Felix & Martha Kiernan Family

The child of Patrick Kiernan (?-1835) and Bridget Wire (?-1843) that concerns the ancestry of William G. Kernan (LIVING), my paternal grandfather, is their son, Felix Kiernan (1796-1882).What is presently known about the life and family of Felix Kiernan will be discussed below. It should be noted, moreover, that although the “Kiernan” spelling of Felix’s surname is used throughout the following, variant spellings were often used as well, including the “Kernan” spelling. For more about the usage of different spellings of the Kernan surname, please see “The Kernan Surname.”

Early Life and Marriage

Very little is presently known about the early life of Felix Kiernan. Records in the United States, as well as Canada, do not provide details such as his specific birth date and location, baptismal date, or the names of his parents. These records, however, do provide some information. Census records on which Felix is found enumerated show that his birth year was between about 1797 and 1799. Additionally, these historical records also identify where Felix was born. Both census records and the Minnesota Death Records Index reveal that Felix was born in Ireland. Although these historical records state that he was born in Ireland, they provide no information that identify which province, county, or township in Ireland he was born. Table 1 below summarizes the birth date and location for Felix according to historical records in the United States and Canada.

Table 1: U.S. & Canadian Records Showing Felix Kiernan’s Birth Year & Location
Historical Records Birth Year Birth Location
1851 Canadian Census ca. 1799 Ireland
1857 Minnesota Census ca. 1797 Ireland
1860 U.S. Federal Census ca. 1797 Ireland
1875 Minnesota Census ca. 1799 Ireland
Minnesota Death Records Index ca. 1796 Ireland
Ramsey County Register of Deaths ca. 1796 Ireland

Locating more precise historical records for Felix has proven to be challenging, as many Irish records were lost in a fire during the Battle of Dublin in 1922. However, recent transcriptions of surviving Irish records for Catholic parishes show a match for Felix on a 1796 baptismal record, shown below. According to this record, Felix was baptized on the 18 January 1796 in the Catholic Parish of Dundalk in County Louth. The record also states that Felix was the son of Patrick Kiernan (shown “Patt Kiernan”) and Bridget Wire (shown “Bidy Wire”), and that they resided at Lisnawully. The record also provides the names of Felix’s godparents, who were Thomas Morgan and Bridget Reilly. Table 2 below summarizes the details of Felix Kiernan’s baptismal record.

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Baptismal record for Felix Kiernan. (Click image to enlarge)
Table 2: Felix Kiernan Baptismal Record Details
Date Parish, County Parents Godparents Residence
18 January 1796 Dundalk, County Louth Patrick Kiernan and Bridget Wire Thomas Morgan and Bridget Reilly Lisnawully

Apart from what is revealed by his birth and baptismal record, no other details are known about his early life. Additionally, due to the loss of many Irish historical records in the 1922 fire only fragments of the 1821 Irish Census exist. Although there are several individuals similarly named, they are found in County Cavan instead of County Louth. Although it is possible that Felix could have moved to County Cavan, each of these individuals are either too old, being between the ages of 70 and 30 instead of about 25, or too young, being between the ages of 12 and 2. Additionally, no fragments of this census from County Louth are known to have survived the fire. For these reasons, it is highly likely that none of these are for Felix and that his enumeration (and that of his parents) on the 1821 Irish Census was lost in the 1922 fire.

Despite the lack of details for his early life and the likely loss of his entry on the 1821 Irish Census, it is known from surviving records that Felix left Lisnawully and moved to the Catholic Parish of Clonmellon in County Westmeath, Ireland. Precisely when Felix moved from Lisnawully to Clonmellon Pairsh is unclear. However, Irish records for Catholic parishes show that Felix married Martha Rose Sheridan (1797-?) on the 31 July 1825 in the Catholic Parish of Clonmellon, most likely in the townland of Archerstown.

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1825 Marriage record for Felix Kiernan, shown “Phelim Kiernan, and Martha Rose Sheridan, shown “Rose Sheridan.” (Click image to enlarge)

According to available Catholic parish records, Martha was born in 1797 in the townland of Archerstown in the Catholic Parish of Clonmellon (Civil Parish of Castletown-Delvin) in County Westmeath, the daughter of Owen Sheridan (?-1835) and Bridget Fitzsimons (?-1847). It should be noted that Martha more frequently went by the name “Rose” (or some variation of it), though she appears with the name “Martha” on at least one record, the 1851 Canadian Census, which is discussed later. (To learn more about the Sheridan family, please see “Sheridan Family History.”)

