had been a tintype. She told the story of once when her mother had been sick and thought that she was going to die. She said her mother had been "praying really hard, when all of a sudden the woman in the tintype climbed out of it and told her that she had come to take care of her and she was going to be alright". So when she got better she had the tintype taken out and enlarged and it hung in their parlor the whole time Estelle was a girl. The widow Mary had remarried to a Michael Gallagher sometime before 1864. She died in St. Paul in 1879 of "consumption".

James/John was probably born about 1833 in Ireland in an area around the eastern part of the border between Co Roscommon and Co Sligo. James/John arrived in the US sometime in the years just before 1850. ( A map can be seen here). The 1855 Brookfeild, Massachussetts census shows John and Mary with two children, Mary Jane and James William (the Fire Captain), both born in Massachussetts. Mary Jane was born in Dec 1852, so James/John must have arrived in the US sometime prior to that. An 1850 census shows a William Garvey (b. 1835, Massachusetts) living with a Reverend William B Stone in West Brookfield. That William might have been a relation James/John. However he might have been some realtion of a William Garvey (b. 1810, Massachusetts - not known to be related to our Garveys) living in Worcestor. Mae Sweeney's letter to Fr. John Garvey mentioned that the Blacksmith had landed in Baltimore and that there had also been a sister Nancy who stayed Baltimore. (Keep in mind that the arrival details for the Blacksmith may not be the same as James/John). Other family stories said that while out East they had something to do with building carriages - but I've never been able to make any sense out of that. Strangely there was actually a Garvey family in Baltimore connected with the coach business at that time. But they were of the Co Armagh line of Garveys - and DNA testing has shown them to be unrelated to our Garveys. Another family story claimed that James/John had had something to do with silversmithing - but I have found nothing to confirm that. Another odd family story claimed that our Gaveys had fought in the Revolutionary War.

Family stories mention a terrible storm on the voyage across the Atlantic. Apparently they were worried that James/John's mother (maiden name Gervais?) would drown in the bilge, so they tried to get her to go up on deck. But she said that if God meant her to die she'd do it below decks and she meant to stay down there and get some sleep. They may have spent some time in Manchester, England before coming to the US, and James/John may have married Mary there. Family stories say that 1852 was the year that James/John immigrated, but I have never been able to find a Ship Passenger Listing for our Garveys. However that's not too surprising since there seem to be no Ship Passenger listings for about 2/3's of the Garveys . There was also no listing for them among the Garveys in the Immigrant Savings Bank records. Neither was I able to find any kind of Naturalization Records for James/John. Another family story says that James/John's father was a teacher in Manchester, but that doesn't seem very likely in view of the fact that James/John signed documents with an "X". The Blacksmith could read and write - but the many examples of his signature switched back and forth between the spellings "Garvey" and "Garvay". (And one of his many court case transcripts also described how he'd gone to pick up his mail at the store earlier one crime scene day). Spelling was relatively unimportant up till a surprisingly recent time. So there really may have been no more meaning behind the variation in how the Blacksmith spelled Garvey other than what mood he was in that day.

Figure 2. The Blacksmith's signatures

The Blacksmith was a genealogist's dream come true. His many run-ins with the law and government left a wonderful paper trail to follow. He was born in Ireland around 1820. He first turns up in the 1850 and 1855 censuses in Troy and Albany, New York with a wife Mary and several children ( map can be seen here). His occupation was given as "moulder" which probably meant that he worked at the iron foundry in Troy (that may be how he got his start in blacksmithing). They are shown as living in the same household with Mary Canfield (b. 1822, Ireland) and her three children. He apparently skipped town and went to Henderson, Minnesota in the summer of 1856. The 1860 census shows him in Henderson with a wife Mary (maiden name McAndrew, and younger by several years than the NY Mary) and a young son George. Meanwhile back in New York the other wife Mary is shown in the 1860 census alone with all the kids - plus one new daughter. His oldest son in his NY family was born in 1847 in New York, so the Blacksmith arrived in the US sometime prior to that date. He died on their farm in Renville County, Minnesota in 1890. A family story says that when his widow tried to file for his veteran's benefits she found that the first wife back in New York was already collecting them! The Blacksmith's first wife Mary was born in Ireland in December 1826, and the childern were James (b. 1847), Wiiliam (b. 1849), John (b. May 1850), Francis (b. 1854), and Mary (b. 1857). All the children in that family were born in New York, and the family was last seen living in Watervliet, Albany Co, New York.

