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Thomas Mahar Stands in Front of Cabin Located on West Side of Mud Lake
Walked from Dubuque
Emmet's First White Man

One of the first known white men known to settle in Emmet County, Thomas Mahar, arrived in what is now High Lake Township in either late 1856 or early 1857.

Born May 21, 1821, in Ireland, Mahar came to America in 1846 and, for 11 years, worked in the mills in the east. But in the spirit of adventure, Mahar started westward, taking the railroad to the end of the line at Dubuque, then shouldering his gun and ax and continuing by foot. When arriving he staked out claims for himself, his brothers and his friends.

Although the exact date of his arrival has never been determined, Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Ridley met Mahar in the spring of 1858, when he came to Estherville to replenish his supply of tobacco, shortly after the arrival of the Ridleys.

According to early records, Thomas Mahar, John Rourke, Patrick and Edward Cohlan took "preemptive claims" in Island Grove in 1855-56. Mahar later sent to Ireland for his relatives, driving to Dubuque with an ox team to meet them. They settled on claims near Mud (now Ingham) and Swan Lakes.

Mahar was a corporal in the Northern Border Brigade under Captain Harvey Ingham and during serious Indian troubles of the early days was stationed at New Ulm, Minn.

The cabin Mahar built was located on the west side of Mud Lake, which later was also the site of the Island Grove Post Office, which he served as postmaster. The postoffice closed Jan. 16, 1874. The cabin remained standing until 1945, when it was removed by Clarence Olson.

Mahar died in November, 1915, at the age of 94, and was buried in the Catholic cemetery in Estherville. His wife, mother and one child are buried on the island in Ingham Lake.

Contributed by: Ruth Hackett. Source: Estherville Daily News, Estherville, Emmet County, Iowa, Monday, Sept. 29, 1975.

Early Emmet County Court House


Old Huntington Post Office relocated to Emmet County Historical Society Museum Complex.

Gardston Hotel, Estherville, Iowa

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