Margaret Josephine "Josie" Patton Mahoney Autobiography

My grandmother was Margaret Josephine Patton. She was born in Emmetsburg on June 14, 1882. Shortly before her death in September 1972, she dictated her family history to my Aunt Mary. The document was transcribed using the same wording and punctuation as in my aunt's original version. The footnotes were added by me and are used to clarify or embellish parts of the story..... Jim Mahoney , July 2006


The following was dictated to Mary Fleming by Margaret Josephine (Josie) Mahoney in 1972 shortly before she died in September 1972 at the age of 90. Mary was Josie’s second child and only daughter.

 “Mary asked me to write something about her grandparents who had died before I moved to Boone from Emmetsburg , Iowa in August 1910. My father, Mike Patton and Catherine Joyce were married in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin on June 4, 1865[1]. Both were born in County Mayo Ireland but never met until they came to America . Pa was 35 at the time and Ma would be 20 on June 24th. Pa worked for the Milwaukee Railroad and my mother was a maid in the home of a wealthy fur trader whose home is now one of the show places in Prairie du Chien. The man she worked for later became an official in some foreign country. I don’t remember just what but I know she got a letter from him at the time but I was too young to remember what it was about[2].  

While living in Wisconsin , three children were born to them. Mary Jane (Mollie) born on April 19 1866, Sarah Ann, February 22 and John four years after Mary Jane on her birthday. Sometime after that they moved to Palo Alto County , Iowa and began farming in Great Oak Township . Catherine Elizabeth (Lil) was born in May 1872, Helen Honore (Nellie) born Feb 24, 1879. Sometime later they moved to Emmetsburg. Matt Patton was born between Lil and Nellie as was William and I was the youngest of the 8 born June 14, 1882.  

The Milwaukee Railroad, in order to get the town to move from its original location on the Des Moines River a mile or two west, made wonderful offerings like a store sight for any store that would move. Two blocks in the center for the Courthouse. Every church was given a block of ground and the location for two cemeteries. When the Patton’s moved into Emmetsburg, they bought 3 blocks of ground and moved the farm in with them. Three blocks of ground adjoining were owned by some New York concern that did nothing with the ground so the eight Patton’s had plenty of play room. The Milwaukee RR ran east-west thru the town and soon the Burlington RR ran a diagonal line. Soon after the Burlington sold to Rock Island and I don’t know what railroad has it now.  

Deaths in the Patton family

Sarah Ann died in May 1885 at the age of 17. Quick consumption it was called then, now it is TB.

John, who was working for the Burlington RR in Lincoln , Nebraska , died at age 24 of appendicitis.

William died at age 31 of pneumonia in 1909.

Nellie, who had married Merrill Mobrey died in Miami , Florida at age 45 and was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Chicago . Her husband died two years later and is buried beside her.  

My Mother’s two brothers, Pat and Matt Joyce, each owned general stores in the new town. Later the parents, Martin and Mary Joyce moved to Emmetsburg with their daughter who was born in the US . All three are buried in E’burg. Pat Joyce was the father of Joe Joyce who later lived in Santa Monica , Calif. Joe’s brother Will died of TB in E’burg and is buried there in the Joyce lot with two daughters who died in infancy.  

Matt Joyce was shot by the Sheriff of Palo Alto County in his store. Father Smith, pastor of Assumption Church and Pat Joyce were the two that saved the Sheriff from a mob which had gathered to hang him[3]. Matt Joyce had married Ella Healy of Fort Dodge and they had five small children. Matt, twin girls Kittie and Mary, Tom and Robert. Aunt Ella’s parents took her back to Fort Dodge to live after the funeral in E’burg. They sent Matt and Tom to Ann Arbor to college[4]. Matt became a lawyer and Tom a doctor who went from the Mayo Clinic to Portland Oregon [5]. Tom gave every Saturday to work in the county home and died very suddenly after his return home one Saturday. He was married and had two daughters but I have forgotten their names.  