James and Mary Garvey are also shown in the 1860 Henderson census with children Mary Jane (b. Dec 1852 in MA), James William (b. Mar 1855 in MA), Francis Bartley (b. 1857 in MN) and Eliza A (b. Oct 1859 in MN). Mary Jane died at age 10 a couple of years after James/John died. Eliza married Patrick Henry Murphy (the Murphys were from Killarney, Co. Kerry) and had a boy and a girl. She appears to have married him at a very young age (in 1874 she would have been just 15). She died out in California (somewhere north of San Franscico - perhaps Vallejo) where she was living with her son, Frank Murphy. The two brothers James William (the Fire Captain) and Francis Bartley married two McDonald sisters (Agnes and Ann?). Francis (who went by Frank) was the forefather of the branch of our Garveys that moved to North Dakota. Henderson was about half Irish and half German at that time, and the two halves weren't real close. However there is a story that Frank ended up with some sort of connection to the German community. I believe that the priest at the German Catholic church may have taken him under his wing, and he learned to speak German, etc. That benefited him when he started the first general mercantile store in the primarily German community of Grafton, North Dakota in 1881. City directories show that from 1877 to 1881 he worked as a book keeper at the James H Brown firm in St. Paul, so he must have gotten some schooling somewhere before that. Frank made some land investments in St. Paul, and then sold them for $1000 to buy the store in Grafton, ND. He eventually worked for the firm Leaks, Cooper, and Co after he gave up the general mercantile store. I think Frank had two boys: Harold and Edward and three girls: Estelle Archdeacon (b. 1893), Mary Ellen, and Ethel. Ed spent 35 years working for the Department of Justice, was mayor of Cavalier, ND at one time, and later ran a newspaper in Boone, Iowa. He was a great "play by ear" pianist and Ed also played the violin. Edward's son Bartley moved to Alexandria, Virginia (and died there) There was also a brother named Donald. The name Bartley (Frank's middle name) was also seen in the Blacksmith's family. That odd name appears to have been specific to a western part of Ireland including parts of the counties Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon, and Leitrim. The two cases I have found of a "Bartley Garvey" that could be traced back to a specific county were both from Co. Roscommon. One of them even specified that they were from the "Boyle district" which is the area where the greatest concentration of Bartleys is seen around where Roscommon, Sligo, and Leitrim meet. Message board discussions regarding Garveys from that area can be seen here. DNA testing has subsequently confirmed that our line is of the Co Roscommon branch of Garveys.

Interestingly enough, the Blacksmith's family back in New York also had a son named named Francis - which was not a common Irish given name. An odd family story passed down one line of our Garveys claimed that our ancestors had fought in the Revolutionary War. It's possible that tale may have something to do with the happenstance that one of the last survivors of the American Revolution, Francis Garvey (no relation to our Garveys), was living near Albany at the time our Garveys settled there. I have wondered if the source of that odd tale might have been our freshly immigrated Garveys sort of "adopting" that unrelated, but possibly well known, Garvey Revolutionary War hero. That unrelated Francis Garvey had been an 18 year old drummed into service in the last months of the Revolutionary War (a member of the Pawling Regiment of Colonel van Cortland's New York unit).


From the Henderson Democrat on Saturday, March 2, 1861 (about a month after James/John froze to death):

"In The River - An unfortunate Sukey broke through the ice in the river on Monday last and came very close to going below to feed the fishes. She was rescued by John Garvey, Esq, largely assisted by other gentlemen. Owners of stock should be careful now."

"The Catholic Church - It is intended to recommence the work on the Catholic Church in Henderson next week and hasten the building at ounce to completion."


In 1857 it would have taken about five days to go from New York to St. Paul. It would have been by railraod to Galena, Illinois and then by steamboat up the Mississippi up to St. Paul. There are stories of people arriving on a steamboat just in time to see a building-to-building firefight going on between Dakota and Ojibway warriors in "downtown " St. Paul. Apparently the winter of 1856-57 was a particularly bad one - very cold and lots of snow. It was 35 below for weeks at a time, and sometimes 40 below. One "yarn" said that it got so cold in one town that all the thermometers burst, and they never knew what the temperature was for the rest of that winter! So that would have been the Blacksmith's (and possibly James/John's) first Minnesota winter. The next spring a financial crisis occurred known as The Panic of 1857. By November of 1857 no one had any money and all the stores were failing. Alot of people didn't write home at that time simply because they couldn't afford the postage. There's a story of a woman from out of town who walked into store and asked the price of a shawl. She was told that it was $15. She reached into her purse and pulled out a gold coin to pay. The shocked clerk took one look and said "Good Lord lady! The $15 is to buy on credit - it's $5 cash". It was boom/bust days, and interest rates in the 1850's were running at 3%-5% per MONTH. About the time of statehood (1858) several counties were printing up their own money, and periodic bulletins had to be issued so that everyone could figure out what each county's money was worth. Lumber was hard to come by. Settlers used to stand in line to lay hands on each board as it came off the saw. Apparently St. Anthony (early Minneapolis) had very muddy streets, but each time they put down a boardwalk it would disappear by morning! Brooms were one of the luxuries from back East that the foresighted brought with them. There wasn't a decent broom to be had in the whole state then. Wheat could be sold for about $2-$3 per bushel. In St. Peter, MN in May of 1857 eggs were selling for 6 cents per dozen, butter at 5 cents per pound, and grown chickens were 75 cents per dozen (since game was so plentiful). The Henderson Democrat listed James/John as one of several townsmen recruited to work on a one day surveying job for the town on October 23, 1860. Each was paid $1 for their day's work. Agricultural schedules from the June 1860 census showed that the cash value of the Garvey farm was $300 and 8 acres had been cleared by then. (In those days a large farm was 20-25 acres). They had no horses or asses, 2 "milch" cows, 2 oxen, 2 "other" cattle, and 3 swine (total value of livestock was $100). Their produce in the previous year had been 10 bushels of wheat, 150 bushels of "Indian corn", 150 bushels of "Irish potatoes", 200 pounds of butter, and 12 tons of hay. Total value of slaughtered animals in the previous year had been $40. A steam driven carriage called Mazomani (which meant "Walking Metal" in Dakota) made its first appearance on Henderson's main street in the July 4th celebration of 1860. The Mazomani was one of the world's first attempts at a truck. The year of 1860 was also an election year and some pretty famous names appeared in Mankato in those days. The same Hendersonian who came up with the name Mazomani ("Walking Metal") also came up with the Dakota name for our state Minnesota ("Blue Water"). That same man, Joseph Brown, was the publisher of the Henderson Democrat newspaper.

