Mother Margaret in Minnesota??

Baptism records from the 1850s and 1860s recently provided to me by an IGSI researcher (at a bargain price, as described in my July 29th blog posting) prompted me to look again at early Minnesota census records.

I’d certainly viewed the 1857 Minnesota Territorial Census before but never this particular page. What a surprise I found!

As background, here’s what we already knew:  my husband Bill’s great-grandfather, Patrick Hickey, left Ireland in about 1844 with his three young-adult siblings – Michael “Pat”, Bartholomew, and Margaret. From Bartholomew’s 1900 obituary, we learned they’d lived in Oneida County (NY) and then Rock County (WI). Wisconsin marriage records reveal three of the siblings getting married in early 1856: Patrick wed Julia Ryan, Bartholomew wed Alice O’Brien, and Margaret wed Martin Collins. Shortly thereafter they all moved west to Minnesota.

On 13 October 1857, a Ramsey County census-taker recorded the following individuals (with their ages and birthplaces) living in dwellings 65, 66, and 67:

65   M Collins                     26   M  Ireland

Margaret Collins                 30   F  Ireland

66    Julia Ryan                  24   F  Ireland

Mary Ryan                      4/12   F  Minnesota

67   Alice Hickey                23   F   Ireland

James Hickey                 8/12  M  Minnesota

Margaret Hickey                81   F   Ireland

MARGARET HICKEY, AGE 81? We knew the Hickey parents were James and Margaret. I assumed they’d both died in Ireland before their children emigrated but maybe not.  (I haven’t yet found any of the Hickeys in 1850 Federal census.)

Is this 1857 entry for the right family? Despite the absence of Hickey “menfolk” and Julia/Mary with a “Ryan” surname, it looks correct.  Bartholomew and Alice’s son, James, was born in March 1857; Patrick and Julia’s daughter, Mary, was born in July 1857; Martin and Margaret Collins would have a son, James, in December 1857.

Further, the 1857 census shows six Irish-born young men residing next door in dwelling #64 and working as laborers for a farmer named Branard. Listed among the six are “Michael Hickey,” age 32, and “M. Hickey,” age 28. Hmm. Coincidence? Or incorrect first names?

National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) homestead records show Michael “Pat” Hickey claiming pre-emption rights on property in Ramsey County and residing there as of May 1857. Could the three Hickey brothers be working and living together on Michael’s homestead? Or was Michael away homesteading, and Bartholomew and Patrick “bunking” with co-workers down the road from their wives and families – and mis-named in the census?

Of greatest significance, however, is that 81-year-old Margaret Hickey was living in Minnesota in 1857. We’d found no other evidence that she’d accompanied her children to America. She is not reflected in the 1860 census, and I’ve been unable to find either death or burial records for her.

There’s an interesting parallel on the other side of Bill’s family: six Quinn sons left Ireland in 1850 with their widowed mother Honora, arriving in Minnesota about 1855. Honora Quinn is shown in the 1857 Minnesota Territorial Census but nowhere else.

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