247 – Barton County 1880s

The 1870s had seen remarkable changes for Pat and Ellen Gallagher. From coal mine work in Pennsylvania to railroad work in Clinton County, Missouri to farm ownership in Barton County, Missouri.

A Barton County farm – late 1800s

The Gallagher family owned a farm. Farm work was hard, but it was theirs. Patrick was in his 50s, son Michael was coming of age as a teen. Ellen was early 50s, daughter Hannah a teenage young adult.

The decade of the 70s ended with some degree of stability, perhaps even prosperity. But the 1880s brought change. Stuff happens.

Hannah Died

Hannah Gallagher died on May 20, 1880.  She was age “20 years and 20 days”.  We don’t know her cause of death. Death certificates weren’t kept then, not until 1883.

Hannah’s death – Gallagher Bible

Hannah was buried in the old East Cemetery in Lamar.  Her grave location isn’t marked and isn’t known. The old East Cemetery was abandoned, and records weren’t kept.

East Cemetery – Lamar, Missouri- 2015

Poor Hannah. We know so little about her. Why did she die at age 20? Perhaps she died of consumption (tuberculosis), but we just don’t know.

Three of the Gallagher’s children had died young; John and Thomas as infants and now Hannah at age 20.


The census was enumerated June 4, 1880, just two weeks after Hannah died.  It must have been very difficult.

The census lists Patrick, 58, Ellen, 45, and son Michael, age 18. 

1880 US Census – Patrick, Ellen, and Michael Gallagher

The census indicates that Michael attended school in the current year, but that Patrick and Michael can’t read or write.

A well-known family story

We’ve all heard the story. Ellen Dugan came to Lamar, Missouri from County Donegal as an indentured servant, arranged by Patrick Gallagher. After arrival, she worked off her indenture. Then she married Michael Gallagher. They’re our 2nd great-grandparents.

Here’s the story as written by Kathleen Gallagher Teply.

Gallagher family history – Kathleen Gallagher Teply

Our family documents even include a copy of the indenture contract.

Patrick Gallagher arranged for D. Humphrey to advance $39 to pay for Ellen Dugan’s passage from Donegal to Nevada, Missouri (near Lamar).

D. Humphrey was a prominent local businessman in Lamar. His family owned the furniture store and undertaker business. (That combination was common.)

Once in Lamar, Ellen Dugan was obligated to work as a domestic servant for Humphrey at the pay rate of $2 per week. From her earnings, Ellen would repay Humphrey.

If Ellen didn’t satisfy the contract, Patrick Gallagher would have to repay Humphrey.


The contract and the story of an arranged marriage provokes questions.

  • If this was an arranged marriage, how did Patrick Gallagher make the arrangement? How did he know Ellen Dugan by name? How did he know she was willing to come to Lamar?
  • Who was Patrick’s contact in Donegal that selected Ellen Dugan and got her agreement to come to Lamar?
  • Why did this happen? Why would Patrick need to pay for a marriage partner for Michael, especially one from Ireland? Were there no suitable prospects around Lamar?

There’s more to the story

Perusing the Lamar Democrat newspaper, we found stories that provided answers to some of our questions.

The first news article, December 1883, was a mystery…

The Lamar Democrat – December 1883

Who is this Michael Gallagher? He’s not our Michael, son of Patrick and Ellen. And this Michael has a daughter Hannah. She’s not our Hannah, daughter of Pat and Ellen who died in 1880. And she’s just arrived in Lamar.

I didn’t know what to make of this.

The next news article, January 1884, began to make sense…

The Lamar Democrat – January 8, 1884

Ellen Dugan is in Lamar, and she’s a friend of this Hannah Gallagher. This ties the mystery Michael and Hannah Gallagher to our Patrick and Ellen and Michael. But how?

I’m surprised that Ellen Dugan is already in Lamar in January 1884. That’s six months before the indenture contract. Hmmmm.

A year later, in August 1885, another news article…

The Lamar Democrat – August 6, 1885

A news article years later, in June 1897, clinches the relationship…

The Lamar Democrat – June 24, 1897

Michael Gallagher, who was employed by the City of Lamar to work on streets, is Patrick Gallagher’s brother. Now we know the namesake of Patrick’s son Michael. He was named for Pat’s brother Michael.

Brother Michael’s daughter Hannah was named after his mother Hannah, just as Patrick’s daughter was named for her.

Questions answered

Patrick Gallagher had a brother Michael. Michael came from Ireland to Lamar around 1883 and worked for the City of Lamar maintaining streets.

In late 1883, Michael was joined in Lamar by his daughter Hannah and her friend Ellen Dugan. Was Ellen pre-destined to become our Michael’s wife? Or did that happen after she arrived? Don’t know.

