Continuing Journey in Crawford County
We continue our drive down Highway 27, which runs down the spine of Crawford County, from Sparta, to Viroqua, and down to Prairie du Chien. I grew up in the heart of Crawford County on the Scheckel farm 2 miles northwest of Seneca.
On our journey, we passed through Rising Sun, Fairview, and Utica Lutheran Church. We come to the spot where our neighbor, Tom McAreavy, rolled his car over in 1956 and was killed. Dad pointed out the spot to us boys, Phillip, Bob, and me on our way to get a haircut at Hanson’s Barber Shop in Rising Sun. I was 14 years old at the time, and reminder seeing the high bank on the left side of the Hwy 27 that his car ran up and rolled over and over. Rose Finley alerted the priest at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and he went to the scene of the accident to administer the Last Rites.
Seems that every time I venture past that embankment, about a mile north of Mt. Sterling, I think of that tall lanky Irish farmer who lived off ShortCut Road. He was born in 1885 down in Delaware County, Iowa about half way between Dubuque and Waterloo. His parents were Irish immigrants, he married Margaret Kennedy, and they had 5 children. But the mother, Margaret, died in 1925, leaving husband Tom with 5 small children.
Tom, and the two girls, Marie and Marguerite moved to the Crawford County area, and the three boys were left in Iowa to be raised by an aunt, Ann Kennedy. That splitting of families, due to a death, was quite common at the time.
One of Tom McAreavy’s daughters, Marie, married William Mahan and they had 17 children. That Mahan family lived back on Oak Grove Ridge for a time, and later, his brother Newell Mahan bought the farm.
Tom McAreavy remarried in 1930 to another Irish immigrant’s daughter, Anna Enright. They had no children, as she was about 49 years of age when she married. There’s a ton of Enrights buried in St Patrick’s Church cemetery in Seneca.
I remember seeing the horses, tractor, and farm machinery moving across the McAreavy farm, which abutted our Scheckel farm. My brother , Bob, and I sold Tom McAreavy and the Payne boys chances on a blanket for the annual Oak Grove School Basket Social. The story is elucidated in the book Seneca Seasons: A Farm Boy Remembers.
Anna McAreavy stayed alone on the farm for quite some years. Later she moved to Prairie du Chien and still later to a nursing home. It’s amazing how the brain works; pass by that spot on Highway 27, north of Mt. Sterling, and there’s a flood of memories of Tom McAreavy.