Margaret T. Bulger

MRS. MARGARET T. BULGER, who is residing on her fine farm in section 34, township 34, range 23, in Lyon township, is the relict of Philip Bulger, for many years one of the most prominent farmers in the western section of the county.

Philip Bulger was born in County Wexford, Ireland, April 25, 1844, and is a son of James and Katherine Bulger, both natives of Ireland. His parents came to this country, and both died at Springfield, Illinois, where they are buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Four children were born to them, all of whom are now deceased. They were,--Philip, Patrick, Mary and James.

Philip Bulger was about five years of age when his parents brought him to this country. They located first in Delaware, but later moved to Sangamon County, Illinois, where they spent the remainder of their lives. Philip moved from there to Christian County, Illinois, where he first met the subject of this sketch. There he followed farming for a time, and was later engaged in the grain and feed business on exchange in St. Louis. He came West to Cherokee County, Kansas, in 1886, and purchased three 80-acre tracts in Lyon township, which thereafter constituted his home farm. He added to the original purchase until he had 520 acres, built fine barns and other necessary buildings, and set out an orchard of 1,000 trees, making it one of the best improved farms in the county. Although a man of good business ability, he had his pleasures, to which he gave much attention. He had a natural love for poetry, and writing was his favorite pasttime[sic]. He was gifted as a poet, and the writings left behind him, if gathered together and published, would make a good-sized volume. He was an ardent admirer of William Jennings Bryan, who was the subject of two of his poems. In 1892, he wrote a poem on Christopher Columbus, his first voyage, the discovery of America, and the Declaration of Independence. This he read from the grand stand at Columbus, Kansas, where the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus was celebrated on the Fourth of July, of that year. The purport of this stirring poem is shown in the last stanzas:

These 1ines are compos'd from mem'ry
   Of periods to and fro,
To put into song the story
   Of four hundred years ago,
And with much show of sentiment
   In an epic here to mix,
The days of that found Columbia
   With seventeen seventy-six.

Another, "Bulger's Comment on Burns," we consider of such merit as to be given in full. It follows:

Rich are the fields of Illinois,
   And fair are the fields of Kansas.
Could Burns tell of a fairer land
   Than I've written in these stanzas?
He tells us of the woods and flowers
   In the song about his "dearie"--
I wonder how he'd wrote that song
   Had he lived on a Kansas prairie.

He tells us of the crystal streams
   And the groves around Montgomery
And of the beautiful castle high
   And where water never was "drumbly."
These are the scenes of that great song
   Where the poet loved to "tarry,"
And where he coined the precious gems
   For his lovely "Highland Mary."

No one but this Ayrshire bard
   Where his like lands of the fairy,
Could e'er entwine such laurels grand,
   As his wreath for "Highland Mary."
I need not tell in this comment
   For it is well known in story,
That he who ploughed in Scottie's fields
   Was plowing for fame and glory.

This one of his many gems,
   I refer to in these stanzas,
And I wish I could such garlands twine
   To crown the poet of Kansas.
When God shall close the end of time,
   And with fire consume the prairie,
Till then will live the famous lyre
   From the ploughboy to his "dearie."

Philip Bulger was first united in marriage with Mary E. Kenehan, a sister of the subject of this sketch, who was born in Butler County, Ohio, and died at St. Paul, Minnesota, August 27, 1883, at the age of 31 years, eight months and four days. Three children were born to them: James J., of Columbus. who is an attorney-at-law; Thomas, who lives at home; and Katherine, principal of the Melrose School. In February, 1884, Mr. Bulger married Margaret T. Kenehan, who was born March 8, 1855, and is a daughter of Martin and Ellen (Davy) Kenehan.

Martin Kenehan and his wife were natives of Ireland. At an early day they came to America, and located at Springfield, Illinois, where the latter died in 1858. Mr. Kenehan enlisted in the Union Army and at the expiration of his term reenlisted. He died as the result of a sunstroke received while on a hard march, shortly after his second enlistment. He followed farming as a vocation throughout his life. He and his wife were the parents of five children, namely: Daniel, who is interested in mining at Galena; Mary E. (Bulger) deceased; Patrick, deceased; Margaret T.; and Thomas, who lives near Galena.

Mr. and Mrs. Bulger became the parents of five children, as follows: Nellie, a student at the Cherokee County High School in Columbus; Philip; Robert; Anna; and Lillian. Mr. Bulger died October 30, 1902, and his death was mourned as an irreparable loss to the community. He was a Republican in politics for some years, and then became an enthusiastic Bryan Democrat. He served as township trustee, and as a member of the School Board for some years. Religiously, he was a devout Catholic.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, instructor from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 3/11/97.


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Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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