The Family of Felix and Martha Kiernan

Following their marriage, Felix and Martha had at least eight children between 1826 and 1844. The first two of their children were born while they were still living in Ireland, while the remaining six were born after their immigration to Canada and before their immigration to the United States. Although every detail has not been found for each of their children, what is presently known is discussed below.

Felix and Martha’s first child was Matthew (or Matthias) Kiernan (1826-1914), who was born on the 24 January 1826 in the townland of Archerstown in the Catholic Parish of Clonmellon (Civil Parish of Castletown-Delvin) in County Westmeath, Ireland, and died on the 23 November 1914 in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota. He was baptized on the 16 February 1826 in the Catholic Parish of Clonmellon. On the 25 January 1880, Matthew married Bridget Murphey (ca. 1850-1914) in Ramsey County, Minnesota. Bridget was born in about 1850 in Canada, the daughter of Christopher Murphy, and died on the 23 November 1914 in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota. Following their marriage, Matthew and Bridget had at least one child, a daughter named Jessie. Throughout his life, moreover, Matthew worked as a farm laborer and a pile driver in Minnesota.

Bridget Kiernan (ca. 1830-?), Felix and Martha’s second child, was born in about 1830 in Ireland. No further details about Bridget’s life have been discovered, particularly when and whom she married and when she died. However, she was still living in 1860, as she is found enumerated on the 1860 U.S. Federal Census in her parents’ household.

Felix and Martha’s third child was Mary Kiernan (1832-?), who was born on the 6 April 1832 in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada. No further details about Mary’s life have been discovered, particularly when and whom she married and when she died. However, she was still living in 1860, as she is found enumerated on the 1860 U.S. Federal Census in her parents’ household. However, she is not found living in the same household as her father and siblings on the 1865 Minnesota Census, which may indicate that she married or died between 1860 and 1865.

Marie Anne Kiernan (1834-1882), Felix and Martha’s fourth child, was born on the 27 July 1834 in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada, and died on the 29 Jul 1882 in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota. On the 3 June 1861, Marie Anne married Thomas Berrisford (1840-1894) in St. Paul, Ramsey County, California. Thomas was born on the 15 November 1840 in Uttoxeter, Strafford, England the son of Thomas A. Berrisford (1813-1873) and Ann Ford (ca. 1816-1866); he died the 11 March 1894 in Hot Springs, Fall River County, South Dakota. Following their marriage, Marie Anne and Thomas had at least eight children between 1862 and 1880, which were named Rose, Frank, Thomas, Charles, Mary, Ellen, Joseph, and Agnes. Throughout most of his life, Thomas worked in the baking industry, founding the Berrisfords’ Baking and Confectioner Company, which was sold to the American Biscuit and Manufacturing Company in 1890.

Felix and Martha’s fifth child was Owen Francis Kiernan (1836-1901), who was born on the 20 February 1836 in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada and died on the 11 December 1901 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. In May 1863, Owen married Harriet Dunton (1836-1928) in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota. Harriet was born on the 17 June 1836 in Howard, Steuben County, New York the daughter of James Cyrus Dunton (ca. 1800-1845) and Mary Comfort Knowles (ca. 1801-1845). She died on the 16 February 1928 in Alameda County, California. Following their marriage, Owen and Harriet had at least twelve children between 1865 and 1886, which were named William, Charles, Harriet, Owen, Mary, Julie, Rose, Mary, Oliver, an Unnamed baby, George, and Lillian. Throughout most of his life, Owen worked as a baker in Minnesota.

Rose Kiernan (1839-1885), Felix and Martha’s sixth child, was born on the 26 November 1839 in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada, and died on the 16 January 1885 in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota. She was buried at Calvary Cemetery in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota. At the time of her death, Rose was unmarried and no records have been found indicating that she was ever married.

Felix and Martha’s seventh child was Catherine Kiernan (1841-1925), who was born on the 16 April 1841 in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada, and died on the 18 January 1925 in Savage, Scott County, Minnesota. On the 18 June 1872, Catherine married Peter Hamilton Kearney (1839-1928) in Burnsville, Dakota County, Minnesota. Peter was born on the 18 August 1839 in Glasgow, Ontario, Canada the son of John D. Kearney (1796-1863) and Rose Ann McKeown (ca. 1807-1856), and died on the 1 August 1928 in Burnsville, Dakota County, Minnesota. Throughout his life, Peter worked as a farmer in Minnesota.

