As the veterans of the American Revolution, their families and descendants slowly migrated into central New York and were forming Oneida County in 1798, their former enemy was sweeping across Ireland trying to crush the Rebellion of 1798, also celebrating its Bicentennial! The Rebellion broke out almost simultaneously in Dublin, Ulster, and Wexford in May of 1798. There were a few dramatic victor-ies in the early weeks, but lack of leaders, training, and arms were no match for the British forces. By the end of June the Rebellion was all but crushed by the defeat of the insurgents in County Wexford. Then in August, the long awaited French forces sailed in to Ballina Bay in County Mayo. It was in fact a meager force of 1000 men under the command of General Humbert. But it was all that was necessary to renew Irish hopes of victory and freedom. Within hours hundreds of Irish joined their French allies and took Ballina Town and set up a provisional government. They moved on to Castlebar, gathering strength every mile. The British forces at Castlebar were routed so bad the incident has become known as the Races of Castlebar: a force of nearly 10,000 Brits took flight from the force of perhaps 3 - 4000 Irish volunteers and French regulars. News spread quickly through the midlands. In Counties Longford and Westmeath rebel forces gathered to help prepare the way for the "Boys of West." There were a few minor victories, then a major defeat at Granard, Longford. The efforts of the rebels of Longford and Westmeath were com-memorated in the popular rebel tune "The Rising of the Moon.' By the time Humbert reached northern Longford, the force of 10,000 had regrouped and were on his heels. Lord Cornwallis, who had been less than successful at Yorktown, was rapidly approaching with a massive force from the southeast. On 8 September the Rebellion of 1798 came to a tragic end at the Battle of Ballinamuck, County Longford.
Little is known of the identity of the vast majority of rebels. Those who were caught initially were slaughtered or hung. Luckier rebels were shipped to penal camps in Australia. Somewhere in Long- ford, just south of Granard near the border of Westmeath was a seventeen year old young man by the name of John Mahedy. John was born in July 1781. Recent information suggests he may have come from the townland of Coolamber in Street Parish, County Longford, and that his father was probably Patrick. Whether John or Patrick, or any of their close kin, were involved in the closing days of the Rebellion will probably never be known. The turmoil was all about them and could not have been ignored.
The Ireland of John's youth was not the ideal environment to raise a child into a successful young man. Far from it. By law the Irish could not own land; could not even own a horse worth five pounds; could not live within five miles of a city; and could not speak Irish or receive an education. Equal opportunity - any opportunity - was not in vogue. To obtain an education, the young of Ireland had to attend "hedge-row schools." The teachers, often priests, would gather with their students behind a row of hedge to give lessons while one student would be assigned to stand watch for the authorities. Little has filtered down the generations to inform us of John's family, his own life, or how he was educated. How-ever, John's obituary informs us " he was a practical scholar, of a profound education..." Exactly what that means is only conjecture now, but the obituary further informs us that John " ...was well versed in the histories of ancient and modern times, and for many years a contributor to the public press of his native and adopted country ."
Although Mahedy - or Mahady - certainly looks and sounds like a typical Irish name, in fact, it is fairly rare, even in Ireland. The family is basically found in a small region containing the lower eastern section of County Longford and an adjoining section of Westmeath. One Mahedy researcher was told if you traveled the road from Mullingar in Westmeath to Longford Town in Longford, you would meet all the Mahedys in Ireland. That is a slight exaggeration. There are a number of Mahedys in Roscommon and Mayo, and a few others scattered from Dublin to Limerick, but basically you will find the Mahedys between Longford Town, Granard, and Edgeworthtown in Longford, to Boherquille, Rathowen and Mullingar in Westmeath. Also unlike most Irish families, there is not any obvious link between the Mahedys and the ancient pedigrees of Ireland. Some, perhaps considering this factor, have speculated that the Mahedys are actually of Arab origin. A Mahedy priest traveling in North Africa some years ago was eagerly greeted by high members of the Mahdi tribe and informed that long centuries ago, one of their ancestors, a dir-ect descendant of the prophet Mohammed, landed in Ireland and established a family there. A slight varia-tion of this theory suggests the Mahdi tribesman was in the Spanish Armada when one of the defeated ships made it to the west coast of Ireland. This theory would be as difficult to refute as it would be to prove.
