Mysterious Monaghan

       I don’t remember hearing the story for the first time, about my 2nd great grandfather who came to America from Ireland, but it seems as though I've a;ways known it. The story has been told so many times in bits and pieces that the narrator, scenery, and details have all scattered into snippets at the edges my mind that occasionally pop through like the sun on a cloudy day. However, there are some pieces of these memories that have never faded, that I remember as if I were five years old again.  

     I'm sitting on Poppa’s lap, my head is propped perfectly under his neck, I hear the faint thudding of his heart as it keeps tempo with his deep voice which reverberates through his chest.  An odoriferous scent of fresh tobacco drifts from the pocket of his thin button-down shirt, which hints at a prolific lifetime humbly accomplished. His words are my flowers that I gather and guard with care.  I do not know yet that they will eventually wilt and be forgotten.

  “Richard Paul Monaghan came to America through the port New York with his seven sisters, without their parents, during Ireland's potato famine, probably during the 1870s. (They had been living in County Monaghan, Ireland). Then he quickly came to Texas and settled in Tyler, took up barbering, pulled teeth, and bled people. He was head man and had six or seven Negros cutting hair. On Saturday nights in Henderson all would gather at the barber shop to carouse, sing and drink. One of his best drinking and hunting friends was Dr. Birdwell of Tyler, The way Paul got his land and wealth was probably to marry the Widow Floyd who had inherited her land. In 1884, they moved to Henderson where the land was. They had one son, Johnny Monaghan. Della was about 4 or 5 when Mrs. (Floyd) Monaghan died.
     Paul then married Felicie Vienne, a young French girl from a convent in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Her family was from a large 10-12 child family which was orphaned from the Civil War. The Catholic church took over their plantation. Their marriage was probably arranged by the Church. They then immediately returned to Henderson. Felicie Vienne spoke mostly French but had little trouble assimilating her new life. She was very pretty, petite, dark-haired, and delightful. She had one son, Richard Vienne, and shortly after his birth, his father died. Felicie was left the land (about 250 acres) in downtown Henderson by the Baptist Church and 4-5 acres by the barber shop, and the two little boys.
     The Crow family persuaded Felicie that they should live on her land. In return, they would take care of Johnny Monaghan and farm her land. She lived with little Richard Vienne In a house behind the First National Bank with the Browns.  Felicie took in washing and sewing for about a year or two. Then she married Joe Welch who was a widower with six children and moved to Minden and farmed on his land.” (1)
   
    Paul’s story is preserved here in my grandfather’s words by my (thankfully insightful) aunt Janita, who had the wonderful notion to type this story as her father told it. It became the foundation for my research, without it, I may have never gone this far!  After many years of intense and thorough research, the following story is what I have uncovered, yet it is still only a small portion of the life he lived on this earth.  

 Paul Monaghan was born about 1841 in Ireland.(2) Paul lived invisibly for the first 35 years of his life and suddenly appeared in Henderson, Rusk County, Texas in the year 1877. Paul purchased land on November 5, 1877 for $100, paid in full, from Thompson H & Frances G Coleman.(3) Only six weeks later, on December 20, 1877, Paul married the widow Mary Flynn who had two children from her previous marriage to Thomas Flynn; Robert Flynn (b. 1867) and Della Flynn (b. 1875).(2, 4, 5) Nine months later, Paul’s & Mary’s first son was born in August 22, 1878.(6) They named him Paul Emmitt Monaghan and they were happy (according to the local paper)! But sadly, baby Paul only lived a short time and died on October 27, 1879.(6) However, Mary gave birth to another little boy, John Louis Monaghan, who was born April 6, 1880.(2, 7) According to the 1880 census Paul was a barber and owned a barbershop.(2) His wife Mary ran a busy home with not only 3 children living there, but also Paul’s “barber’s apprentice” named Jerry Hughes.(2)
     Unfortunately, tragedy struck again when Mary’s eldest son from her first marriage, Robert Flynn, died on July 27, 1881.(8) Maybe it was heartbreak that pursued poor Mary after the loss of 2 children which sent her to an early grave. She, too, died within six months, on January 5, 1882 and was buried next to her 2 sons, Paul E Monaghan and Robert T Flynn.(9) 
     Paul was now a widower with 2 young children, Della Flynn (age 7) and Johnnie (age 1 ½), and a busy barber shop to run. After having faced so many tragedies, Paul Monaghan courageously pressed on and married a French Louisiana girl, Felicie Vienne, exactly six months later on July 2, 1882.(10)  Good fortune found him once again, and another little boy was born to Felicie & Paul on August 19, 1883; he was named Richard Vienne Monaghan.(11)  For unknown reasons, on April 24, 1884, Paul bought some more property in downtown Henderson for the sum of $750, paid in cash.(12) And once again, life seems to quiet down for Paul with only a newspaper ad for the “Fashionable Barber – Paul Monaghan” to mark his presence in the town of Henderson in Rusk County, Texas.  On July 17, 1888 Paul and Felicie once again appear in the Rusk County deed books but are referenced this time as “of the County of Smith, State of Texas” and have sold one of their properties to W. L. McMurry for $175 down, the rest to be paid within the year.(13)  As it appears, they have moved to Tyler and are now selling their holdings in Henderson.  But only 3 short weeks later, a blurb appears in the Galveston newspaper telling of this fire on August 7, 1888:

