Robert Shane’s life seems shrouded in mystery and contradiction. Most ancestors I’ve written about have conveniently left pictures or writings, but except for one picture presumed to be Robert I really have nothing except the rather sparse records. Here then, from census, probate and other documents is what I’ve learned about my Great-grandfather after he arrived in America….
Robert’s story begins in County Limerick Ireland, where he was born somewhere between 1818 and 1824. The 1850 U.S. Census is the first place where I located Robert and he was at that time living in Delaware County, Iowa. On that record Robert (age 27) is enumerated with Mary, (age 50) and Daniel, (age 23). The surname is spelled “Shahan.” Robert’s sister Johanna (Shane) Quirk was enumerated with her husband and children on the property next to Robert, and in 1850 her age is listed as 31 years. Moving on to the 1856 Iowa State Census we find Robert and Mary enumerated with Dennis Shehan age 34. If we take these census records at face value we find:
Mary Shahan (presumed to be the Mother of Robert, Daniel and Dennis) , born c.1796.
Robert Shahan born c. 1818.
Johanna (Shane) Quirk born c. 1819.
Dennis Shehan born c. 1822.
Daniel Shahan born c. 1827
All were born in Ireland.
Note: There are some discrepancies in the census records so the above dates are estimates, but I think they’re close.
Robert emigrated to America sometime prior to 1850 when he’s first enumerated on the Federal Census mentioned above. Mary, his (presumed) Mother is buried in St. Martin’s Cemetery, Cascade, Dubuque County, Iowa in the same area as her daughter Johanna (Shane) Quirk, the date of her death comes from her grave stone as recorded by Richard Casey.
Robert married Bridget Hogan on September 3, 1858 in Jones County, Iowa which is just to the south of Delaware County. Their first child, Mary was born in 1860 according to the 1860 Federal Census for South Fork Township, Delaware County Iowa. Sadly, little Mary died at the age of two months of “lung fever” a very sad event to be sure. Her death is recorded on the 1860 Federal Census Mortality Table for South Fork. Bridget and Robert were also parents to Elizabeth (Lizzie), Robert N., James, Mary, Michael Joseph (Joe), Johanna, Agnes Frances and John. I’ve included biographical sketches for several of these people on the site.
“The History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present” published in 1910 states that in 1868 a Roman Catholic parish was founded in Monticello and Robert Shane is listed among heads of families who were instrumental in establishing the parish.
In 1855 Robert purchased 95.92 acres of land in Jones County and proceeded to farm there. The text of the patent describes the property this way: The South East quarter of the North West fractional quarter, and the West fractional half, of the North West quarter of Section Six, in Township Eighty Six, North of Range Four, West in the District of Lands subject to sale at Dubuque Iowa, containing Ninety Five acres, and Ninety Two hundredths of an acre.
Robert later purchased land in Delaware County in Township 87 North, Range 31 West. After Robert’s death this property became the object of a legal challenge involving Bridget Shane, and the case eventually made its way to the Iowa Supreme Court. But that’s getting ahead of the story……
Even though Robert and Bridget Shane had a large family together it seems there were difficulties in their marriage, and on the 1880 U.S. Census Robert is enumerated separately from the rest of the family, living on the property next door to Bridget. Both Bridget and Robert are listed as Farmers. According to the article about Robert’s death he had divided the farm with his wife “on the occasion of their separation.” Herein lie the seeds of the legal challenge and I’ll write about that in a future post.
Robert Shane died September 24,1884.
Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls Washington, February 1, 2010, All Rights Reserved.