The Mahedy name in Irish is O' Moithide. The late William P Mahedy of Des Moines, a descendant of John, wrote in his manuscript on the John Mahedy family that he had found references showing that the Mahedy clan is part of the Clanna Rory, descendants of the great Irish King Rory O'Mor of Ulster through his son Fergus, also King of Ulster. There are many families for which substantial documentation exists for lines dating back to ancient Hibernian chiefs, but no such records exist for the Mahedy family.
To date, the earliest Mahedy records do not appear much before 1750 - about the time Patrick may have been born. As yet there is no documentation or record of other siblings. It was not the practice of that era for the Irish to marry young and have a multitude of children, as is commonly believed. The economic, social and political constraints placed on them made such a custom impractical at best. It was far more common to remain in the home until their late twenties and beyond before marrying. This allowed the young adults to contribute longer to the maintenance of the parental home. It also typically provided for a delay in the onset of childbearing, thus reducing the overall time available to produce children. This appears to be the case with John.
John most likely married Elizabeth Moran between 1810 - 1812. Elizabeth was born in West- meath in 1783. From what is now known, it seems most likely to suggest Elizabeth was born in the Barony of Moygoiish, most likely in Rathowen, just a few miles east of the Longford border. They established their home in County Longford, perhaps at Coolamber. Their first son Patrick was born at Long- ford 14 May 1813. Michael Mahedy was born 15 Feb 1815 in County Limerick. There is nothing in the family history to suggest why the Mahedys were in County Limerick at the time of Michael's birth. It is my guess the question was never even asked. In any event they soon returned to Longford. John, Jr, was born there probably around 1817. Their youngest son William was born in Longford in 1824. It is believed "our" John is the same John Mahedy who was listed at Coolamber in the 1826 Tithe Applot- ment Books, and that the Patrick Mahedy of Coolamber who left his will of 1827 was John's father. There were no Mahedys recorded at Coolamber in Griffiths Valuations of 1854. This would be consistent with the fact that John and Elizabeth came to America with their family around 1830-31. This was almost twenty years before the famine.
There is a family tradition that the Mahedys came on the same ship as John and Mary Meenagh Sheridan, parents of Civil War General Philip Sheridan, and that they were cousins. The specifics of who may have been related to whom and how were never revealed, and again the question may never have been asked. When the story was first related to this writer in 1958, the names of the general's parents were not given, nor were details of the general's birth. As details were researched over the years it became increasingly clear that at least the circumstantial evidence tended to support the family tradition. As a brief aside, it seems that most family traditions do find a basis in fact. The Mahedys landed at NYC. John and the older sons remained at NYC briefly as they had found employment as stone cutters and ma-sons working on a St Patrick's R C Church (not the cathedral.) It is not entirely clear, but it is believed Elizabeth may have proceeded north to the Sherrington-Napierville, Quebec, region in Canada where her brother Charles may have settled earlier. John and the boys soon joined the family in Canada. Eliza-beth gave birth at Sherrington to their only daughter, Mary Mahedy, 4 Dec 1834. In the mid - 1980s some old family notes from the late Zora W Butler, then in her 90s were received. In one of those notes it was written that "...Michael Mahedy told his granddaughter that he 'had to go down the Hudson (River) to be Godfather to the Sheridan child...' (ie Philip)." Sheridan's own autobiography states:
"I respectfully dedicating this work to my comrades in arms during the war of rebellion, I leave it as a heritage to my children, and as a source of information for the future historian." P.H. Sheridan, Aug.2, 1888, Monquitt, Mass. "My parents, John and Mary Sheridan, came to America in 1830, having been induced by representations of my father's uncle, Thomas Gainor, then living in Albany, N.Y. They were born and reared in the County Cavan, Ireland, where from early manhood my father had tilled a leasehold on the estate of the Cherrymount; and the sale of this leasehold provided him with the means to seek a new home across the sea.
