||Patrick McGowan was involved in the westward expansion of the USA.|
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Patrick McGowan was the fourth son and sixth child of Patrick and Ellen McGowan. (The family followed a traditional Irish naming pattern to some degree, although usually the third son is named for his father, as Patrick was.) Young Patrick was five years old when his father died. On the 1860 census, the two oldest children, Sarah and Mary, were not living with the rest of the family, and likely working elsewhere to help support the family. The six boys, from Hugh, age 13 to Daniel age 3 were living at home, and all except Daniel had been attending school during the year.
By 1870, Patrick, then 17, was in nearby Cambridge, Lamoille county, working as a laborer on the farm of 23-year-old Gaius Thompson.
In 1874, Patrick and his older brother Terrence invested in their own land, obtaining a Quit-Claim Deed for the north half of lot 69 in the third division "drawn to the original right of Samuel Sackett and leased by the University of Vermont & State Agricultural College the 28th day of January 1870 to Samuel Chase." The brothers took on a $600 mortgage with the seller, H. A. Naramore, to be paid in 12 payments of $50 over six years. The property was subject to a yearly rent payment to the University of Vermont of three dollars.
About this time, the archbishop of St. Paul, Minnesota, John Ireland, was trying to attract Irish settlers from the tenements of East coast cities to take up land in Minnesota. He set up the Catholic Colonization bureau in 1876, and in a contract with the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, became the agent for railroad lands in Swift County, Minnesota. Other lands along the railroads were retained by the government and given out to settlers under the Homestead Act of 1862. Settlers could claim up to 80 acres if they agreed to live on the land for five years.
The entire McGowan family moved to Minnesota during this time. According to his obituary, Patrick first went to work on a farm about one mile north of Benson, in Swift County, "at that time owned by an Eastern capitalist." Patrick soon followed his brother Terrence in filing a Homestead claim for the south half of the northwest quarter of section 4 in Tara township. His application indicated he first settled the area in June 1877 and began residing in September after he built a frame house on the property. By 1879-80, both brothers applied for additional land as permitted by a new Homestead law. Patrick's application indicated he had cultivated about 35 acres of his original 80 acres, and had planted wheat, potatoes and corn. He had built a new house in October 1879, and the improvements to the property were then valued at about $250. According to the 1880 census, Patrick's older brother John was living and working on this farm with him. Although Patrick is the younger brother, he is listed as head of the household, age 29, though (he was actually 27) and John was 28.
Patrick obtained his homestead patent on March 30, 1883. At the time of his final payment on July 11, 1882, he had 70 acres under cultivation and had just seeded his fifth season of crops. He had improvements worth $700-800, including a frame house, a stable, and a well. He registered his deed to the property on Feb. 13, 1883. Later reports indicate that Patrick moved from his farm in the spring of 1882 to Benson, possibly having one of his brothers maintain the farm.
By this time, Patrick McGowan had married Sarah Breen, the daughter of his mother’s neighbor in nearby Moore township. The couple were married in Morris, Stevens County, on August 31, 1881. “A quiet wedding party arrived at the Central House yesterday morning, . . . The high contracting parties were Mr. P. McGowan, of Benson, and Miss Sarah Breen, of Hancock, the ceremony being performed at the Catholic church, Rev. Father Watry officiating.” The couple lived on their farm for about six months before moving to Benson in the spring of 1882, perhaps shortly after their first child Gertrude was born in April.
In 1883, Patrick and his brother James bought a farm 1 1/2 miles south of Kerkhovenin Pillsbury, perhaps to start a dairy business. Their brother Terrence may have already moved to the area. The newspaper reported May 30, 1883, that Terrence was about to open a cheese factory on his farm. The county newspaper, which was centered in the county seat in Benson, was not very supportive of McGowan brothers business efforts in Kerkhoven, noting that "The supply of cream which has been received [at the Benson creamery] from Kerkhoven daily for some time past has ceased, owing to the fact that the cheese factory at that place has started up and farmers think that they can make more money by selling the cream. Perhaps they can but experience has demonstrated the fact that only about one season in ten can they do so."
Patrick and Sarah remained in Kerkhoven for a few more years, moving to Benson in 1891 with their growing family. In March of that year, Patrick announced in the Benson paper, "Having purchased the stock and milk business of John J. Maher, I am prepared to deliver clean milk to any part of the city." And in May, he announced,"I have rented the Wilcox & Liggett pasture, adjoining town, for the seasonal and will take in town cows and all other stock it will accommodate. The pasture is supplied with good water, and I will salt twice a week." Patrick also purchased a home lot in what was called the "McKinney addition," part of "Benson's Building Boom." The Kerkhoven paper noted the departure of the McGowans with two small notices: one, indicating an opportunity for a creamery and cheese factory business and another, noting that someone had moved into the house formerly occupied by Pat McGowan.
A year later, Patrick went into the meat business with Michael Quigley, and they announced their new enterprise in a newspaper advertisement: Quigley & McGowan, Dealers in Fresh & Salt Meats," listing many of their products, including
|An advertisement for the Quigley and McGowan Meat business appeared regularly in the Benson newspaper.|
Four years later, Patrick, like his father, died an early death, on December 7, 1899, at age 46. His death surprised the community:
“He had been out around town the day before, attending to his business in the usual way, but was taken ill that night. Early Thursday morning he felt some better and thought that he was improving, but during the forenoon commenced to grow worse and gradually sank away, the end coming about 8 o'clock Thursday evening. Mr. McGowan had been in poor health for a number of years, having considerable trouble with his stomach. It was not known that his heart was affected, but death was caused by a complication of stomach troubles and heart disease. He had sold out his business only about ten days prior to his death and had expected to try another climate this winter, hoping that his shattered health might be benefitted. But the summons came without warning and the old saying, "Man proposes and God disposes," was again vividly illustrated.”
The cause of death was certified as gastrointestinal catarrh. The newspaper reported that Patrick's business affairs were left in good condition, although his widow had eight children to care for. The funeral was held on Sunday morning and Father Shea preached "an eloquent sermon." He was buried in St. Francis Cemetery outside Benson. His brother Terrence, then living in Grey Eagle Township, in Todd County, Minnesota, was among the family members attending Patrick's funeral.
Patrick and Sarah's ninth surviving child, Lucy, was born less than one month after her father's death on January 8, 1900.
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