Thomas Reagan Family History

Thomas Reagan was born in Drogheda, Ireland, on December 12, 1834 to Thomas Reagan and Anne Dunne according to my mother (Elizabeth Bowen Gerrish). Though, if his age on the 1860 census is correct, he was actually born in 1837. According to my mother, he stowed away on a ship at the age of 12 and left for Canada.

The account given by my cousin Mary Thornton is that he had a fight with his mom at the age of 12 and left home to live with an Uncle in Dublin. The Uncle paid his passage to America. He came to New York and stayed with an uncle (and his wife and children) in New York city. The uncle was fairly well to do, but died in a small pox epidemic and the aunt did not want her nephew by marriage staying, so he was on his own.

He went to work at the Erie canal. He did not help in the construction, as that was finished in 1825, 9 years before he was born. Somehow, he ended up in Canada and that may be where he met and married Agnes Elizabeth McLean. Their first son Thomas was born in Canada in 1858.

There is a land patent for purchase of 40 acres of public lands at St. Peter Minnesota by a Thomas Reagan on November 1, 1859. He was in Forest City by 1860, which is 95 miles to the northwest so it is unlikely that it was the same Thomas Reagan.

By the 1860 census, they were the only Reagans included in the town of Forest City, Minnesota where his occupation was listed as a laborer. According to Mary, by 1862 they were on a wheat farm. In August, 1862, there was a Sioux Indian uprising as they were not being given their federal allotments, and they were starving, in spite of the reservation’s federal warehouse being full of food. Their neighbors were burned out by the Indians, so Thomas sent his family to the stockade (at Forest City?) and stayed to defend his farm. The Indians burned his farm and house and he fled to meet his family at the stockade. One story accounts that Thomas refused to go to the fort until after his grain was shocked. As he was leaving one end of the field, the Indians were entering the opposite corner, setting fire to the shocks. This may have been an embellished story, as Christina (my grandmother) was born June 7, 1862, supposedly in St. Paul, which was 65 miles east of Forest City. But, according to my mother, he was a lookout at a fort during Soiux Uprising from which he received a pension when he was in his 80’s.

The 1870 census, they were still listed as being in Minnesota, at Mannanah, Meeker County. This is within 20 miles of Forest City. Thomas’ occupation was listed as "Farmer", his wife, Agnes as "Keeping House" and son Thomas (age 11) as "Helping Father". The value of their Real Estate is given as $800, so they must have owned their farm. There is a land grant for a Thomas Reagan on June 10th, 1872 for the northeast quarter of section 28 in township 12N 31W in the 5th Principal Meridian, but this may be a different Thomas Reagan, as he has land of value in the 1870 census. Their other children are listed as Annie (age 10), Christina (age 8), Alice (age 5) and John (age 8). Annie is listed as "Atg School", but the other children were evidently not in school. My mother gave the birthplace of Alice (1865) and John (1867) as Minnesota and that seems to be correct according to the census records. In all the census (1860, 1870, 1880) Thomas was listed as being born in Canada and the other children as being born in Minnesota.

According to Mary, they were to have left from there and went to Deadwood, SD. As Deadwood was in an Indian reservation and access was forbidden, they probably either stayed at Forest City or went to St. Paul. The first white settlers to defy the restrictions on the Black Hills in search of gold arrived there in 1875. They may have been among the first settlers, as they are not listed in the 1875 census for the Forest City region. According to my mother, they settled on a farm in Spearfish, SD.

They were in Deadwood by 1878, according to an article in the "Black Hills Daily" on July 30, 1878. The article titled "The Exhibition" details a school recitation / talent show the evening before in which Alice Reagan recited "The Mother’s Gift". Alice would have been 12 or 13 years old at that time. Also, stage arrivals list Anna Reagan as arriving via Bismarck – she would have been 18.

According to some of the newspaper articles from Deadwood, SD, Thomas may have invested in some mining ventures. Mary said that when he arrived there, he had sold water out of a wagon. According to the history books, there was probably quite a demand for clean water because the mining operations fouled Whitewater and Deadwood creeks.