Circumstantially, the general's account seems to coincide with the Mahedy tradition. However, it should be noted that there has never been agreement on the date and place of Philip's birth, or the date of the family's arrival in America. Many maintain he was born in Cavan. There is even an account given by a neighbor in Ireland who recalled assisting in transporting the family to Drogheda in County Louth to board their ship for Liverpool and on to America. This man insisted there were two young toddlers and baby Philip in his mother's arms. Philip's sister Rose died at sea according to the Sheridan family bible. Philip's brother John's great-grandson William Drake is currently writing a new biography of the general and dedicates the better part of a chapter to the issue of Philip's birth date and place. He indicates it was standing knowledge within the Sheridan family that the Albany account was just one of several versions employed by Mary to suit her needs depending on whatever particular person or party she was addressing. Sheridan's direct descendants tend to maintain he was born at sea en route to America. All the various positions seem plausible but without some authentic record, the General's autobiography remains the primary authority.
There is little specific information on how the Mahedys spent their first decade in America. John acquired a farm in the parish of St Patrice de Sherrington. It is probably difficult to imagine just what it meant for John or any of the immigrant Irish to be able to actually own their own land, and have no re-strictions as to the size, value, or location. Film buffs may recall Scarlet O'Hara's father's admonition to her in "Gone With the Wind:" " '...the land Scarlet, it's the only thing that matters...'" It did not matter that John Mahedy's Tara was not the grand plantation of the O'Hara's; it was his own and undoubtedly gave him a sense of independence, pride, and responsibility unknown to the Irish for generations. They had a log house, which seemed to be distinguished from a log cabin or frame house in the census. This was typical housing in rural Canada for that era. Hopefully in time some old Canadian or Irish newspapers which carried John's contributions will surface to help shed more light on the man and his times. It is pos-sible the younger sons may have had some additional schooling, though secondary and higher education was not given high priority in rural society. If there was any advanced education provided, Patrick, now ap-proaching his twenties, was the most likely beneficiary. As will be seen in the coming pages, education - like the land, so long denied, assumed a high priority for these ancestors.
It appears the older sons may have traveled back and forth into Vermont and New York to find employment to help support the farm. Canals were being constructed throughout the region to create feeder canals linking more remote areas to the major arteries of commerce: the Hudson River and Erie Canal. In the previous chapters the Black River canal running through the Town of Western was shown to be a major factor not only for regional commerce, but for the livelihood of many area families including the Gilletts and Keeches. That canal was being built in the Town of Western in the early 1840s. As fate would have it, it was that construction which brought Pat and Mike Mahedy to the area. It is not known exactly when or where they joined the construction, or even how they became aware of the opportunity.
Perhaps it is merely coincidence, but in the Town of Florence there was a Michael Mahedy [Ma-heddy in the 1850 census.] This Michael was born in Ireland in 1810 [5 yrs older than "our" Michael,] as was his wife Mary. They had three children in the home: Margaret -9; John - 5; and James - 3. All three were born in NY, placing this family in the area at least by 1841. Given the ages shown, it seems most likely there were older children who were now out of the home on their own In 1870 there was a Thomas Mahady family living in Oriskany Falls. Thomas was 38, born in Ireland. He had a wife Ann - 35; Thomas J - 10; William H - 8; Rosina - 6; John J - 4; Kitty - 4mo. By 1880 Thomas was a farmer in the Town of Kirkland and appears to have remarried to Mary, age 45. [The name was recorded then as McHady! This also occurred with Michael in Canada.] Besides the above, they also had: Charles - 8; Francis - 6; Stephen - 4; and Mary - 2. On the same page - and therefore in close proximity - was James Mahady [and spelled that way] age 30, born in NY, and Mary - 75, born in Ireland. They are no doubt the same Mary and James recorded at Florence. Thomas is probably the older brother of James, and probable son of Michael & Mary. Given the ages shown, it would also seem highly probable that Thomas was the eldest son of Michael and Mary. Charles became an M.D. and resided in the Town of Western in 1900. This family appears to be the ancestors of the Mahady family of Vernon and Sherrill which has been known to the Touse - McKay families for years. In fact, I served as alter boy when Lucille Mahady married Jim Decker, brother of Jack & Mary McKay Decker, and Bill Decker who, ran a grocery store for many years on Route 5 in Ver-non. This Mahady family was never thought to be closely connected to "our" Mahedy clan. However, the fact that the two families arrived from Ireland at about the same time, there was only five years difference in age between the two Michaels, and that they both had such close ties to the same areas of Oneida County, would certainly make one wonder. It would provide a logical explanation as to how Pat and Mike came to know of the available construction work.
