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Patrick Lydon Solon

Biography and Family

This is a story of Patrick L. Solon, a young Irish immigrant from County Mayo who served in the U.S. Civil War. Patrick was a son of Michael Solon and Mary "Mayme" Lydon, who were married about November, 1833 in County Mayo, Ireland. Michael and Mayme Solon's other known children included Margaret, John and Thomas Solon. Patrick Solon was born July 14, 1845 (although a transcription of his gravestone indicates a birth on June 12, 1846; and his obituary suggests his birth in County Mayo on June 2, 1846). At about age 9, Patrick arrived in his new country in the company of his brother & sister, Margaret and Thomas Solon. By the time Patrick was age 17 he was serving as a private in the Wisconsin 2nd Cavalry Regiment.

On the heels of a Great Famine which devastated their homeland, the Solon family made their way to a new land. Patrick's father Michael may have died in County Mayo during the Famine, since he does not appear to make the trip to the U.S. Instead, we find Patrick's mother Mary leaving Ireland with her son John, and in the company of her parents, in 1851. By 1855 the other children, Margaret, Thomas, and Patrick Solon, made their way to the United States with the help of Mary Solon's father John Lydon, and her brother James Lydon.

Patrick shares a bit of the immigration story in a letter to the Bureau of Pensions dated January 7, 1918, asking for assistance on the estate of his brother John. In it Patrick states, "Myself and a younger brother (Tom) and a sister of 17 (Margaret) started from Kiltatomaugh or thereabouts where my uncle John Brennan lived. Then we went to there to Sligo then sailed over to Liverpool and arrived in the winter of 1852 or thereabouts. My mother came out a couple of years before we did and was working for John Lidon / Lydon and earned money to bring us over. John Lydon's son James Lydon brought over a crew and his sister and my brother John Solon... We came over on the Benjamin Adams ship."

Patrick's account is corroborated in two extant immigrant ship listings. The first is that of the ship "America" arriving from Liverpool to New York on May 5, 1851. Among the passengers aboard the America included James Loyden (age 32), John Loyden (61), Bridget Loyden (60), Bridget Loyden (16) and Maria Loyden (6), Mary Solun (30), John Solun (9). Patrick's mother Mary and his brother John are listed here with the Lydons.
The next is the ship "Benjamin Adams", which arrived from Liverpool to New York on February 19, 1855. Aboard the Adams were Margaret (22), Thomas (13), and Pat (11) Solan. Listed along with them included a James Linnon (26) and Catherine Brennan (16).

According to land records John and James Lydon purchased property near Waldwick, Iowa County, Wisconsin, during the 1850's . John and Bridget Lydon, parents of Mary Solon, are found living there according to the 1860 Wisconsin census for Waldwick. Young Patrick SOLON was working as a labourer on the nearby Calahan farm. Patrick's mother Mary and brother Thomas are found in the same census living across the Iowa County border in Blue River, now Castle Rock township, Grant County, Iowa. They were living with Patrick's sister Margaret SOLON and her new husband Michael Nolan.

By January 1862 Patrick Solon enlisted in Company F, 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Calvary. This regiment was organized at Camp Washburn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. About the year 1898 Patrick wrote an article in a local Iowa newspaper about his military service. This article is reproduced below, where legible, and describes some of the experiences he had during his service in the Civil War, where he enlisted twice and earned the rank of 2nd lieutenant by the time he was mustered out on November 10, 1865.

Following the war Patrick returned to the Highland, Iowa County, Wisconsin area. As family tradition relates, just before Patrick had gone to war, he was said to have gone to confession and had acquainted himself with Mary McGuire, who was working for the local parish priest. Mary was a daughter of James P. and Bridget (Colgan/Culligan) McGuire, natives of County Cavan, Ireland, who were living in Highland. Patrick married Mary Annette MCGUIRE on November 12, 1866, and they lived in the Highland area.

After the birth of Patrick and Mary Solon's first three children, Michael (1868), and twins James (1869) and John (who died at birth), the family relocated to a farm in northwest Iowa. In the 1870 census the family is found in the O'Brien post office area of Sioux township, Sioux County, Iowa. After apparently farming for a short time in neighboring Plymouth county, where another son named John was said to have been born (source: Iowa 1895 census), the family homesteaded near Rock Valley, Sioux County, Iowa. One of these early farms was subsidized by Patrick's service in the military.