Felix Francis “Frank” Kiernan (1844-?), Felix and Martha’s eighth child, was born on the 14 July 1844 in Sainte-Monique, Quebec, Canada. When Felix, who often went by Frank, died is not presently known. On the 13 February 1866, he married Margaret “Mary” UNKNOWN (ca. 1850-?) in Ramsey County, Minnesota. Margaret, whose maiden name is presently unknown, was born in about 1850 in New York. As with Felix, when Margaret died is not presently known. Following their marriage, Felix and Margaret had at least six children between 1867 and 1878, which were named Frank, Rosa, Mary, Anna, Joseph, and Agnes. Throughout his life, Felix worked as a contractor in Minnesota.

Table 3: The Children of Felix & Martha Kiernan
# Name Birth Death Marriage
i. Matthew 24 January 1826 in Archerstown, Co. Westmeath, Ireland 23 November 1914 in St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota 25 January 1880 to Bridget Murphey in Ramsey Co., Minnesota
ii. Bridget ca. 1830 in Ireland Unknown Unknown
iii. Mary 6 April 1832 in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada Unknown Unknown
iv. Marie Anne 27 July 1834 in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada 29 July 1882 in St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota 3 June 1861 to Thomas Berrisford in St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota
v. Owen Francis 20 February 1836 in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada 11 December 1901 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon May 1863 Harriett Dunton in St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota
vi. Rose 26 November 1839 in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada 16 January 1885 in St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota Unmarried
vii. Catherine 16 April 1841 in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada 18 January 1925 in Savage, Scott Co., Minnesota 18 June 1872 to Peter Hamilton Kearney in Burnsville, Dakota Co., Minnesota
viii. Felix Francis “Frank” 14 July 1844 in Sainte-Monique, Quebec, Canada Unknown 13 February 1866 to Mary UNKNOWN in Ramsey Co., Minnesota

Immigrating to & Life in Canada

After the birth of their second child, Bridget Kiernan (ca. 1830-?), but before the birth of their third child, Mary Kiernan (1832-?), Felix, Martha, and their two children left Ireland for a new life in North America. Although no accounts from oral family history exist for the family’s immigration, nor have any immigration records for the family been found, research into available historical records, provide some details. These records, which include birth/baptismal and census records, reveal that Felix and his family immigrated from Ireland to Quebec, Canada sometime between about 1830 and 1832, which coincides with what is known about the birth years of Felix and Martha’s children. Records show that their children born in or before 1830 were born in Ireland, while those born in 1832 and afterwards were born in Canada. (For more information about the family’s immigration from Ireland to Canada, see “Kernan Immigration History.”) 

Following their arrival, Felix and his family appear to have settled in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada, which is about 96 miles away from Montreal. Efforts to find Felix and his family living there on the 1831 Canadian Census have proven unsuccessful, which may indicate they had not yet arrived in Canada by the time it was enumerated. Nevertheless, birth and baptismal records for five of the six children of Felix and Martha born in Canada show that they lived in Nicolet, or at the very least had their children baptized there. These records span from 1832 to 1841 and state that these five children were baptized at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral (Cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste) in Nicolet. Table 4 below summarizes the Canadian baptismal records for all six of Felix and Martha’s Canadian born children.

Table 4: Baptismal Records for Felix & Martha’s Canadian Born Children
Baptism Date Name Baptism Location Baptism Place
9 June 1832 Mary Kiernan Nicolet, Québec Cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste
11 August 1834 Marie Anne Kiernan Nicolet, Québec Cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste
28 February 1836 Owen Kiernan Nicolet, Québec Cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste
16 December 1839 Rose Kiernan Nicolet, Québec Cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste
17 April 1841 Catherine Kiernan Nicolet, Québec Cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste
16 July 1844 Felix Kiernan, Jr. Sainte-Monique, Québec Église de Sainte-Monique

As with the 1831 Canadian Census, locating Felix and his family on the 1842 Canadian Census has also proven unsuccessful. The reason for this is unclear. However, it may be that the physical records have been lost. As noted by the Canadian National Archives, “not all returns have survived” for this census. Although this record is missing, the existence of the birth/baptismal records between 1832 and 1841 not only shows that they most likely lived in Nicolet, but that Felix and his family were Catholic. Additionally, the likely fact that they lived in Nicolet itself can provide some clues about their lives in Canada up this point. By all accounts, Nicolet is a rural township situated where the Saint-Lawrence and Nicolet rivers meet. As a rural township, agriculture was and remains the most important industry in Nicolet and the surrounding areas. In fact, Nicolet is a part of the Centre-du-Québec region of Quebec, which is primarily an agricultural region known as the breadbasket of Quebec even today. Because of this, it is highly likely that Felix was involved in farming while living in Nicolet.