Pat and Mike worked as stone cutters and masons constructing the locks that would connect Boonville and points north to Rome and the Erie/Barge Canal. There were 103 locks between Carthage and Rome. The canal was abandoned in 1926 and there is little to remind us it ever existed, save for a few scattered locks along the way, some of which the Mahedy brothers helped to construct. While Pat and Mike worked their way through the Town of Western, they found room and board at the home of Adin Butler.
There is one source which indicates Adin was the son of Jonathan Butler born in April 1806 whose first wife died prior to 1840 leaving him with two children. This does not agree with census records which consistently report that Adin was born in Jefferson County about 1812, and do not show the two children referred to. Adin did marry @ 1839 to Mary Ann, the daughter of Anthony and Martha Haynes Le Clear (Le Clare) who was born 1816. Like many of the early settlers of the Town of Western, Anthony was born 1782 in Dutchess County, NY, son of John (1735) and Jane LeMay LeClear. They are believed to descend from the Dutch Van De Chlerc family who fled Brazil around 1656 and arrived at New Amsterdam. The LeClears came to Western by the early 1800s. John LeClear died there 4 May 1817. The Haynes family arrived in Massachusetts as early as 1638 and are ancestors to former Presidents Ford and Bush. Prior to their arrival at Western, the Solomon Haynes family were living at Florida, Montgomery County. Besides Mary Ann, Anthony and Martha had: John Battis - 21 May 1808; Joseph - 1810; Solomon - 1813; Jane and Sarah - 14 Jul 1822; Peter - 1828; and Moulton - 1829. By the time Pat and Mike arrived at the Butler homestead, Adin and Mary Ann had toddler Alfred, born 1839 in Lewis County , and baby Milton, born at Western in 1842. On 25 Feb 1843, their third son, Solomon Butler was born. Adin was a farmer and a carpenter. It is quite possible he may have had business with the canal. He was also a meticulous record-keeper. In the mid 1980s, his grandson Joseph M Butler showed me an entry from Adin's ledger reflecting money received from the Mahedys for room, board, and [at least] two bottles of whiskey. And sure 'tis they were Irish.
It is always unfortunate that more tales, letters, or memories are not passed down through the gener-ations. Countless elders over the years have lamented the fact they never thought to ask their own elders about this or that. Sometimes they recall certain questions having been discussed long ago and "...I never thought to write that down..." To digress a bit more, in this day and age when letters are all but extinct, emails are cryptic, and the past virtually irrelevant, readers might be surprised at how cherished the most trivial artifacts, momentos or writings will become to those who will follow you. What is known about Pat and Mike in this period is that they undoubtedly worked hard, drank at least a bit, lived with the Butler family, and ... they both fell in love. Michael met and courted Esther Gillett, mentioned in the first chapter. They were married 7 Mar 1843 by Rev Wm Buckam in St Peter's R C Church at Rome, NY. J Stapleton and Sara Le Clear stood as witnesses. Patrick on the other hand, fell in love with the landlord's sister-in-law. That probably sounds like the beginning of many a tragic Irish song, but in this case it was true - minus the tragedy. Patrick married Mary Ann's younger sister, Jane Le Clear, probably the same year, also at St Peter's. (The astute researcher never thought to ask the parish clerk lo those many years ago.) Patrick's first daughter Sarah was born that same year in NY, probably at Western. The two new Mahedy families returned to Sherrington within the year. The Black River Canal was not completed until 1855.
John, Jr, was not sitting on his hands either. For John, the girl back home won his heart. He too must have found work out of Canada in the Albany-Troy vicinity, as well as in Vermont. John also mar-ried in 1843 or early 1844 to an Irish colleen by the name of Rosey Rorke, daughter of John [b 1785] and Elizabeth [b 1795] Rorke who came from Ireland perhaps around the same time as the Mahedys and also settled on a farm at Sherrington. It was not uncommon in that era to drop the "O' " from their last name with the assumption they were less conspicuously Irish. While Pat and Mike were bringing their brides home to Canada, John took Rosey on the road with him. Their first son, James Mahedy, was born at Troy in 1844.