Matt’s two girls and I roomed together in Cedar Falls where we were attending the State Teacher’s College. That was the name at the time 1901-1902. Kittie died shortly after of TB and Mamie married a farmer boy from Ackley , Ia. who was attending the college and moved to a farm in South Dakota where she later died of TB. The oldest boy, Matt, became a famous lawyer in Minneapolis . He was US Attorney for Minnesota at the time of his death[6]. The youngest boy, Bob, joined the Passionist Order but died of TB in Fort Dodge before he was ordained. After that Aunt Ella had Uncle Matt’s body removed from E’burg and buried in Fort Dodge with the rest of the family.  

My mother had other brothers, too. Will did odd jobs around E’burg but every Christmas sent the Patton’s a barrel of apples. A brother, Austin, was killed near San Luis Obispo , Calif. He was riding a small machine while inspectin the railroad when an engine of a late train hit his machine. He had a wife and family. Uncle Will married late in life and the couple left E’burg and no one heard anything about them. Uncle Matt worked on a boat on the Mississippi before coming to Iowa . My Uncle Tom Joyce was killed while working for a new railroad being built somewhere out west. He left a wife and baby son living in Sanborn , Iowa . Tom was buried in E’burg as his wife went to live with her people. Lil, Bill and I stopped to see them once when we went out to Mitchell to see Matt Patton.  

Ma had two sisters besides Lottie, the one born in America . One joined the Sisters of Mercy and was known as Sister Mary Anastasia. She taught school in Atlanta , Georgia . My mother heard of her death while at church when Father Smith asked for prayers for her. Uncle Pat Joyce got the news and as he and Ma were not on speaking terms, he told Fr. Smith to make the announcement. (Pat had kept the sheriff from the mob) The other sister, Ann, married Henry Cassidy and they lived in Kentucky where they ran a toll road before the Civil War. Some friends of Henrys’ got him drunk one night and when he came to he was in the Confederate Army. Sometime after that they moved to Hull , Iowa where they lived for many years. There was ten children born to this family, two dying in infancy. The oldest, Mary, was married to Charley Howard before the twins were born. The family met at Mother’s funeral and had a picture taken. I think I gave that picture to Madeline to show her Passionist friends in DM, because Father Charles Cassidy was in the group. Aunt Ann died very suddenly. After breakfast she put on water to heat before doing the family wash. She had died before the water was hot. There were three girls in the Cassidy family; Mary, Kit, and Celia. Boys were Ed, Pat, Jack, Will (Father Charles), Charley, Frank and Tom. (Two sets of twins)  

Pat and Jack were railroad men in Texas . Jack lost an arm when he fell off a train when it stopped suddenly. He was walking on the top of the cars as the brakemen had to do in those days. Pat went to South America, made money but couldn’t get back into the US because he left without getting a visa. Before he died, he sent his sister Mary Howard who had lots of bad luck, all his valuables including money. Mary had married Charley Howard who was a telegrapher at a town outside Minneapolis and from him she learned telegraphy and when he was taken sick, she was able to run the station. The Howard’s had three children, 2 girls and a boy who was badly burned from a candle lighted Xmas tree and died soon after from pneumonia. Mary Howard and her brother Tom visited here in Boone one day when I bro’t Lil home from the local hospital and had Mrs. Harris as a nurse for her.  

The Cassidy Twins, Charley and Celia were born August of the same year 1882 in which I had been born June 14. Charley drowned in Lake Minnesota while staying at a hotel in Minneapolis . The next morning he was missing and the empty boat was there. As far as I know they never found the body. Charley’s picture is in my Kodak album with him is his dog.  

Frank Cassidy was a tramp printer and often came to E’burg and worked for a time in the shop of the Democrat. Once he came here to show colored pictures at the Princess Theater. He looked me up. He didn’t know my married name and under ‘attorneys’ he found Mahoney whose wife was Josephine. Then he phoned me and later came up to the house. That was the last I ever heard of him. In my Kodak album is a picture of Celia Cassidy, Bessie Howard and me sitting on the steps of St. Thomas Church in E’burg. Celia Cassidy visited me in Boone once. Later she went to Europe and then disappeared.”  