At some point following the birth of their seventh child, Catherine, in 1841 and before the birth of their eighth child, Felix Jr., in 1844, Felix and his family appear to have left Nicolet and moved about eight miles south to Sainte-Monique, Quebec, Canada. It was in Sainte-Monique that their eighth child was baptized at the Church of St. Monica (Église de Sainte-Monique), which was built in 1842. (See Table 4 above.) Felix and his family are also enumerated as living in Sainte-Monique on the 1851 Canadian Census. The precise reason why Felix settled his family in Sainte-Monique is unclear. Nevertheless, this town is still part of the Centre-du-Québec region of Quebec, and thus an agricultural area. Felix and his family’s enumeration on the 1851 Canadian Census shows that they were in fact involved in farming, which is indicated by the use of the word “cultivateur” (French for farmer) being used for each of their occupations. As with the birth/baptismal records, this census record also states that Felix and his family were Catholics.

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The 1851 Canadian Census showing Felix and his family enumerated as living in Sainte-Monique, Quebec, Canada. (Click image to enlarge)

Apart from what is revealed on the 1851 Canadian Census, little else is known of the lives of Felix, Martha, and their children in Canada. However, Felix is mentioned in a petition to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada in 1855. Although it is unclear why he is a party to this petition, he is mentioned principally in it. As recorded in an entry in the Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, Volume 13, Part 2 (1855), on the 5 March 1855 before the Speaker of the Assembly, “petitions were severally brought up, and laid on the table.” One of those listed in this entry is “The Petition of Phelix Kiernan and others, of the Parish of Ste. Monique and other places,” which was brought before the assembly by Mr. Thomas Fortier (pg 624).

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Excerpt from the 5 March 1855 entry showing the petition bearing Felix’s name (shown “Phelix Kiernan),” which is highlighted in yellow. (Click image to enlarge)

No further details are provided in the entry of the Legislative Assembly dated 5 March 1855. However, in an entry dated the 7 March 1855 it is recorded that the petition was read before the Assembly, with the petition being noted as saying: “Of Phelix Kiernan and others, of the Parish of Ste. Monique and other places; praying for the erection of a Bridge over the North-east branch of the River Nicolet” (pg 640).

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Excerpt from the 7 March 1855 entry showing details of the petition bearing Felix’s name (shown “Phelix Kiernan”), which is highlighted in yellow. (Click image to enlarge)

Although it appears there is no further reference to this petition, or to Felix for that matter, the petition must have been approved, for an entry dated the 16 May 1856 in the Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, Volume 14 (1856), shows an Act brought to the Assembly regarding the construction of the bridge. As stated in this entry, the Act was “an Act to authorise Henry Wulff Trigge, Esquire, and others, to construct a Toll Bridge on the North-east Branch of the River Nicolet, near the Church of the Parish of St. Monique, in the County of Nicolet; and to incorporate the said Henry Wulff Trigge and others, under the name of the ‘St. Monique Bridge Company'” (pg 527). The full text of the Act is recorded in the 1856 Statutes of the Province of Canada (pgs 84-92). Even though he is not mentioned in this Act or in connection to it, the efforts of Felix (as well as others) in 1855 to get this bridge built were successful.

Despite efforts to uncover further details, it remains unclear why Felix was involved in these efforts to have a bridge erected across part of the Nicolet River. Although a bridge provides obvious convenience, and this may very well have been a significant motive behind his involvement, it is equally unclear why he would be the principally named person in the petition. Perhaps he was very active in local politics, and was selected to put forward this petition; or perhaps he became a prominent member of the community and took it upon himself, with others, to bring the petition. No further connection between this bridge and Felix has been found, leaving these mysteries unresolved.

No further records, moreover, have been found detailing any additional information about the lives of Felix and his family in Quebec, Canada.

Immigrating to & Life in the United States

It was not long after Felix’s involvement in the effort to get a bridge built over part of the Nicolet River that he and Martha would once again decide to immigrate and start over in a new country, this time the United States. As with their immigration from Ireland to Canada, no account of the family’s immigration from Canada to the United States from oral family history exists.  However, on the 5 May 1857, Felix filed a “Declaration of Intention” in Minnesota, which is the first step in  obtaining citizenship in which an immigrant “declared their intent to become a citizen and renounced their allegiance to a foreign government.” This record provides little information beyond Felix swearing that it was his “intention to become a citizen of the United States, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity which [he] in any wise [owed] to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State or Sovereignty, and particularly all allegiance and fidelity which [he owed] to the Queen of England of whom [he had] heretofore been a subject,” which he did by signing his name on the 5 May 1857. There is no mention of country of origin or where he immigrated from. Nevertheless, the record does provide one important detail, which is a date of immigration to the United States. According to this record, Felix (and presumably his family as well) “last arrived in the United States on or about the 19 September 1856.” This date is consistent with the last mentions of Felix and his family in Canada and other records in the United States. (For more information about the family’s immigration from Canada to the United States, see “Kernan Immigration History.”)