In 1846 Patrick and Jane had a daughter, Ellena, or Ellen Mahedy. On the 3rd of November, 1846, Elizabeth Moran Mahedy died at Sherrington, Quebec. To date no church record or cemetery has been found. Patrick moved his family to Shefford Township, Shefford County, in what is known as the "Eastern Townships" of Quebec, in 1849. There, in what soon became the parish of St Joachim de Shefford, in North Shefford, Patrick established a farm and began a small saw mill. Michael remained on the family farm with his father. There are no records available to support the claim, but Michael and Esther were said to have had three or four children prior to 1850 who all died at birth or shortly thereafter. John, Jr, may have resided on the family farm between his road trips for employment, but it is equally possible he had used that income to obtain or support a farm of his own in or near Sherrington. Their second son, William F Mahedy was born 1847 at Vergennes, Vt. William the brother, now about 24, and Mary, 14, no doubt remained on the farm. Sometime not long after the birth of William F, Rosey (O' ) Rorke Mahedy died. Family tradition informed us that John left his two sons with his brothers and sister, wandered off, and was never heard from again. There were suggestions he was "lost at sea," or "died in an old sailor's home." In 1986, John's great-grandaughter Jean Richardson Hays, was located in Riviera Beach, Fl. Jean knew little of her family history, but did share some old correspondence although ahe was not sure where the writer fit into the family. The amazing tale of John Mahedy was at last revealed:
My Dear Brothers and Children, After my absence of 14 years I take this oportunity of addressing you with these few lines hoping to find you all in as good health as this leaves me at present. When I wrote last it was from Richmond Virginia, A day or two after I shiped according to your request on a steamer which I thought was bound for New York and when she got to sea she changed her course for the island of cuba without my knowledge of where I was going. This vessel went by the name of Fillibuster. After arriving to the island of Cuba welcome was hot and severe. There was over 150 killed on field of battle of - ? - deteded (?defeated) men. Was broght to Havana tried by court marshall and that I with the exception of one man made our escape from being shot, thanks be God for all His Mercies: But my punishment was worse than death. I was bound in a chaingang from Aug 50 until April 62 which time I made my escape got to Texas on bord the steamer General Wilks a southern vessal and got to Galveston texas still my trouble was not over. I was obliged to join the southern army and fought some hard fights in Lusinea. I was taken prisoner then by the United St. forces and paroled not to fight during the war. The government of Texas gave me a pass to pass to Mexico. And then from Mexico I traveled to California and the one forth of my adventures is not as above if my children are living they have a father as yet that remembers them. And the mother that gave them birth, and you brothers and sister for taking care of them. The remainder of my life will be devoted to your interest. Every dollar you spent in clothing and bord I shall pay you to the last cent. I got to this place last June and times was not very good but still I am at work on the railway and every dollar I make shall be sent to you in gold of United States bills and you will be pleased to let me know whether you would sooner have the gold or united bills and whether United States bills to current in Canada. I have gold in reserve for you untill the last dollars is paid that i.o.u. or my sister marry. I shal talk none of the land in Canada or John Rourke. I should supose the old man is far from this world to the world to come. If he is alive I would be glad to hear from you on the count of them that I once loved and still love so no more I have to say, but remember me to my children that they still have a father prays for them night and morning - I bought a home in California where I intend to spend the remainder of my days if my father is still alive let me know how he is getting along. In my next letter I shall let you know more about California - direct your to me Steward's Flat Placer Co, California John Mahady PS I was not forgeting let me know how my uncle aunt children are and Mr Helpins (Kelpyn?) I am a contractor on the railroad. My weight is from 180 - 190. Write as soon as possible. P.M."
One can only imagine what went through the family's mind when they first read the above lines. Clearly, their brother had not wandered off. Indeed, John was en route home in response to their request when his world was turned upside down. Reading between the lines one hundred plus years later, there is at least an impression given that there was some problem involving John's former father-in-law and land that John had an interest in - but we can only wonder now. Since the letter was in the possession of William F Mahedy's family, it must be assumed William was aware of what had really happenned. Yet the word never seemed to filter down though any of the branches of the family. It is fairly certain John's son James never found out the truth of his father's "disappearance."
The aunt and uncle referred to were Charles and Bridget O'Grady Moran. Mr Helpins was probably Patrick Kelpyn, whose son Michael married Charles' eldest daughter Mary.