There were bad hailstorms in 1857 and 1858 and lots of crops were wiped out. The summer of 1858 was an especially bad one for farmers. It rained all the time and ruined all the grain. Apparently clouds of grasshoppers rolled through and ate everything in 1856, 1857, and 1858. They would blacken the sky as they came in, and fence posts would be covered so thick with them that they would looked "bronzed". The grasshoppers even ate clothes that were left hanging on clothes lines, and the ground would look scorched after they left. Other days the whole sky would be blackened by one huge flock of pigeons passing overhead. Blackbirds alone made farming almost impossible at that time because the birds kept eating the grain every spring. Kids were sent into fields banging pans to scare the birds away, but that wasn't enough. Farmers eventually took to laying out oats and wheat soaked in strychnine to kill them. It still took about ten years (till about the mid-1860's) to exterminate enough of them to farm efficiently. The year of 1859 had a very late spring and no planting was possible till the first week of May. There was already frost in Mankato by September 3rd of that year, but they still managed to have a good wheat harvest in that short season. However the frost killed off most of everyone's corn. Spring came early in 1860 and they were able to start plowing by mid-March. It was a great wheat season and they managed to get as much as 40 bushels per acre.


Dakota Scalp Dance Song (late 1850's)

You Ojibway, you are mean

We will use you like a mouse.

We have got you and

we will strike you down.

My dog is very hungry.

I will give him the Ojibway scalps.


Let me give some background on how my Garveys ended up in Henderson, Minnesota in the summer of 1856. In about 1851 another treaty had been re-negotiated with the already reservation-bound Minnesota Dakota Sioux. The Dakota were the easternmost section of the mighty Sioux nation (the Nakota, and the Lakota were respectively further west). Today's historians compare them in strength and organization to the Mayans as far as mighty Native American nations. If push ever came to shove the mighty Souix nation felt pretty sure they knew who would come out on top of things. That's what the Sioux Uprising was. Push finally did come to shove pretty much right where and when my Garveys had settled in Minnesota.

In that last re-negaotiation of treaties, some new land opened up to settlers along the northside of the Minnesota River, including the places that would later be called Jessenland and Henderson. In 1852 a couple of bright Irish boys scouted out the land (in one of the first steamboat sailings up the Minnesota River) and picked out the spots at Jessenland and Henderson because they had the most gradual slope up to the prairie. They had an eye to being the overland shortcut for the supply train to the military base at Fort Ridgely (and for supplies going to the two Indian Agencies). That's why those places were the first invasion of the Irish in Minnesota. Henderson's semi-prominence was really because of that most gradual slope. The "steam driven carriage" Mazomani that rolled out onto Henderson's main street in 1860 was built for the single reason of hoping to take the military supplies off the steamboats at Henderson and taking them overland to Ft. Ridgely. One of my first contacts in the world of genealogy (1979) was with a woman in Minneapolis who was saying that she might have been the first to spot that something really crooked went on with those early Minnesota Irish and a whole bunch of government contracts. A few settlers trickled in during 1853, but the real flood of settlers happened after that. By 1857 when our Garveys homesteaded, all the land in Henderson and Jessenland townships (a township is 6 miles by 6 miles) had been taken, and townships further out (like Kelso) were where people were going to find unclaimed land. The Blacksmith also bought a lot in Henderson (where the football field is now) when he arrived in the summer of 1856.

Relations between the settlers and the Dakota were generally quite good. The Dakota just seemed to have a lot of time on their hands since the annual treaty-negotiated payments had started a couple of decades before (instead of the hunting they used to have to constantly do). The settlers mostly thought they were just under foot a bit too much. They'd look up and see a Dakota warrior looking in their window out of simple curiousity. Or a Dakota would just come walking straight in their door without knocking, and sit themselves down in a chair. They mentioned that the Dakota would do some begging, but also mentioned that they were actually quite polite in their begging. An article in the Henderson Democrat once reported in admiration the hunting skills of a Dakota seen along the river outside of town for a few days. The Dakota were described as being a "handsome and dignified people". But things went very wrong in August of 1862. The specific reasons involved a delay that year (because of the Civil War) in the annual payments made to the Dakota. But it is likely that even had the payments not been delayed, something else would have initiated the disaster that was about to happen.