BLAZE AT TYLER
Tyler, Tex., August 7 — A destructive fire destroyed some of the most valuable property in this city last night, together with a number of Wooden buildings. The fire started in an old warehouse belonging to the Waldert estate, just in the rear of the block of lime buildings fronting the east side of the square. The fire soon communicated to these buildings and completely gutted this fine corner brick, belonging also to the Waldert estate. Two of the other bricks caught, but were extinguished without great damage. The fire spread east to J.J. Ford's carpenter shop, thence to the stable belonging to Taylor & Loftin. The fire was checked here, but spread north to a number of outhouses and for a while the new International and Great Northern depot and the City hotel were in imminent danger, Loss to the Waldert estate $3000, insured. Caldwell & Co., grocers, stock badly damaged. Wimberly & Phillips, dry goods and clothing, stock badly damaged; insured. Will Oldham, confectionery, damaged by removal; no insurance. Grange store, damaged by removal; no insurance. Tyler Record, damaged by removal; insured. W. R. Johnson & Co., saloon, loss about $2000; insured. The others damaged are W. Waldert, real estate agent; Paul Monegan, barber; Taylor & Loftin, stable; J. F. Ford, carpenter shop.(14)

Another blurb was written in the Overton Sharpshooter newspaper on August 9, 1888:

“We regret to learn of the death of Mr. Paul Monogan [sic], late of Henderson. He died at Tyler, Tuesday night. His remains were carried to Henderson for interment this morning."(15)

After her brief stint in Tyler, and the loss of her husband, Felicie gathered her wits and decided to ask Mr. McMurry if she could buy her property back at the same price for which he had purchased it from them. He agreed and Felicie took the three children back to Henderson.(16)
          Paul’s estate settlement indicated that Paul was treated by Dr. U. G. M. Walker, M.D. and W. R. Driskell, M.D., and incurred a bill of $31 which was paid by his estate. He was also an active member of the Knights of Honor which issued a life policy of $2,000 to his widow, Felicie.(17)

As you can see, the story that has been passed through the generations only loosely matches the facts that I have discovered. Gallingly, after half a decade of research, I am only marginally closer now to finding his origins, his parents, or even a sibling, than I was when I initially heard the story told by my grandfather.  After consulting with the experts in Rusk County and the Rusk County Historical Society, the only comment they could make was “It seems as though a bird flew over Henderson one day and dropped him off!” So we all want to know…..who was Paul Monaghan?



1. Family History by Richard Paul Monaghan of Overton, Texas recorded by his daughter (living), date of interview unknown, held in 2008 by his daughter (living).
2. 1880 United States Federal Census, www.ancestry.com, Year: 1880; Census Place: Henderson, Rusk, Texas; Roll: 1325; Family History Film: 255325; Page: 10C; Enumeration District: 72; Image:. Record for Paul Monagan.
3. Deed Records of Rusk County, Texas, Deed Book 27: pp 87-88, Rusk County Courthouse, Henderson, Rusk, Texas.
4. Texas Marriages 1837 -1973, Family History Library, index, http://familysearch.org; record for Paul Monaghan
5. 1870 United States Federal Census, www.ancestry.com, Year: 1870; Census Place: Precinct 3, Rusk, Texas; Roll: M593_1603; Page: 416B; Image:252. Record for Mary Flynn.
6. Jim Tipton, Find A Grave, digital images (http://www.findagrave.com), Record for Paul Emmitt Monaghan.
7. Episcopal Diocese of Texas, 1849 - 1929,  unpaginated,  University of Texas at Austin - Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, Sid Richardson Hall, Austin Texas:. Record for John Louis Monaghan.
8. Jim Tipton, Find A Grave, digital images (http://www.findagrave.com), Record for Robert Flynn.
9. Jim Tipton, Find A Grave, digital images (http://www.findagrave.com), Record for Mary Monaghan.
10. Texas Marriages 1837 -1973, Family History Library, index, http://familysearch.org; record for Paul Monaghan.
11. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, www.ancestry.com. Registration Location: Jefferson County, Texas; Roll: 1953882; Draft Board: 2. Record for Richard Van Monaghan.
12. Deed Records of Rusk County, Texas, Deed Book 32: pp 369-371, Rusk County Courthouse, Henderson, Rusk, Texas.
13. Deed Records of Rusk County, Texas, Deed Book 36: pp 417-421, Rusk County Courthouse, Henderson, Rusk, Texas.
14.August 8, 1888, p. 10, col 4. Blaze at Tyler., Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, online images.
15.August 9, 1888, p. 4, col 1., Overton Sharpshooter, Overton, Texas, Rusk County Public Library, Rusk, Texas. 
16. Deed Records of Rusk County, Texas, Deed Book 45: pp 10-12, Rusk County Courthouse, Henderson, Rusk, Texas.
17. Paul Monaghan Probate and Inventory, Rusk County Texas Probate file #1315, Rusk County Clerk's Office, Henderson, Rusk, Texas.

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