When the Mahedy records were initially provided, it was written - and said many times - that Michael's daughter Esther was the oldest, born 10 Feb 1852; and that she was two years older than the second daughter Mary. Esther's birthdate agrees with the month and year reported in the 1900 census of Vernon. However, Esther's baptismal record revealed she was baptised 4 January 1850. Mary Moran was her godmother. The baptismal record still did not provide her actual date of birth, but unless Esther was bap-tised at birth, she was more likely born in December 1849. Mary Emiline Mahedy was born at Sherring-ton on 9 Apr 1851. She was baptised by Fr A O'Malley, parish priest of Sherrington and missionary of Hemmingsford. John Gibbons and Bridget Moran stood as sponsors.
The family was listed as "McHady" in the 1851 census of Sherrington. Michael was 39, Esther 29, Esther 2, Mary 1, James 7, William 4, and John was 72. The two boys were the sons of John, Jr, and listed as born at Hemmingsford, though other records disagree. The census also recorded that Michael's brother William had died within the previous year at the age of 27. The cause of death stated was "insan-ity." Again, it is difficult to know what the term signified. It obviously suggests a chronic psychosis. Alcoholism would not be out of the question. It may be worth mentioning that with every major immigra-tion wave there seemed to be an upsurge of that population in the prisons, asylums, and county poor-houses. This is based on personal, informal, observation, not on any formal research and analysis. Whatever William's mental state may have been, it was considered sufficiently critical to be a causative factor in his premature death. In five years, the Mahedy family lost Elizabeth; Rose died young; John, Jr, was thought to have wandered off, though was in essense kidnapped and imprisoned in a chain gang; and William had died at age 27.
John Gibbons, 30, the sponsor for Mary Emiline, lived nearby Michael with his wife Elin, also 30, and daughters Elin and Katherine. John and Elin were both born in Ireland. There is no known relation between the two families, but they remained close friends for several years.
Bridget Moran, 15, was the daughter of Michael's Uncle Charles and Aunt Bridget Moran who also lived close to Michael and John with their ten children. John Rorke was 63 and lived in the same neighborhood with his wife Mary, 56, and sons George and Patrick - aged 40 and 25 respectively. The Rorkes were all born in Ireland.
Patrick Mahedy had moved to Shefford but was not found in either census. His sister Mary, now 17, was also not found. It is possible Mary had gone to live with Patrick who was now at the halfway mark towards his dozen children. Had Mary been away at school it would most likely have been noted in the census. She was not found elsewhere in the county living in as a domestic helper.
The following year Michael Francis Mahedy was born to Michael and Esther and baptised at Sher- rington on 1 Nov 1852. Within a year or so, Michael and his Uncle Charles Moran moved their families to Shefford County. They settled not far from Patrick. John Mahedy remained alone on the original farm.
There are some family references indicating Michael Mahedy established a sawmill "on the Melbourne side of the river." Since no records have been found to support this claim, it seems far more likely that Michael assisted his brother Patrick in the operation of the mill. An 1867 map shows the relative location of the ancestral family farms and P Mahedys Mills. The map is positioned on its side, such that N is right; S is left, W is up, and E is down. Waterloo, the principle village of Shefford Township would be due south of the Mahedy-Moran farms, with the small rural hamlet of Warden about half-way in between. Shefford Moutain was southeast. Shefford Township was bordered by Granby to the west; Roxton to the north; Stukely to the east; and Brome to the south. Michael's farm is at the top of the map in Range VIII. Note, the name there appears as "Machedy." The Charles Moran farm was almost kitty-corner to Michael, in Range VII. Just north and east of Michael and Charles, was the Patrick's property. Patrick Mahedy is listed on both side of the river. On the north side of the river below Patrick's name is "M Mill," where Patrick's saw mill was located.
