The Mulqueen family that came from Ireland to settle near Askeaton, Wisconsin, donated today’s equivalent of $15,000 to help build St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in 1908. The donation amounts from four Mulqueen family members are etched into a marble monument in the narthex of the church in southern Brown County, Wisconsin.
A recent visit to the tiny hamlet of Askeaton unearthed more details of the Mulqueen family that settled there in the 1850s. These pioneers are the ancestors of Earl J. Mulqueen Sr. (1895-1965), who grew up on his grandparents farm just a couple miles from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
On the southern wall of the narthex of the church is a beautiful marble monument with the roll of donors who put up the funds to build the new St. Patrick’s that was dedicated in 1908. It replaced the previous church structure that had been across the road on land that is now part of the parish cemetery. The family matriarch, Mary (Corcoran) Mulqueen, donated $100, while her sons Daniel Jr., Thomas and James donated a total of $500. The $600 Mulqueen family donation represents at least $15,000 in 2017 dollars. For this hard-working farm family, this was no doubt a major sacrifice. Overall, parishioners raised the 2017 equivalent of $475,000 to build the church.
One thing is clear looking at the monument and examining some of the early church books: the family name was Mulqueen, not the McQueen that appears on headstones in St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery across the street. The two surnames seemed to be used almost interchangeably, but the Mulqueen spelling is what appears in church records.
St. Patrick’s is a stunning church with an arched ceiling and a collection of some of the most beautiful stained glass windows you will ever see. The windows depict saints and scenes from the New Testament, including Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, the Resurrection, the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes,St. Michael the Archangel, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a Guardian Angel, St. Patrick and more. Mass is still said here twice a week.
It is very clear looking at the church, the two former school buildings and the well-kept cemetery that the Catholic Church has always been at the heart of life in Askeaton. Even before the Irish immigrants could build the first church in Askeaton, they attended Mass in each other’s homes. Before long, though, they built the original St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and had a full-time resident priest. Earl Mulqueen and his younger sister Elizabeth no doubt received First Holy Communion and Confirmation in this church.
Exterior of St. Patrick’s.
Exterior of St. Patrick’s.
Mulqueens on the donor roll
Donor roll of St. Patrick’s in Askeaton.
Interior of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Askeaton.q
Bridget Elizabeth (McQueen) Chase, the mother of Earl J. Mulqueen Sr. (1895-1965), died of typhus on March 12, 1897, just two weeks after giving birth to her daughter Elizabeth. That fact is revealed in a death certificate just received from the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison.
The death certificate says Elizabeth was just 20, much younger than the age listed in her newspaper obituary. That is most likely an error, as the 1870 U.S. Census puts her birthdate at about 1866. That means she died at about age 31. Two weeks prior to her death, on February 26, 1897, she gave birth to daughter Elizabeth in Green Bay. Earl was just over 2 years old when his mother died.
Typhus is a bacterial disease characterized by a rash, fever, cough, headaches, rapid breathing and confusion. Before the widespread availability of antibiotics such as doxycycline, typhus was often fatal. The disease has several forms, although the most common form was spread by body lice. It is different than typhoid fever.
The Brown County death certificate helps shed a little more light on Elizabeth’s story. Until recently, we had no idea who Earl’s mother was. Earl was raised on his grandparents’ farm near Askeaton, Wisconsin after the death of both parents. He took his mother’s maiden name. His father, Charles Henry Chase, is still largely a mystery — one we hope to solve with help of Charles and Elizabeth’s marriage certificate. The couple were married on September 4, 1894, about four months before Earl’s birth. Earl was said to be born in Marinette, while his sister Elizabeth was born in Green Bay. The young Chase family was living in Green Bay at the time of Bridget Elizabeth’s death.
While progress has been made, the mysteries keep piling up. St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery in Askeaton has no record of Bridget Elizabeth McQueen Chase’s 1897 burial. Her newspaper obituary clearly states her funeral was at St. Patrick’s church. No burial records seem to exist for four other members of the Askeaton McQueen family, including Mary (Corcoran) McQueen (1827-1913), Thomas McQueen (1855-1913), James McQueen (1853-unknown) and Daniel McQueen Jr. (1865-1926). Newspaper obituaries for most of those individuals state that the funerals and/or burials were at St. Patrick’s in Askeaton. A planned visit to the cemetery could clear things up, but right now there does not appear to be a paper trail for those burials.
