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WPA Interview

Killean, Michael

Michael Killean was born in New York City, New York on February 19, 1855. A son of Patrick and Catherine (Rooney) Killean who were natives of Co. Claire, Ireland and came to the United States about 1837.

The children of Patrick and Catherine (Rooney) Killean were: Barney; Michael; Thomas; Patrick Junior; Dennis; Mary Ann; Catherine; Elizabeth.

Patrick Killean Senior was born in 1826 and died April 4, 1884 his wife Catherine (Rooney) Killean was born in 1827 and died January 31, 1901. They are buried in St. Anthony's Cemetery, Padua, Stearns County, Minnesota.

When Patrick and Catherine (Rooney) Killean first came from Ireland they were put ashore at Grose Island, Canada. There were several immigrant Rooney families landed at that place and they moved farther inland and settled in Wakefield township where they were employed in the timber lands.

When his work in Wakefield Township was finished Patrick Killean removed his family to New York City where Michael was born in 1855. He returned to Ontario, Canada, but was not satisfied to stay there and as there was a big land boom in Minnesota just at that time he decided to located here. He boarded a steam boat at Lake Superior and came to St. Paul by way of the Mississippi about 1863. He secured an ox team in St. Paul and made his way overland to Stearns County where he obtained 160 acres in Section 24, Raymond township. He hired Joe McDermatt, who had a team of horses and a plow, to put in his first crop which was 10 acres of wheat.

While Indians were always lurking around the lakes near the Killean home they were never hostile. They stole everything they could, but did not attempt to harm the settlers bodily.

One night Catherine (Rooney) Killean left her washing on the clothes line, thinking it would dry by morning and when she went out to get the clothing found that Indians had stolen it during the night. It was a very real loss to the Killean's as they did not have an over abundance of clothing and nothing out of which to make more.

Although there was a store at Sauk Centre at the time, the Killeans did most of their trading in St. Cloud. Eggs were 8 cents per dozen and butter 5 cents per pound.

On April 23, 1888 Michael Killean was married to Johanna Power who was born in Ottawa, Canada, October 15, 1865. They were married in Grand Forks, North Dakota. A Catholic priest performed the ceremony.

The children of Michael and Johanna (Powers) Killean are: Barbara Ann was born in Bangor township, April 10, 1889. She married Tom Shae and lives in Hazelton, North Dakota.

Violet was born in Bangor township on May 5, 1891. She married Clement Flynn and makes her home in St. Cloud.

Elmer was born in Raymond township Stearns County, Minnesota in 1893. He lives on a farm there.

LeRoy was born in 1895. He lives in Grey Eagle and is a mechanic.

Earl was born in 1896. He is a farmer in Raymond Township.

Leonard was born 1898. He lives in Clearwater, Minnesota and is a mechanic by trade.

Evelyn was born in 1904. She lives in New York City where she is employed as a chef.

Michael Killean has served on the school board and as Assessor of Bangor Township for three years.

Johanna (Powers) Killean died February 22, 1920 and she is buried in St. Anthony's Cemetery, Raymond Township.

Michael Killean still carries on farming on his homestead in Raymond Township.


Interviewed: Michael Killean
Date: June 8, 1937
By: Dorothy Hansmann

Click on the links below to view the complete original version of the WPA interview:

    WPA Killeen, Michael (pg. 1)
    WPA Killeen, Michael (pg. 2)
    WPA Killeen, Michael (pg. 3)

*Note: Some of the information in the original WPA interview appears to be inconsistent with subsequent research, so the following corrections are suggested:

    1. Throughout the entire WPA document, the correct spelling of the family name should be Killeen.
    2. Pg. 1, Para 1 & 5, Michael Killeen was born in Quebec per the 1851 Canadian census and his baptismal record from St. Camillus church in Farrellton, Quebec, Canada.
    3. Pg. 2, Para 5, The first child was Bibiana Olive born April 11, 1889 per the Birth Register in Pope Co, MN.
    4. Pg. 2, Para 7, Elmer was born on Nov 8, 1895. (An earlier child, also named Elmer, was born on 30 Sept 1893 and died on 31 Aug 1894, at the age of 11 months).
    5. Pg 2, Para 8, LeRoy was born on 31 Oct 1897.
    6. Pg 2, Para 9, Earl was born on 29 Nov 1898.
    7. Pg 2, Para 10, Leonard was born on 24 Nov 1900.
    8. Pg 3, Para 1, Evelyn was born on 9 Oct 1902.
    9. Pg 3, Para 3, Johanna (Powers) Killeen died February 23, 1920 per her obituary.