As mentioned in his Civil War article (below), conditions for farming in the early 1870's were extremely poor and many farmers including Patrick lost their farms. It was around this time-frame that children John Nicholas (1871), Elizabeth Margaret (1873), Mary Annette (1875) and Emma Jane (1877) were born.

The Sioux County Herald newspaper of July 1, 1875 mentions an unfortunate occurrence which happened at Patrick's farm. The article mentions, "The barn and contents of Patrick Solan, in Rock Township, were entirely consumed last Saturday week by fire, through the negligence of a little son of Mr. Solan, who was playing near the barn at the time. The barn contained all the poor poor man's farming machinery, and at this season of the year and state of things, is a hard blow to Mr. Solan."

Around 1878 Patrick purchased another farm in Sioux County and made it into a successful operation, being able to eventually payoff the farm by the time he wrote his Civil War article. In the 1880 census the family was located on a farm in Rock township, Sioux County. During this time, the remaining children were born: Thomas Edward (1879), Matthew Charles (1881), Katheryn Ellen (1883) and Bridget Isabella (1885). The 1885 Iowa census shows the family farming in Rock township. The Sioux County Herald of March 17, 1887 mentions the following, "P. L. Solan has purchased a quarter section of wild land in Settler township and will improve the same this year. Mr.. Solan is a worthy gentleman and we hope and expect to see him thrive."

In December 1893, Patrick and Mary's son Michael was tragically killed in a bridge building accident near Louisville, Kentucky, his body later recovered in the Ohio River the next year.
The Rock Valley Register of December 22, 1893 describes the event, "The great bridge over the Ohio from Louisville to Jeffersonville has played the role of a devouring monster from its beginning. The great span which was nearly completed gave way Saturday morning and about fifty lives were lost. Among the missing is Michael Solan, well known to Rock Valley people. Saturday evening P. L. Solan received a telegram stating that his son Michael, who has been in the employ of the Phoenix bridge company for the past year, was among the missing. It is the natural supposition that he was buried under the debris of the bridge as his body has not been recovered. The work of recovering the bodies were immediately began. Michael Martin Solan was born in Highland, Wis. 26 years ago, and became a resident of Sioux county at the age of 3 years. He made his home with his parents until about four years ago when he went to Denver, Col., and remained until last spring when he went to work at Council Bluffs for the company he was with at the time of his untimely end. Father, mother, five sisters and four brothers mourn his loss. THE REGISTER extends its sympathy to the bereaved relatives."

In 1894 Patrick's mother, Mary Lydon Solon, passed away at his residence. Her obituary in the Rock Valley Register of March 2, 1894 follows:
"Mrs. Mary Solan died Sunday at the residence of her son, P. A. Solon (this should read P. L. Solon), in the 78th year of her age. She leaves three sons, John, Thomas and Patrick and one daughter, Mrs. Margaret Nolan, to mourn her loss. Services were held at St. Mary's Catholic church on Monday over her remains which were taken to Highland, Wis., for interment. John Solan and her granddaughter, Bridget Nolan, accompanied them."

The 1895 Iowa census still finds the Patrick Solon family farming in Sioux County, in Settlers Township. A couple of years prior to this Patrick's brother, Thomas Solon, had moved his family from Wisconsin and were living in nearby Doon, Lyon County, Iowa. Tragedy struck in the household of Thomas Solon's family with the September 6, 1896 death of his wife Elizabeth McGuire, who was a sister of Patrick Solon's wife Mary. Also passing away in the same month were Thomas and Elizabeth Solon's daughters Margaret and Mary. Along with their mother the two daughters were apparently taken by an outbreak of typhoid fever.
The Alton Iowa Democrat of September 12, 1896 reports the following, "Rock Valley Items - Mrs. Thos. Solan of Doon, died Sunday night of typhoid fever and was interred in the Catholic cemetery, Rev. Father Phelan officiating. Deceased leaves a husband and ten children to mourn her loss."
The Alton Iowa Democrat of September 19, 1896 reports the following, "Mrs. Maggie Flanigan, daughter of Thos. Solan of Doon, died Sunday morning aged 22 years and eight months. Deceased leaves a husband and one child; this is a sad blow to Mr. Solan, who but a week ago buried his wife. Himself and five more of the family are suffering from the same disease - typhoid fever." A marriage record for Margaret Solon suggests she married had Henry Flanigan on August 13, 1895 at Doon, Iowa. The 1900 census for Doon, Iowa indicates her daughter Margery Solan, born July 1896, living with foster parents John and Martha Trigg.
The Alton Iowa Democrat of September 26 1896 reports the following, "Rock Valley items - Miss Mary Solan of Doon, aged 18, was buried in the Catholic cemetery at this place Wednesday last. Her life had only spanned a few short years, but her kind disposition will abide forever in the hearts of those who knew her best."

