Census, Death and Burial, Directories, Legal, Migration

“Now comes Thos. L. Ryan…”

Where did Michael James McGlade Reside?

Sometimes you can’t find a person, no matter how carefully and thoroughly you look. And sometimes you find the same person at more than one address (and in more than one census return) at roughly the same time. Such is the case with Michael James McGlade, son of John McGlade and Bridget Dunne, who was born at Perth (Lanark County, Ontario, Canada) in 1856 and who emigrated to the States (to Kansas City, Missouri? or to Emporia, Kansas?) in the late 1870s.

In the 1881 Canadian census, Michael was enumerated in the household of his widowed father John McGlade, where he was listed as Michael McGlade, age 24, occupation Painter.1 However, the inclusion of Michael in this household may have been wishful thinking on the part of his father, for by this point Michael had apparently been in the United States for at least a year, if not longer.

In the US Federal Census of 1880, we find an M.J. McGlade in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, with his age given as 23, his occupation as painter, his birthplace as Canada, and the birthplaces of his parents as Ireland. Also in this household (the household of W.B. Sutherland, Carriage Maker) was a Frank Grafton, also a painter.2 And in an 1881 city directory for Kansas City, Missouri, there is a listing for McGlade & Grafton (M. McGlade & F.W. Grafton), carriage painters.3

Listing for Michael McGlade in the Kansas City Missouri, City Directory, 1881

So far, so good: Michael McGlade emigrated from Perth, Ontario to Kansas City, Missouri, where he pursued the occupation of carriage painter in a partnership with Frank Grafton.

But wait! In the 1885 Kansas State Census, Michael McGlade, Painter, age 27, born Canada, is found in Emporia, Kansas, in the household of T.L. Ryan, age 44, Manufacturer [of] Carriages, also born Canada.4 And an 1887 city directory for Emporia, Kansas lists Ryan, T.L. as “prop’r Emp. carriage factory” at 603 Exchange St., with McGlade, M.J., carriage painter, at the same address.5

Well, okay. So Michael McGlade settled first in Kansas City, Missouri, but then moved on to Emporia, Kansas. This seems like a plausible enough path of migration, given that Kansas City, Missouri is only 174 kilometres (or 108 miles) from Emporia, Kansas. (And perhaps the real question is: why did Michael McGlade of Perth, Ontario end up in any place named “Kansas” in the first place?)

Except that: When Michael McGlade was appointed to the position of railway postal clerk in 1895, his address was apparently Jackson County (presumably Kansas City), Missouri.6

So: Where did Michael McGlade actually reside? Was it Kansas City, Missouri? Or Emporia, Kansas? Or did he divide his time between the two places?

This is the kind of intriguing puzzle with which any family historian is familiar. But quite apart from the nosy enquiries of a family history researcher poking through documents 120 years later, the question of Michael McGlade’s address became a legal matter in the more immediate aftermath of his gruesome death in a horrible train wreck in September 1897.

Killed in the Santa Fe Wreck

Kansas City Journal, 11 September 1897, p. 3

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:

M.J. McGlade was crushed and bruised about the head and body, and he died shortly before midnight.7

Headstone for Michael James McGlade, St. John the Baptist RC Cemetery, Perth, Ontario, Canada.

His remains were transported to his home town in Canada; and on 13 September 1897, the body of Michael James McGlade was buried at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Cemetery, Perth, Ontario, Canada.

Now Comes Thos. L Ryan

Meanwhile, back in Kansas City, Missouri, Michael had left some money in a bank account. $556.80, to be exact. And since Michael James McGlade had died intestate (i.e., without leaving a will), and “without leaving relatives or other person entitled to administer” his estate, and with “the names and addresses of the heirs at law of said M.J. McGlade…to this Administrator unknown,” the probate court at Jackson County, Missouri had appointed one Thomas J. Seehorn, Public Administrator for the County of Jackson, to administer the estate the M.J. McGlade. If no one stepped forth to assert a legal claim to Michael’s estate, that $556.80 would revert to the state of Missouri.

In February 1900, someone did step forth.

Enter Thomas L. Ryan, of Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas (but born about 1841 in Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada), to claim a kinship with the the deceased, and to inform the probate court of Jackson County, Missouri that the probate court at Lyon County, Kansas had already recognized him as the lawful administrator of Michael’s estate:

Now comes Thos. L. Ryan of Lyon County in the State of Kansas…and states that on Oct. 11, D. 1897 he was appointed administrator of the estate of Michael J. McGlade in the Probate Court of Lyon County, Kansas.

