CORNELIUS DONOVAN is the son of Richard and Honora O’Brien Flanigan Donovan. He was born in Garryowen, Jackson County, Iowa.
Cornelius Donovan married Margaret Patterson. They settled in Garryowen, South Dakota.
They had eight children: John, William, Nellie, Marjorie, Edmund, Lennie, Leo, and Frances.
- Five of the children, Nellie, Marjorie, Edmund, Lennie, and Leo died of diphtheria in 1895.
- Frances was born five months later. When she was five months old, her father, Cornelius, was killed when the tombstone he was hauling to the cemetery to place on the children’s graves was upset by the team of horses hauling the wagon.
- John Donovan married Agnes Dowing.
- They had one son who died in of diphtheria at the age of six.
- William Donovan married Belle Parks.
- They had no children.
- Frances Donovan married Cameron Elliot.
- They adopted a daughter, Marjann, who remained single. She lived in Redlands, California.
Excerpt from entry found on ancestry tree by debbyjpm:
Margaret taught school for a while before her marriage to Cornelius Donovan, who had come to South Dakota with a team of horses and a wagon provided by his father (an Irish custom) and homesteaded at Emmet. He owned 320 acres near the Emmet church. Their marriage record at Elk Point SD was recorded in French.
Cornelius and Margaret lost five of their eight children in 1895 in the diphtheria epidemic. Later that year, September 1895, Margaret’s last child, Frances, was born and the following year, while Cornelius was hauling stones for the children’s graves in Emmet cemetery, the team ran away and he was killed. Quite enough tragedy for one woman. The children’s stones contain touching little verses, and memorial verses were printed in the local papers (and reprinted in the Bloomington, Wisconsin Record). These were actually composed by the children’s Uncle James Jordan, but he modestly attributed them to others. The church in Beresford SD, built in 1904, has a large window on the left, saying, “In memory of Husband and Children, donated by Mrs. Margaret Donovan.”
Margaret Patterson Donovan must have been a strong and self-reliant person. She homesteaded in Philip, SD, about 1909, and lived various places while her daughter; Frances was going to school at Beresford, Chicago, Sioux City, Sinsinawa Mound, Wisconsin, and St. Catherine’s, St. Paul, MN. Margaret moved to Los Angeles in 1921, where her son Will was then living. She died there in 1932, five days after the death of her twin sister, who had been visiting her in Los Angeles.
Photo credits: Erin Gentz