The Irish in America


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Behind the Windows

The inscriptions on two of the windows at St. Malachy’s were a mystery to my mom and me. We wondered about Axier and Milmoe. We know so many of the old Irish family names from our research into Tara Township, the village of Clontarf, and the railroad, but are much less familiar with the non-Irish families and those from Hoff Township.

Following are short profiles on the Axier and Milmoe families, based on some general Ancestry.com info and the St. Malachy’s account books. If anyone has anything to add to this, or has information on any of the other window donors, please leave a comment and let me know!

Photo by Anne Schirmer, 2021

THE FAMILIES BEHIND THE WINDOWS

Charles Axier Family

The Axier family called the Clontarf, Minnesota area home for less than twenty years, but, like so many families, they made their mark on the town, the Church, and the community. The most visible contribution is the stained glass window at the “new” St. Malachy Catholic Church (1896).

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE AXIER FAMILY IN THE UNITED STATES

Charles and Marie Axier were born in France in about 1830 and 1836 respectively. They came to the United States around 1849 and were married in 1856. In 1865, Charles is in the Illinois State Census living in Prairie du Rocher in Randolph County. Information is limited from this census, but the Axier family consists of three people and their livestock has a value of $25. Swift County records indicate that Charles Axier was a veteran of the U.S. Civil War.

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, the Axier family lives in Hoff Township, Pope County, Minnesota. Charles is 51 years old and Marie is listed at 35 years old. Their daughter, Julia (21) is listed in the household of Father Oster in Clontarf working as a domestic servant. The 1885 Minnesota State Census list Charles (age 55) and Marie (age 40) still in Hoff Township in Pope County

Charles and Marie moved to town, appearing in Clontarf in the 1895 Minnesota State Census living near the Church and rectory. Charles (64) and Marie (55) are employed as gardeners (due to their location and close association, likely for St. Malachy’s).

By 1900, like Father Oster, the Axiers are no longer living in the Clontarf area. Julia married August Boucher on May 8, 1900, in Swift County and the couple shows up in the 1900 Census in Otsego Township in Wright County. Julia is the stepmother to August’s two children – Emma (7) and Arthur (18).  Charles (70) and Marie (60) live with the Boucher family in Otsego.

In 1905, Charles 64) and Marie (55) have relocated to Anoka in Anoka County (per Minnesota State Census). Charles is employed as a laborer and Marie has no occupation listed. Charles dies in 1909 and is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Anoka, Minnesota. His gravestone states that Charles was born in 1835. (Note on the accuracy of ages: Census data is sometimes unreliable due to family members reporting information who don’t know the correct age, language barriers, mistrust of the census-taker, and simply individuals not wishing to reveal their age.)

Marie moves back to Julia’s home in Otsego. Julia’s husband, August, passes away on September 13, 1916 and by the 1920 Census, Marie (84) and Julia (64) are living alone at the house. Marie died on January 31, 1927, and is buried next to her husband in Anoka’s Calvary Cemetery. The date of birth given on her stone is January 13, 1936.

STAINED GLASS WINDOW

  • 8/8/1896 – Charles Axier partial due to window fund $10.00
  • 10/12/1896 – $5.00

SAMPLES OF OTHER AXIER FAMILY CONTRIBUTIONS

  • 10/25/1879 – Grave Yard Fund C. Axier $1.00
  • 6/15/1886 – Peter Pence collection Mrs. Axier $.15
  • 6/16/1886 – Charles Axier Church dues $29.00
  • 7/3/1887 – Dues Charles Axier $5.00
  • 6/2/1896 – To friend’s (Mrs. Axier) offering $.50

Milmoe and Mockler Families

John MIlmoe was born in Ireland about 1830. In 1870, he appears in the US Federal Census living in ward two of Oshkosh, Wisconsin with his wife Anna and family. John is employed as a blacksmith. Anna Angel was also born in Ireland around 1828 and after coming to the US, married Daniel McCarthy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1845. McCarthy passed away in 1851. John and Anna married about 1855, creating a family of children from Anna’s first marriage and children of their own.

By 1880, the family has relocated to Hoff Township in Pope County near the village of Clontarf, where John is now a farmer. Anna Milmoe passed away in 1890 at the age of 62. Her death may have inspired the lovely stained-glass window at St. Malachy simply inscribed, Milmoe.

John and Anna’s daughter Mary married William Mockler of Hoff Township in 1886. The couple lived near the Milmoe farm, as well as other active St. Malachy’s parishioners – Goulets, Chamberlains, Chevaliers, Daniels, Axiers, and Milmoes. The ladies of these families are among those responsible for a second window donated by the Ladies of Pope County. Mary Milmoe Mockler was mentioned a number of times in the financial records of the church. She organized her friends and family in raising funds for multiple windows at Saint Malachy’s Church.

In 1900, John Milmoe is living with his daughter Mary Mockler, who is widowed with three small children aged 8-13. John Milmoe died in 1911. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Hayward, Sawyer County, Wisconsin amongst Mockler family members.

MILMOE IN THE EARLY ACCOUNTS BOOK

9/17/1878 – Collection/pew rent – $5 James

MOCKLER IN THE ACCOUNTS BOOKS

10/6/1878 – Collection/pew rent – $2.00 John

4/13/1886 – C/P – $5.00 Edward

7/9/1887 – C/P – $15.00 Edward (T. Goulet and Isidore Daniel each gave $5.00)

Note:

Information in this article is from census data from Ancestry.com and the St. Malachy Financial Records, copies in Eileen McCormack’s files. These copies and the information contained here do not represent the complete financial record.          Eileen McCormack made the copies when the books were at the parish house in Clontarf, 2004-2005. The books are now located at St. Francis Catholic Church in Benson, Minnesota.

