Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Another Dawes County Pioneer: Michael Brennan

Editor's Note:  The biography and photos included in this story  were derived from the illustrated Compendium of History, Reminiscence and Biography of Western Nebraska, a wonderful publication for families, historians and the general public.  It was produced in 1909 by the Alden Publishing Company of Chicago.  
-- Larry Miller

MICHAEL BRENNAN, a farmer of ability and progressiveness, resides in section 12, township 31, range 48, and is one of the leading old settlers and respected citizens of Dawes county. He has watched the growth of that section from its early development, succeeded in building up a good home and farm, and may be classed among the self-made men of his locality. He is now well-to-do and enjoys a pleasant home and peaceful surroundings.

Mr. Brennan was born in Carbon county, Pennsylvania, in 1845. He is of Irish descent, his father and mother both having been born in Ireland, coming to this country when young people and settling in Pennsylvania, where their family of children grew up, the father working in the coal mines for many years in that section. Our subject was also employed in the mines when but a young lad, and at the breaking out of the Civil war he enlisted in the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, and served for one year, taking part in many campaigns and battles,

After the war he returned to his home county and remained there for some time, then started west with his family, locating in Boone county, Iowa, and later in Green county, spending two years in the coal mines there.

Mr. Brennan first came to Dawes county in 1885, driving all the way from Iowa with a team and covered wagon containing his family and household goods, the trip taking a month on the road.

He located on a farm ten miles from Hay Springs and sixteen miles from Chadron, and put up his first building of sod and logs, in which the family lived for quite a time. Their start was very small, and they had a hard time to get along during the first few years, witnesssing the dry years when nearly everything he planted failed him. One year he sowed one hundred bushels of seed wheat, and did not even get enough back for seed. During these hard times he left home and went into Hooker county, where he worked out on a farm in order to make a living for his family, and also spent some time in Wyoming in the coal mines. However, he stuck to his farm through it all, and has now built up a good home, has improved much of the land, put up good buildings, three windmills, and has one well three hundred and twenty feet deep. 

His ranch consists of about nine quarter sections of good land, nearly all fenced, and he runs a large number of horses and cattle, and also farms one hundred and seventy-five accrues.

Mr. Brennan was married while still living in Pennsylvania, in 1870, to Miss Mary Walsh. Her father, James Walsh, was born in Ireland, and worked as a coal miner in Pennsylvania, and in his later years farmed there for many years. He married Elizabeth Hoben, a native of Pennsylvania, and Mrs. Brennan was born January 10, 1855, and reared in that state. She is a good, kind-hearted lady, full of jolly good cheer and hearty sympathy with any one in distress. No one is ever turned away hungry from her door. 

Twelve children came to bless the union of our subject and his wife, namely: Mart, James, Charles, Lizzie, John, William, Thomas, Fred, Terry and Joe. Alice and Maggie, both deceased, the former being killed by a cow on the farm; the latter dying in infancy.


Editor's Note:

Mr. Brennan lived for another 12 years before his death in 1921.  His obituary (shown below) appeared in the Chadron Chronicle on December 15, 1921.