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Felix’s signed Declaration of Intention filed in 1857 in Minnesota. (Click to Enlarge)

Following their arrival in the United States, Felix and his family settled in Sibley County, Minnesota. The precise reason for their settling in this part of the country is not known. However, Minnesota, or the Minnesota Territory as it was called then, was rapidly growing. Since the Minnesota Territory was formed in 1849, thousands of people were drawn there by the available land for farming and the booming timber industry. The expansion of railroads and canals on the Great Lakes brought many from Canada, as well as New England. Additionally, Sibley county, which was formed in 1853, was and remains to this day a rural area with agriculture as its primary industry, which undoubtedly played a role in Felix’s selection of this county. Although named after a different person than the similarly named town in which the family lived in Canada, Sibley county sits just north of Nicollet County, Minnesota, which was also founded in 1853. Perhaps this similarity in names played some role in why the family moved to this part of Minnesota.

Regardless of the precise reason why Felix and Martha chose to move their family to Sibley County, Minnesota, they are enumerated as living there on the 1857 Minnesota Census. According to this record, Felix (shown as “F. Connon”), his wife (shown as “Roseline Connon”), and eight of their children were living in the same household in “Township 113, Range 30,” which is Bismarck Township. Furthermore, Felix is enumerated on this record as being employed as a farmer.

1857 Minnesota Census of the Kiernan family (shown Connon) living in Sibley Co., Minnesota. Record also shows birth locations as being Ireland and Canada.
1857 Minnesota Census showing Felix (shown as “F. Connon”) and his family living in Sibley Co., Minnesota. (Click image to enlarge)

In 1860, Felix and his family were still living in Sibley County, Minnesota, but in Dryden instead of Bismarck, where they are enumerated as living on the 1860 U.S. Federal Census. According to this record, Felix (shown “Poehlix Kiernan”) and his wife were living in one household, while their children where were living in two neighboring households. Matthew, Bridget, Mary, and Marie Anne are enumerated as living in one household, and Owen, Rose, Catherine, and Felix Jr. are enumerated as living in another household. As on the 1857 Minnesota Census, Felix is enumerated on this record as being employed as a farmer. This record also shows Felix enumerated as having a personal estate valued at $200 (or about $5,731 at today’s rate of inflation). In addition to these facts, the 1860 U.S. Federal Census also shows that Felix, his wife Martha (shown “Rosa”), and their daughter Bridget were “persons over 20 years of age who cannot read and write.” It is unclear if this refers to the ability to read and write in English only or in general. Nevertheless, this is not inconsistent with the majority of those of foreign birth in Minnesota. In fact, according to Population of The United States in 1860 (1864) the majority (78%) of those reporting they could not read or write in the state were of foreign birth.

1860 U.S. Federal Census showing the Kiernan family living in Sibley Co., Minnesota. Also shows birth locations of family members as being Ireland and Canada.
1860 U.S. Federal Census showing Felix Kiernan (shown “Poehlix Kiernan”) and his family living in Dryden, Sibley County, Minnesota. (Click image to enlarge)

Despite appearing on the 1860 U.S. Federal Census as a farmer in Sibley County, Minnesota, efforts to find Felix on the 1860 Agricultural Census (or Schedule) in Sibley County or any other county in Minnesota have proven unsuccessful. This non-population census provides details about the nature of the farming done and acreage of the farm being documented. The reason for his apparent absence from this record is unclear, though it may be the result of transcription error, missing records, or perhaps he was not included in this census. As the U.S. National Archives notes, “not every farm was included in these schedules.” Some farms were excluded if they were smaller than a certain number of acres or produced less than a certain dollar amount of products.

