The Mansfields of Clonmel and Kansas City:Westward


My Grandmother, Helen (or Ellen) McAnany, came to the City of Kansas in 1859 in a covered wagon. Her family were the Mansfields of Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland. By the time I was aware of family history, all the Mansfields I knew of had come and gone or changed their names by marriage. Mabel Sweeney was the only name I remember from an earlier generation—she was a “blue stocking” (a derogatory term for a highly educated female) and an eccentric dresser. Only a single sheet of paper preserved a few hundred words of who the Mansfields were and where they came from. In my first attempt at family history, I concentrated on the other side of my Irish heritage, the McAnanys of Monaghan. Only lately have I attempted to put together a better picture of these Munster Irish.


Mansfield Ancestry


The name “Mansfield” is only one of several evolutions from the original spelling of Mandeville, a Norman name that arrived with the “invasion” of 1169. The De Mandevilles were prominent in both Waterford and Ulster in the thirteenth and following centuries. The southern branch collected in Tipperary and Limerick and by the eighteenth century were prominent as professionals and bankers. At some point after the Reformation the family probably converted to the Church of Ireland (Anglican) of their overlords, the Kings of England. Since my branch was Catholic in the late eighteenth century, there must have been a reconversion, perhaps through marriage. In any event, my history begins in the city of Clonmel in the 1790s.


A certain Thomas Mansfield married a Catherine Longergan in the Church of St. Mary in Clonmel. Interestingly, even though the city is itself in Tipperary bordering on Waterford, the church is in the diocese of Waterford, a gerrymander lost in ecclesiastical history somewhere.  This couple had at least three children whom I can trace at this point: Richard (1795), Thomas and Margaret. This Richard married Ellen Mahoney (1794) and had several children, starting around 1820: John (1820), Richard (1822), James (1824), Patrick (1826), Thomas (1828) and Margaret (1830), all of whom subsequently immigrated to the United States with their parents. As son Richard is my great grandfather, the story will trace him more than the others.


Richard was said to have attended school at Mt. Melleray in Capoquinn, Waterford.  This famous Cistertian monastery was founded in 1832 and began a boys-only school in early 1840s. As he progressed in school, the Great Hunger (poorly known as the Famine) overtook Ireland in 1845. The Mansfields were prepared early to depart the Motherland.


Mount Melleray.jpg

Mount Melleray Abbey, Waterford, Ireland.


Immigration to America: 1846


While I can’t pinpoint the date exactly, it seems some of the Mansfields came as early as 1846 and settled in Madison, N.J., perhaps to farming, about forty miles from New York City. The 1850 census shows the mother, Ellen, living with her son John and family, with siblings Thomas, Patrick and Margaret living nearby. The father Richard may have died after immigration, as it was said he did emigrate with his wife and several sons but doesn’t appear on the Census for 1850. Son Richard may well have originally lived in New Jersey, but was probably living in New York City when he married Mary Jane Clowery (1827) on February 12, 1850 in the Church of the Transfiguration in New York City’s Manhattan Irish section of Five Points (of later fame for the “Gangs of New York”). The witnesses were his Uncle Thomas Mansfield and wife, Elizabeth.


Marriage Certificate Mansfield-Clowery.jpg

Certification of Mansfield Marriage February 12, 1850.


Mary Jane Clowery was born in Wexford, possibly in Owenduff parish as her Grandmother, Alice Deveraux, shows up in a Griffiths Valuation there in the townland of Rathnaggeragh. She left Ireland from Queenstown (Cork) on March 12, 1848 and arrived in New York where she lived with her Uncle, Charles Deveraux until her marriage in 1850. The Clowerys may have been from Wexford as her father-in-law, Peter Clowery, died in the Rising of ’98. This rebel connection may be the source of a strong strain of nationalistic Irish history that comes down from the Clowerys to Helen Mansfield, my grandmother.


Moving West to Chicago and Kane County:1850


As told in family history, immediately following the February wedding in New York these two Mansfield couples departed for Chicago where Tom and Elizabeth with son Richard settled. Richard and Mary Jane stayed for only a few weeks and then left Chicago that Spring, to take up farming in nearby Kane County, west of Chicago.