The horrible things that happened in Minnesota in 1862 were an accident of history. Horses had been escaping from the Europeans as early as the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500's. Those horses had been caught by Native Americans, and then traded tribe to tribe across North America. So the horses arrived in Minnesota long before the settlers. Those horses caused a revolution in local Native American culture. Being able to cross long distances suddenly made the wide open Plains much more valuable to the Native Americans. The Ojibway had been the long time enemy of the Sioux. Either they pushed the Sioux onto the Plains, or they occupied land being abandon by the Plains-bound Sioux (still a topic of debate). The Dakota were sort of the rearguard in the battle against the Ojibway. Their cousins, the Nakota and the Lakota, had done well after they moved onto the Plains - while the Dakota held off the Ojibway behind them. Even one of the first missionaries to arrive in the mid-1830's guessed that the US military intervention in the Dakota vs Ojibway war interfered with what would have otherwise happened: the Dakota would have followed the Lakota and Nakota onto the Plains. And the Plains were land much less valuable to the settlers than Minnesota's lush agricultural fields. Had the settlers arrived a decade or two later, the calamity that happened in 1862 may not have occured.

The Sioux Uprising occurred about a year and a half after James/John died. During a couple of days in mid-August 1862 about 500 settlers were killed in the Minnesota River Valley, and 300 settler women and children were taken captive and held for two months. The widow Mary and her children were still on that farm on the prairie about 35 miles northeast of where the worst of all that happened. A family story records that Francis yelled "soldier, let me go, soldier" when the military came to the farm to evacuate them. Things were bad then. It turned out that the river valley was the kill zone (easiest road) so anybody who had the luck to choose to head up on to the prairie (rather than the valley road) usually didn't get chased. So most of the stories we have about what went on down in that valley came from the survivors who crawled up to the prairie (and many stories included the wounded having to crawl for miles and miles across the prairie to help). The stories that managed to come out of there included things like Dakota friends known to a settler family for years stopping by for a visit. Then suddenly pulling out their guns and killing every adult male family member, and taking the wife and children captive.

I have tried to check out every Garvey in the same area as mine at that time - so that's the only reason I know about Stewart B Garvie. He was no relation of my line (in fact he was a Scottish Garvie from Perthshire). So it's only an accident that I know this much about his story. But I think his story was pretty typical of what happened to people in those few horrific days. The place where Stewart Garvie had his trading post (and where he was shot) was at what was called the Upper Indian Agency.


From "Through Dakota Eyes - Narrative accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862" edited by Gary Clayton Anderson and Alan R. Woolworth.

Narrative by Joseph La Framboise, Jr:

""...[Once the seriousness of the conflict was understood at the Yellow Medicine Agency, La Framboise roused the Indian traders at their stores during the late hours of August 18 and convinced them to flee...]. I was right near the stores at upper agency when the news of the fighting reached Yellow Medicine and first went to Mr. Garvey's store and saw him sitting in the door, reading either a book or a newspaper, with his feet up against the door. He asked me what news there was, and I told him that there was bad news. He asked me "What is it?" I told him that it was reported that the people at the lower agency had all been killed and the stores and buildings all burnt."

 

John Other Day's account:

"Just as they had harnessed the horses one of the traders came to them wounded with a charge of shot in his abdomen. They brought him along with them until they came to a female nurse to whose care they left him. (This was probably Gavin [Garvie], who died at Cedar Creek)..."

 

From "The Sioux Uprising of 1862" by Kenneth Carley:

"Early that evening the resourceful Other Day herded most of the people at the agency into the brick warehouse. He stood guard during the night, promising to lead the whites to safety in the morning. That night the Indians attacked and burned the trading stores in the valley below killing one employee, and badly wounding two others - Peter Patoile and Stewart B. Garvie. Patoile made a dramatic escape by crawling or walking for thirteen days until he reached a settlement about forty miles north of St. Cloud. Garvie managed to join the group in the warehouse..... At daybreak on Tuesday, August 19th, Other Day led the sixty two refugees across the prairie on the north side. many of them were on foot; some (including Garvie) were riding in wagons and buggies..... Three days of dangerous travel under Other Days skillful guidance brought the group to Cedar City in McLeod County, where Garvie died."

 

Charles Crawford's testimony:

"Between 12 o'clock that night and the morning of the next day, we heard noises, or sounds, and I could not tell whether they were gunshots or not. Soon after that we saw one of the buildings down below on fire. We supposed that the Indians had attacked these other people. There was a wareroom there and other rooms, and an opening made between the two. In going from one room into another room I saw there Garvey laid out. A man by the name of John Fadden spoke up and said, "Garvey has been wounded." He was wounded with a gunshot, and while I did not hear any gun fired I saw that he was wounded and that it was a gun wound. Then these four men got very much worked up about it, and said the best thing to do was to have these people in the agency go away before daylight..."

 

Account given by Gabriel Renville of a conversation with his mother:

" I asked her what had become of the white people who belonged at the Agency. She said that that night, near daylight, John Other Day had started with them all towards the east, and that among them was one white man who'd been shot but was still alive and was taken along. (This was Stewart B. Garvie.)..."


There is a monument to John Other Day in front of the old Sibley County Courthouse in Henderson (where a grand jury once met to consider the fate of our Blacksmith).

