Saturday, November 15, 2014


This time Hogan's companion on the trail was his mentor and dear friend, Father James Fox, pastor of St. Joachim's church in Old Mines. Hogan was apparently excited by the settlement opportunities he had seen on his first swing through the eastern Ozarks. According to parish records, he returned to Chillicothe October 15 and a month later (Nov. 15) he was headed south once again to ride deeper into the much more affordable real estate of the Ozarks.

Father Fox, a native of County Wicklow, Ireland, shared Hogan’s concern for the waves of arriving poor immigrants who could not afford to establish themselves in this new land, with land or homes or businesses. For three weeks they rode through southeast Missouri.  That they both came from rural backgrounds, with knowledge of agriculture and the kind of land needed to support a farming operation was an invaluable asset in their evaluation of the terrain.

 Arrived at Chillicothe, I corresponded without delay, with my dear friend and worthy brother priest, Rev. James Fox, rector of St. Joachim's church, Old Mines, Missouri, who as I well knew, was deeply concerned for the matter of land ownership and occupancy by Catholic emigrants. The incidents of my late journey, which I related to him, so interested him that he requested to be permitted to accompany me on another such journey, if I should have occasion to make one. I wrote to him to be ready and that I would soon call on him.

        Before many days, and in the latter part of November, we set out together on horseback from Old Mines. Traveling by way of Caledonia and Edgehill, we passed through Centerville the county seat of Reynolds County. Thence entering Shannon County, we descended Blair Creek, remarkable for its alternate limestone and red porphyry hills. Afterwards, we crossed the Current River at the mouth of Jack's Fork,

The Jack's Fork River (on left) flows into the Current. Close to this spot, Hogan and Fox forded the Current in 1857 on their November trip to explore possible sites for a settlement in the Ozarks

thence to Eminence, thence to Birch Tree, thence to Thomasville, thence to Pike Creek, thence to Van Buren, thence to Ten Mile Creek, thence to Black River, thence by way of Otter Creek, McKenzie Creek and Big Creek, through Caledonia and Potosi, homeward. Reynolds County we found entirely unfit for settlement, not one tenth of the land being tillable. Shannon and Oregon counties had much tillable land, perhaps one-third of the whole area, but none of it of prime quality except the river alluvial bottoms. Everywhere through these two last named counties, there was good stock range and abundance of valuable pine forest.

Thomasville in Oregon County is situated in this broad alluvial valley along the Eleven Point River.  

Both Hogan and Fox brought to bear their complete grasp of agricultural and industrial technologies and supremely practical analysis of the opportunities and limitations available.  Hogan definitely intended this settlement to succeed.

SPECIAL PRICES: Mystery of the Irish Wilderness is now $16.95 (regularly $18.95), postpaid: and On the Mission in Missouri and Fifty Years Ago: A Memoir is $18.95 (regularly $24.95), postpaid.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

AN IRISH-AMERICAN ODYSSEY by Colum Kenny – New book profiles Irish family’s rise

Last year Colum Kenny, a professor of communications at Dublin City University, contacted us after finding Mystery of the Irish Wilderness, our account of John Hogan’s Ozarks settlement.   We very much appreciated his comment,  Your Hogan edition and your book on the Ozarks are the kind of thing that maintain one's faith in culture and learning.”
Professor Kenny was researching and writing a book about the O’Shaughnessy family who had been parishioners of Father John Joseph Hogan in his north Missouri missionary days.  Of course, we shared our images of Bishop Hogan for illustrations in his book, An Irish-American Odyssey: The Remarkable Rise of the O’Shaughnessy Brothers.
Kenny’s book is now out, published by the University of Missouri Press.
This  exhaustive account of the lives and careers of these sons of Ireland is a fascinating read. Naturally we were particularly intrigued by the intersection of the lives of John Joseph Hogan and those of James O’Shaughnessy and his wife, Catherine Mulholland, daughter of the railroad contractor, James Mulholland.  
On his first exploratory trip to north Missouri, Hogan recounts (On the Mission in Missouri, 1857-1868) his mediation efforts between the construction crews of Mulholland and another contractor named Murphy in Chapter One.
Through Hogan’s frontier years, he was the O’Shaughnessy’s family pastor, marrying, baptizing their children and counseling and praying with them. James and Catherine lived their lives in north Missouri and St. Joseph. Their sons were educated at Notre Dame and eventually made their professional careers in Chicago.
Hogan’s descriptions of the people he met and ministered to paint real life portraits. But until now, we had only Hogan’s accounts.  It was tantalizing to wonder what became of those early settlers, when their and Hogan's paths diverged. It’s not often though that those paths came back together like this – especially in the histories of ordinary people (who are not presidents, kings or generals).  
Tying the priest and family back together is Professor Kenny’s grandfather – Kevin J. Kenny, founder of Ireland’s earliest full-service advertising agency, who met James O’Shaughnessy several times in Dublin in the 1920s. That meeting, the shared professional interests of Kenny and O'Shaughnessy, spurred Professor Kenny into the research leading to this intriguing volume.