“Cousins of mother. Two brothers, Ned and Tom Joyce. Ned was a farmer, a high type of person, lived west of town. Mrs. Ned Joyce was in on the beginning of 4H and received several commendations from Ames . She had 3 daughters and 5 sons. Her daughter, Kate, taught school and attended city institute for two weeks every summer and stayed at the Patton’s. Ned was a director of a school and Lil in either the Joyce or Crowley schools. Kate Joyce Brennan had dinner at Aunt Lil’s funeral. Her husband was the man who had the beard and came with Father Farrelly to Dad’s funeral.  

There is a story of some relatives of Brennan’s being in jail. ‘Down comes the courthouse or out comes John Henry. We’ll take it down brick by brick’. Tom Joyce was single, ran a saddlery, dressed well, was crippled. He would take the Patton’s out for buggy rides on Sundays.  

Mom’s mother and Mrs. Sammin were first cousins. James, a shoemaker, was about the smartest man in E’burg. Once a season he would run the family out and they had to hide under the porch. He was a devil! The wife’s fault because she didn’t stick up for herself. Sammin went to Algona with Bryan . Every famous person who came to Chautauqua always went to see Sammin. Henneberry Kelly was a secretary to a congressman who promised he would send seeds---Sammin said he didn’t want seeds, he wanted statistics.  

One Xmas eve, in whispers, Pa told Ma there was a prisoner in the haystack. He wouldn’t turn him in on Xmas eve and in the morning he was gone.  

Pa died in 1901. That summer and fall I went to Cedar Falls . They reduced the wages from $45 to $40 when they got me instead of a man. They gave a big party for the man they ran out for making love to his aunt!!!  

One of mom’s students wasn’t 100% but he took care of her horse.  

Grandparents were Martin Joyce and Mary Maxwell Joyce. Sisters of Catherine Joyce Patton were Ann Cassidy, Lottie Joyce, and Sister Anastasia. Brothers were Pat, Matt, William and Tom. Cousin was Mrs. Kate Maxwell Sammin, mother of Joe, Nell and Nettie. Father’s relatives were all on the McDonnell side; Anthony, Alex, Terry (married Sarah), Mike, John from Pa. , Mary from Denver . Terry and wife and Mike are buried in the cemetery next to the Patton’s.  

Dad’s Family    Timothy and Mary Hickey Mahoney were married in Kenosha , moved to Boone County , Harrison Township . Two children died in infancy; one is buried in Kenosha , the other died in Boone and is buried in the Herron lot before Mahoney’s had a lot.  

William, Frank, George, Harry, Ed, Dora, Mary, T.J.; All except Will are buried in Boone. Dora married Pete Reilly and Mary Ellen (Mayme) married Alfred Murphy.  

Margaret Josephine Patton, daughter of Michael and Catherine Joyce Patton, was born on June 14, 1882 in Emmetsburg , Iowa . Graduated from Saint Mary’s Academy in June 1900. Attended Iowa State Teacher’s College for three quarters. Left on advice of a doctor who said I had heart trouble. On the advice of my brother, Matt who was working in Mason City , I consulted his doctor Egloff who said my trouble was anemia. I had my first blood count in his office. At the time they took the sample from the lobe of the ear. Dr. Egloff had me take medicine that was supposed to be from beef blood. It helped.  

When I returned from Mason City, the County Supt. Of Schools, Anna Donovan, called me and asked me to take the principalship of a two room independent school at Rodman, Iowa where they had just run the man principal out of town. I had one boy in that school who was older than I but I taught 6-7-8 grades there for two years. The second year, Mary Crowley taught the primary room. The evening passenger train didn’t stop at Rodman but Father Costello, the assistant priest at Assumption parish, took the matter up with the supt. Of the railroad at Cedar Rapids and the train stopped at Rodman on Sunday nights and let us off. We got a ride back to Emmetsburg on a freight train late Friday p.m.  