The US was fighting a Civil War at the time, so it took a week or so for sufficient troops to arrive on the scene. In the meantime the settlers formed their own impromptu militia units to protect their families and homes. The group of volunteers from the Henderson area was called the Faxon Rangers (named after the township just northeast of Jessenland Twp). There was another (probably unrelated) Garvey family about 35 miles east of Hendeson in Credit River Township in Dakota Co. (They were from the Connemara area). While they were farther from the the worst of things, they also went through their own experiences. The following story comes from " The Garveys of Credit River" by Terrence J. Garvey:

"It was now about 1862 and the Sioux Indians went on the warpath. Volunteers were quickly whipped into the semblence of an Army. Grampa [Anthony Garvey] served under Colonel Sibley as a wagon driver. I have heard my father often talk of different men who "went across the Plains with [Grandpa]".... Grandma had been having her troubles too. One day she looked out the window and saw 3 Sioux braves coming up the path. She was sure they would all be killed. The door was barricaded with all the furniture she could move and when she looked again they were sharpening their knives and hatchets at the grindstone! Her only protection was a little dog who kept barking. This tribe was fearful of dogs so after leisurely fixing their weapons they disappeared into the forest."

[The comment about the Dakota not liking dogs wasn't completely accurate. They were in fact one of the tribes that ate dog. Not often, but they considered it to be quite a delicious delicacy. It should also be mention that Terrence J Garvey had the distinction of marrying a woman with the maiden name of Garvey. Her line was of the Co. Kerry Garveys from Listowel, and they settled in Erin Twp, Washington Co, Wisconsin in about 1850].

The worst killing happened in Milford township (near New Ulm), and there was a monument erected there in memory of all those killed (a statue of an angel with arms out spread). I've wondered if that isn't what led to the odd name of my great-uncle Milford (one of the Fire Captain's sons). To say that feelings were running high at the time would be to put it mildly. There's a story that a couple of months after the massacres, several wagon loads of captured Dakota women, children, and elderly rolled through Henderson's main street on their way to Ft. Snelling. Apparently a settler woman jumped out of the crowd watching the wagons, grabbed a baby from its Dakota mother's arms - and dashed its brains out on the ground. The Dakota mother held the dead baby in her arms until they rolled out of town, and then she got out of the wagon and left her baby in the crook of a tree. (That's thought to be the last Dakota air burial to happen in Minnesota). And after that, a man holding a gun jumped out of that same crowd and was about to start shooting at the wagonloads of Dakota women and children. Bystanders in the crowd managed to wrestle the gun away from him, and no more killing occured. (I have wondered if that man might have been our Blacksmith). Trials were conducted and 300 Dakota warriors were sentenced to death. However Abraham Lincoln himself stepped in and winnowed the list down to just 39 Dakota. However that execution day in Mankato is still the largest mass execution in US history.

Back in the late 1970's I tried to gather as many stories as I could from the old folks in all the lines of my Garveys. I have been repeatedly amazed how family stories would later be confirmed by documents I found. But there was one story that just didn't make any sense at first - even to the old folks who were telling it. That was the story about Francis yelling "soldier, let me go, soldier". Both relatives who told me the story just knew that it had something to do with the Civil War era. They said they assumed it had something to do with the war with the South, but admitted that it sort of didn't make sense way up in Minnesota. None of us knew anything about the Sioux Uprising - other than that it was one of many "Indian battles" mentioned in school. I doubt that I even knew it happened in Minnesota. For some reason, not a whisper about the experiences of any of my Garveys during the Sioux Uprising came down any of the Garvey lines - except that odd "stub" of a story. It almost looks like nobody wanted to talk about the things that happened then.

The widow Mary sold the farm and moved the family into the town of Henderson about a month after August 1862. Their farm was six miles west of Henderson and was in Kelso Township (Appendices 1 and 2). They had 80 acres there. (They also had 80 acres in Jessenland Twp they bought from from Mary McAndrews parents in Feb 1860). Henderson was at the edge of what was called The Big Woods, so it was near where the trees stopped and the Plains started. The Garvey homestead land seemed to have been in, but right at the edge of, The Big Woods. The homestead records show that "claim was made" on that land by "chopping thereon" on March 18, 1857. The dwelling is described as 13ft by 13ft and made of logs (with "cracks plastered"), with a bark roof, board floor, one window, and one door. On June 25th, 1857 two acres of land had been broken, fenced, and planted on. A well had been dug, about 400 rails had been split, (but not yet laid into fence), and 400 cords of wood had been cut. The homestead was officially under the Blacksmith's name because he had already filed papers back in Albany in 1850 to Declare Intention to become a citizen. James/John never did file, and that was part of the requirement for homesteading. James/John was the legal witness to the Blacksmith's occupancy and improvement of the land. In typical scammer manner James/John (under the name James for the first time - and signed with an "X") swore that "I am not interested, either directly or indirectly, in procuring for said applicant his rights of pre-emption to said land." I think that he, the wife, and the kids were actually the ones already living there. Humorously enough, whoever filled in "James Garvey" next to his "X" appears to have first written "John", but then wrote "James" over it! They originally tried to file claim on the 80 acres just to east (better land - no stream) on Aug 24, 1856. But somehow they got "out claimed" by someone and had to re-file for the 80 acres they ended up with. It was an unusual kind of homesteading because it was based on Bounty Land that was awarded to a veteran of the War of 1812 named John Collins, of Marion District, SC, a private in Captain Bingham's Company, South Carolina Militia (the certificate was Warrant No. 40598) by an 1855 act of Congress. It looks like you could transfer the certificate if you wanted, and the Blacksmith appears to have gotten ahold of one (or at least somebody named John Garvey had). It looks John J Collins signed off on the bounty certificate in South Carolina (he's listed there in the 1860 census - owning 50 slaves) on Dec. 1st, 1856. The "John Garvey of Sibley Co" seems to be in a different handwriting than the rest, so the place for the new owner's name might orinially been left as a "fill in the blank". Somehow that certificate ended up in Henderson, Minnesota by the next spring. Apparently there was quite a brisk trade going on with these bounty land certficates at that time