In 1898 Sioux County, Iowa, Settlers township was divided and Sioux township was created from it. Holding its first township elections in October 1898, John Solan and Frank Hevron were on the ticket in the election of constables for Sioux township.

By the 1900 census Patrick and Mary were living in Sioux township, Sioux County, Iowa. Of their eleven children, 8 of the 9 surviving children were living with or near their parents at the time. Their daughter Elizabeth had married Andrew Manning earlier the same year and they were farming nearby. In the same 1900 census, Patrick's widowed brother Thomas Solon was living in Doon, Iowa with his children Lizzie, James, Jennie and Laura.

Patrick and Mary Solon retired from farming to the town of Larchwood, Lyon County, Iowa in 1905 and lived their remaining years there. The couple lived to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary in 1916.
Patrick's brother, Thomas Solon, was still living in Doon, Iowa at this time, and it was in 1918 that tragedy again struck his family. Thomas Solon's daughter Annette (Anna) died August 08, 1918, the Rock Valley Bee of August 16, 1918 reporting, "Death of Miss Annette Solon. Born November 10, 1882 in Highland, Wis. At the age of ten years, she came with her parents to Rock Valley, and a year later they moved to Doon where her father still resides. Her mother died 22 years ago. Besides her father she leaves to mourn four sisters and one brother, Mrs. J. A. Mann, Mrs. Howard Vosburg, and Miss Laura Solon, of Doon; and Mrs. B. Frembgen of Rock Valley, and James Solon of Seattle, Wash. She spent five years of her life in Dubuque preparing for a nurse which she planned to make her life's work, and she followed this profession successfully until her last sickness."
Soon following the death of Anna, Thomas' son James Solon passed away in Seattle on September 18, 1918.
Thomas Solon died the year after, the Rock Valley Bee of Oct 3, 1919 reporting that "Mrs. B. Frembgen arrived home Tuesday evening from Minneapolis where she had been making an extended visit at the home of her daughter, Mrs. E. J. Rainey. Mrs. Rainey came with her. They were called here by the death of Mrs. Frembgen's father, Mr. Thomas Solon, who died Monday afternoon at his home in Doon. Funeral services were held at Doon Thursday and the remains were brought to Rock Valley for burial. A further account will be given next week.
The Rock Valley Bee of Oct 10, 1919 reports the "DEATH OF THOMAS SOLON. Thomas Solon was born in Ireland on June 8, 1848. He came to this country at the age of four years, with his mother and two brothers and a sister, and was raised to manhood at Highland, Wis. At the age of 24 years he was married to Elizabeth McGuier (sp) of Highland, Wis. To this union were born nine children, seven girls and two boys, of whom five have been laid to rest. After farming at Highland, Wis., for seventeen years, he came with his family to Rock Valley, Ia., in the year 1891, and lived here until the spring of 1895 when he moved to Doon and spent the remainder of his life at that place, having buried his wife in the year of 1896. For the last three years Mr. Solon has been in poor health and was sick for four weeks before his death came to relieve the patient sufferer. He died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. J. A. Mann, in Doon, September 29, 1919, at the age of seventy-one years, three months and twenty-one days. He leaves to mourn, four daughters, Mrs. Frembgen of Rock Valley. Mrs, Vosburg of Hammond, and Mrs. Mann and Miss Laura Solon of Doon, and a brother, P. L. Solon of Larchwood, Ia., sixteen grandchildren and one great-grand child. Mr. Solon was laid to rest beside the remains of his wife and daughter in St. Mary's Cemetery at Rock Valley. CARD of THANKS - Mrs. J. A. Mann, Mrs. B. Frembgen, H. R. Vosburg, Laura Solon.