Eileen R. McCormack and Aine C. McCormack, March 9, 2022

Anne Schirmer, the local Clontarf historian, has put together a book of St. Malachy’s photos and Clontarf history. Let me know if you would like to purchase a copy! Last time I checked, they were $15 – shipping may be extra. Anne organized a “History Open House” in Clontarf in March and is planning on hosting another event soon. Leave a comment and I will get in touch. Thank you!


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The Windows of St. Malachy’s

When sunlight streams through the muted colored panes of glass, the church is filled with subtle warmth, comfort, and beauty. It is all about the windows at St. Malachy’s Catholic Church in Clontarf, Minnesota.

Window donated by Robert Riordan – inscription is in the center of the “ventilator” section near the bottom of the window. (Photo by Anne Schirmer, 2021)

The following is an informational listing on the windows of St. Malachy’s. The details are there: size, cost, payment, dates, and donors. If you are interested in any of these windows, go to Clontarf, Minnesota this Saturday, May 21st at 9am for the auction!

THE WINDOWS OF ST. MALACHY’S

The most striking feature of the 1896 St. Malachy Catholic Church building is the beautiful stained glass. The windows give character and a sense of elegance to the simple frame church. Father Oster wanted to put Clontarf and St. Malachy’s on the map, to represent the thriving, prosperous community it had become in less than twenty years. A St. Malachy parishioner (or group of parishioners) paid for each stained-glass window. Inscriptions of the donor’s name(s) appear on most of the windows.

Who made the windows?

Father Oster hired Brown & Haywood of St. Paul, Minnesota to design and manufacture all the stained-glass windows in the church. In the 1890s, Brown & Haywood was one of the most sought-after stained-glass studios in Minnesota, employing some of the top artists in the region. Many civic buildings and churches throughout Minnesota featured their stained glass, including St. Mary’s in Waverly, Minnesota. The company moved from St. Paul in 1898, shifted its focus, and was later sold to the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company.

Advertisement in the “Improvement Bulletin” Vol. XV. No 9. January 30, 1897.

How much did they cost?

An account of the full window charges from Brown & Haywood from November 13, 1896, appears in the financial book on the date of payment, December 27, 1896. The amounts listed represent windows and installation.

10     36×130 leaded     $325.00                (five on each side)

  2      36×70 leaded          $35.00               (left side “duplex” on front)

  2     36×70 leaded           $35.00               (right side “duplex” on front)

  1     56×56 leaded           $21.00               (“Rose” window)

  1     57×28 leaded           $11.00               (transept above door)

16     20X26 CATH            $  9.00               

12     Ventilators @2.50    $30.00

14     Inscriptions @.50   $  7.00

TOTAL CHARGES (including approx. 60% discount on two small windows): $454.20

When did St. Malachy’s pay?

December 5, 1896       $150.00

December 27, 1896     $256.70

January 15, 1897          $ 93.80

TOTAL PAYMENTS: $500.50 (missing pages might account for this perceived over-payment)

Who were the donors?

(Note: The following figures from 12/8/1896 differ slightly from earlier entries due to shipping or installation charges.)

TEN Main Windows (five on each side along length of building, all inscribed)

     -Ladies of Pope County – 3 windows – paid $60.90 (December 8-9, 1896)

36×130 leaded window (each)

Account entry for July 14, 1895, states that the July Fourth Fair raised $41.48 for stained glass windows.

This included proceeds from Mrs. Mockler’s fancy table ($21.18) and quilt raffle ($11.75).

     -Young Folks – 2 windows – paid $40.60 (December 8-9, 1896)

36×130 leaded glass (each)

Entry from July 10, 1896, lists $30.00, proceeds from “play by Clontarf Troop for windows.”

     -Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) – paid $20.30 (December 27, 1896 via J. O’Donnell)

36×130 leaded glass

Breakdown of Charges for 36×130 windows (listed under AOH):

32 ½ leaded glass              $16.25

Ventilator                           2.50

Inscription                           .50

Transportation                1.05

       TOTAL                             $20.30

     -Charles Axier – paid $20.30 (December 8-9, 1896)

36×130 leaded glass

     -John Milmoe – paid $20.30 (December 8-9, 1896)

36×130 leaded glass

     -Isidore Daniel – paid $20.30 (December 8-9, 1896)

36×130 leaded glass

     -Robert Riordon – paid $20.30 (December 8-9, 1896)

36×130 leaded glass

FOUR Front Windows (“Duplex” style on either side of façade)

     -Jos. Daniel – paid $21.60 (December 8-9, 1896)

     -J.B. Daniel – paid $21.60 (December 8-9, 1896)

ROSE Window (on front of building)

     -Eugene Daniel       $9.50   56×56  12/9/1896 (no inscription)

TRANSOM Window (above front door)              

     -Simon Conaty – Contractor/builder on project              $5.20   57×28  12/9/1896 (inscription)    

AGONY IN THE GARDEN (above and behind placement of the original altar)

     -The only window depicting a scene at St. Malachy’s

     -No specific information was found in the account books for this window  

Note:

Information in this article is from copied pages from the St. Malachy Financial Records from Eileen McCormack’s files. These copies and the information contained here do not represent the complete financial record. The excerpts were copied by Eileen McCormack when the books were at the parish house in Clontarf, 2004-2005. Record books are presently at St. Francis Catholic Church in Benson, Minnesota.

Eileen R. McCormack and Aine C. McCormack, March 9, 2022