At some point following their enumeration on the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, moreover, Felix and his family left not only Dryden but Sibley County, and moved to St. Paul in Ramsey County, Minnesota. Although it is unclear why they moved to St. Paul, it was likely do the rapid growth of the area and the opportunities it presented. In fact, according to accounts the city, which became the capital of Minnesota when it achieved statehood in 1858, grew from just 900 residents in 1849 to about 10,000 by 1860. Regardless of what led them to move to St. Paul, records for the family show that they had moved there by 1863. A likely entry in the 1863 St. Paul City Directory for Felix shows that he was living at 7th between Wacouta and Rosabel in St. Paul along with what appears to be two of his daughters, though their names are recorded as “Miss Anna Kiernan” and “Miss Emma Kiernan.” The former is unlikely to be his daughter Marie Anne, as she was already married. Perhaps it is his daughter Mary. It is unclear who the latter one (“Emma”) is, though perhaps this is a nickname or middle name of his daughter Bridget. Felix’s occupation is not noted. However, both “Anna” and “Emma” are noted as being dressmakers. A similar entry is also found in the 1864 St. Paul City Directory in which Felix is again shown living at 7th between Wacouta and Rosabel in St. Paul along with “Miss Anna Kiernan” and “Miss Emma Kiernan,” as well as “Miss Rosa Kiernan.” Felix is recorded in this entry as being employed as a laborer, while “Anna,” “Emma,” and “Rosa” are recorded as dressmakers. An entry for “Felix Kern” is also recorded as living at 7th between Rosabel and Wacouta, which may be Felix Jr. (or Frank). Table 5 below summarizes Felix’s entries on the St. Paul City Directory for these years, images of which can be viewed by clicking the year.

Table 5: Entries for Felix Kiernan in the St Paul City Directory, 1863-1864
Year Occupation Employer Residence
1863 Not Stated Not Stated 7th b Wacouta and Rosabel, St. Paul
1864 Laborer Not Stated 7th b Wacouta and Rosabel, St. Paul

In addition to the two entries in the St. Paul City Directory, four mentions of Felix are found in the Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of St. Paul (1865). Each of the four times in which Felix is mentioned in the proceedings record for St. Paul are in regard to Felix seeking relief from the City Council for injuries he sustained by falling through the sidewalk on Third Street in St. Paul. The first mention is dated November 1, 1864, and is the formal petition of Felix, which was referred to the Committee of Ways and Means and the City Attorney. The second mention is dated December 6, 1864, and is the adoption by the Committee of Ways and Means to make a settlement with Felix Kiernan about his injuries. The third mention is dated December 20, 1864, and is a statement that a settlement of $50 had been reached and requests the funds to be issued by the City Treasurer. The final mention is dated January 7, 1865, and shows the vote and resolution to pay the settlement to Felix, with seven Yeas, and three Nays in the vote. Although these entries do not specify if the Felix mentioned is Felix Sr. or Felix Jr., it can be assumed to be Felix Sr. as Felix Jr. more often than not went by the name “Frank,” including on official documents. Table 6 below shows a transcription of these proceedings involving Felix. It should be noted that Felix’s surname is misspelled in several of these.

Table 6: St. Paul Proceeding Notes Mentioning Felix Kiernan
Date Proceeding Note
November 1, 1864 Of Felix Kerner for relief for injuries sustained by falling through sidewalk on Third street. Referred to Committee of Ways and Means and City Attorney.
December 6, 1864 By same [Committee of Ways and Means]—On petition of Felix Kerners for relief for injuries received by falling through sidewalk on Third street respectfully request that authority be granted the committee to make such settlement with the petitioner as they may deem best for the city Signed PARKER PAINE Chairman. Adopted.
December 20, 1864 Of Committee on Finance—To whom was referred the petition of Felix Kiernan for relief for injuries received by falling through the sidewalk on Third Street, beg leave to report that they have settled with Felix Kiernan for the sum of $50, and have directed an order to be drawn on the City Treasurer for that amount, and herewith attach a receipt in full for the amount. Parker Paine, Chairman. Adopted.
January 7, 1865 By Ald. Paine: Resolved, That an order be drawn on the Treasurer for fifty dollars in favor of Felix Kemers, which is to be in full for all claims said Kemers has against the city. Yeas – Ald. Dorniden, Paine, Peckham, Reed, Slichter, Wright, and Mr. President. Nays – Ald. Finck, King, and Putnam.

Felix and some of his family are also enumerated as living in St. Paul on the 1865 Minnesota Census. Although this census provides little information beyond a list of household members, it does show that Felix and some of his children were living in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota. Felix and Martha’s children Matthew, Bridget, Rose, Catherine, and Felix (shown “Frances”) are all enumerated as living in Felix’s household, while Owen, and his wife, Harriet, where living in a neighboring household. No further details are provided on this census, such as Felix’s occupation. However, the census does note whether a person is deaf, dumb, blind, insane, or serving in the military at the time the census was enumerated (June 1, 1865). In each of these cases, there is no indication that any of these were true of Felix or any of his children.