The nest year I taught 5th grade in West Bend , then took 5th grade in E’burg, then 7th and 8th grades. In 1910 I came to Boone at the request of Supt. Meredith who had been Supt. in E’burg when I was teaching there. I taught 7th grade at Lowell School until January 1911 when I was made Principal at Lincoln after Gracie Tucker was elected County Supt. of Schools at the November election. The one at Lincoln won the election after running against the one at Page. The law has been changed since then.  

I taught at Lincoln school until June of 1913 when I married T.J. Mahoney on June 30. I have lived here since except for time in Washington 1917-19 when T.J. was discharged from the Army after World War I. While living in Washington D.C. , Mary was born Nov. 29, 1918 in our apartment on Columbia Road just across the street from the Christian Scientist Church (1769 was the number, Imperial Apts.) Aunt Mollie came to Washington to care for John while I would be in the hospital. That was the time of the first flu epidemic and they wouldn’t take pregnant women as they said it meant death to both mother and child so Mary was born in the apartment under the care of a woman doctor whose office was in the same bldg. this doctor gave us our first small Xmas tree which I put in the umbrella stand in our hall and decorated it with bits of cotton. When John saw it he said, ‘Oh, see the pretty flower’.  

All five of us left Washington for Chicago . T.J. went on to Boone but Maty was sick and I and the two babies and Mollie stayed. When the doctor came he said the baby would be ok but he said the mother had the flu and should be in bed so we stayed another week. Aunt Helen had taken Helen Ferguson and Muriel to live with her while Mollie was in D.C. with me, so now she had a houseful but not for long as Mollie and the girls could return to their home in LaGrange. T.J. came back to Chicago to go home with me and the two babies. When T.J. went to Washington , we divided the living room at 815-12th so Grandma and Grandpa Mahoney could have a downstairs bedroom and Aunt Dora and Uncle Pete took over. They moved to 815 because the house on Green St had no furnace and you couldn’t get hard coal for heating the stove.  

In the meantime Uncle Pete had bo’t the corner house on Story and they moved there taking Grandpa with them as Grandma had died in Sept. 1918. Earlier that year T.J. was sent out to interview the governors of Iowa , Nebraska and Kansas to find out how the draft was being taken in those states. John and I came with him. While there, the Henry Hermans took us out to the country to see the damage on some farms after the cyclone which struck in May of that year. The Hermans had just built the brick house on south Story now owned by the Mandershields and she took us all thru’ it. She said there was criticize for building as this time but she said she wanted the house while the children were still home and not after they left.”

[1] Michael Patton and Catherine Joyce were married in St. Gabriel’s Church by Father Lucien Galtier who established the city of St. Paul , Minnesota . St. Gabriel’s is the oldest parish in Wisconsin still operating as a church.

[2] The “wealthy fur-trader” was Hercules Dousman. He became Wisconsin ’s first millionaire and his home “Villa Louis” is a National Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. The home is now a museum and open to the public.

[3] The sheriff who shot and killed Matt Joyce was actually Marshall E.J. Larkin. Marshall Larkin was tried and acquitted of murder in December 1886.

[4] Matt and Tom Joyce both attended the University of Michigan but neither finished. Matt Joyce later attended Notre Dame and graduated with the class of 1901. He received an Honorary Law Degree from Michigan in 1906.

[5] Tom Joyce was First Surgical Assistant to Dr. Charles Mayo. He founded the Portland Clinic shortly after moving to Oregon . The Portland Clinic is still in operation today and Tom’s picture is still used in their advertising.

[6] Matt Joyce was appointed US Superior Court Judge by President Hoover in 1932. He served on the bench until his death in 1956. Among those who appeared before him as defendants were Ma Barker and her sons.