Burnsville family tree has many familiar names

by Bonnie Boberg
Secretary, Burnsville Historical Society

Do you remember the time … ? Wasn’t that a great story when … ?

This past month many of us visited with family members for holiday celebrations, and with that came the gatherings around the table where, following dinner, we laughed and cried over the family stories that we all shared. Some stories were new to our ears and others were being told for the gazillionth time. For the old folks at the table, it was a time to reminisce; for the youngsters, a time to learn more about their family history and family dynamics.

The Burnsville Historical Society would like to have you continue your storytelling by coming to its January meeting from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Burnhaven Library on County Road 42 in Burnsville. We are especially interested in hearing from anyone who has stories to share about their relatives who lived through Burnsville’s early history.

I’ve been doing some research to prepare for this “Burnsville’s Family Tree” program and have discovered that Burnsville’s first immigrant families came from Ireland in the 1850s and carried the surnames of Gallagher and Connelly.

Thomas Gallagher, his wife, Margaret, and his daughter and son were on a ship in 1853 from Ireland when their ship ran off course and landed in New Orleans. After spending time in New Orleans and then St. Louis, where Thomas’ 17-year-old daughter died from yellow fever, the family arrived in Burnsville in 1855. He eventually owned 400 acres that included land where the Burnsville High School Senior Campus now stands, where Perkins and U.S. Bank on the Burnsville Parkway do business, and where the Pepsi plant is located. His log cabin is where settlers from all around the area gathered in 1862 to set up a fortress against the Indian uprising that year. They were not attacked. The farm was eventually called “A Pioneer Farm.”

Thomas’ son, Michael Gallagher, married Maria(h) Egan in 1857. She was the oldest of six children, born to Michael and Honora Egan in Ireland. Their sixth child died at sea during the family’s journey to the United States. They landed in Virginia in the 1840s, and arrived in Scott County in 1855. Michael Gallagher and Maria(h) married in 1857 and had 12 children, which certainly cemented the family name in this area all the way up to the generation of 2014.

The other original immigrant family began in this area with a potato farmer and wagonmaker, James Connelly, who at the age of 29 came from Ireland with his 19-year-old bride in 1855. They built a log cabin into a hillside on an 80-acre site north of Cliff Road and east of Interstate 35W, near West River Hills Drive. His wife was Mary (nee Condon), born in 1835 in Ireland. They had eight children. Their grandsons, Pat and James, were both very involved in the development of the Burnsville School District and served on the Town Board. Generations of Connellys still contribute to this area’s history.

Other names from Burnsville’s pioneer days include Earley (the lake is named after them), Lannon, Casperson, Visnovec, Kearney, McColl (street name), Hayes (street name), McAndrews (County Road 38), Kennelly (street name), Ryan,  Kelleher (park and street), McCoy, Pond (school), Streefland (YMCA camp), Slater (road), Williams (street), McDermott, Friendshuh, Butler, Oswald, DeShaw, Martin, Doebel, Foley, Egan, O’Regan, O’Neil, Ratzloff, Schroyzer, Kohl, Lynch, McNamara, McNearney, Nusser, Benham, Gardner, Gramse, Burns, McCann and Berrisford.

I’m sure there are many of you reading this who recognize some of these names as part of your family history. I apologize for all the names that I didn’t have room to mention!

At our January meeting, we will set up a round table and everyone is welcome to speak, to bring any pictures or artifacts from Burnsville’s past. If possible, please call me at 952-890-5089 to let us know that you might be coming so we can have enough refreshments for everyone.

If you forget to call, don’t worry — come anyway. If you don’t have any stories to share, we still want you to come and learn about the history of this wonderful community.

Bonnie Boberg, of the Burnsville Historical Society, worked for the Current and Sun-Current newspapers from 1976 to 2009. Columns reflect the opinion of the author.