The exact location had been a puzzle but tradition said they farmed for  a certain “Deacon” Robinson. I found a William H. Robinson who was a deacon in the Baptist Church living in Kane County at the time. Later I found a more exact location in the town of Blackberry Station (later called Elburn). Richard Mansfield was identified as living in the country outside of city limits in an 1854 directory, proximate to the Robinson place. The Mansfields had five of their six children there: Helen (1850), James (1852), Mary (1855), Jane (1857), and George (1859). Anna (1871) would be born in Kansas City, their next (and final) stop in their western migration.


Why Richard took up farming and stuck with it for almost ten years suggest to me that he had a farming background. He was naturalized in 1855, sponsored by one of the very early residents of Kane County, John Warne, owner of a well know stage-coach inn, the “Half Way House” near Blackberry Station (being half way from Chicago to Oregon, IL).  The railroad arrived in Kane County when the G & CU (Galena and Chicago Union) was opened in 1854 and the town of Blackberry Station built up. This provided convenient transport to Chicago if Uncle Tom was still there. It was said that Richard and Mary Jane’s older son, James, was baptized in Chicago in 1852.


William H. Robinson was an early and prominent landowner in Virgil Township near Blackberry Station. His house faced south on Beith Road near the intersection of Francis Road, north of town. Between 1854-64 it served as the local post office.  The Mansfields would have lived on the property or nearby while working the land.  Whether Richard share-cropped or worked for wages is unclear, but by the time the family left in late 1859, they owned a covered wagon, household wares and live stock—even some gold!

Deacon Robinson House.jpg

The (probable) William H. Robinson House, Elburn, Illinois.



How and why they left is conjectural, really. Certainly the kids were getting older and in need of better schooling—after all, Richard had received at least the beginnings of a classical education from the Cistertians in Ireland. Also, the Panic of 1857 had a longer lasting impact on the mid-west where falling commodity prices and a drought made farming problematic. But why Kansas City?


One factor seems prominent: the presence of a certain James Mansfield in Kansas City at that date. While I have not connected this James directly with the Mansfields of Madison, N.J., it seems a likely possibility. He emigrated from Waterford, the closet port to Clonmel, in 1848 and well could have briefly lived in New Jersey with his siblings. He shows up in Philadelphia in 1849 where he married Elizabeth Cavanagh. After a stay in Kentucky, he settled in Kansas City in the mid 1850s. He is listed as both a shoemaker and boat builder. The1860 census showed holdings of $1300 personal property and $2,000 real estate, not inconsiderable by contemporary frontier standards—and Kansas City was frontier! It also indicates a family of his wife, Elizabeth, mother-in-law, Mary Cavanagh, and four children: Maria (1850), Anna (1851), Margaret (1854), and Henry (1856).


If James is a brother or even a cousin, his rising fortunes may have prompted a letter to Richard back in Illinois to move west. The promise of the region was built on its location as outpost to settlement of the Great West, already begun with its trailheads for the Santa Fe, Oregon and California. These were soon to be replaced by railroads. Of course, the tragedy of “Bleeding Kansas” on Kansas City’s western doorstep would have been a deterrent, but the Civil War itself would overtake and transform that issue into a national one. With five children to feed and educate, the City of Kansas, as it was called then, seemed a reasonable choice.


West Again: Kansas City in 1859


The gains for an ambitious person in such a location would be great. Richard and Mary Jane listened and then set out in late summer of 1859 in a covered wagon. Little George was barely two months old (born on the 4th of July and named George Washington) and the oldest child, Helen, sat on the flour barrel which secretly also held the family gold, so says family history. It would have been September or even October before they lumbered into this frontier town of about 7,250 people. They settled in the “west bottoms”, alluvial land where the two rivers, the Missouri and the Kansas, converged. And the West Bottoms would be their home for thirty years.

West Bottoms, KC, MO 1889.tiff

Map of West Bottoms, Kansas City, Missouri in 1889.