Key questions that still need answers regarding Earl and his ancestors:
What became of Earl’s father, Charles H. Chase? The 1898 Green Bay city directory lists a Charles Chase as a chef at Hotel Christie, but it’s not clear if this is the same man. The only death records for a Charles Chase for this time period are for a much older, already married man who farmed in Greenleaf, not far from Askeaton. That man died in 1905 at age 65.
Who were Charles Chase’s ancestors and what was their heritage?
Where is Earl’s birth certificate? No record seems to exist under the Chase or Mulqueen/McQueen names in Marinette or Brown counties. In fact, there is no birth certificate for him in state records at all.
Did Earl’s maternal grandparents, Daniel and Mary Mulqueen, come from County Limerick, Ireland, as did most of the settlers of Askeaton, Wisconsin?
Every family historian has come up against the dreaded brick wall. Something that stops or stalls a genealogy search and prevents you from making progress in writing your family history. So it’s a joyous occasion to smash down one of those brick walls, which is just was I did this week related to my maternal grandfather, Earl J. Mulqueen (1895-1965).
I had been stymied for years trying to learn about Earl’s parents and other ancestors. The story I’d been told was that his parents both died before he was 4 years old and he was raised by two bachelor uncles on a farm near Green Bay, Wisconsin. I was able to find him and his younger sister on the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Census in the Town of Holland, Brown County. But despite years of searching, I could not find any record of his parents, who I was told were named Charles Mulqueen and Mary Chase.
Fast forward to this week. I met with two of my mom’s younger sisters, to see what information they might have about their father. Only three of 11 siblings in the Mulqueen clan of Cudahy, Wisconsin are still alive, so I was eager to finish this research now. One of the things we reviewed was a family bible originally belonging to my grandmother, Margaret Madonna (Dailey) Mulqueen (1895-1982). A small notation in the family tree section of the bible listed Earl’s parents as Charles Chase and Elizabeth McQueen. McQueen is a common spelling variant of the surname Mulqueen, and the Wisconsin branch of this family used the names almost interchangeably.
At this point, the information started to make sense. If Earl took his mother’s maiden name, it would explain my difficulty finding his parents in the records. On his 1965 death certificate, Earl’s parents were listed as Charles Mulqueen and Mary Chase. Was that information incorrect? I was about to find out. I turned to my trusty subscription to Newspapers.com, a subsidiary of Ancestry.com. I ran the obvious name searches, but turned up nothing. Then I tried a search just for the words “Chase” and “Askeaton,” the latter being the hamlet in Brown County settled by Irish families in the 1850s. Up popped a headline from the March 15, 1897 issue of the Green Bay Gazette: “Death of Mrs. Charles Chase of This City.” Bingo. One brick in the wall fell.
According to the article, Mrs. Chase died of fever after giving birth. I knew my grandfather’s younger sister was born in 1897, so this made sense. Next I turned to the Wisconsin Historical Society and its index of pre-1907 death records. Again, the typical name searches did not find anything useful. I then did a broad search for all Brown County deaths from 1890 to 1900 and manually looked through them. There I found a death record for Bridget E. Chase on March 12, 1897. Bridget? I recalled the U.S. Census records for a McQueen family in the Town of Holland, Brown County, had a Bridget listed. Her age was a close match for Bridget Chase. The Elizabeth McQueen listed in grandma’s Bible was actually Bridget Elizabeth McQueen.Boom. Down came more bricks.
I used the same search strategy with the Wisconsin Historical Society’s marriage records. I found a Charles Henry Chase who got married on September 4, 1894. This sounded promising. But when I clicked on the “search for possible spouse matches” feature on the web site, it came up blank. That usually does not happen. So I again took the long road, calling up all Brown County marriages from 1890 to 1900 and zeroing in on the letter M. There I found two matches, both with the same September 1894 wedding date as Charles H. Chase. The first was for “Bridget Micgreen” and the second was for “Bridget E. Mcinween.” Whoa. What merciless butchering of the McQueen/Mulqueen name! As I quickly ordered paper copies of these documents from the WHS, I could hear that brick wall rumbling and crumbling.
