Our Hartnett Pioneer From County Limerick, Ireland

John Hartnett, the patriarch of our Hartnett family, was born in County Limerick, Ireland probably in 1823. The record shows that John Hartnett arrived in the United States through the port of New Orleans on February 6, 1849. John Hartnett then traveled on a riverboat up the Mississippi River to Alton, Illinois, which is near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. John lived in the Alton area from 1849 until 1857.

John Hartnett and Margaret Fitzpatrick obtained a marriage license on October 7, 1852. Their first child, Mary, was born in 1854, and soon after the couple moved across the Mississippi River to Missouri where Daniel, their second child, was born some time in 1855. In 1857, the Hartnetts moved to the Nebraska Territory where their second son and third child, James, was born. Weather was harsh, and during the winter of 1862-63, John Hartnett was caught out in a blizzard and his hands were frozen so badly that all of his fingers were amputated. John and Margaret Hartnett were the parents of three more children. In 1860, their son John was born. On February 14, 1862, another son, Thomas J. Hartnett, was born. On February 10, 1864, Margaret died – eight days after giving birth to their sixth child, William. John did not remarry, and raised his family by himself.

John continued to farm with hired help, and the help of his children, as they grew older and stronger. John was an excellent businessman and manager. As time went on, he prospered and acquired additional land as the opportunities arose. In 1890, it was reported that he owned, at one time or another, some 1600 acres in Dakota County. On October 5, 1893, John Hartnett was killed while returning to his home from the town of Hubbard. John’s foot was caught in a cattle guard, and lacking fingers due to the frostbite, was unable to unlace his boot and extricate himself from the cattle guard and was struck and killed by a passenger train.

John Hartnett is buried in St. John’s Cemetery in Jackson, Nebraska. The name on his stone is Hartnady rather than Hartnett. Father Lysaght was the pastor at the church which John Hartnett and his family attended at the time of his death. Being from the same part of Ireland as the Hartnetts, he told the family that the proper family name in Gaelic should be Hartnady. Later, John’s brother Thomas insisted that the family name was Hartnett. Thomas’s tombstone, right next to John’s, bears the name Hartnett. John and Margaret were the parents of six – one daughter and five sons. Four of the five sons married women named Margaret, of whom three were nicknamed Maggie. In total, John and Margaret Hartnett were the grandparents of 36.