Patrick had been busy from the time he arrived in Shefford. Their son John Basptiste Mahedy was born in 1849, followed by Martha A in March 1852, and Mary Emmacula - "Emma" in 1855. He had established a successful farm as well as a saw mill. More importantly, Patrick had established a good reputation for himself throughout Shefford Township, and maybe the whole county too. In 1856 Patrick was elected as one of the Commisioners of Education for Shefford Township. This was more significant than it might appear on the surface. The public schools in Canada at that time were essentially Protestant schools. Frequently the Protestant clergy supplied the textbooks and hired the teachers. Pat believed reli-gious principles should be taught in school, but Catholics should not be forced to learn, accept, practice, or pay for Protestant indoctrination any more than Protestants be forced to learn Catholicism. It was more or less a religious "separate but equal" philosophy. Yet Patrick was a devout Catholic elected to help govern a Protestant educational system in a predominately Protestant-controlled region. It was a role Patrick would devote most of the rest of his life to. As one of his functions as commissioner, Pat was also required to insure teachers were qualified. Ultimately this meant a prospective teacher had to be approved by a board of examiners - regardless of what other credentials they held. Since the board only met periodically in Montreal and Quebec, this caused problems for the eastern townships as well as for some prospective teachers. Pat went in person to Montreal to appeal directly to the provincial chief education officer. Amoung his major recommendations was a suggestion to have the boards meet on a scheduled basis. His meeting had at least some impact according to the local editor:
"Local board of examiners - we have great pleasure in publishing Hon. Mr. Chauv- reau's letter. It is, as we expected; the facts of the case required only to be pressed upon the attention of the education office. The superintendent's letter will be read with great satisfac- tion in this section of the country, where we are told, that under the operation of the present absurd system, several schools have closed, and more have determined, henceforth, to disre- gard the statute and proceed independently of government aid. For ourselves we heartily thank Mr. Mahedy for having assisted to advocate our claims, and the superintendent for evincing, thus early, an inclination to recognize them." Waterloo Advertiser (17 Jul 1857)
In the winter of 1857-58, John Mahedy, Sr, came to Shefford to visit his sons. He stayed with Michael and his family. Michael had had two additional sons since his arrival at Shefford: John Horace in 1855; and Charles Henry in 1857. The farm, like most of the farms in Shefford in that era, were "home- stead " farms provided by the government on the condition that the land be made productive. Michael, and the other ancestors, were well on the way toward fulfilling that commitment. John died unexpectedly dur-ing his visit. The cause of death was not given, but the obituary was carried in the Eastern Townships Gazette of 19 Feb 1858 and read as follows:
"Obituary, - died on the 16th Inst., Mr. John Mahedy, late of the Town of Sherrington, L.C. He was on a visit to his son Mr. Michael Mahedy, of North Shefford. The deceased reached the venerable old age of 76 years, 8 months. He was one of the early settlers of his adopted township, where he resided for nearly thirty years, highly respected. He was a practi- cal scholar, of a profound education, well versed in the histories of ancient and modern times, and for many years a contributor to the public press of his native and adopted country. He was a native of the County of Longford, Ireland, and father to P. Mahedy, of this township. The internment will take place at the Catholic Cemetery of Granby, this day (Friday) at 10 o'clock a.m."
John's brother-in-law, Charles Moran, was listed as a witness, together with Patrick and Michael, on the burial records of Notre Dame de Granby Church. The grave is unmarked and the actual site remains un- known to his descendants. It is not known what became of John's farm at Sherrington, nor has a will been located to date.
Patrick's public role in the life of Shefford seemed to become increasingly prominent. Later in 1858, Patrick, described as "a wealthy Irish mill owner" donated eight acres of his land for the construction of a Catholic church, and made a substantial personal contribution as well. Like many of the positions and events in which Patrick took part, this too later became embroiled in controversery with French-speaking Catholics. Patrick did not hesitate to exercise his influence in the political arena either, though he generally appeared to remain in the shadows. In the 26 Aug 1858 edition of the Eastern Townships Gazette there appeared a: "Petition to Col. A.B. Foster to represent Shefford Co. in Provincial Parliament" The goal of the petition was to unseat Mr. Drumond, a powerful incumbent who had become recently embroiled in a political controversy. Among the many signers appearing on the petition were Thomas Mckay; Patrick, Patrick Jr., John and Michael Kelpy; Booths, Galbraiths, Savages, Coburns; Charles Moran; Peter, Francis, John 1 & 2 Dunn; and John Dunn; all friends and/or related to Patrick, yet not a single Mahedy signature appeared in the press. Mr Drumond was roundly defeated and Patrick was widely credited/ blamed for the action. None of these activities deterred Patrick from his role in public education.
