Thursday, March 10, 2016

Was it Murder or Suicide?

Recently we met a cousin whose grandfather, Michael Sheehan, and Rita's grandfather, Jim Sheehan, were brothers. We had a wonderful visit and learned new and interesting information on our family. One of the things she mentioned was that her uncle Charles Sheehan was murdered in Colorado. She told us that at the time he was trying to set up a bus line from Tonganoxie, Kansas, to Colorado. Below is a photo of Charles that she shared with us:



Afterwards, we did some searching on newspapers.com and here is an article we found regarding Charles' death:


Interesting, isn't it? We can't wait to visit with our cousin again to see what other information she has regarding Charles' death. Was it murder or suicide??





Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Family Feud

In resuming our genealogy research, we subscribed to newspapers.com and came across some interesting family history. We found several articles regarding a fight in 1904 between the Reardon brothers (Rita's mother's side) and the Sheehan brothers (Rita's father's side). Here are photos of the cast of characters:

Reardon Brothers:
              Matt Reardon, Rita's maternal great great uncle. He is 67 years old in this photo and would have been 39 years old at the time of the fight.            

George Reardon, Rita's maternal great grandfather. He is 77 years old in this photo and would have been 49 years old at the time of the fight.


Sheehan Brothers:
 Henry Sheehan, Rita's paternal great uncle. We're not sure when this photo was taken but he would have been 28 years old at the time of the fight.

Jim Sheehan, Rita's paternal grandfather. We're also not sure when this photo was taken but he would have been 33 years old at the time of the fight.


The fight occurred on November 4, 1904 and the litigation continued until 1907. There were two trials as the first ended in a hung jury. For legibility reasons, we have retyped some of the text of the newspaper clippings.

Here are the headlines in the Leavenworth Weekly Times on April 25, 1907:


"There were great "doins" in George Reardon's barn that night, the neighbors for some miles round being gathered there for the dance and the beer drinking which the men folk indulged in. Whether it was the beer or just the atmosphere is not known, but something started something else and two fights resulted. Jim Sheehan and George Reardon mixed it and Jim knocked George down and later took a club away from him; or at least this is what the Sheehan witnesses say. Then Matt Reardon and Henry Sheehan got into it to the damage of Matt's face. Then there was a stampede to get out of the barn by all but the participants; one demure little girl on the stand yesterday admitted that she was just trying to get out; that there were many others in the same fix. The mix-up at the stairway must have been awful and it is a wonder some of them didn't get stuck in the door and have to be pried out."

"One of the contestable points is: What really did strike Matt Reardon? Some witnesses assert that Henry Sheehan used a club; Henry says it was nothing but a well directed right. Henry bared his arm to show the jury a scar, and it is little wonder Matt fell if he was hit by that, for Sheehan's arm has muscle development like a prize fighter's. It's a wonder Matt didn't think the roof fell in. But if Henry did use a club and had such an arm hung on him as he showed the jury, he certainly forgot about his strength. Reardon was hurt, badly physicians said, and he says he still suffers from that blow."

"Reardon states that he has paid out $46 in doctor bills, $18 for a trained nurse, $18 for medicines and $9 for a servant girl during the time he was confined to his bed and furthermore that before his injuries he was able to earn $15 a week, but that since he was struck by Sheehan he is unable to do so."

"Frank Reardon (Rita's grandfather), son of George said he was dancing when the trouble occurred. He saw his father fall and saw Jim Sheehan on top of him. He said Matt was trying to part the fighters when Henry Sheehan hit him on the side of the head with a club and Matt went down and out."


On April 25, 1907 the Leavenworth Weekly Times headlines stated, "Reardon given a verdict for $250." 

Even though the fight occurred before Rita's parents were born, it's a wonder we had never heard this story and maybe it's a bigger wonder that Frank Sheehan and Aileen Reardon were ever married. Wish we knew more!