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Ellen (O'Connor) Daly

Compiled and contributed by Ron Seymour


Ellen O’Connor was born on July 5, 1865, the youngest daughter of Patrick and Anna O’Connor. On Nov 27, 1889 she was married to Matt Daly who farmed nearby. Together they owned the “Tivola Stock Farm” until Matt was elected a County Supervisor and they moved to Dubuque in 1910.


Several years later a tragic accident took the life of their son. Then less than three years later her husband was brutally murdered.


An article in the Dubuque Times Journal on Monday, August 19, 1918 told of the death of Ellen Daly’s son Walter:



Walter Daly, I. C. Brakeman

Hit by Overhead Bridge


Walter Mathew Daly, only son of ex-supervisor and Mrs. Matt Daly was almost instantly killed Saturday evening while on an I. C. freight train between Dubuque and Freeport. Brakeman Daly left here on Saturday afternoon on an eastbound freight and when the train reached Nora, Ill. other members of the crew noticed his absence. He was found on the top of the train with a wound in the right temple, which resulted when he struck an overhead bridge. He lived but a few moments after being found, his death resulting Saturday evening about 8 o’clock. Mr. Daly had been ordered to report on the wrecking train which was called from Freeport Saturday morning to clear the track at Julien, (where a train wreck there had claimed the lives of three train crewmen the day before) but it was found later that it would be better to bring the train from Waterloo. The deceased was born at Bankston December 10, 1890, and was educated in the schools there and later attended Dubuque College. He worked at farming until his parents removed here a few years ago. He was employed at the American Express Co. for a time and entered the employ of the I. C. about a year ago.


He made his home at Waterloo for a time, but his run was changed lately and he had just completed preparations to make his home in Dubuque again. Mr. Daly was married to Miss Edna Ridgeway August 22, 1916. She survives him with an infant son, Walter, his parents and one sister, Mrs. Walter Lattner, of Bankston. The death of the young man is sincerely mourned by scores of friends in Dubuque and Bankston. He was a dutiful son and husband, whose untimely death is a grievous loss. He was a devout member of the Catholic Church, whose exemplary life offers a solace to those bereaved by his death. The funeral takes place Tuesday morning at 8 o’clock from the home of his parents, 356 Hill Street, to St. Patrick’s church. The burial will be made at Bankston.


The article did not mention that Walter’s wife was pregnant with her second child, another son, when the accident occurred.


Less than two and a half years later, more tragedy struck the Daly family when Matt was murdered and Ellen was critically injured in a brutal attack from a man who claimed he was married to their deceased son’s widow.

The Dubuque Daily Times front page on February 8, 1921 headlined the murder of Matt Daly:






At an early hour this morning, the condition of Mrs. Matt Daly was considered precarious and little hope was entertained for her recovery. Miss Lahey showed slight improvement.


One of the most brutal and cold-blooded crimes in the history of Dubuque county occurred early Monday morning at 356 Hill street, when G. D. LaRue, alias John Breywood crushed in the skull of former County Supervisor Matt W. Daly killing him instantly and inflicted wounds on Mrs. Daly, from which it is doubtful she will recover, and Miss Constance Lahey a niece of Mr. Daly, which are considered very serious. A heavy bar for shaking ashes out of coals in a furnace was the weapon used by the slayer.


Breywood was arrested and has made a complete confession to the police and the county attorney.


Determination on the part of Breywood to “get” Edna Daly, widow of Walter Daly, a son of Matt Daly, who lost his life in a railroad accident about three years ago, was responsible for the horrible tragedy. Breywood claimed to the police that Edna Daly was his wife and that she sent him word recently that she would have nothing further to do with him. He came to Dubuque, as a result, to revenge himself on her, according to his statement. The young woman did not stay at the Daly home Sunday night, but was at the home of her mother. . .



Slayer tells Details of Horrible

Crime at Daly Home


The following is the substance of the confession made to the police by G. D. LaRue, alias John Breywood, of Chicago.


“It was noon Sunday when I reached Dubuque from Chicago over the Illinois Central Railroad. I went to the Julian Hotel and registered. Later I registered at the Merchants.


“Shortly after midnight, I engaged the services of a taxi cab. It was about two o’clock when I reached the Daly home. I crawled through the basement window. Near the furnace I picked up a heavy grate shaker. I then proceeded upstairs. On entering a room, I flashed a light on a woman lying on the davenport. On seeing the light she partly raised up in bed and screamed. I felled her with a blow on the head from the shaker. Mr. And Mrs. Daly came downstairs. I hit him over the head with the shaker and he fell to the floor. Mrs. Daly came forward and I hit her across the head. Mr. Daly started to get to his feet. I hit another blow across the head. He crumbled to the floor, I knew then that I had killed him.


“I picked up Mrs. Daly and carried her to the davenport where the other girl lay. I then heard a child’s voice upstairs. I went to the child and brought him down and laid him in bed with the two women. I searched for Edna Daly. “Mrs. Daly rallied and I asked her where the key to the garage was. She told me. I went out to the garage, but found that the batteries were missing. I then returned to the house. I went through the home. I took Mr. Daly’s watch, stick pin and money—other valuables that I could lay my hands upon. “I then addressed a note to Mrs. Edna Daly telling her that she was the person who I was after and that I would treat her like I have these – meaning Mr. And Mrs. Matt Daly and Miss Constance Lahey – if it took me the rest of my life to do it. “I then went to Mrs. Edna Daly’s mother’s home on Washington Street to see if she was there. Not finding her, I reentered the Daly home. I waited there a while and you know the rest”



New Angle Bared In Daly Tragedy

Show Love Tangle

Parents of George David La Rue,

Slayer of Matt Daly,

Claim He Is Insane—

Wife Started Divorce Proceedings Against Him—

Arrested At One Time For Robbing Letters In Post Office


BULLETIN Crown Point, Ind. Feb. 7—Edna Daly and George D. LaRue were married Nov. 9, 1920, by Justice of Peace Howard H. Kemp. (The slayer of Matt Daly stated to the police that Edna Daly is his wife, but this claim was strenuously denied to the authorities by the woman. Crown Point was a town that specialized in quickie marriages.)


“George had been subject to fits and spells for many years.” Scammon LaRue, brother, said today…”George married Mrs. Daly in November, but the marriage was kept secret from the parents of her former husband. She was receiving money from them and was afraid that they would stop if they learned she was married….” “I am not surprised” said Attorney F. C. Encell (Mrs. Edna Daly was formerly his secretary) when he heard of the crime. “I met young LaRue last summer when he was courting Mrs. Daly. It was plainly evident that there was something wrong with him…I strongly advised against the marriage.”


Edna Daly finally admitted she had married LaReau but had filed for an annulment when she discovered he had been divorced less than the year that Indiana state law required (before remarriage) She maintained that her marriage therefore was not legal under this law and that is why she said she was not married to him.


Justice was swift in those days. Less than four months after the murder, LaReau was tried and convicted of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison where he eventually died. The date of his death is not known.


Edna was always well liked by her in-laws but the facts brought out in the trial caused “quite a scandal” and after it was over, Matt Daly’s brother reportedly gave Edna some money so she could leave town. She moved to Milwaukee where she eventually remarried a man named Sweeney.


Ellen, affectionately known as “Aunt Nell” was originally not expected to live. However, while she would always carry a large scar on her forehead from the brutal attack, she lived another 37 years to the ripe old age of 92, dying on Mar. 2, 1958.

Matt, Ellen and Walter Daly are all buried in St. Clement’s cemetery at Bankston.




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