Richard’s first listed job was as a teamster (City Directory of 1861). That would make sense if the covered wagon were converted into a dray for moving goods around the now busy city. The Civil War, declared in that year, brought military and civilian related business to town, with Fort Leavenworth and Fort Scott nearby. Between 1861 and 1865 I have not found any further reference to either James or Richard.  But significantly in 1865, James was shown elected a councilman under the first Irishman to preside as mayor of Kansas City, Patrick Shannon. By then the city boasted a population of 15,064.  Other documentation show that Helen went to St. Teresa’s Academy during the Civil War. She remembers hearing the guns during the Battle of Westport in October, 1864.


Richard is identified as farming in the West Bottoms, between the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, in 1865. That was a fortunate choice of location as the railroads crossed the Missouri on the Hannibal Bridge in July, 1869 and Union Railroad Depot would be located there in 1878 on Union Avenue (10th street) below the bluffs. Shortly after 1866, the Richard Mansfields bought ground and built a boarding house at 11th (or 13th) and Hickory in the heart of what would become a railroad hub.  Nearly all of their boarders in the 1870 Census are identified as railroad workers, including my grandfather, Patrick McAnany. The other industry dominating the area was the stock yards which arrived in 1871. The convergence of both meat packing and railroads may help explain the several family ventures in the grocery business.


The other Mansfield, James, was also doing well. By 1870 James Mansfield listed his assets at $2,000 personal and $8,000 real property. He also had remarried by then and had two younger children: Mollie (1860) and Jennie (1868). He is clearly moving up in the world. Shortly after he goes into the grocery business above the bluffs, near 3rd and High streets. He disappears from city directories sometime in the mid to late Seventies. A grave in Mt. St. Mary Cemetery for a James Mansfield shows he died in 1884. A handsome grave-stone in the cemetery marks the rise in family fortunes where many of the his Mansfields children are also buried.


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James Mansfield Family tombstone, Mt. St. Mary’s Cemetery.


Richard Mansfield & Sons (-in Law): 1869-1891


In the 1870s Richard Mansfiled branches out into the building trades business, and groceries, while still running a boarding house in the West Bottoms and teamstering.  Many Mansfield names appear in City Directories during these years: Richard and his two sons, James H. and George W.; James  and son, Henry (Harry): John (1870) and Thomas (1873), both living with Richard and relatives of some sort, no doubt.



Richard Mansfield’s most consistent occupation is as a teamster (1861, 1871, 1873, 1879, 1880, 1881). But he also shows up as a farmer (1865, 1866, 1867) and then as running a boarding house (1870 and following). He next appears with his son-in-law, Patrick McAnany (married to his oldest daughter, Helen) in building materials of lime, plaster and cement (1873). Family history says he shipped sand for the Ft. Scott Railroad at some date. His income from these various occupations would have provided solid support for his family of six, four girls and two boys.


His residence started out in the West Bottoms as a farmer, without an address but near state line; then moved on to a boarding house, first at south side of 12th street (1870) and then on the southeast corner of 11th & Hickory (1871-72). He stays within a block when he moves to 13th & Hickory (1873). Family history indicates that he bought land and built his boarding house at this location and seems to say the family stayed there until the move to 591 Forest Avenue around 1891. But the directory for 1879 seems to indicate their living at Joy (or 14th) & Hickory (1879). Each of these West Bottoms addresses is with about a three block area.


A major event for the West Bottoms was the flood of 1881. It inundated almost the whole district and drove Patrick McAnany across state line to Shawnee, Kansas. How long the Manfields stayed in place has yet to be determined. Certainly by 1890 Richard had moved east to 591 Forest and on higher ground above the bluffs. The West Bottoms recovered after the flood but it changed its attitude, if not altiude, toward those converging rivers to prepare against future floods (e.g. 1903 and 1951).  


1881 Flood West Bottoms KC MO.jpg

Flood of 1881, West Bottoms, Kansas City, Missouri.


When you look at a map of this area, one thing is apparent: railroads define the area. This makes teamstering a critical function in hauling goods from off-loaded freight cars. This also explains why early on all eight boarders in the Mansfield boarding house are identified as railroad workers. Among them was Patrick McAnany who first worked as a foreman on constructing the new Hannibal Railroad Bridge coming directly into the West Bottoms, 1866-69, as well as Thomas Sweeney, another future son-in-law.