The Blacksmith joined the army and was part of General Sully's 1864 expedition out onto the Dakota Plains. (A detailed map of that expedition can be found here). He belonged to Company I of the Minnesota 2nd Cavalry - and a picture still exists of him in his uniform (Figure 3). He apparently was part of the quartermaster's unit and helped move supplies and materials. The major battle in that campaign occurred at Killdeer (Ta-Ha-Kouty) Mountain in North Dakota on July 28-29, 1864. One of the major reasons for that campaign was to escort, across the dangerous post-Uprising Dakota Plains, a train of 160 wagons of settlers heading for the Idaho gold fields. The United States was in the middle of a Civil War and was strapped for cash. Getting more people out there digging gold was something that the North definitely needed to back. Accounts of that expedition are available which give wonderful details like that the Minnesota 2nd Cavalry was musically "accompanied by its excellent band mounted on white ponies, and which... cheered the command after weary marches over deserts and under a blazing sun". (Another account is available here). They apparently saw no buffalo until they reached Lake Kampeska (near present day Waterton, South Dakota). But a story is also included about a day towards the end of the expedition when Gen. Sully gave "liberty" to the soldiers to shoot to their heart's content at an enormous group of buffalo they encountered in the NW corner of present day North Dakota. The specifiic description was "buffalo! - buffalo! - by thousands!! - and by tens of thousands!!!" (the hump and tongue were said to be especially delicious). This picture was taken near where that buffalo hunt occurred. Company I did not seem to be an exclusively Irish unit (unlike other exclusively Irish units fighting elsewhere in Civil War). Almost 150 years after the fact I have corresponded with a descendant of another Irishman (John Carey of Winona) in that same Company I. We have wondered if our ancestors played cards, and down a few pints together (and shot each other, in the case of my people). Here's another interesting detail of what life must have been like on that campaign:

"Each night the Indians signaled the movements of the [military] expedition by attaching burning wisps of grass to arrows and shooting them upward from some high point of ground. Each day picturesque hieroglyphics were found along the line of march, which were worse than Greek to the white men but perfectly intelligible to their savage foes, who managed to keep themselves thoroughly concealed, except for these interesting evidences of their presence in all directions."

One of the hardest parts of the campaign was crossing what today is known as the Theodore Roosevelt Badlands. The only person who knew a way to get through there was a Blackfoot youth who had been badly wounded in the battle at Killdeer Mountain.The only way everybody could get through was to carry him along, and periodically prop him up so that he could point out which direction they should all go.

The Souix Uprising can be said to have really begun in 1856 in Spirit Lake, Iowa when a settler killed Chief Inkpaduta's brother in an argument over hunting an elk (and then decapitated the body to hide the pieces in different places). Appeals to the settlers for justice resulted in nothing but Inkpaduta's own lawyer nailing the brother's skull (evidence in the case) to his house above his door to show it off (for about a year). Inkpaduta had had it with the setller's justice. He tore a path of killing out of Iowa towards the Plains that included slaughters near Lake Okoboji and Jackson, Minnesota. Inkpaduta was on his way out to the Dakota Plains to command guerilla operations from there. He was the Sioux commander that General Sully was up against at Killdeer Mountain. At Custer's slaughter in 1876, Inkpaduta's grandson was seen happily riding around on Custer's horse after the battle. A more detailed account of Inkpaduta's origins can be found here.

The Blacksmith's best story from his "war years" actually happened a year after General Sully's 2nd campaign. It probably happened one time when he was home on leave from his army unit. Apparently he and a friend had started drinking the afternoon before (court records include the detail that they drank Olarrg (sp?) bitters in Anthony Welch's store), and kept imbibing through the night. It's probably best to just let the 1865 court transcripts speak for themselves about what happened then:


Thomas Callanan Sworn:

I reside in Cerro Gordo(?) Co, Iowa

When I was in the house the 26th September. Garvey told me there was four men in their town of Henderson that he wanted to shoot. John, said I, am I one of them? No, said he. You are not. He told me he was one of Uncle Sam's men and that he could do what he had a mind to. Then he got his Belt Revolver and knife. Took out his revolver. Turn it over and said that was all right. He went to place it in his belt, dropped it on the floor. His wife picked it up, took it away and hid it. When fixing his belt [he] missed his revolver - and inquired, Where is my revolver? His wife told him, Go to Breakfast, it being(?) all ready that he would find it after. Said he, He never will eat nothing in this house until I find my revolver. Got up and kicked their door. She asked him if he would sit to table quietly that he would get it. Then she brought him his revolver. He placed it in his belt. He said to me, Who are you? Are you coming to take me? No, said I. Then he placed a chair on the middle of the floor opposite the door. William Carroll passing by. Said he, There is one of them men he wanted. Said he to Carroll, Hault! Then he fired a shot out the door with his revolver. I stood behind him at the time. After that he fired two more shots in his house. I think the balls lodged in the house. His wife took the two children and went out the back way and I followed after her at her request. I followed her a few steps and told her [to] make her way out [and then] turned back to go out the front way. He came out the back way and pointed the revolver after her and said Hault! to his wife. I jumped towards him. Said I to him: You must not shoot. Yes, said he, I must shoot some one. I don't care who it is. I just [as] soon shoot you as anybody. Then [he] moved his pistol towards me and fired, the ball entering [an entire unreadable line in original document] through the house into the street.


