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Behan Family History

History of the Behan family from Andrew to Edward.

Andrew Behen was the first of our Behen family known to live in the United States. The only reference in the family history to Andrew is a notation in the baby book of the Ed Behen children. Andrew and Mary are listed as great-grand father and mother of the Ed's children.

The earliest record of Andrew is in the 1850 census, Andrew Bean, Spring Garden district, Philadelphia. The Andrew Bean family consisted of Andrew age 38, Mary age 35, John age 14, Jas. age 11, David (in many parts of Ireland Daniel and David are the same name) age 7, Michael age 4 and Andrew age 2. The birth place for the entire family list Pennsylvania. However, the census taker dittoed almost the entire sheet and given the fact Mary was home with five young boys in a new country it is easy to speculate as to accuracy of the information. Subsequent census and death records, obituaries and known family history indicates a strong connection to the city of Philadelphia, and no other family with the correct criteria exists in the 1850 census records. For these reasons I believe this is our root family.

The 1860 census provides a more solid picture of the family, and less speculation as to the accuracy of the information. Andrew Baham(n), Largo, Wabash County, Indiana. The family includes: Andrew age 45, Mary age 40, John age 23, James age 20, Danl., age 18, Michael age 16, Andrew age 14, Frances age 12 and Catherine age 10. Andrew, Mary and John are recorded as born in Ireland and remaining children born in Pennsylvania. This places the family's migration to America between 1837 and 1840. There are a few age discrepancies with the 1850 census and Frances is not listed in 1850 and should have been a baby at that time and listed, but the family unit in 1850 is strikingly similar.

There are many reasons to believe the family in Largo is most certainly our family. The most compelling reason is Michael J. Behen's civil war record, (Michael J. was father to Ed Behen). Michael's tombstone is a civil war marker. It states he served in the 47th Indiana infantry, company B. The rosters for company B list a Michael Beahen. Michael's enlistment card dated 1864 gives the following information:

Age: 21

Eyes: Hazel

Hair: Brown

Height: 5'9"

Complexion: Dark

Nativity: Philadelphia

Occupation: Blacksmith

Enrolled: Wabash, Indiana

From this information we know he was living in Wabash, Indiana at the time of his enrollment. His age on the census and age of enrollment match, these dates also match the birth date given on his death certificate.

Next, when further research was done on Michael's siblings Daniel and Frank, these are confirmed in Michael's obituary, a Mrs. Bahan was found buried in the family plot of Michael's brother Daniel in Jacksonville, Illinois. Mrs. Bahan's death certificate revealed her body was shipped from Jacksonville to Lagro,Wabash County, Indiana for burial. A search of the graves in St. Patrick's cemetery in Lagro yielded a Mary Bahan, born in Ireland, age 82 years. This matches closely with the Mrs. Bahan of Jacksonville, Illinois. Buried along with Mary is an Andrew buried 1866. The question as to why a family would ship a body from Illinois to Indiana in the 1880's could only be answered by a deep desire to be buried with a loved one. This Andrew and Mary must have been the same from the 1860 census and parents of Michael and Daniel Bahan. In this cemetery there is also buried a Daniel Bahan buried 1851 and another Daniel Bahan born in Suncraft, Kildare County, Ireland, buried March 4, 1870, age 51 years. This Daniel would have been a contemporary of our Andrew and perhaps a brother. We know from the census record Andrew was born about 1815 and from his tombstone Daniel about 1819. The Daniel Bahan family from Jacksonville, Illinois has a strong tradition of naming boys Daniel. Both Daniel's buried in the cemetery in Lagro most certainly are family.

The final connection is in the death certificate of Jacksonville Daniel. His death certificate shows place of birth as Philadelphia and date of birth two years prior to Michael; this again corroborates the information in the census records.

The history of the Lagro township is rich with Irish immigrants who settled in that region to first work on the Erie Canal and then latter the railroad, in particular the Wabash. It is well documented Michael was a railroad man and worked for the Wabash for a number of years. There is also a clear Philadelphia to Largo Irish railroad migration for many families of this time period and heritage.

There are very few Andrew Behen's (Behan, Bahan, Bean...) of Irish ancestry in any of the 1850 or 1860 census records, this significantly narrows the search of the family based on an Andrew. There has been some speculation Michael, Daniel and Frank's father's name could have been Daniel, this is not totally out of the question and is an area of further investigation. If no Daniel Behen's families meet our criteria it could then lend further support to our original search of an Andrew Behen.

The 1870 census has proven to be void of any concrete information on Andrew and Michael Behen. There are no records which clearly provide a link to these two family members. The census data is crowded with any number of Mary's but without further data it would be poor research to attach our family to any of these records.