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1865 Minnesota Census showing Felix and some of his children living in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Click image to enlarge)

Later Years and Death

The enumeration of Felix and some of his family on the 1865 Minnesota Census is significant beyond what it specifically states, as it highlights that a tragedy had struck the family. That is, this census is the first record found upon which there is no mention of Felix’s wife, Martha. Although no record has yet been found for her death, Martha appears to have died at some point between the enumerations of the 1860 U.S. Federal Census and the 1865 Minnesota Census. Because no record has been found, it is unclear where she died. Although it is possible she died in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, it is also possible that she died in Sibley County. If she died before the 18 October 1863 in Sibley County, then it is highly unlikely a death record still exists as county records were destroyed in a fire that took place on that date. It is also possible that a death record never existed for her, regardless of which county she died in. According to the Minnesota Historical Society, “Minnesota law required the recording of deaths beginning in 1870,” and “compliance and enforcement was sporadic during the early years.”

Following his enumeration on the 1865 Minnesota Census, moreover, few records have been found for Felix. Two additional entries have been found for Felix in the St. Paul City Directory, in 1866 and 1867. According to the 1866 entry, Felix was living at 7th between Olive and John in St. Paul along with his sons Felix Jr. (shown “Francis F. Kernan”) and Owen. This entry also states that Felix, along with his son Felix Jr., was employed as a lumberman, while his son, Owen, was employed as a baker. According to the 1867, Felix was still living at 7th between Olive and John along with his sons Felix Jr. (shown “Francis F. Kernan”) and Owen. Although does not specify where she lives, his daughter Catherine (shown “Kate Kernan”) is also listed. This entry also states that Felix, along with his son Felix Jr., was employed as a laborer, while Owen was employed as a baker and Kate as a “waiter” at Merchants’ Hotel. Table 7 below summarizes Felix’s entries on the St. Paul City Directory for these years, images of which can be viewed by clicking the year.

Table 7: Entries for Felix Kiernan in the St Paul City Directory, 1866-1867
Year Occupation Employer Residence
1866 Lumberman Not Stated 7th between Olive and John, St. Paul
1867 Laborer Not Stated 7th between Olive and John, St. Paul

Records for Felix are fewer in number following his entry in the 1867 St. Paul City Directory. He and several of his children are not recorded in the St. Paul City Directory for 1869. Additionally, attempts to locate Felix on the 1870 U.S. Federal Census have proven unsuccessful. He is not found enumerated on this census in the households of his daughter Marie Anne and her husband Thomas Berrisford in St. Paul, his son Owen and his wife Harriet in St. Paul, or his son Frank and his wife Mary in Rice City, Minnesota. His other children, namely Matthew, Bridget, Mary, Rose, and Catherine, have not been found on this census as well. The reason for this is unclear. However, it may be the result of transcription errors, that they were not recorded on the census, or perhaps they were not living in the United States, but Canada at the time. Additionally, Felix and several members of his family are not found in the St. Paul City Directories between 1871 and 1875.

Although Felix has not been found on the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, he has been found on the 1875 Minnesota Census. According to this record, Felix (shown as “Felix Cearns”) is living in the household of his daughter, Catherine, and her family in Glendale, Scott County, Minnesota. Although Felix’s surname is misspelled (“Cearns” instead of Kernan or Kiernan), it is nevertheless highly likely that this is a record for Felix. Both the age (76) of Felix and his birth location (Ireland) is a match. Additionally, it appears that Felix’s son Matthew (shown “Math Cearns”) was also living in the same household. Apart from his age and birth location no further details about Felix are provided by this record. However, it is likely that at his advanced age he was no longer employed.

1875 Minnesota Census showing a
1875 Minnesota Census showing Felix (shown “Felix Cearns”) in the household of Felix and Martha’s daughter Catherine and her family. (Click image to enlarge)

In addition to not being found in the St. Paul City Directories between 1871 and 1875, Felix is not found in the directories between 1876 and 1881. The likely reason for this is he was not living in St. Paul during these years, but was, perhaps, still living with his daughter Catherine and her family in Glendale. Additionally, Felix has not been found on the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. As with the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Felix is not enumerated as living in the households of his daughter Catherine and her family in Glendale, his son Frank and his family in St. Paul, his daughter Marie Anne and her family in St. Paul, or his son Owen and his family in Maryville, Missouri. His other children, namely Matthew, Bridget, Mary, and Rose, have not been found on this census as well. The reason for the apparent absence of Felix and these other children from this census is unclear.

It is not until 1882, moreover, that records for Felix are once again found. One of these is an entry for Felix in the St. Paul City Directory for that year. According to this entry, Felix was living at 546 Temperance in St. Paul. No further details are provided in this entry. However, Thomas Berrisford, the husband of Felix’s daughter Marie Anne, is also shown in this directory as living at this same address, which indicates that Felix was living with Marie Anne and her husband in St. Paul.