The next year the Rock Valley Bee reported the death of Patrick Solon April 07, 1920, soon followed by his wife Mary McGuire who passed on August 08, 1920. They were both buried at St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Larchwood, Iowa.

Obituary: Rock Valley Bee - Friday, April 16, 1920, Rock Valley, Iowa, page 8
Comrade Solon at Rest
P. L. Solon whose death was briefly mentioned in last week's Bee was born in Mayo county, Ireland, June 2, 1846, and died at his home, at Larchwood, Iowa, April 7, 1920 (note: another newspaper article says he died of Bright's disease). At the age of twelve years accompanied by his sister he came to America and settled at Highland, Wis., where he lived until he was 16 years old when he volunteered his service and was accepted in the 2nd Wisconsin calvary and shortly afterward he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in the Old Abe' Company.
In the second year of the war he suffered sun stroke. After convascelating (sp) he nursed for six months and then joined his regiment at Vicksburg, and was later on the famous march to the sea. He was honorably discharged from the service at Austin, Texas. After the war he remained and helped General Custer.
He returned to Highland a year later and was united in marriage to Mary A. McGuire, of Highland. Four years later with his wife and two small children he came to north west Iowa, locating between Le Mars and Sioux City, these being but prairie towns at that time.
Later he took up a homestead near Rock Valley where he spent the greater part of his life, rearing and educating his family.
He later retired and moved to Larchwood, Iowa, where he resided until his death.
Comrade Solon was an honest and upright citizen, as was evidenced by the eloquent words of Father Roth at his funeral, who held him up as an example for men to follow, and by the great concourse of his friends from the surrounding country and by many beautiful floral tributes.
Among the friends from Rock Valley who were present were: -- Mrs. Ann Quinlan, Mary Quinlan, and Jas. Quinlan, Mrs. Frembgen and son John, Mrs. Jerry Aurit, Mr and Mrs Matt Buckley, Mr and Mrs M McNamara, Mr and Mrs Thos. Higgins, Mr and Mrs Frank Hevern, Mr and Mrs M Norris, Mr and Mrs T C Reilly, Mr John Higgins, Mr and Mrs Wm. Richter, Mrs. B. Sandschulte. Friends from Sioux Falls were: -- Mr and Mrs Boomer, Mr and Mrs Kelcey, Mr and Mrs Gelman, Florence Hims, Comrades Monliux, and Taylor and five from Larchwood.
The pall bearers were members of the American Legion; Messrs. Reilly, Weigman, Kuhl, Snyder, Schaat, Martin, Sampson, Grotwold, Buglar.
He was buried in the Larchwood cemetery and the services were conducted by Rev. Father Roth followed by a gun salute and the burial services of the G.A.R. post.

Obituary: Rock Valley Bee, Friday, August 20, 1920, Rock Valley, Iowa,
Death of Mrs. P. L. Solon
The following from the Larchwood Leader will be of interest:
In the twilight of a long and useful life, when death knocks gently at your door, it is embraced as a friend and welcomed as a passport to the Heavenly Home that our Father has prepared for all who have served and faithfully performed the mission of this life. Upon the dawn of her 76th year, Mary M Solon answered the last call Sunday, just as day was breaking, and so gently and quickly did she breath her last that it was scarcely noticeable to her sons and daughters gathered at her bedside.
Mrs. Solon had been in poor health for the past four months and required constant care.
Mary G. McGuire was born Oct. 21, 1844, Clare (note: s/b Cavan) County, Ireland, and died August 8, 1920, at her home in Larchwood, Iowa. She was married November 18th, 1867, at Highland, Wis., to Patrick L. Solon who preceded her in death to the other shore where peace reigns eternal, on April 7, 1920. After their marriage, in 1870, they drove overland to Sioux County, Ia., where they resided until 1905, when they decided to retire from the farm and move to Larchwood, Iowa, but it was at Rock Valley where they spent many happy and prosperous years.
They gladly shared with each other in the struggles, privations and toils of their early years in Iowa and they spent 53 years together to enjoy the abundant fruitage of their united industry, economy and self-sacrifice.
This home was blessed with ten children, but the circle was broken, December 15, 1893, by the death of a son. The rest of the family remaining to mourn the loss of a true Christian mother and with the exception of a son in Wisconsin, all were with her in the last hours.
Those who were with her are Mrs. S. G. Murdock, Big Piney, Wyoming, Mrs. C. A. Vrang, Big Piney, Wyoming, Mrs. A. Manning, Rock Valley, Iowa, Mrs. J. E. McEnore (note: s/b McEnroe), Algona, Iowa, James Solon, Fennimore, Wis., John Solon, Madison, S.D., Tom Solon, Winfred, S.D., and Mrs. John Cauley and M. C. Solon of Larchwood.
There also remain to mourn her, three brothers and one sister, James and Edward McGuire of Highland, Wis., Matt McGuire of Larchwood, and Mrs. Ed Quinlan of Rock Valley.
Funeral services were held Wednesday morning, August 11th, at the Catholic Church, Rev. Father Roth celebrating Requiem High Mass. Interment in the Catholic cemetery at Larchwood. Service was largely attended by friends and neighbors of the deceased whose presence was itself a splendid tribute to the life and character of the estimable woman.
Friends and relatives from a distance showed their respect by being present from Highland, Wis., Sioux Falls, S.D., Rock Valley, Inwood, Rock Rapids, Iowa, Madison and Cavour, S.D.

