Christopher McHugh's story

  • Updated: August 13, 2012 - 6:44 AM

John and Roseann Kearney Of Hamilton (now Savage) were typical settlers in Minnesota during Territorial days and have connections with the 1862 conflict as did all Minnesotans of that time.

The Kearney's were both from Ireland but had spent about 25 years in Quebec before emigrating to Minnesota. They took advantage of the land available as a result of the Dakota treaties buying it for $1.25 per acre. They along with partner John and Nancy Fish platted the city of Hamilton.

John Fish purchased an interest in the Kearney land for $5,000. This is worth about $133,000 today with an economic value at the time well above that. When meeting today with my third cousins -- the various descendents of this couple -- we all agree that the family across all generations and branches had benefited from this opportunity.

Roseann Kearney died in 1860 of an accidental gunshot. Her son George was killed in the Civil War at age 21 but not before he stood guard at the Mankato hangings of December 1862. Future daughter in law Katherine Kiernan, a young teacher in 1862 was according to family legend rescued from Mankato by her 14-year-old future brother-in-law Andrew Kearney, my great grandfather.

Our family did not suffer the sad consequences that many settler and Dakota families of the time did. However, today we are cognizant that the initial settlement on the land by our ancestors at the expense of the Dakota made everything that we have and are grateful for today possible.

A couple members of our family are coincidentally involved  with charitable work involving Native folks here and in the Dakota's.  This anniversary suddenly makes those contributions seem like the least our family can do and now have greater meaning for us..

Christopher McHugh

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