Based on the information in these documents, Bridget Elizabeth was pregnant with my grandfather at the time of her September 1894 marriage to Charles H. Chase. Grandpa was born on 7 January 1895. Now I had confirmation of my grandfather’s parents, whom he never really knew. I’m still waiting for the marriage and death certificates from Madison, and I hope they shed further light on this couple. There are still big questions needing answers. Why did Earl take his mother’s maiden name, Mulqueen, rather than his father’s name, Chase? Again, this is not typical, so there must be a significant story behind it. What happened to Charles H. Chase? I had often been told he died while my grandfather was young. But I had also been told his surname was Mulqueen. I am in the process of tracking down his story.
While I was on a research roll, I turned to Elizabeth Mulqueen’s parents. I easily located them on the 1860 U.S. Census for the Town of Holland in Brown County. Daniel and Mary Mulqueen, parents to James, 9; Thomas, 5; Margaret, 3; and Michael, 1 month old. On the 1870 U.S. Census, new children appeared, including Margaret, 7; Daniel, 5;Bridget, 4; and Mary, 1. That makes two Margarets with different ages, so either the 1870 Census is in error, or the first Margaret died and a new daughter bore the same name. The Census put Earl’s mother’s birth year at around 1866.
I next used my Family Tree Maker software (powered by Ancestry.com databases) to look for more information on this family. I found little Mary Mulqueen’s Wisconsin birth record, which listed the mother’s maiden name as Corcoran. So now I knew Daniel Mulqueen married Mary Corcoran, likely prior to 1851, when the family lived in Ohio. But I could find no birth or death records on file for any of the couple’s other children.
By digging more through news microfilm, I discovered that Daniel Mulqueen spent his final years at the Brown County Asylum, having been judged “insane.” Unfortunately, I have no information on his case, which could have simply been dementia. People with infirmities that could not be handled at home often ended up in county asylums, sometimes called “poor farms” or “insane asylums.”
Dan first entered the asylum on June 7, 1888. He was in and out of the institution over the next few years. He died at the Brown County Asylum on March 30, 1893. The only obituary, in the Daily State Gazette of Green Bay, read thusly: “Daniel McQueen, an insane man, died at the county asylum yesterday afternoon. He was 74 years of age. The funeral will be held tomorrow in the town of West Holland.” How sensitive. This man emigrated to America from Ireland, raised a large family on a successful farm in Wisconsin, yet the local paper only remembers him for an illness in his final years.
My Grandpa Earl and his sister moved to the Mulqueen farm near Askeaton after their mother died in March 1897. Their grandmother, Mary, lived on the farm until her death in 1913. The men of the farm included Daniel Mulqueen Jr. and his older brother James. I believe Dan and James are the bachelor uncles about which I’d been told.
Determined to start a life of his own, Earl left the Mulqueen farm and moved south to Racine County around 1916. He spent time as a farm hand in Kansasville, where his good friend Howard Gilson lived. Earl later moved to Racine and worked for J.I. Case before starting a long career for Wisconsin Electric. He met and married my grandmother, the former Margaret Madonna Dailey, at Racine on Nov. 23, 1920. They moved to Cudahy, Wisconsin, in the mid- to late 1920s.
The little hamlet of Askeaton, Wisconsin, is named for a village in County Limerick, Ireland. Farmers from County Limerick emigrated to America starting in 1844 and eventually made their way to Brown County, Wisconsin. Askeaton, Ireland, has a fascinating history, with ruins of a medieval castle that dates to about the year 1200 and a Franciscan abbey founded in 1389. It was once a large walled town, but in 1846 was described in an Irish gazetteer as “a poor lumpish village.” The population at the time the group of farmers left for Wisconsin was about 4,400.
In the span of just a few days, I’ve unearthed more information on Earl Mulqueen’s ancestry than I found in more than 10 years of searching. Now that the brick wall has come down, I look forward to fruitful research in the coming days and months.