Article compiled by Dennis Walsh, March 14, 2005; updated September, 2011
1 - Family history
2 - Larchwood and Rock Valley Iowa cemetery records
3 - Patrick's letter to the Bureau of Pensions in 1918
4 - 1872-1972 Larchwood Centennial
5 - Civil War Memories article written by Patrick in the Alton Democrat, 1909
6 - Rock Valley Bee; Rock Valley Register; Sioux County Herald; and the Alton Democrat newspapers
7 - Wisconsin and Iowa census, military and marriage records
8 - U.S. Immigration records

Patrick Solon Civil War Memories

Civil War Memories
P. H. Solan
Alton Democrat, May 1, 1909, page 2

It is fortyseven years since the American eagle was in his prime. Boys and girls were busy then as well as now. Soldiers were busy then too-- getting up supplies and nourishment for the sick and destitute comrades. I was one of them. I had the honor of being a second lieutenant in the "Army of the American Eagle". My commission has much to say about Old Abe. I saw him on his perch when his regiment was marching through Memphis, Tennessee. I belonged to the Second Wisconsin Veteran Volunteers Cavalry from the twenty first of January 1862 until November tenth 1865. Our regiment was organized in Camp Washburn at Milwaukee Wisconsin. In the spring of 1862 we were sent down to Jefferson barracks and supplied with horses and drilled regularly every day. About the first of June we were sent up to Jefferson City by steam boats. From there we marched to Helena, Arkansas -- about 600 miles -- though we did not get there without fighting some.

At Cotton Plant we had four killed and fifty wounded -- if I remember right. The enemy lost 150 and a few wounded. They made a mistake on our strength. Four companies of infantry we had with us. We left four companies of our regiment at Springfield Missouri to fight guerrillas. They were away from us two years or more. We had two wagons for each company and 150 for General Curtiss’ army that we expected to meet at Batesville, Missouri. We stopped and sent fifteen or twenty men to Batesville to notify General Curtis that we were fifteen miles south. The soldiers were beaten back by the enemy so we moved along south with our small band and a long train of supplies for General Curtiss’ army of 30,000 strong. As good luck would have it our advance came just in time as this large army’s rear guard were taking up their pontoon bridges that they has laid across the White River. It was a good thing for us because we would have been gobbled up. You can have an idea of this little band cut in two with such a long train. They charged three times but the longer they would wait between charges the stronger our lines were getting. It was General Curtiss’ army of 30,000 strong that they attacked. Our supplies gave out three days before we got to Helena. We were very hungry. We had been very healthy on this long march but when we got to Helena we had lots of sickness caused by poor water. It took strong men to stand that water. Really there were not enough well men on our regiment to stand guard -- in August.

