Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Long Life in Spite of Hardships – Eliza Furlong

B. 18 Sep 1830 in Rathangan, Ireland
M. 23 Jan 1854 in St. Paul, Minnesota
Husband: Francis Labree
D. 3 Feb 1912 in Waverly, Minnesota
Emigrated: December 1851

As I did genealogy research on Eliza Furlong, I was struck by one thing: in spite of many difficulties, she lived a fairly long life. She was born September 18, 1830 to Martin Furlong and Mary Butler in the Rathangan Parish of County Wexford. There is a baptismal register that survived showing Eliza's baptism on September 26th. The Furlong family was big and the girls outnumbered the boys by a large margin. Eliza was able to write her own name, indicating she probably had some education in her childhood.

Where Eliza was born

The Furlongs migrated to America in 1851, arriving in New Orleans. Most likely, the potato famine drove them out of Ireland. Eliza was in her early 20s when they settled in West St. Paul in what is now Dakota County, Minnesota. Eliza would later tell her children that the ground was so rocky, that they couldn't dig a well and that "water had to be carried for blocks."

Eliza met her future husband around this time, a French-Canadian immigrant named Francis Labree. They were married in St. Paul on January 23, 1854. Eliza and Francis lived many places early in their marriage. In 1857, they were in Inver Grove; in 1860, West St. Paul; in 1862, Mendota; and in 1864, Cottage Grove.

Eliza's first child was a girl named Eliza. This was followed by a boy, Alex, in 1856, and another named Edward. Little Edward died before he was three. In 1860, she had another son named John, and he died young as well. Her daughter Eliza lived at least to age 6, but also died. We do not know the names of all of her children; what is certain is that a total of seven of them died within about dozen years. The children she lost were not recalled in any family stories; only through census records do we know about them at all.

Eliza and her family were living in Dakota County at the time of the 1862 Sioux uprising. During one attack, Eliza and Francis took their children to a schoolhouse near Mendota for protection. The Civil War was also going on at that time and Eliza’s husband Francis decided to enlist in the army. Little more than a month after he left home, Eliza got word that he had been hospitalized with a severe injury of the abdomen caused by lifting a barrel of water. He didn't do any active service after that. He stayed in the army hospital for at least three months, and after another nine months was discharged.

With Eliza back together with Francis, she gave birth to a healthy girl named Ellen in December 1865. Not long after, they left Minnesota, settling in Barron County, Wisconsin. There another child was born in February 1868, Louis, probably her youngest. In 1872, the Labrees moved back to Minnesota, and purchased a farm in the town of Marysville (later called Waverly), in Wright County. The house where they lived remained in the family at least until the 1930s.

The house in Waverly, Minnesota

By the early 1890s, all three of Eliza's surviving children had married and were providing her many grandchildren. Francis’ health was getting to be a major concern for Eliza. He began receiving a pension from serving in the military, and reported that his injury while in the army had left him partially disabled. Eliza herself started to suffer from bronchitis. At the turn of the century, Francis went into a veterans’ home in Milwaukee. Eliza joined daughter Ellen's household in Minneapolis. Over the next 8 years, Francis was transferred to veterans' homes in Illinois, Kansas and California before ending up in the Minnesota Soldiers’ Home in Minneapolis in 1907. There, she moved in with him.

Eliza Labree

At the end of 1909, Francis died. Upon his death, Eliza became eligible for his pension. An application was made within a month, in which she supplied affidavits from acquaintances who had known her since before she was married; one was from her sister, Catherine Furlong. Eliza then moved in with her son Alex and his family back in Waverly.

In March 1911, Eliza suffered one last family tragedy. Her son Louis comitted suicide after being arrested for beating his wife. She had now outlived 8 of her 10 children. One year later, on February 3, 1912, Eliza died of the bronchitis. It is not known where she was buried.

Children:
1.  Eliza Labree – B. about 1855, Minnesota; D. before 1865

2. Alexander Labree – B. 1 Nov 1856, Pine Bend, Minnesota; D. 4 Oct 1939, Wright County, Minnesota; M. Leador Labelle (1869-1947), 1 Jan 1885, Waverly, Minnesota

3. Edward Labree – B. 1850s; D. before 1860

4. John J. Labree – B. Jan 1860, Minnesota; D. before 1865

5. Ellen M. Labree – B. 27 Dec 1865, Wisconsin; D. 10 Dec 1935, Minneapolis, Minnesota; M. Francis Chatelain (1857-1917), 27 Oct 1884, Waverly, Minnesota

6. Louis Martin La Brie – B. 3 Feb 1868, Barron County, Wisconsin; D. 4 Mar 1911, St. Paul, Minnesota; M. Julia A. McGuire (1871-1922), 1 Jun 1891, Minneapolis

Sources:
Baptismal records of Rathangan Parish, County Wexford, Ireland
Passenger list of ship "Essex," Liverpool to New Orleans, December 1851
Marriage record of Francis Labree and Eliza Furlong, St. Paul, Minnesota, 23 Jan 1854
1857 and 1865 Minnesota State Census
1860, 1870, 1880 and 1900 U.S. Census, Minnesota
Military pension file of Francis Labree, 1888-1910
Francis Labree hospital records 1899-1907
Death record of Eliza Labree, 3 Feb 1912
Letters from Hazel Swenson, 1977-1978
"Labree Helped Bring Log Cabin Transition," Wright County Journal Press, 12 Oct 1939
Minnesota death index, 1908-2002
Wright County, Minnesota marriage index
World War I draft registration database
Minnesota deaths and burials, 1835-1990
Death certificate of Louis La Brie, 6 Mar 1911, St. Paul, Minnesota
Marriage record of Louis La Brie and Julia McGuire, 2 Jun 1891, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Death certificate of Julia La Brie, 19 May 1922, St. Paul, Minnesota
Birth certificate of Julia McGuire, 23 Jun 1871, Washington Lake, Minnesota

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