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Early Settlers – Daniel Gleason, Sr. – St. Mary’s Cemetery, Hodgeman County, Kansas

The oldest members of the St. Mary’s community were the Gleason and Burke families. Of the approximate 170 graves in St. Mary’s 52 have the surname Burke/Gleason. This story will focus on Daniel Gleason, Sr. and his wife, Bridget Nolan.

Both Daniel and Bridget were born in Ireland. They came to America in 1850 and three years later they were married in New York. They were blessed with seven children.

The 1860 Federal Census has the family living in Illinois where they remained until 1878. Upon arriving in Kansas, they settled 16 miles west of Kinsley in Sterling Township in Hodgeman County. The Gleason and Burke families were staunch Catholics. For many years after their arrival, these families traveled to Windthorst to attend Mass at Holy Cross or to (Old) St. Joseph’s. Their mode of transportation was horse and buggy or wagon.

Bishop Hennessy of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita gave his permission to build a church. Rock was hauled in from Point of Rocks near Spearville. The cornerstone was laid on May 29, 1904 with dedication in January of 1905.

Along with other settlers, the families faced the same hardships such as drought, hail, grasshoppers, blizzards, and tornados. Bridget passed away in 1902. Dan, Sr. spent his later years living with his son Daniel. On May 21st and May 22nd, 1903, a tornado struck Daniel’s homestead destroying his home and killing Mabel Tuttle. She was a schoolteacher and was staying at the Gleason home.

Dan Gleason, Sr. suffered some sort of injury during the tornado as he became an invalid until his death the following year. He is buried along with his wife in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

The rest of the story: Mabel Tuttle was born in 1884 to Austin and Amanda Tuttle. She passed away at the age of 18 and is buried in the Kansas Veterans Cemetery at Fort Dodge in Ford County, Kansas.

Note: Dan and Bridget’s oldest son, John, suffered a tragic accident as he was thrown from a wagon and was run over. John left a wife and seven children. He was the first burial in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

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