That the said McGlade during his life, for the period of more than twenty years next previous to his death he was a resident of Emporia in the said County and State. That the bulk of his estate was located in said county both real and personal, that he is a kinsman of the said McGlaid [sic] and his sole relative in the United States. His other relatives being residents of the Province of Ontario in Canada, that as such administrator he is now prosecuting a claim against the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Rail Road Company…8

In an affidavit, Thomas L. Ryan swore that he was “personally and well acquainted” with Michael J. McGlade, and stated that, in the twenty years previous to his death,

the said McGlade while not engaged at work, spent nearly all his time at Emporia, Kansas, and much of said time he spent at the house and home of this affiant, and during the whole of said period of 20 years the said McGlade made Emporia, Kas. his headquarters, and apparently, his home, at all times when his work did not require his presence elsewhere.

In the end, the probate court of Jackson County, Missouri did recognize Ryan’s claim that Emporia, Kansas had been the domicile of Michael James McGlade; and 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.

But this did not put an end to the legal battles surrounding Michael’s death, of which more in a future entry. Also in a future entry: how were Thomas L. Ryan and Michael James McGlade related? (Hint: the parents of both men came from roughly the same little corner of South Armagh).


  1.  1881 Census of Canada. Ontario, Lanark South (111), Perth (B), Division 1, Family Number 27, page 5.
  2. 1880 US Federal Census. Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri, p. 28, Family no. 110.
  3.  Kansas City, Missouri, City Directory, 1881, p. 419.
  4. Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1915. Lyon, Emporia, p. 29.
  5.  Emporia City Directory, 1887, p. 115; p. 135.
  6.  US, Register of Civil, Military, and Naval Service, 1863-1959, 1895. Vol. 2, p. 828.
  7. Sacramento Daily Union, 10 September 1897, p. 1.
  8. 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.

3 thoughts on ““Now comes Thos. L. Ryan…””

  1. Bruce Gordon says:

    M. C. On another note … I’ve been working on documenting the Craig Street/Pioneer Cemetery/Old Burying Ground in Perth on Find-a-Grave over the last year. http://www.craigmyle.ca/?p=936

    A common held belief told me many times by various sources was that many of the Catholic burials at this Cemetery were moved to the new St. John the Baptist parish Cemetery after it opened in 1872 just outside the town. What I have discovered so far comparing the burial register pre 1872 and the New Cemetery transcriptions from the Lanark County Genealogical Society is that, in fact very few of those recorded at interred at the old Cemetery are memorialized at the new.

    So, what happened to the monuments? The Catholic (North East) side of the Cemetery is very sparsely filled with monuments but there are so where in the order of 800 souls interred there. The simple answer may be that wooden markers were present on the plots and have deteriorated over time. It may also be that many of the monuments have been buried over the years. There is apparently an even earlier transcription of the Cemetery done by Sargeant which I have yet to locate. The current transcription done by the OGS is long out of print (1993, Louise I. Hope) but I did manage to retrieve a copy from the Archives of Ontario.

    One local resident also has told the tale that during the 70s when the Cemetery was in a sad state the town used to clear the weeds and brush there by setting it on fire and that many monuments were damaged.

    Please keep up the good work. Always enjoyable to stop by and visit. BTW I was in New Eddy Friday picking the wife up at the Clocktower and thought of your Dad 😉



  2. M.C. Moran says:


    What a fantastic project! I can’t even imagine the many hours of work you have devoted, but I’m certainly very grateful for your contribution to the history/family history of Perth.

    “The simple answer may be that wooden markers were present on the plots and have deteriorated over time.”

    For many branches of my family, I don’t find grave markers until the 1880s or 1890s, or even later — but I know that a given ancestor was buried at a given cemetery because of a written burial record in the parish register. Perhaps that ancestor was buried with a simple wooden marker, or perhaps with no marker at all. Stone monuments were (and still are!) expensive; my working assumption is that my early immigrant ancestors simply could not afford headstones.

  3. M.C. Moran says:

    Also: thanks for thinking of my Dad with respect to the Clocktower. That made my day.

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