Herald JournalHerald Journal, Oct. 24, 2005

The legacy of the Mahon family

Submitted by Ambrose Mahon

The Mahon family has roots in Winsted and New Germany. The following is compiled from the following sources: Ruth Mahon in 1999, based on oral history from James and Mary (Mahon) Campbell, and a written letter from Maurice Doyle in 1979, County Kilkenny.

The story began in Graignamanagh, County Kilkenny, Ireland, when John Mahon came to live with his aunt, Mrs. Larry Lanigan. She had no children, and her nephew, John, was to inherit her farm.

While living in a section called Raheendanore with his aunt, he met and fell in love with Mary Doyle on a nearby farm. Mary Doyle was the daughter of Maurice Doyle and Margaret Farrell. She had two sisters, Nora, who married a Mr. O’Brien, and Margaret, who did not marry. There were three brothers: Patrick, James, and Morgan.

Patrick emigrated to New York City, married and had a son and daughter there. He, Patrick, died when he fell in a manhole on the street. James and Morgan lived in Ireland. Morgan married and was the grandfather of Marie Doyle Coates.

John Mahon and Mary Doyle made plans to leave Ireland and come to the United States of America. Mary Doyle had two aunts living in Minnesota; Bridget Farrell, who was married to Michael Burns, and Jane Farrell, who was married to Martin Kennedy. Also, a first cousin, Sarah Farrell, was married to Michael Drew.

In Long Grove, Iowa, her double first cousin, Mary Doyle, married a farmer, Matthew Tobin. She was the second wife of Matthew Tobin. Mrs. Tobin’s mother was Anne Farrell Doyle. Later, Mrs. Tobin’s sister, Maggie Doyle, came to Minneapolis and worked as a domestic servant for a rich family by the name of Bisbee.

Mary Doyle left Ireland, her passage paid by Matthew Tobin. She entered U.S.A. at Castle Garden, New York, the Port of Entry before Ellis Island. She lived and worked for the Tobins on a farm at Long Grove, Iowa. Soon, money was sent to Ireland for the passage for John Mahon. It was related to me that Grandma Mahon was scrubbing the kitchen in the Tobin farmhouse and a knock was heard on the door. Her Johnny had arrived!

Mary Doyle and John Mahon were married July 15, 1875, at St. Anne’s country church at Long Grove, Iowa. They remained awhile with the Tobins. Later, they came to Minneapolis, took the train to Delano, then on to Watertown by stagecoach. They arrived on a fair day, sale of farm animals.

They were welcomed at the home of Auntie and Mickel Burns in Hollywood Township. While there, Mary gave birth to her first born, Thomas Francis Mahon, in 1876. He had black hair like his mother. Thomas and James had black hair and the rest had red hair: Maurice, Patrick, John, Mary, Peter, and Paul.

Later, they moved to a farm in West Hollywood, and the seven children were born there in a log house. Mary, no doubt, had neighbor Mrs. Keefe as a midwife.

In about 1904, a new house was built with five bedrooms. They acquired more land but not all their sons chose to till the soil. Thomas, Maurice, and Peter were teachers in their first careers. Patrick worked for the telephone company. Patrick married Florence Wyrus in 1909 and had two daughters, Ethel and Sybl - living in Thief River Falls. Sybl died as an infant.

Maurice married Stella Rhode of Winsted in 1911, and had an illustrious career as an agent for the Catholic Order of Foresters. Maurice and Stell had no children. Maurice died in 1956 of cancer.

Thomas Mahon, a rural mail carrier, married Katherine Rogers in 1917 and lived in New Germany. They had a son, Thomas, and a daughter, Patricia. Thomas died in 1940.

Mary Mahon taught school and married Edward Campbell of Watertown. They farmed in Hollywood, had no children but raised a grandnephew, Robert Karels. Mary Mahon Campbell died in 1971.

Patrick Mahon married a second time to Emma Rhode of Winsted. They moved to Mitchell, South Dakota, where he worked as an electrician. They had no children, and Patrick died in 1956 of cancer.

John Mahon, Junior worked on the home farm until he was 38. He married Mamie Connolly in 1920, and they lived on a farm near the home farm. They had four children: William, Ruth, Ambrose, and Joseph. John Mahon, junior died in 1979 at age 97.

Paul Mahon, a farmer, married Catherine McCormick in 1923. They had five children: Margaret, Rose, Mark, Mary, and Maurice. Paul Mahon died in 1961.

Peter Mahon taught school, was postmaster at Winsted, and served in the US Navy in World War I. He lived on the home place, farmed, and married Celia Herron from Watertown in 1927. They had two sons: Eugene and Daniel. Peter died in 1970 of cancer.

James Mahon lived on the home farm. He was a twin of Peter. He was a farmer, but he had the potential to be a history teacher. He provided much of the information I have on his parents. He died in 1968.

I do not have much information on John Mahon from County Wexford. He had a brother, William Mahon, who emigrated to Australia. He owned a sheep ranch near Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, married late in life, and had no children. William contacted his brother in Minnesota and wanted one of his nephews to come to Australia. There was talk that Tom was considering it, but it did not happen.

It was Grandfather Mahon’s wish that his first grandson be named William, after his brother. I know this to be a fact because my mother told me, and she bore the first grandson, William John Mahon.

Mary’s cousin, Maggie Doyle, emigrated to Minnesota and worked in Minneapolis. She made a yearly visit to the Mahon home. Mary’s cousin, Mrs. Tobin, and her son, Martin, came in 1910. There were parties held in their honor.

My dad and Martin Tobin and Big Pat Burns attended the Minnesota State Fair. John and Mary Doyle Mahon lived out their dream near Winsted, Minnesota, worked hard, raised eight children and one granddaughter, Ethel Mahon Stebbins. They lived to be old and celebrated their Golden Wedding in 1925.

Death came to John on Christmas Day 1932, at his home. He was 91 years.

Mary followed shortly on Oct. 14, 1934, at age 83. Both were waked in the family home. John and Mary are at rest in the Catholic cemetery at Winsted. Nearby are sons: Maurice, John, James, Peter, and Paul, also grandchildren: Rose Mahon Erickson, William Mahon, Gene Mahon, great-grandchildren Elizabeth Louise Mahon and Martin Mahon.

A Celtic cross is etched on John and Mary Doyle Mahon’s gray tombstone, and their markers read: “Born in County Wexford and County Kilkenny, Ireland.”


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