My mother said that he drove the stage between Spearfish and either Deadwood or Lead for a time. In the 1880 census, Thomas (age 43), Agnes (Age 43) and family were listed as living in Elizabethtown which is now part of Deadwood. Thomas’ occupation was listed as "Drives Express Wagon", his wife as "Keeping house" which that census keeper seemed to use to denote an "At home mom" rather than an actual occupation. His son Thomas (age 21) was listed as "Drives Job Wagon". The rest of the children: Ann (age 19), Christina (age 17), Alice (age 13) and John (age 12) were all listed with the occupation of "At Home". The census took several months to finish and it lists Thomas and Christina a second time. Christina moved in with a family at False Bottom creek and was listed as age 18 and a servant. Thomas is in Deadwood and is listed as a Teamster. Due to their ages and parents place of birth that was listed, there is no doubt they were counted twice.

If Henry Rosenberg was in the territory, he was not listed. The only last name close is that of a Rosenburger with his and his parents birth place listed as Russia. No first name was given, his age was 38 and his occupation was "liquor dealer".

Elizabethtown is slightly downstream from Deadwood on Whitewood canyon. In May, 1883, there was a serious flood along Whitewood canyon. Whether this was the event that triggered Thomas along with his daughter Christina and her husband Henry to leave Deadwood for Seattle or the search for greener pastures will probably never be known. The flood caused $250,000 worth of damage and hundreds of people lost their homes. Thomas set off and the remainder of his family followed later on the train. (Please read the trip by wagon story, perhaps we could add to it.) My mother said that he had teams of horses, which he used in his transfer business.

When Thomas got to Seattle he ran across a man who wanted out of Seattle and sold him his property on Yesler Street. Thomas bought the property on the spot. He may have given part of the property to Henry and Christina. Henry built a small house on it before he left Christina on her own while he went off to the Alaska gold rush.

According to documents on file at King County, Thomas was the first to buy property on October 24th, 1884 in Seattle on Jackson Street. Henry bought property on May 5, 1885 in Burke's addition and he and Christina sold the property to Thomas Reagan, Jr. and his wife Gertrude on December 18th, 1886.

In Polks 1890 Seattle City Directory, Thomas, Agnes and Alice are listed as living at 431 – 22Av S., Seattle. Thomas is a miner and Alice is a stenographer with the firm of Monroe & Morgan. A John Reagan is listed as rooming at 318 – 5th Ave S, and he might be their son John.

Also, on March 17, 1890 Henry and Christina Rosenberg took up a homestead in south Snohomish County, about three miles northeast of the city of Bothell, Washington. The homestead proved to be too lonesome. The nearest neighbors were about two miles away, and there was too much back-breaking labor so they sold out everything in 1895 and moved back to Seattle. I have not found any records of that homestead, but it may have not been registered if they hadn’t been there a full 5 years. In the the November 1902 Seattle Phone directory, there is a listing for "Rosenberg, Mrs. Ella C." at 1821 – 14 th . Evidentally, Henry was no longer around by then.

There is a Seattle Phone directory listing for "Reagan, Thomas J." at 1128 – 21st in the March 1907 and February 1908 editions. He is not listed after that. According to my mother, Thomas would not put his money in a bank. He was staying in a cheap hotel and all his pension money was stolen. Around 1900, he moved into a 10 acre farm in Upper Meadowdale. I have found no record of the purchase, yet. But, I have found a record of Thomas and Agnes selling tract 56 of the Meadowdale 10 acre tracts to A. M. Reagan (their daughter Alice) on May 28th, 1910.

Phone listings found at the Phone Museum (1898 through 1910)

Bowen, MS 5013 – 11th Ave NE A7452

Oct 1904

Rosenberg, Mrs. Ella C. 1821 – 14th A8200, then White 836

Nov 1902, Nov 1903 and Feb 1906

Reagan, Miss A M 966 – 21st East 2390

Feb 06, Mar 07, Feb 08, May 09

Reagan, Thomas J 1128 – 21st East 6946

Mar 07, Feb 08