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Felix Kiernan’s entry in the 1882 St. Paul City Directory. (Click to Enlarge)

Felix’s entry in the 1882 St. Paul City Directory is the last record of his life while he was still alive. According to the “Minnesota Death Records, 1866-1916,” it was in that year, on the 21 December, that Felix died in St. Paul at the age of 86.

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Felix Kiernan’s entry on the “Minnesota Death Records, 1866-1916” (FamilySearch.org)

Despite his presence on the Minnesota Death Records Index, an exact match on the Ramsey County Register of Deaths has not been found. The closest match, which appears to be his record, is for a “Felix Hernan,” who died on the 21 December 1882 in Ramsey County. This Felix was 86 at the time of his death, giving him a birth year of 1796, and he was born in Ireland. All of these facts are consistent with those of Felix Kiernan and what appears on his entry in the “Minnesota Death Records, 1866-1916” index. They only inconsistency is that it states he was married instead of widowed, but this may reflect that he “was married.” Despite this one inconsistency, it seems certain that this record is indeed for Felix Kiernan, and that the reason for the misspelling of his surname is likely a transcription error. This record provides one additional fact, which is the cause of his death, which is stated to have been “senial debility,” which should read “senile debility.” According to the Webster’s New International Dictionary (1910), senile debility is defined as “of or pertaining to, proceeding from or chance of old age or the infirmities of old age.” It is associated with the term “internally infirmed,” which is defined as “weak, frail, especially as a result of age.”

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Felix’s entry in the Ramsey County Register of Deaths. (Click to Enlarge.)

That the entries in the Minnesota Death Records Index and the Ramsey County Register of Deaths are for Felix Kiernan is further supported by the fact that the date of death recorded in these two records is also recorded for Felix Kiernan at the cemetery he was buried at. According to information provided by the cemetery, Felix was buried at Calvary Cemetery in St. Paul on the same day of his death, 21 December 1882. He was buried in Section 13, Block 2, Lot 2, which is not far from where his daughter Rose was buried and where his daughter Marie Anne and her husband, Thomas Berrisford, were buried.

Felix & Martha Kiernan Timeline

The following summarizes the major events in the lives of Felix and Martha Kiernan.

Table 8: Timeline of Felix & Martha Kiernan Family
Date Event
1796 Felix was born in Lisnawully, Co. Louth, Ireland
1797 Martha was born in Archerstown, Co. Westmeath, Ireland
1825 Felix married Martha Rose Sheridan in the Catholic Parish of Clonmellon, most likely in Archerstown, Co. Westmeath, Ireland.
1826 Felix and Martha’s first child, Matthew, was born in Archerstown, Co. Westmeath, Ireland
ca. 1830 Felix and Martha’s second child, Bridget, was born in Ireland.
ca. 1830-1832 Felix and Martha immigrated to the Quebec, Canada with their two children (Matthew and Bridget), settling in Nicolet
1832 Felix and Martha’s third child, Mary, was born in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada.
1834 Felix and Martha’s fourth child, Marie Anne, was born in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada.
1836 Felix and Martha’s fifth child, Owen, was born in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada.
1839 Felix and Martha’s sixth child, Rose, was born in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada.
1841 Felix and Martha’s seventh child, Catherine, was born in Nicolet, Quebec, Canada.
1841-1844 Felix and Martha move their family from Nicolet to Sainte-Monique, Quebec, Canada.
1844 Felix and Martha’s eighth child, Felix, was born in Sainte-Monique, Quebec, Canada.
1851 Felix and Martha were living in Sainte-Monique, Quebec, Canada, where Felix was employed as a farmer
1855 Felix was party to a petition to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada to get a bridge built over part of the Nicolet River
1856 Felix and Martha immigrated to the United States with their children
1857 Felix and Martha were living in Sibley County, Minnesota, where Felix was employed as a farmer; Felix filed a “Declaration of Intention”
1860 Felix and Martha were living in Dryden, Sibley County, Minnesota, where Felix was employed as a farmer
1860-1865 Martha died most likely in Minnesota
1863-1864 Felix was living in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, where he was employed as a laborer
1864-1865 Felix was injured from a fall through a sidewalk in St. Paul and received $50 for his injuries from the city
1866 Felix was employed as a lumberman in St. Paul
1867 Felix was employed as a laborer in St. Paul
1875 Felix was living in Glendale, Scott County, Minnesota with daughter Catherine and her family
1882 Felix was living in St. Paul with daughter Marie Anne and her family; Felix died in St. Paul, and was buried at Calvary Cemetery

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Published 07/13/2012. Last Updated 04/04/2018.

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