By the way, this area of the West Bottoms has taken on a new life with a lively trade in antiques, art, music and other tourist trade business by Summer 2013 when I visited.


The Mansfield Children


Its curious that the six Mansfield children seem to have produced only three families of descendants: The McAnanys, the James Mansfields and the Sweeneys. And even at that there seems to have been little closeness between James Mansfield with the families of his two sisters. And even with the Sweeneys, in the next generation, the visiting between the McAnanys and Sweeneys seemed confined to the two oldest girls, Eleanor (Nellie) and Mable. That is the reason, I suspect, that the single page of Mansfield history lay fallow all these years before being rediscovered in 1981.


Helen (1850-1837) was the oldest and first to wed in October, 1869 when she married Patrick McAnany (1839-1920), a boarder at the home place. They stayed on in Kansas City for eleven years and had six children: Edwin (1871), Phillip (1872), James Paul (1875), Mary Louise (1877), May (1880), and Rose (1881). In1873, Patrick McAnany was elected City Councilman for the first of three one year terms (1873, 1875-76). I wonder if it wasn’t through the influence of James Mansfield, who earlier held such an office. By then the Irish were an accepted political presence in Kansas City. The Irish Fourth Ward in the West Bottoms would soon entertain a newcomer called Jim Pendergast who would make that political presence of Irish almost permanent.



Helen Mansfield McAnany c. 1890.


Patrick was first associated with his father-in-law in the building trades but went on to the grocery business with James Finucane in 1879 and then with his brother-in-law, James Mansfield, in 1881. The McAnanys moved to Shawnee, Kansas about twelve miles west of Kansas City, no doubt because of the disastrous flood that inundated the West Bottoms in that year. They went on to have five more children in Shawnee: Richard Sarsfield (1882), Patrick Damien (1884), Helen Gertrude (1886), George Sheridan (1888), and Robert Adrian (1894). After the move, Patrick stayed with wholesale groceries in Kansas City, Kansas as McLean & McAnany. Shawnee also became the home of Mary Jane Mansfield and daughters Jane and Anna sometime between Richard’s death in1895 and the 1900 Census that places her in Shawnee..


James H. (1852-1932) lived at home through the 1880 census and worked as a grocer over many years, first as a clerk (1873) and then as a partner in 1879 in Spence & Mansfield and in 1881 with his brother-in-law, Patrick McAnany. James married in 1911 at age 58 (the marriage certificate shows 36!) to Minnie Hedges, age 24, in Independence, Missouri; scandal enough, but aggravated by a ceremony performed by “Preacher of the Gospel.” This may explain his residence as Hopedale, Ohio at the time, far from home and family. He and his wife, Minnie had at least one child: Malcom born shortly after the marriage. The family moved to Meadville, Pennsylvania where they show up in the 1920-30 censuses. He died in 1932. Earlier family history lists two daughters, Gertrude and Bessie, but I have yet to find them and their mother.


Mary Louise (1855-1929) married Thomas Sweeney (1843-1929)  in 1872 and they had five children: Eleanor (1874), Mabel (1876), Francis X. (1879), Thomas (1881) and Richard (1895). After early employment by the railroads, Tom Sweeney was in the wholesale liquor business but moved on to real estate in later years. Both Sweeney girls attended Mt. Saint Scholastica’s academy run by the Benedictine Sisters in nearby Atchison, Kansas where their McAnany cousins also went. Mary becomes the “Aunt Sis” of the McAnany letters and often appears at the “Groves,” home of the McAnanys in Shawnee. Mabel Sweeney, as mentioned earlier, was so distinctive that she lingered in my imagination as a lonely ghost of memory. The Sweeney parents and several others are buried at Mt. St. Mary’s Cemetery on the east side of Kansas City.


Annie, Ann, & Mary Straight.jpg

Anne Mansfield, Anne McAnany, Mary Sweeney c. 1920.