In Donegal, Ellen Dugan must have lived nearby Hannah Gallagher and her father Michael. We’ve already studied this, and concluded that they lived in or near Meenderrynasloe township in The Rosses in Donegal.

We now have more of the John and Hannah Gallagher family tree.

More questions

Did Ellen Dugan travel to Missouri with her friend Hannah Gallagher knowing she would marry our Michael Gallagher?

Why did Patrick’s brother Michael Gallagher return to Donegal instead of staying in Missouri?

Did Michael’s daughter Hannah Gallagher return to Donegal? Or did she stay in Missouri?

Michael Gallagher and Ellen Dugan marry

Whether arranged or not, our Michael and Ellen Dugan married on November 15, 1885. Rev. Father Connelly presided in the Catholic Church in Lamar.

Marriage License – Michael Gallagher and Ellen Dugan – November 15, 1885

A son John

John Gallagher was born August 21 or 22, 1886 in Barton County, Missouri. His parents were Michael and Ellen Gallagher.

John died Friday, October 29, 1886, just two months after his birth.

John Gallagher’s birth and death – Gallagher Family Bible

Goodbye to the 1880s

A lot had happened to the Gallagher family in the past decade.

In 1880, Patrick and Ellen’s daughter Hannah had died at age 20.

Patrick’s brother Michael had come to Lamar from Donegal around 1883. He got a job for the City of Lamar working on the city streets, for which he was given much credit.

The Lamar Democrat – February 17, 1897

Soon after, Michael was joined in Lamar by his daughter Hannah and her friend Ellen Dugan. We learned new information surrounding Ellen Dugan’s arrival and indenture contract.

In 1885, Patrick and Ellen’s son Michael had married Ellen Dugan. Michael and Ellen lived on the Gallagher farm. A year later, Mike and Ellen’s first child John died in infancy.

Ellen Dugan Gallagher – perhaps at Gallagher farm house – c 1890s
The Lamar Democrat – September 1, 1887

By the end of the 1880s, Patrick and Ellen were in their 60s. Mike helped his father with farm work, and Ellen aided her mother-in-law with domestic chores.

The town of Lamar had grown into a bustling city of 3,500. It was the county seat of Barton County. Its amenities rivaled other regional cities.



  • Image – George C. Noyer farm – Barton County, Missouri – c 1904 – State Historical Society of Missouri – https://digital.shsmo.org/digital/collection/imc/id/15444/rec/10
  • Image – Hannah Gallagher death – Gallagher family Bible
  • Image – Old East Cemetery – Photos by Mark Jarvis – 2015
  • Paper – East Cemetery in Lamar – Barton County Historical Society – Lamar, Missouri
  • Census – Patrick and Ellen Gallagher family – 1880 – ancestry.com – https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6742/images/4241870-00165?pId=33651946
  • Quotation – Gallagher Family History – Teply family documents – Kathleen Gallagher Teply
  • Image – Ellen Dugan indenture contract – Teply family documents
  • Image – Humphrey Furniture and Hardware, Lamar, Missouri – 1936 – Facebook – Lamar, MO – https://www.facebook.com/lamarmissouri/photos
  • Newspaper articles – The Lamar Democrat – State Historical Society of Missouri – Jefferson City, Missouri
  • Image – Family tree – John and Hannah Gallagher, James and Julia Duffy – Ancestry.com
  • Image – Marriage License – Michael Gallagher and Ellen Dugan – 1885 – Barton County Register – Lamar, Missouri
  • Image – John Gallagher’s Birth – Barton County Births – 1883-1894 – Clerk of the County Court – Barton County, Missouri – Lamar, Missouri
  • Image – John Gallagher’s birth and death – Gallagher Family Bible – Teply family documents
  • Image – Ellen Dugan Gallagher in front of house – Brosseau family documents – Jim Brosseau Collection
  • Image – Gulf Street, Lamar, Missouri – 1902 – State Historical Society of Missouri – Jefferson City, Missouri – https://digital.shsmo.org/digital/collection/imc/id/15868/rec/11
  • Music – Wistfulness – Dee Yan-Key – Free Music Archive – https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Dee_Yan-Key/elegies/wistfulness/

2 thoughts on “247 – Barton County 1880s

  1. deborahlargefox0764 November 16, 2022 / 3:44 pm

    Enjoyed this post. One mystery solved, another one takes its place. So many good-byes in our ancestors’ lives. Your blog has made me think about the emotional toll of immigration.


    • Mark Jarvis November 16, 2022 / 9:01 pm

      I agree. I think this entire series of stories reminds me of the situation of immigrants. Who’s not descended from an immigrant? It’s who we are.

      Liked by 1 person

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