Railway Ancestors

Thomas Benton


Also a Lumberman Ancestor.

Born at Clonganhue, Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary in 1826, Thomas Benton was the son of Thomas Benton Sr., a tailor, and Catherine ('Kitty') Dwyer.

Thomas Benton emigrated to North America (probably first to the United States) in the early 1850s. By 1856, he was in Ontario, in the Gananoque area, working on the construction of a Grand Trunk Railway line. His brother-in-law Cornelius Harrington (originally of Rossnagrena, Kilcaskan, Co. Cork) was also a GTR labourer at Gananoque. It was at Gananoque, on 14 April 1856, that Thomas Benton married Honora Ryan, originally of Curraghafoil, Doon, Co. Limerick, daughter of Michael Ryan and Bridget Lahey.

The item below, a 'Missing Friends' advertisement from the Boston Pilot, dated 30 June 1855, suggests that Thomas Benton had been in North America (and at Edgar County, Illinois?) for at least a few years before he turned up in Gananoque in 1856.

boston pilot
Ad placed in the Boston Pilot, 30 June 1855, by Thomas's older brother John

John Lahey


John Lahey was born at March township, Carleton Co., Ontario in 1837, the son of James Lahey (originally of Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Co. Tipperary) and Ann Armstrong (originally of Annagh, Co. Cavan).

On 12 January 1858, he married Margaret Jane Killeen, daughter of Denis Killeen (originally of Meelick, Co. Galway) and Mary Ahearn (originally of Ireland, county unknown, but probably Tipperary). John and Margaret Jane had 5 children, born between December 1858 and February 1867.

At some point in the late 1860s or very early 1870s, John Lahey left his family. In the 1871 census, his absence was recorded by the enumerator's comment: 'Husband left.' A decade later, John Lahey was still absent, and now presumed dead: in the 1881 census, Margaret Jane (Killeen) Lahey was enumerated as the widowed head of a household that included her 5 children and her niece Bridget Loreto Killeen (a Seamstress Ancestor).

Fortunately, the 'widowed' Margaret Jane did not see fit to remarry, for she was not a widow at all. By 1884, John Lahey had returned to his family in South March, where he set himself up as a contractor. He helped build the stone church of St. Isidore (1887), which was built on the 2 acres of land that his uncle, John Lahey the Elder, had donated to the Roman Catholic Church in 1859. And he was also engaged in railway construction: as a contractor, John Lahey helped build parts of the Old Pontiac Pacific Junction (later Pontiac division of the CPR) and the Canadian Pacific short line at Ste. Anne de Bellevue.

John James Lahey


John James Lahey was born at March township, Carleton Co., Ontario in 1858, the son of John Lahey and Margaret Jane Killeen.

As a contractor, and working with his father John Lahey, John James Lahey helped build parts of the Old Pontiac Pacific Junction (later Pontiac division of the CPR) and the Canadian Pacific short line at Ste. Anne de Bellevue. He was also engaged in railway construction work in the state of Maine. When he died, he received a floral tribute from Colonel V.I. Smart, Deputy Minister of Railways and Canals.

Alexander Michael Moran

gtr blue

Alexander Michael Moran was born at Huntley township, Carleton Co., Ontario in 1872, the son of Alexander ('Sandy') Michael Moran and Mary Leavy.

A machinist for the Grand Trunk Railway, and then for the CNR, Alex Moran worked at the roundhouse at LeBreton Flats, Ottawa.

He married Anna ('Annie') Maria Benton (a Seamstress Ancestor) in 1897.

Allan Jerome Moran


Born in Ottawa in 1897, Allan Jerome Moran was the son of Alexander Michael Moran and Anna ('Annie') Maria Benton.

As a young man, Al Moran worked as a stenographer for the Grand Trunk Railway, later the CNR. His brother Orville also worked for the CNR.

He later worked for many years as a clerk/timekeeper for the Gatineau Power Company, a subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

He married Mary Catherine Lahey in 1932.

Mary Catherine Lahey


Born in Ottawa in 1898, Mary Catherine Lahey was the daughter of John James Lahey and Bridget Loreto Killeen (a Seamstress Ancestor).

As a young woman, Mae Lahey worked as a clerk for the Grand Trunk Railway, later the CNR.

She married Allan Jerome Moran in 1932.

Michael James McGlade


Born at Perth, Lanark Co., Ontario in 1856, Michael James McGlade was the eldest son of John McGlade (originally of Clarkill, Forkill, Co. Armagh) and Bridget Dunne (originally of Drumintee, Killevy, Co. Armagh).

In the late 1870s, he emigrated to Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked as a carriage painter, in partnership with a Frank Grafton.

directory ks
Hoye's Kansas City Directory (Kansas City, MO: 1881)

Somewhat confusingly, Michael McGlade seems to have maintained two different addresses. By the mid-1880s, he could be found in Emporia, Kansas, working as a carriage painter for his cousin Thomas L. Ryan, who owned a carriage factory. However, when Michael McGlade naturalized as an American citizen in 1892, he did so from Jackson Co., Missouri. And when he was appointed to the position of railway clerk for the United States Postal Service in 1895, his address was also Jackson Co., Missouri. The question of Michael McGlade's residence would become a legal issue in the aftermath of his untimely, and  grisly, death.

On the evening of 8 September 1897, an eastbound fast mail train collided head-on with a westbound train on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railway, about three miles east of Emporia, Kansas. Sadly, Michael McGlade was amongst the casualties of this fiery train wreck. His remains were returned to Canada, to be buried at St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Perth.

perth courier
Perth Courier, 17 September 1897

Since Michael McGlade had died intestate, and with no known heirs, the probabe court at Jackson County appointed the public administrator to administer his estate. If no one stepped forth to assert a legal claim to Michael McGlade's estate ($556.80 in a bank in Kansas City), his money would revert to the state of Missouri. In February 1900, Thomas L. Ryan did step forth, to claim a kinship with the deceased, and to inform the probate court of Jackson County, Missouri that the probate court of Lyon County, Kansas had already recognized him as the lawful administrator of Michael's estate.

Thomas L. Ryan then had to prove to the court's satisfaction that Emporia, Kansas, and not Kansas City, Missouri, had been the domicile of Michael James McGlade. Remarkably enough, Ryan did manage to convince the probabe court that "for the period of more than twenty years next previous to his death," McGlade had "made Emporia, Kas. his headquarters, and apparently, his home, at all times when his work did not

require his presence elsewhere" (Jackson County, Missouri, probate case files, estate no. 3978, M.J. McGlade [1897], Affidavit of Thomas L. Ryan, 6 February 1900; Probate Court Clerk's Office, Jackson. Database, ancestry.com, Missouri, Wills and Probates Records, 1766-1988). On 19 July 1900, the court transferred $451.03 ($105.77 of the original $556.80 had been eaten up by taxes and court fees) to Thomas L. Ryan as the "duly appointed, qualified, and acting Administrator" of the estate of M.J. McGlade.

Thomas L. Ryan was unsuccessful, however, in his attempt to sue the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad on behalf of Michael McGlade's Canadian next-of-kin (his brother Arthur Joseph McGlade, his sister Elizabeth Byrne, and his nephew John Michael English). In Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co. v. Ryan (1901), the Kansas Supreme Court, reversing a lower court decision in favour of Ryan, held that McGlade's brother, sister, and nephew could not be considered his "next of kin," as Michael McGlade he had not supported them financially during his life.

Headstone of Michael James McGlade, St. John the Baptist RC Cemetery, Perth, Lanark Co., Ontario

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