Luckily the wound was not fatal. The Blacksmith apparently tried to flee back to his army unit, but was apprehended a couple of days later. The indictment brought by the grand jury of Sibley County was that the Blacksmith "then and there being armed with a deadly and dangerous weapon which he then and there in his right hand held, to-wit, a pistol known as a navy revolver, then and there loaded with powder and ball, did feloniously, willfully, deliberately, and premeditatedly, and without authoity of law, and of his malice aforethought, make an assault on the said Thomas Callinan, inflicting a severe wound in the left breast of Thomas Callinan". Witnesses called in the case were Thomas Callinan, Andrew McHench, Meder Bone (the arresting officer), William Carroll, Rudolph Harmann, and William Whitford. The next day, on Oct 13, 1865, the jury foreman, A. Hilger, brought back a guilty verdict. The Blacksmith ended up spending a few months in the newly built Stillwater State Prison for that one (including 20 days in solitary confinement). However he was given an early release after the town got together a petition that said that his wife and kids needed him back and he really wasn't such a bad guy. The first signature on the petition (in large letters) was that of the friend he shot. So they let him go home. The Blacksmith's lawyer, William Gorman, requested that the case documents be forwarded to the Minnesota Supreme Court for review, and that court's decision appears in the state's legal Decennial Digest (11 Minn R. p.154). But as the Blacksmith had already been turned loose again, it was all a moot point by then. (Minnesota's "Assault With a Deadly Weapon" law was only one year old at that time).

Figure 3. The Blacksmith in his 2nd Minnesota Cavalry uniform.

During his flight from the law on his way to get back to his army unit, he later claimed that he fell off his horse and "hit his head and damaged his heart". He made many claims attempts over the years to and get disability payments for his injury. As part of that effort, affidavits were filed by neighbors as to his previously good health. One neighbor gave an example of his previous robustness by describing that on one occasion in 1857 the Blacksmith "ate upon a wager, six dozen eggs, a few of them addled, six cans of oysters, and five boxes of sardines". The (Irish) neighbor went on to claim that the Blacksmith had been "a perfect specimen of a wild Irishman and such were his general habits that if he had been afflicted with a diseased heart he would not be alive today". Needless to say, his disability claims were not granted. One of the affidavits includes the details that the Blacksmith was 5ft and 7 1/2 inches tall, had black hair, fair complexion, and gray eyes. In a semi-comical coincidence (with the Inkpaduta story) Spirit Lake was where the Blacksmith claimed that he fell down and hurt "his head and heart" while fleeing from the law in 1865.

Figure 4. The 7 foot high iron cross made by the Blacksmith for the Jessenland church
in 1870. In the late 1970's Fr. Eugene Sebesta (priest at Henderson
and Jessenland churches) said the cross was made by our Blacksmith.

The Blacksmith made the 7 foot high iron cross that went on the new Jessenland, Minnesota church in 1870. The cross was there until lightning struck and destroyed the church steeple in about the 1920's. The cross sat in a swamp next to the church until the 1970's when it was fished out and made part of a monument in front of the church dedicated to the early Irish settlers of the Jessenland/Henderson area. There were only two blacksmiths in Henderson at that time. One was our Blacksmith and the other was a German. The German was not just somebody who pounded on horseshoes. There was some story about how he fixed a broken iron rudder from a steamboat in a perfectly seamless manner. The Mazomani "Walking Metal" steam carriage was originally built out East ( perhaps in New York), but modifications were later made to it in one of those two blacksmith shops.


From an ad placed in the Henderson Democrat on Saturday, Oct 2, 1856:

"New Blacksmith shop near Mr. H. Hepp's residence is nearly completed"

That ad was placed by Charles Helle, and it ran through Saturday, May 7, 1857.


I would guess that the ad was placed by the German blacksmith. Our Blacksmith originally bought Lot 14 in Block 23 on August 13, 1856. I believe that is now located in the high school football field. On December 20, 1859 our Blacksmith bought Lot 14 in Block 67. (My directions say "Off #19 1 block past City Hall, past alley, 2nd from end, with the firebarn on the end"). There was a fairly new house there in 1978. I would guess that was the location of the shooting incident. (Our Blacksmith sold his first lot about one year after purchasing the new lot). The widow Mary bought the lot next door (Lot 13 Block 67) on Apr 4, 1863. She seems to have acquired other lots (Lot 14 Block 38 and Lot 10 Block 58) about the time she married Michael Gallagher in about 1864.