Jane  “Aunt Jennie” (1857-1940) never married and worked as a dress maker and then seamstress at Emery Bird Department Store. She lived with her parents and then moved with her mother to Shawnee after the death of her father in 1895. She is shown as still living in Shawnee in 1910 census, after her mother’s death, while working in Kansas City, Missouri—a long commute on public transportation (unless she rode with Patrick McAnany to Kansas City, Kansas and then took the Interurban to the sister city). She, too, is buried at Mt. St. Mary’s with her parents and other Mansfield relatives.


George W. (1859-1922) George is difficult to trace as he worked as a clerk and other middling positions for his family and others. He disappears from Kansas City and shows up in the 1910 census in Chaffee County, Colorado, living in a boarding house, of mostly men. The area is called Dolomite and is in the heart of a mining district of which Salida is now the principal city. George died on January 26, 1922 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Tacoma, Washington, apparently still a bachelor, at age 62.


Anna (1871-1942) Annie is a favorite aunt of the McAnanys and lived with her parents in Kansas City and then with her mother and Sister, Jane, in Shawnee before marrying in 1917. She was 46 and Bill Cahill was 50 when they wed. In the 1910 census, Annie is shown as unmarried and working as a “trimmer” for a company. After she married Bill Cahill, she stays at home. Annie is buried at Mt. St. Mary’s while Bill is buried in St. Joseph’s in Shawnee.


Annie, Bill Cahill, Uncle Bob.jpg

Anne Mansfield Cahill, Robert McAnany and Bill Cahill (right) c. 1930.


Reflecting back, it seems that the Mansfield children were mostly stay-at-home types except for Helen and Mary Louise. Was this a blight of the Irish? James married (again?) at 58 and Annie at 46. Jane never married and George also appeared to be a bachelor.


 The Last Roundup for Richard and Mary Jane Mansfield: 1891-1905


About 1891 the Richard Mansfields sold their Hickory Street boarding house and moved from the West Bottoms to 591 Forest Street on top of the bluffs. By then most of the children were married and/or settled. The railroads in the West Bottoms were a mature industry and Kansas City was no longer the frontier to the West. Richard was approaching 70 and had been an American citizen for 36 years. Did he recall his Irish roots? No doubt the news from the homeland filtered through to him by Irish-American newspapers and maybe even a letter or two from Clonmel. But “home” was Kansas City. So too for Mary Jane Clowery, now forty-one years a Mansfield. Some of their older McAnany grandchildren lived with them over these years: Phillip, J. Paul and May. They were happy to help them start on careers themselves.


Richard Mansfield died on May 20, 1895. Sometime between that year and 1900, Mary Jane moved with daughters Jane and Annie to a house in Shawnee. I wonder why? It was away from everything she had known over forty years. But her oldest daughter Helen McAnany lived there and the countryside may have reminded her of Ireland and a suitable retirement location. It may also reminded them of their years on the prairies of Kane County, Illinois. Mary Jane Mansfield died on June 27, 1905 at age 78.


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Mary Jane Clowery Mansfield c. 1900.


If the railroads are a metaphor for the development of the West, then the Mansfields were living witnesses as to how it all worked out at the ground level.  They were genuine pioneers.


Patrick D. McAnany, assisted by Damien McAnany, June 13, 2013


End Notes


1. Ancestry and Immigration

For all my Irish history, see WWW

The basic Mansfield document is a single spaced page by Elizabeth Sweeney Dolan, a granddaughter of Richard and Mary Jane Mansfield done in the 1943 in which she quotes from a written piece by Anne Mansfield Cahill. See Appendix below. It was discovered too late to be included in the family history “Patrick McAnany: An American Pioneer” by Edwin J. McAnany (1980) which includes several pages on the Mansfields. See appendix.


For the Mansfield name, see Lysaght, Irish Family Names (19__). There are Mansfields in Ireland who descend from an English family with that name from the 17th century, but Richard Mansfield’s connection with them seems implausible.


