Tag Archives: Michael Farrell

“Their wails of distress … would melt the heart…”

Archival Moment

February 27, 1896

Octagon Castle, Octagon Pond, Topsail Road, Paradise

Octagon Castle, Octagon Pond, Topsail Road, Paradise

For many of our ancestors the family cow  was essential.  Having a cow often  was the difference between success and destitution.

On February 26, 1896, Michael Farrell, his wife and eight children were devastated by the news that “an engine (train) with a snow plow ran over and killed two valuable cows.”   The animals “were almost the sole support of the poor family.”

The death of the cows was most traumatic on the children and Mrs. Farrell.   Professor Charles Danielle,  a neighbor who lived in the Octagon Castle, Irvine Station  who was a witness to the horrendous accident wrote:

“Two of them (little girls) were trying to drive the cows from the track when the killing occurred  and their screams and that of the distressed mother when she arrived at the scene threw herself upon the body of the cow that was not killed outright … “

So traumatized was the family that:

“their wails of distress have continued … far into the night, and would melt the heart, to pity and charity of anyone that has a heart to feel in a case of such keen edged distress.”

The purpose of the letter by Professor Danielle, known about St. John’s as a well-established dancing teacher, costume maker, restaurateur, and resort owner was to help out the destitute family, financially. He wrote:

“I appeal to your influential journal (The Evening Telegram)  to the kind hearted people of St. John’s to help replace these bread winners (the two cows) by sending merciful aid to me through the Editor of this paper, and I will see that the amount is employed in replacing the cows as far as possible, with an acknowledgement of each amount.  I donate two dollars. Come friends and citizens; help me in this distressing case.”

There is no response to the letter but it can be assumed that the “very eccentric owner of Octagon Castle” must have gotten some positive response.

Octagon Castle at the time was a popular resort for “the pleasure-loving public of St John’s.”  No doubt Professor Danielle would have encouraged the many societies and clubs that held their picnics on his grounds and the hundreds of excursionists who  flocked to Octagon Castle to enjoy the boating and other amenities to support his neighours the  Farrell’s.  The Octagon Castle disappeared in a fire in 1915.

The Farrell Family continues to live on  in the area.

Recommended Reading:  Dictionary of Canadian Biography:  http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=6657&terms=created

Recommended Song: A Ballad by Johnny Burke: http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/29/lines.htm