In 1880 no Andrew of the correct age and birth place can be found and so our journey continues forward with Michael J. Behen. There is no question this is our ancestor. Family photos and stories include Michael and his wife. In 1879 Michael and Elizabeth Stanton were married in Adrian, Michigan. Adrian also had a strong connection with the Irish and the Wabash railroad. Many Irish railroad workers followed the Wabash from Indiana to Michigan in the 1880's. The 1880 census record for Michael and Elizabeth, here forth referred to as Libby, shows the family in Council Bluffs, Iowa, again following the path of the Wabash. Their first son Frank was born there. The family did not stay in Iowa long; for the Bloomington, Illinois city directory of 1885 list Michael living at 710 N. Locust Street. The 1890 census record was lost in a fire and we must rely on the Bloomington City directory for our information between 1880 and 1900. The city directory records the family as living in Bloomington from 1885 until 1922 with an occasional year or two absence from the directory. Again we look to the path of the Wabash for an explanation of the family's migration path.

The 1900's census record gives the most complete information on the Michael J. family. Michael J. Behen, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois. Members of the family listed are: Michael J. age 50 born in Pennsylvania, Libbie age 46 born in Michigan, Frank X. age 20 born in Iowa, Norine age 17 born in Missouri, Helena age 13 born in Illinois, Edward S. age 11 born in Illinois and Harold A. age 7 born in Illinois. This record list Michael's occupation as engineer, birth place of his parents as Ireland and number of years married to Libbie as twenty-two.

The intervening years between 1900 and 1910 yield little new information. By the 1910 census Michael's daughter Norine had married Thomas Campbell; her family resided in Bloomington, Illinois. In 1906 Norine presented the couple with their first grandchild Norine Campbell. The 1900 census for Michael J. Behan, St. Charles, Missouri list the family members as Michael J. Behan age 65, Elizabeth C. age 55, Edward S. age 21, Helena age 22 and Harold age 17. The record shows Michael working as an engineer on a locomotive. This census also asks if any members of the family served in the civil war, Michael indicated yes, he was a veteran of the army. Libby indicates she was the mother of five children all living. Both Michael and Libby indicate their parents were born in Ireland.

The next decade proved to be one of sorrow for the family. In 1915 the family grieved the loss of their son, Frank. He had been battling tuberculosis and had at one point gone to Hot Springs, Arkansas for his health. It is unknown when the on set of this disease was, but it was most certainly devastating for the family. The obituary in the Bloomington Pantograph for Frank is quite long and elaborate. The obituary mentions on several occasions what a fine young man he was and how he had many close friends. In 1917 the family lost Libby. There has not been a death certificate or obituary found for Libby. Her tombstone only gives the year of her birth and death. Information about Libby's death has been one of the most frustrating pieces of information to gather. The death records in Missouri and Illinois have been searched many times yielding no results. Due to the transient nature of the railroad family and the common misspellings of the name her death certificate may be misfiled, or perhaps she died in another state and was brought home to Bloomington to be buried with Frank. There was also a devastating flu epidemic gripping the nation at this time, and due to the number of deaths during this time period it would not be unlikely many records were lost or mislaid. The flu epidemic took the life of Helena in the year following Libby's death. Helena was an unknown child of Michael and Libby until research on this family was begun. The existence of Helena proved to be quite a shock for the children of Ed Behen. The had no recollection of their father ever mentioning a sister, Helena. The mystery of Helena continues with her burial in Bloomington, Illinois. The cemetery records of St. Mary's list a Helena buried with Frank and Libby but when the cemetery was visited no marker could be found. It is likely this was a footstone and has since been covered with grass. The decade did have some happiness for the family with the marriage of Edward to Leona Kelley in 1915 and the birth of more grandchildren. One of the only pictures of Michael is with his grandson Frank, son of Ed and Leona.

In 1920 we find Michael retired from the railroad and living with is daughter Norine Campbell and her family. Also living with Norine was her brother Harold and of course Norine's growing family. In 1922 Michael passed away at the Wabash hospital in Decatur, Illinois of cardiac disease. Michael's obituary in the Bloomington Pantograph portrays him as a prominent and well liked member of the community. It also chronicles his life beginning in Philadelphia to Toledo and then to Bloomington. It states he was a veteran of the civil war and lists two living brothers, Frank of Detroit and Daniel of Jacksonville. Michael is buried with Libby, Frank and Helena in the family plot at St. Mary's cemetery in Bloomington, Illinois. Research in to Daniel's side of the family has helped to uncover the further connection with Lagro, Indiana and their mother Mary. Daniel was also a prominent citizen of his hometown, Jacksonville, Illinois serving for some time in many city offices and for a time mayor of Jacksonville. Frank has proven to be more difficult to track down and research on his line is on going.

The family history does not end with the death of Michael and much is known of the families of Ed and Harold, yet Norines family has not proven as easy to trace forward. Out of respect to living members of the family the history of the Behen family will close with the beginning of the 1920's. The variety of spellings in this overview is a result of trying to stay consistent with the historical records referenced in this piece.

Linked toBEHEN Andrew

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