"A statement of the affairs of the School Commissioners of the school municipality of Shefford, from the first day of July, 1857, to the first day of July, 1858. (Annual School budget) submitted by P. Mahedy, Jonathan Allard, Geo. C. Robinson; School Commissioners Waterloo, Sept. 25, 1858;". Waterloo Advertiser
It becomes increasingly clear that Jane Le Clear of the Town of Western had married a man who might fairly be described as a "Man for all seasons." There has never been a hint within the family that the Mahedys had ever been associated with wealth. Far from it. In fact, there had been no indication of Patrick's many achievements. Yet by 1858 Patrick had established a farm and mill successful enough for him to be considered wealthy. He had demonstrated in the public forum his dedication to education, faith, and the community with equal success. It should be no surprise either that Patrick never lost sight nor love of his Irish roots. There is little doubt that Patrick played a major role in organizing one of the first public celebrations of St Patrick's Day the following year. It is also here where descendants first find a personal contact with this latter-day Man for All Seasons. The event of 17 Mar 1859 was cronicled in the Waterloo Advertiser:
"St. Patrick's Day in North Shefford To the Editor of the "Advertiser" Dear sir, - Thinking any local news of interest would be welcome to many of your readers, I beg leave to give you an account of the celebration of St. Patrick's Day in North Shefford. Notwithstanding the bad state of the roads, many assenbled from this and the adjacent townships. After Divine Service, the Rev. G. L. Kertson, of Granby, in a lengthy discourse, fluently and elaborately depicted the life and labors of the Apostle of Ireland, and with what tenacity many of the Irish, through every ordeal of persecution, clung to the faith planted in their island by St. Patrick. He concluded his able discourse by exhorting his hearers to take example from the practice and lessons of temporance and love taught by that saint, and hoped that on that great national day there would be no indulgence of the evil practice of intem- porance. At noon about four hundred persons formed in procession, and marched some distance with great order and deecorum, headed by the clergyman, some music, and a number of appro- priate flags and banners. At the terminus of the procession, Mr. P. Mahedy being loudly called for, came forward, and spoke for some time on the life and parentage of St. Patrick, his mission and labors, as well as the introduction of Christianity into England and Ireland. He denied the false miracles attributed to the apostle by Joceline and other dishonest historians, and in sup- port of his statements quoted Solinus, Cambrensis, and several other authors. That the Apostle of Ireland performed one great miracle no one can deny - that was, converting a whole nation from paganism without being instrumental, directly or indirectly, in shedding one drop of blood. In concluding, "he hoped there would be no further argument of rival creeds, but that our mixed population would unite in one common cause for the future welfare of Canada - not by an oath-bound tie, but one stronger, love and patriotism; united, not for onslaught on those of other nationalities, but for the social and moral culture of our countrymen." (7 Apr 1859)
The above event should again raise the question of Patrick's own education. If this was the result of the "Hedgerow Schools," perhaps we should consider sending our young out behind the bushes! Since John also had a "profound education...well versed in history...," we may assume he was equally intellect- ually oriented. Having majored in history for two years, it is doubtful most contemporary Ph Ds would have a clue as to the identity of Solinus or Cambrensis. If Patrick did not have any additional formal education in America, then his achievements, as well as his acquisition of knowledge, become all the more significant. Still, it might be worthwhile to search for records for Patrick in institutions in and around Montreal, pro-bably in the 1830s.
Patrick was involved in other civic matters as well. In July of 1860 a convention was held at Waterloo to press for greater judicial and administrative autonomy and reform for the Eastern townships. "P. Maheady" was amoung twenty leaders from the townships. He was invited to address those assembled but declined.
Little information has trickled down the generations about the life of Mary Mahedy. It is known that she married @ 1859 to Eli P Carr of Troy, NY, and settled at Troy. There is also a surprising lack of information pertaining to Eli. He was born in 1832, presumably in or near Troy. Eli may have been related to Ambrose Carr, a farmer of Renssalaer County who appears to have resided in the vicinity of Hoosick Falls. Ambrose was born 30 Jan 1825 to Barnet and Eva Carr. Barnet had come from Canada as a young man. Besides Ambrose there was: David; Jonas; Mary; Catherine; William; John, Jr [?]; and Jacob. Ambrose married Martha Pitcher around 1858 and had: John; Charles; Delia; ELI; David; Catherine; Wil-
liam; John, Jr (?); and Jacob. Mary's only known daughter, Mary E, was born at Troy in 1861.
Contributed by Dan Touse
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