Margaret Dennison and Charles M. Boyle
Charles M. Boyle (c.1817 - 05/02/1897) was from Kincasslagh, Co. Donegal and married Margaret Dennison (15/08/1834 - 15/11/1919). Margaret was a daughter of George Dennison and Afric McGettigan, and niece of Archbishop McGettigan.
From one source she was said to be from "Cashel, Creeslough" (very close to Drumdutton where the Dennisons lived and even closer to Drumlackagh where the McGettigans lived). It is also possible that she was living with her maternal cousins, the O'Boyles of Magherablade, at the time of her marriage. Among Michael J's personal effects in the MHS collection (see below) is a letter from Brian C. Walsh to his godmother, Margaret Boyle, detailing his activities as a car driver for the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force in Baghdad (June 5, 1918). Brian C. Walsh was the son of Aifric Harkin who was a niece of Margaret's from Massinass near Creeslough.
Charles was the son of Michael "Teague" Boyle from Kincasslagh, Co. Donegal and Madge McFadden. He emigrated to the United States in the 1840s or early 1850s. Margaret emigrated in 1850 (US Census 1900) or 1855-56 (Death Cert.) but Michael's diaries say that his parents emigrated during the potato famine of the 1840s (Wills, 2003). It is not clear where or when they met or married.
They lived initially in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania (annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907) where Charles worked in the nearby coal mines while Margaret worked at various domestic occupations. Their son, Michael Joseph, was born in Pittsburgh in April 1856 (the same year that his mother immigrated). A periodic economic depression, the "panic of 1857" made them decide to move north at the end of that year. They took the train to Rock Island, Illinois - which was then the western extremity of what was to become the Northern Pacific Railroad - and the steamboat to St. Paul, Minnesota, the "gateway to the new North West". At that time Minnesota was not yet a state. There Charles found work in the docks. During the Civil War, he worked his way up to a position as a surveyor. In the boom after the war, he opened his own surveying company. He is described as a Civil Engineer in the register of his death and on his gravestone (CE). These titles would have been supplied by his widow. It is not clear if he undertook any formal study in Civil Engineering. His company were employed in the St. Paul area by the City of St. Paul, the Catholic Church and the railroad companies.
For Charles M. Boyle's political career in St. Paul/Ramsey County, Minnesota, see this page.
Business prospered up to 1876 to the extent that he was able to send Michael to study at St. Mary's College, Cleveland, Ohio. However, the effects of the "panic of 1873", leading to the first industrial depression, meant that Charles' speculative property investments caused the collapse of his enterprises. In the meantime Michael had been summoned home. Charles decided to return to Ireland (initially to Dublin) to seek employment. He left the US at the end of September 1876.
Michael spent six months working as a teacher at the rural public school in Credit River Township, Scott County, Minnesota to support the family and begin paying off his father's debts. Even though the position was relatively well paid, he was not happy there and hankered to get back to the city. He then took up employment with Auerbach and Co on 15/05/1877 where he was to spend the best part of the next 50 years. Margaret and the younger children (Mary A. and Charles D.) moved back to Ireland in July 1882 to join Charles - who had not succeeded in finding work or prospects.
Charles died at Ballymore, Creeslough, Co. Donegal on 5th February, 1897 without returning to the US. He is probably buried in Cashel Mór Cemetery (Doe Chapel graveyard) nearby or in St. Mary's graveyard in Kincasslagh, where his name is on a family headstone. The death certificate gives his widow's address as Massinass (where her nieces and nephews, the Harkins, lived). It is possible that her sister, Afric Sheridan, and her family were also living locally around this time.
Margaret, Mary A. and Charles D. returned to the US to re-join Michael - probably not long after that (they all appear in the US Census in 1900). In the census, Margaret is boarding in a house on Dayton Ave. and Michael is a lodger in a house in the next street (Selby Ave).
On her death cert, Margaret is stated as having been 63 years in the U.S. which would put her year of immigration around 1856 (when she would have been 22 - Michael was born in April that year). The 1900 Census gives her year of birth as 1833 and year of immigration as 1850 (aged 16). This information cannot be trusted since it also says she had no children. The Minnesota Territorial and State Census gives her age as 24 (21/09/1857) - therefore born before September 21st, 1833. Her death cert says she was 60 years in Minnesota. Round numbers are always a bit suspicious. The Census was filled in by an enumerator and the details of the death cert were furnished by Michael so the accuracy in both cases is questionable. Some corroboration is necessary. We know that Michael J. was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvannia (Death Cert and Census records) so we may assume she spent some time there also (with Charles - possibly they met and were married there). In the 1910 Census it looks like she had 9 children of whom 3 are still alive. Her age then (77) gives 1833 as her year of birth.
Margaret died in St. Paul, Minnesota on 15/11/1919. The causes of death were given as "Senility, Chronic Nephritis and Myocarditis". Her Death Certificate gives her date of birth as 15/08/1834 and that she had been 63 years in the US.
According to the 1910 US Census, Margaret was the mother of nine children. At that time only three were still alive.
We know quite a lot about the family because Michael kept a fairly detailed diary between 1876 and 1890. These diaries were used as source material for a paper by Jocelyn Wills published in the Journal of Social History, Winter, 2003. The Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) have the diaries and some additional material on Michael's life from 1990 up to his death.
Michael J. Boyle died on Wednesday 5th February, 1941. His obituary appeared the following Friday in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on page 20. It reads:
BOYLE - Michael J., of 315 So. Exchange
St., Wednesday afternoon at St. Joseph's
hospital. Son of the late Charles
and Margaret Boyle. Survived by his sister.
Funeral from the chapel of O'Halloran
& Murphy, 215 W. 6th. at Main Ave.,
at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Services at the
Cathedral at 9 o'clock. Internment Calvary
So far as we know, Charles and Margaret had no grand-children.