AN IRISH-AMERICAN ODYSSEY: The Remarkable Rise of the O’Shaughnessy Brothers is available on

Below is the review I posted on amazon. 
 AN IRISH-AMERICAN ODYSSEY: The Remarkable Rise of the O’Shaughnessy Brothers, Colum Kenny. University of Missouri Press, 2014.
Dublin City University Professor of Communications Colum Kenny has written an in-depth, remarkably detailed account of the immigration, assimilation and prospering of a “potato famine” Irish family – the O’Shaughnessy’s of Newhall, Kiltartan, County Galway.
James Shaughnessy and his brothers, Thomas and John, left the famine and poverty that was mid nineteenth century Ireland to seek a better life in the United States. From their east coast landing, they moved west, eventually settling in north Missouri. There James married, raised a family and eventually became a small businessman in St. Joseph, Missouri. James and Catherine had five sons, two of whom gained national and even international reputations in their chosen professions, and three daughters.
Author Kenny has interwoven the stories of the O’Shaughnessy sons with a wealth of detail of contemporaneous history, politics, and the social and cultural landscape in which this family struggled, achieved and made its mark.  Often he goes from the particular event in the family experience to the larger context of the times – for example, a description of the family’s farm and holdings in north Missouri is followed by a discussion of the concentration of most Irish immigrants in eastern urban settings.
Two of the brothers, Francis and John became respected Chicago attorneys. James O’Shaughnessy started his career as a journalist – among other assignments, writing dispatches from Cuba during the Spanish American War for the Chicago Chronicle – then found his calling in advertising. He became an influential leader in the advertising business, founding and guiding the American Association of Advertising Agencies (known as the 4As) from its inception. James and Francis played important roles in the founding of Chicago’s Irish Fellowship Club, which figured prominently in the social and political life of that city for decades.
Thomas O’Shaughnessy was a stained glass artist, inspired by the Book of Kells and Art Nouveau.  His masterpiece work is still lauded today: The fifteen stained glass windows of Old St. Patrick’s church in Chicago. An Internet search for images of St. Patrick’s will bring up richly colored pictures of these elegant fenestrations.
This is also the story of how advertising became an industry of its own – not the motley assortment of ad hoc practitioners that were the norm at the turn of the last century. This story of the first real generation of Mad Men describes a world of advertising much different from the complex multi-platformed juggernaut we are familiar with today.  James O’Shaughnessy’s passionate belief in the power of advertising to advance civilization reaches what the author describes as “rhapsodic hyperbole,” prompting Kenny to wonder if he’d kissed the Blarney Stone. 
In 1924 Jim O’Shaughnessy toured Dublin with a delegation of American ad men who were attending an international advertising conference in England. They were hosted by the Publicity Club of Ireland.  Among those greeting the visitors was Kevin J. Kenny, grandfather of the author, Professor Kenny, a meeting that in a sense prompted this project. 
In weaving the achievements of the O’Shaughnnessy Brothers into the intricate fabric of the much larger forces of their times and places, Colum Kenny has created a fascinating and informative book.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Having set St. Louis as his goal and destination, John Hogan booked passage from Liverpool to New Orleans in October of 1848.  When he arrived in Liverpool from Ireland, he was unimpressed with the Forfarshire on which his passage was booked.  She was, he said, "a wide, large, dirty, heavy-looking ship" and reports he heard said she was slow. 

Sailing companies of the mid-nineteenth century had not learned - as have today's common carrier companies - the value of fees for service. Hogan's request to change his reservation was accommodated at no additional charge.  "I had no difficulty in getting a transfer to the Berlin," a clipper ship "commanded by Captain Smith, a Boston Yankee.  ...  a good ship and a fast sailor."

From Fifty Years Ago: A Memoir by John Hogan:

Early Wednesday morning, November 8th, I was aboard the Berlin. It was not long before the sailors commenced loosening the ship’s moorings. Soon, by a hawser heaved by a capstan, the ship moved slowly towards the gate of the dock. Outside the dock, a tugboat in waiting took the ship in tow and steamed out into the harbor. In the meantime, the sailors unfurled the sails and hauled the yard-arms before the wind. At once, with sails set, the Berlin moved forward and closed up with the tug. Immediately the connecting hawser was let go from the tug and was hauled in by the ship; then, with parting salutes, the tug fell back, and the ship bounded westward towards the open sea.