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Condon, Kleckner, Gilles, Ethen, Milton, Meyer, Mitchell, and Liston Family History

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I haven't discovered many details concerning the immigration of Michael Condon or Catherine Dwyer from Ireland in the mid-1800s. From a conversation I had with William Condon, of Illinois, I found that Michael entered the country at
Wallingford , Connecticut in 1852. He would have been about 30 years old then. He may have immigrated with his parents, a sister, Bridget, and a brother, David. Catherine Dwyer was supposedly a maid or other type of domestic, working in Philadelphia, but I don't have any definite information on her.

More direct information on the family is contained in a letter from sister Bridget to Michael dated July, 1867.  Bridget was living in Wallingford in 1867, in "Care of Mr. Ellis".  She may have been working as a domestic and living at the Ellis home.  In closing the letter, Bridget mentions Father, mother, brothers, and sisters sending their love to Michael--proof that many, if not all, family members had emigrated to Wallingford.  See the page containing the letter for more details about the family.

Michael applied for a marriage license in Winnebago County (Rockford, Ill.) on June 1, 1859, suggesting that both he and Catherine Dwyer had moved to the Rockford area at some time before 1859. Michael bought a farm there in the New Milford/Stillman Valley area, still in the family, and the first child, Mary, was born in Illinois, as were the rest of the children. After Michael's death in 1887, Catherine moved to Rockford, where she lived until her death in 1917 at the age of 84.

An interesting note concerning the marriage license is that Michael signed with 'his mark', presumably indicating illiteracy.

It has been suggested that Michael served in the Civil War.  After investigating the supporting documents I feel that this is in error, and that another Michael Condon was actually mistaken for our ancestor by others doing genealogy research.  I've gone into the details on another page.

From the County records of Mitchell County, Iowa, I found that Michael bought the farm near David and McIntire from Evalina W. Bradley in 1883. He sold it to Patrick Lynch in 1884, and Lynch sold it back to Michael in 1886. I don't know what was going on with those series of land transfers. Michael transferred the land to his son Edwin Thomas (E.T.) Condon December of 1886. Referring back to Bridget's letter of 1867, she mentions a "Mrs. Linch and her husband", who were apparently friends of the family.  Perhaps the names are just a coincidence, but the possibility remains that the Lynch and Linch families were the same.  The cause of the land transfers remains unknown.

Click here to see a table of land transfers for this property and some more historical background.

A daughter of E.T., Nina Condon Burke, recounted the story of the Condon and Doran families moving to Iowa in a letter.  The Dorans apparently moved to Iowa first while the Condon land sat empty. Eventually Michael turned the land over to whichever son, E.T. or his twin Edward, would go live on the land.  E.T. took up the offer and moved to Iowa.

The chronology of this move is a little difficult to understand.  Nina's letter states that E.T. moved to Iowa, stayed with the Dorans--where he met his future wife Margaret Doran, built a house, and after a year were married.
I don't know just when E.T. moved to the farm in Jenkins township, but he would have been about 25 years old in 1887. Michael died in August of 1887, at the age of 66, so maybe he was in poor health and that is why E.T. got the farm. However, E.T. and Margaret weren't married until September 25, 1893, when E.T. was 31 and Margaret was 22.  In Nina's chronology E.T. would have only moved to Iowa in about 1891 or 1892, several years after Michael's death.

Margaret was the daughter of Thomas G. Doran, an Irish immigrant (emigrated with parents Andrew and Margaret in 1853), and Katie Conley, from the Belvidere, Illinois area. [Note: from other sources, her name was Catherine Connelly; their marriage license records her as Katie E. Conley.] Thomas Doran had lived in Utica, New York until 1854, then moved to Rockford, Illinois, and then to Mitchell County in 1869. He and Katie married in 1870, in Belvidere. Margaret (Maggie) was the eldest child of the Doran family and was born on a 326 acre farm in sections 9 and 10, Jenkins township. This farm was just northeast of the Condon farm in section 17. Margaret was 22 when she was married in 1893. The picture of Margaret in the Gallery was taken in Rockford, so they must have traveled back there occasionally. E.T. and Margaret's first child, Helen, died as an infant , and is buried in the family plot at Riceville. The rest of the children, through Mary (Ackerman), were born on the farm, and many are buried south of Riceville in the Immaculate Conception (a.k.a. Calvary) cemetery. The children all attended a stone, country schoolhouse, still standing 1 mile south of the farm.

An interesting story was related by Nina in her letter, however, some of the facts are in question.  In 1893 Katie Conley Doran--Thomas's wife--gave birth to a child Bernice.  At about the same time, Katie's eldest daughter, Margaret--E.T.'s wife--gave birth to her first child, Helen.  According to Nina, Katie died in childbirth or shortly thereafter, and the infant Helen also died.  Since Thomas was already caring for a number of other of his young children, the baby Bernice, youngest sister of Margaret, was taken in by Margaret and E.T. and raised as their daughter. Nina mentioned that she was not aware that Bernice wasn't her older sister until Nina was a grown girl.

In checking out this story I have run into one probable error. On the Find A Grave website, Katie Conley Doran's death date is given as 1903, not 1893 or 1894. The date appears to be valid, because the U.S. census of 1900 shows Katie still living as Thomas's wife. According to Nina, Thomas Doran remained single for a number of years and then married a young McIntire woman, Lena Frank.  He married her in 1905.  Thomas and Lena also had children, the oldest of whom, Laura, was born in 1906. The photo of the Thomas Doran family on the Find A Grave site appears to be Thomas and Lena and their three children, Alice (on Thomas's lap), Laura (standing) and James (on Lena's lap). So it appears that Bernice was about 10 years old when her mother, Katie, died, and Bernice then went to live with her older sister Margaret and E.T. Condon.

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