While the holiday season is known for its colorful lights and joyful atmosphere, many of us find the hustle and bustle to be a little stressful as well.
While we like to imagine that holidays past were more peaceful, we sometimes come across articles that remind us that our ancestors might have had a little holiday stress of their own.
We recently ran across an article in the Tri City Star from December 24, 1904 on page 2 that caught our attention. Another article in the Davenport Democrat and Leader from December 25, 1904 on page 13 confirmed what we read in the first article.
This story took place on the west side of Davenport on the evening of December 23, 1904. Those involved lived in the area of St. Mary’s Catholic Church on W. 6th Street and had resided in the neighborhood for several years.
Mr. James Malone was a single man about 40 years old that year. He lived in the family home on West 7th Street and was employed at the Rock Island Arsenal.
Mr. Patrick Kennedy lived with his wife, Josephine, and their two daughters just down the street from St. Mary’s in a house on West 6th Street. Mr. Kennedy was about 47 years old in 1904. He was listed as a laborer in a search of local city directories. Mrs. Kennedy was a seamstress about 33 years old. Patrick and Josephine had been married for 18 years in 1904.
To walk from the Kennedy house to the Malone house would have been very easy to do. The Kennedy home was five houses from the corner of West 6th and Taylor Streets. If they walked north up Taylor Street one block and then turn right the Malone home was the fourth house on the left.
We have no idea of the relationship between the two families, but based on the incident that night it appears one family member was worried that a street length apart was not enough distance between the two houses.
According to the newspaper articles, Mr. Malone was walking home from work along West 6th Street when he passed the Kennedy house. Mr. Kennedy was entering his family’s yard carrying a goose that one assumes was for Christmas dinner.
Mr. Kennedy confronted Mr. Malone over the issue of his wife. Kennedy felt Malone was making “goo-goo eyes” (Tri City Star, Dec. 24, 1904) at his Josephine. Mr. Malone denied the accusation and protested the two were barely acquainted.
Patrick Kennedy appears to have not believed James Malone’s assertions as his next move was to begin beating Mr. Malone about the face with the Christmas goose before using his own fists, as the goose had been thoroughly tenderized. We imagine this caused a stir in the neighborhood.
The police were called and arrested Mr. Kennedy who was presented in court the following morning, Christmas Eve. Following the testimony of the two men, Mr. Kennedy was fined $5 and court costs. The total amount owed was $10.85. As Mr. Kennedy did not have the money to pay the court he was returned to jail for a time not specified in the papers.
We did further checking through U.S. Census records and local city directories. It appears that the families either moved past this incident, or at least managed to avoid each other, as neither moved from their respective houses for many years following the great goose incident.
We do not know if this incident was a long simmering feud or a sign of holiday stress. We are able to find one positive in this whole incident though; at least Mr. Kennedy was holding a fresh goose and not a frozen one that night!
(posted by Amy D.)