Tragedy in Mendota, Minnesota 1880

Last evening, I began to think about Irish ancestors who lived in St. Paul and Mendota, Minnesota. I have traveled all over the world researching these ancestors yet never accessed the resources in my own backyard. They lived in the same areas, traveled the same roads, attended the same churches a hundred years before me and I know almost nothing about these bright green Irish branches of our family tree.

It was a rare free evening and after a few errands we decided to have dinner in the village of Mendota. As we crested the hill to Mendota, we made a quick stop at St. Peters Cemetery to look for answers about these Irish connections.

My second great grandmother, Johanna Guiney married John Doyle on 24 November 1867 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Johanna’s older sister Ellen married William Hayes on 26 April in 1858 in St. Paul. The Hayes and Guiney families lived in the village of Mendota, in Dakota County Minnesota.

Upon finding the large marker for William Hayes, I noticed that he had died 18 August 1880 and that today is the anniversary of a very tragic event. William Hayes was struck and killed by a train on a bridge in his hometown of Mendota.

He was a well-known member of the community since the 1850’s. He was proprietor of a Grocery Store, Hotel or boarding house and Saloon in Mendota. The 1880 census was completed on 24 June and his family is listed as Ellen his wife, and the children still at home were; Mary (21), David (19), William (17), John (15), Hannah (13) and his mother in law, Mary Guiney Age 70.

It is also interesting his son William shows up in St. Paul on June 8, 1880 as a boarder at his aunt and uncles, John Doyle and Johanna Guiney Doyle’s Boarding House and was working in the store.

Many relatives in Mendota and St. Paul were shocked about the tragic death of William Hayes 136 years ago today. They all gathered on the hillside in St. Peters Cemetery for the funeral of William Hayes.

Today, I felt compelled to share this story keeping his memory alive. And, perhaps his descendants will find this story and learn about their past.

Here is the story as printed in the St. Paul Globe on 19 August 1880 and then printed in the Hastings Gazette on 21 August 1880.

Wm Hayes Accident003

May he rest in peace…




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