The Blacksmith and his family moved from Henderson to a farm in Emmett Township in Renville Co, Minnesota in the spring of 1871 (with a half year in St. Paul on the way). They would been have among the first pioneers to settle in that area. A few years later they stopped in for a "revival" (at the Danube Mission?), and three of their boys caught something fatal (diptheria?) from being in that crowd. One of the daughters (Mary Ann) remembered being a 10 year old girl and having to help wash her dead brothers in preparation for their burial. They buried them at a bend in the river in in Birch Coulee, Minnesota. But years later when they returned to look for them they found that the river had changed course and they were never able to locate the graves again. The boys that died were named Bernard, John, and Bartley.

The Blacksmith married Mary McAndrew (b. August 13, 1834, Co. Mayo) in Mankato on August 18, 1858. Mary McAndrew was the daughter of Peter McAndrew. The McAndrew family came to the US in 1851 and spent five years in St. Louis before going on to Henderson in 1856. (Peter McAndrew mother's maiden name may have been Gibbon). They had three boys : George Thomas (b. July 3, 1859), James Stephen (b. Dec 23, 1866) and Peter R (b. Oct 6, 1877) and two girls: Mary Ann (b. Feb 12, 1861), married Thomas Sweeney, (The Sweeneys were said to be from Kinsale, Co. Cork) and Margaret W (b. Feb 2, 1873) married John Larkin. Peter married late in life and never had any children, and George never married at all. James had four sons, Fr. John Garvey, Arthur who moved to Stubenville, OH, Stephen who died in World War II (at "the sinking of the Horn"?), and Joseph who lived in Wintersville, OH. The Blacksmith died on Nov. 4, 1890, and Mary McAndrew Garvey died on Jan. 5, 1923.

One of the descendants of the Blacksmith's son James is a member of my Garvey DNA study. Those two "brothers" shaved the truth enough that I thought it would be a good idea to double check that the James/John and Blacksmith Y chromosomes are really genetically the same. They turned out to match as closely as you would expect five generations down the line if James/John and the Blacksmith had been brothers - or cousins. Genetics of the first decade of the 21st century can't distinguish between those two possibilities. I sort of wonder if they weren't more likely cousins or something. Genetic testing in the second decade of the 21st century might be able to answer that question eventually.

Figure 5. The Blacksmith's family sometime after the Blacksmith's death in 1890.The old woman in the lower middle part of the picture is his wife Mary McAndrew. His oldest son George is in the lower left, James S is at lower right, and Peter R is in the middle in the back. The older (?) daughter would be Mary Ann (Sweeney) and the younger daughter would be Margaret W (Larkin).

James/John's son, the Fire Captain, (James William Garvey) attended St. John's College for their "Classical and Commercial" course in the 1874-75 school year (but didn't graduate). School accounting records still exist that show his total bill for the year was $111.55 - including charges for mending the two chairs he broke. I'm not sure how he ended up there, but there he was one of seven Henderson boys (out of a student body of 128) that were at St. John's at that time. [Those students were John Bray 1874-78, Walter Doheny 1869-75, James Keenan 1874-75, William Keller 1874-76, Louis Wilde 1874-75, plus an Edward Keenan who received his Master of Accounts degree]. So possibly someone from Henderson paid their tuition. The Fire Captain's classmate John Bray was one of the two Henderson boys to actually graduate. Bray went on to be US Consul in Melbourne, Australia. The Fire Captain is listed in the 1878-79 St. Paul City Directory living with his mother at 158 St. Peter Street. The Fire Captain may have worked on the swing bridge in Duluth (their oldest child Mabel was born there), and he seems to have worked for a railroad for awhile. The story is that he was always too cold working on the railroad - so that was why he became a fireman. He married Agnes McDonald in about 1885 (the younger son Francis married his McDonald sister in 1882). St. Paul City Directories show a James Garvey with the occupation of "hostler" in 1884, James W Garvey is listed as a "foreman" in 1885. In 1889 James W Garvey is listed as a truckman with Hook and Ladder No. 1. In 1901 he is listed as lieutenant Engine Company 5, and was living at 361 Arundel St (I think that was the address at which he and Agnes lived out their lives). There's still a shotgun in the family that belonged to the Fire Captain. It was some sort of middle of the line "birding gun" from about the 1880's. It was made in England (Manchester?). I don't know if there was a story about that, or if that was just what he happened to buy.

The McDonald sisters, Agnes and Ann, also had a brother named James, and I believe all of them were born in Minnesota. Their parents were Anthony (b. 1813) McDonald and Bridget Bryan (b. Co Mayo). Anthony settled in St. Paul in about 1856 near where Holman Field is now. I would guess that the Garvey brothers met the McDonald sisters after they moved to St. Paul in the 1870's. I think that the McDonald family was living somewhere in West St. Paul then. Anthony McDonald is said to have become good friends with Archbishop John Ireland.


More Minnesota History:

Minnesota's Lost Effigy Mounds

Indian Mounds Park and Dayton's Bluff Mound Groups


Appendix 1:
Plat map of Kelso Township, Sibley Co, Minnesota (ca. 1990's?). The legal description of the 80 acres of homestead land was R27, T112, sec 24, W 1/2 of the NW 1/4


Appendix 2:
The 80 acres of land homesteaded in Kelso Twp, Sibley Co by James/John in 1857 are shown in the red rectangle.The Rush River flows through the NW corner of the land.


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