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John McCarthy was a pioneer of Kansas. The respect paid to his memory is not due merely to his early residence in the state, but in an even more important degree to the worthy life he led, the influence which had gone from him and from his children to the making of a better community and a better state, and to the benefits which always flow out from a man of such stability of character and industry.
He was born in County Cork, Ireland, in 1812. In 1847, when a young married man, he came to America. His first home was on the east coast of the State of Maine. For several years he was in the lumber business in the Pine Tree State. About 1853 he removed to Kentucky, where he became an extensive railroad contractor, when railroad building was in its infancy in Kentucky. He helped to build the Maysville & Lexington Railway and other lines. That was his occupation until 1858, in which year he removed with his family to Johnson County, Kansas, locating at the old place known as McCanish, which later became Edgerton.
Kansas was still a territory, factional struggle over free state and slave state was still going on, and the dangers to life and insecurity of property were additional factors of hardship to those seeking to make a home out of the wilderness. John McCarthy was a man who did not excite ill feelings on either side, and even in the territorial days he had amicable relations with all his neighbors. Some of his family still remain in the immediate neighborhood of Edgerton. One of his sons lives on the adjoining quarter section to the old homestead.
John McCarthy was married in County Cork, Ireland, in 1846 to Miss Mary Coughlin. Seven children were born to them, five sons and two daughters: Florence, Cornelius, Hannah, John, Edward, Timothy and Ellen. Florence is now living near the old homestead in Johnson County. Cornelius and Timothy died before the family came to Kansas. Edward McCarthy died in Johnson County. Ellen married A. P. Dyer of Topeka, Kansas.
Hannah McCarthy, daughter of John McCarthy, early became interested in religious matters and had devoted herself to the service of the Catholic Church and its splendid charities. In religious circles she is known and loved as Sister Felicitas. The work through which she had conferred greatest benefits and by which she is most widely known is in hospital work in the West. She spent twenty-five years in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. In 1907 St. Francis Hospital at Topeka was built, and it is one of the best equipped hospitals anywhere in the country. Sister Felicitas became Sister Superior of this hospital, and its splendid technic of service had been largely developed under her care and supervision.
The late John McCarthy was both a good business man and a successful farmer. Citizens of Johnson County still remember him for his integrity and the usefulness and kindliness of his life. His neighbors knew him as a man who was just and square in his dealings and one who would go out of the way to do a favor or kindness. He was a good man in his community relations and also a splendid father. His death occurred in Johnson County in 1887, at the age of seventy-five. His wife, Mary, died in 1905.