That winter we started to Little Rock, Arkansas. We got only as far as Cleronton on the White river when the gun boats came down and told us that Little Rock was taken. Then we went back to Helena and in the spring of 1863 we went to Memphis Tennessee -- 150 miles up the river. That was a very busy summer. Regiment after regiment was ordered to Vicksburg from Memphis and elsewhere -- north by land and water. In June I was sunstruck and brought to Jefferson hospital. It was two days before I regained consciousness. Before I was fit for duty our regiment was ordered to Vicksburg to join the happy crew so I was detailed as a nurse. All the patients that could go from Memphis to St. Louis were sent up there so we had hard work ahead of us. But it was nothing compared to the boat load after boat load that came up from Vicksburg after the charge of General Sheridan on Vicksburg. We nurses had to carry crippled soldiers who could not be carried in a hack or bus day after day. We had to carry them about sixty rods up from the levy on stretchers. I joined my regiment at Christmas at Red Bone, Mississippi, nine miles southeast from Vicksburg. In 1864 we came into Vicksburg and stationed pickets around that second Gibraltar. If I remember right the ditch was six feet deep and eight feet wide and twelve feet from the surface -- which would make it eighteen feet high. Gunny sacks were filled with earth.

In the winter of 1864 we came up to Memphis Tennessee. We did a good deal of scouting out from Memphis. In April after peace was declared we were ordered out to Grenada Mississippi for Gen. Forrest and Co. Ferris to give up their contrabands of war. In July we had orders to go to Texas under General Custer to fight Indians -- so the rumor was -- and a great many of the boys deserted because they did not enlist to fight Indians. In Alexander Louisiana we had a hot time. In July we had a meeting. The colonel was blamed for our having to go so far way from home. We called at his tent and abused him and ordered him to leave the regiment. At last he came out and asked who was at the head of this trouble. The First Sergeant spoke up and said that he was because he was entitled to promotion to Lieutenant in his company instead of the colonel transferring a sargeant from another company. It was eleven o’clock at night. The colonel told us to go to our quarters and he would let us know in the morning. So he sent a blank around and officers and privates of each company signed it asking him to leave the regiment -- except the company that he was captain of when he first went out.

He went to General Custer and presented the petition to him. All officers were guarded night and day for two weeks -- sargeants and corporals were reduced to the ranks. We privates had a jollification with nothing to do. The colonel finally came out ahead and went around to all the officers with a petition for them to apologize. Then we were all re-enlisted except the sargeant. He was court-martialed and sentenced to be shot along with another man from the Third Iowa Cavalry who had deserted and then insulted some citizens. They brought him to General Custer and he and the sargeant were taken out into a big plantation. Their grave was dug. Four thousand soldiers were in a square with drawn swords and all marched by in file to see the Iowa Cavalryman drop back dead in his coffin, but our sargeant was taken up from his coffin and his sentence changed to three years in the Dry Tortugas with no pay. About seven years ago I met and shook hands with him at the National Encampment in St. Paul.

Well we had more fun during our two months stay in Alexander. There was 4,000 cavalry and no infantry -- Third United States colored Cavalry and Third Iowa Cavalry and Second Wisconsin Cavalry. The other regiment I have forgotten. One day a colored boy was lying asleep along the levy of the Red river and a large alligator was coming up the bank to have a feast on the boy. The colored sergeant shot him and he commenced rolling down the bank into the river. Well one of our boys was there spearing fish. He ran and held the alligator from rolling into the river. Well our boys got ropes and the colored boys got theirs and each claimed the alligator. After an hour of work we got it. It was a regular tug of war. The alligator was thirteen feet and eight inches long.

Well we broke camp at Alexander and marched to Austin, Texas. Our orders were if any man wanted to leave the ranks he was to leave his horse with his comrade and catch up the best he could. We had to march four abreast. With osage and orange groves on each side of us and dust six inches deep for miles and miles. It was August and the heat was suffocating. We were not used to such treatment and did not like it. General Custer and his wife rode on horseback ahead of us. We did not see any reds or whites to fight. The country along just north of Galveston was beautiful -- as pretty as Sioun County was when I first came here thirtyseven years ago. On the raod through Texas on the beautiful wild prairie we had a horse race with Gen. Custer. A mile race for $500 a side. Gen. Custer's hourse won the race. We left Auston the latter part of October and came around the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans and then to Cairo Illinois. We were mustered out at Madison Wisconsin November tenth 1865.