Other sources include a document from the Waterford Heritage Survey indicating several Mansfield names from church records (1996) in possession of author; a marriage certificate for Richard Mansfield and Mary Jane Clowery,  Church of the Transfiguration, dated 2/12/50, Rev. P. Carroll presiding; U.S. Census of 1850 for Morris County, Catham Township, N.J. showing john Mansfield (age 38), wife Ellen (38), b. Ireland; Margaret (5) b. Ire.; Hanone [?](4) b. Ire.; Catherine (2) b. N.J. and Ellen Mansfield (58) b. Ire.

[ N.J. birth of Catherine suggests immigration c. 1846]; Thomas , Mendan Township, Patrick (24), Morris Township and Margaret Mansfield (20) Catham Township, all b. Ireland.



The 1852 Chicago City Directory shows a Thomas Mansfield working as a tailor for H.H. Husted, living at 156 Wells. Records on Richard Mansfield in Kane County start with “Deacon” Robinson as employer (Dolan). This fits with the biography of William H. Robinson who was a deacon in the Baptist Church in Virgil Township at this period. See, Joslyn & Joslyn, History of Kane County, Il. Chicago: Pioneer Pub. 1908, pp.816-18. His property was clustered on Beith Road in Virgil Township. County record of deeds shows 228 acres in sections 22 and 23, intersected by Beith Road. His possible residence at Beith and Francis seems to be the exact location of the indicated post office. Richard Mansfield was naturalized 11/9/1855 in Kane County Court, witnessed by Henry and John Warne. Richard Mansfield is shown as a resident outside city limits of Blackberry Station in 1859. See Kane County Directory for 1859-60 Chicago: John Bailey, 1859. The 1857 Panic and its impact can be found in George W. Van Vleck, The Panic of 1857: An Analytic Study.  New York, Columbia University (1943). The use of a cover wagon vs. the railroad may be explained the need to convey farm equipment and household goods instead of a fire sale to buy tickets. Besides, Richard turned to farming after arriving in Kansas City, as well as using his horses and wagon for work as a teamster, another early occupation there.  The Sauk Trail west from Chicago into Iowa is a probable wagon route and then the trail from Des Moines to Kansas City.


3. West Again to Kansas City 1859


My sources are several: Mary Elizabeth Dolan (1943); Kansas City  Directories; U.S. Census data; and burial records at Mt. St. Marys. Edwin J. McAnany, ed. Patrick McAnany: An American Pioneer (1980). The indication of elections for James Mansfield (1865) and Patrick McAnany (1876-78) are found in the City Directories under government sections. The Directories also indicate occupation, as well as business and residence addresses. There is a convenient website for identifying family members buried at Mt. St. Mary’s Cemetery . See which lists all family members with the surname, as well as married under a different surname. The Cemetery is located a mile or so east of downtown at 2201 Cleveland.


Helen Mansfield while a student at St. Theresa Academy embroidered a pannel of the guardian angel which became an heirloom. The Battle of West Port in 1864 was General Sterling Price’s last stand in Missouri, described in many histories of the Civil War. West Port was a Secessionist stronghold while Kansas City was Unionist.


4. Richard Mansfield & Sons (In-Law)


There is some confusion about where the boarding house sat. Dolan indicates it was at 13th and Hickory, but Directories indicate an earlier site at 11th & Hickory. How long the house was run for boarders is uncertain. Patrick McAnany, after his marriage, seems to have lived there at first. The same is possibly true for the Sweeneys.


Flooding was endemic to the area as it was exposed to two river systems. Whatever the City did to protect against flooding, it wasn’t enough even in my day when I worked in the summer of 1951 to clean out mud-encrusted vending machines.


The politics of the West Bottoms was dominated by Irish, even before the arrival of Jim Pendergast in 1876. But he played upon the strong cultural identity of Irish Catholics. By the way, the local church, Annunciation, at 16th & Wyoming was opened in 1873.


The Mansfield Children


Most of the Patrick McAnany history is taken from the “Green Book” (Edwin McAnany 1980), supplemented by Kansas City Directories over the years. See my website: www. for details on the Patrick McAnanys. There are McAnany Family archives held by the Johnson County Museum where letters and photos show several Sweeney family members visiting at the Groves over the years.