In addition to his war sketch, Mr. Solan appends a brief and interesting sketch of his life after the war. It is well worth reading.
In 1866 I thought I would try farming in a very rough country. I came home with $1300. One would have to grub three days to clear one acre ready to break. Oxen were worth $150 and wagons $100 and everything else in proportion. On November eighteenth 1867, I got married. Everything was very high -- wheat two dollars and a half per bushel, hogs thirteen cents per pound dressed, corn ninety cents, oats eighty cents, barley two dollars and a quarter -- but I was not lucky enough to have those things. I came to Sioux County in 1870 and homesteaded what is the old Colonel Jensen farm. The summer of 1870 was the driest summer I ever saw. There were good crops in 1871 although there was not much broke -- and also in 1872 but the next three years the grasshoppers took most of the crop. I was one of the hundreds that lost their homestead. All that a man could borrow to it was $500 -- pay twelve percent interest and pay it in every six months. Now the same land is worth anywhere from seventy-five to $125 per acre.

I bought a Sioux County farm twenty years ago at ten dollars per acre. Now it is worth a good deal more than that. I did not think thirtyfive years ago that I would sometime own a section of land -- all paid for after once getting a free home from Uncle Sam and losing it. The grasshoppers ruined thousands of good industrious people and left them paying interest ever since. It was up hill business and nip and tuck and a good many cases to hold what I had. It takes time and hardship to raise five boys and five girls and send them to school. My oldest son would be 30 years old if he had lived. He was a bridge builder and lost his life with 25 others while building a bridge at Louisville, Kentucky. He was working for the Phoenix Bridge company when the false work gave way and let the new structure and all the men into the river. I have had the pleasure of calling four school ma’ams my children. Four of my boys are farmers. I got seventeen dollars a month from Uncle Sam and it has gone a great way in helping educate my family. My wife and I are enjoying good health and hope the same of all readers of this article.

The Other Solon Family
Observations by Dennis Walsh

Kathryn Solon, daughter of Patrick and Mary (Lydon) Solon, married John E. McEnroe and lived in Algona, Iowa. John McEnroe was a son of James McEnroe and Catherine Solon, and a grandson of Patrick Solon (1816-1902) and Mary Cobry (1819-1906). Both Patrick and Mary (Cobry) Solon are buried in the Catholic Cemetery at Algona, Iowa. Their origin in Ireland was very likely in County Mayo, where both their surnames indicate a strong historical preference. The elder Patrick Solon may have been related in some way to Michael Solon, father of younger Patrick Solon mentioned above.

Patrick and Mary (Cobry) Solon, and their family, arrived in New York harbor aboard the ship Benjamin Adams on July 20, 1861 (the same ship other Solon family members arrived in six years prior). Their children, all born in Ireland, included John, Ann, Mary, Honora, Catherine, Michael, and Patrick. Their family was living in DeKalb Co., Illinois according to the 1870 U.S. census. It was in Dekalb Co., Illinois their daughter Catherine Solon married James McEnroe on July 22, 1866.

James and Catherine McEnroe moved to Kossuth Co., Iowa by the latter 1870's and it is there they are found in the 1880 census, with their 4 month old son John E. as well as mother-in-law Mary Solan. By the 1900 Kossuth County census, both Patrick and Mary Solon are listed in the household of James and Catherine McEnroe. According to their gravestones Patrick Solon died in 1902 followed by Mary Cobry Solon in 1906.

Kiltimagh - Our Life and Times
A book written by Peter Sobolewski and Betty Solan

Long before the town of Kiltimagh was heard of - the town appeared on a map for the first time in 1813 - the parish of Killedan held sway. It was part of the Barony of Gallen, formed by the Normans in 1239. Before that, the territory was known as Gailenga. The name "Gailenga" comes from the nickname of a third-century Celtic chieftain, Cormac, son of Tadh Mac Céin, and means "the fouling or desecration of honour".
The Vikings, Normans and English came, plundered and confiscated. The Penal Laws brought virulent Protestant/Catholic friction and, for a down-trodden peasantry, the Pastorini Prophecies which foretold the downfall of Protestantism and the universal victory of Roman Catholics in 1825.
When the potato crop failed, famine carried away 400 souls in Killedan parish in the six months to April 1847. And in the following year Lord Lucan evicted 1,208 families from his Mayo holdings.
By 1870, Kiltimagh was on the move and boasted six slated houses in the main street. There was further famine and agrarian unrest in 1876. But the era of the landlord was passing and Catholic small-holders were taking over.
Kiltimagh today has a population of about 2,500.

Go to: Solon Family Tree --- In Service with the 2nd Wisconsin Regiment Cavalry

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