Shortly after moving from London, Ontario to Hamilton, Thomas Henry Monogue and Mary Ann Gibbons had their first son. He was to be the only boy in the family with two older and three younger sisters. Genetically, the Monogue family seems to have a predisposition for female offspring. In fact, with this current generation, the Monogue name from our direct line to Mathew Minogue, will die out. Of course, Mathew might have had some brothers in Ireland that we have yet to find which would continue the line. Following the Irish tradition, the son was named Thomas John Mathew Monogue – Thomas for his father, John for his maternal grandfather (John Gibbons), and Mathew for his paternal grandfather (Mathew Minogue). Tom, as he was to be called, was born on February 8th, 1898.
Tom does not appear to have been interested in joining his father in the tailoring business as he landed a job as a Hamilton city mailman. This was quiet a feather in his cap as these positions were political appointments and Tom was only seventeen when he started his first mail route in December of 1915. Tom's father was well known in political circles and had a strong influence in the trade unions so this might have been a help to Tom securing the job.
The Hamilton Spectator did a long article on Thomas Monogue on July 10, 1956 when he had reached his fortieth year of service and was the senior letter carrier in the large Hamilton post office. This is the text of the article:
"Can you imagine walking 36,000 miles while carrying 1,003.2 tons on your back? Before you set out, you had better make sure you have 80 pairs of shoes, for that's how many you will wear out. A man would have to be a veritable Hercules to accomplish these feats at one time, but spread over a period of over 40 years, Thomas Monogue, of Hamilton, has found it an enjoyable and rewarding livelihood. The reason is that Mr. Monogue is the city's senior letter carrier. For four decades, he has carried good, bad, surprising, shocking or indifferent news to almost every corner of Hamilton.
It was in December, 1915, that Mr. Monogue delivered his first bag of mail. His pay was $2 a day. At that time, men wishing to become letter carriers had to be recommended by a Member of Parliament. Mr. Monogue made his application and was duly appointed by T. J. Stewart, MP, for West Hamilton, in 1915. 'When I held my first route, it didn't seem at all strange,' Mr. Monogue reminisces. 'I had been a Spectator carrier boy for 10 years - since I was six years old - and I felt as though I was toting my bag of papers around." For a year, Mr. Monogue delivered by horse and wagon. His territory was bounded by Wellington Street, the Mountain, Kenilworth Avenue and the Bay - an area large enough to give faint heart to even the most stalwart of today's postmen.
The Kenilworth district was then known as 'Homeside' and the roads past Ottawa Street were almost impassable. Sometimes Mr. Monogue had to abandon his horse and tramp over the rough ground to make his deliveries on foot, trusting the horse to wait for him. Handling a horse was made even less easy by the condition of the streets, which were then made of cedar blocks. With a hearty laugh, Mr. Monogue recalls an incident humorous in retrospect, but frightening at the time. It happened near Sherman Avenue - a near collision between Mr. Monogue and his - and a train, when the horse decided not heed Mr. Monogue's instruction and bolted across the track.
Soon after this harrowing episode, Mr. Monogue's route was changed to the Caroline Street and Hess Street North vicinity. Here he delivered mail for a year and a half, and among those to whom he carried letters was the notorious Rocco Perri, whose mysterious disappearance has never been solved. His next territory was on the Mountain - far different from the Mountain of today. For 11 years, he trod the land bounded by Concession Street, Fennel Avenue, Twenty-third Street and Gage Avenue, covering about 10 miles a day. Mr. Monogue reached the mountain by taking the spur line, on the incline, but for eight months was forced to climb the steps twice a day when transportation was not available.
The City Hall, and Market Square area was his next route and he became a well-known site during the 19 years he remained there. The City Hall alone, he recalls, would sometimes receive about 1,000 pieces of mail a day. This veteran letter carrier now delivers from the Main Post Office to James, King, and Mains Streets. All the big office buildings depend on him to receive their mail on time. A conscientious worker, Mr. Monogue told no one until long afterwards about the three days when a power cut stopped elevators from running in the Pigott Building. He merely hoisted his bag a little higher on his shoulder and trudged to the top floor of the building and down again, twice a day.
Things have changed in the 40 years Mr. Monogue has been a postman. He remembers the early days when the afternoon delivery began at 4:30p.m. and was finished about 8:30 or nine o'clock. No street lights to guide a lonely letter carrier in those days - just a small oil lamped hooked on to his belt. Sometimes the working day would be from 5:30 in the morning until eight or nine at night. Now he starts at 6:30 o'clock, takes an hour or more for lunch, and has finished by four o'clock. Until comparatively recently (1936) deliveries were made every day except Sunday, including Christmas, New Year's and all holidays.
Mr. Monogue has found the persons to whom he has delivered over 18,000,00 letters 'relally good-hearted people'. But he has carried out some strange and amusing requests. During the First World War, most of the men from households on his Mountain route were away. There were no men to help the women with little tasks such as putting up clotheslines, so who would get the job? The postman, of course.
Sometimes, he would carry almost as much mail down the Mountain as he had carried up. After he had delivered a bill or tax payment to a house, quite often he would be asked to take and pay it for the homeowner. ‘People do some funny things, you know,’ Mr. Monogue said during the interview. ‘They give a postman all sorts of things. They’d even try home-brew out on the postman and if he liked it, it was O.K.’ People trust the postman; they tell him when they are expecting an important letter, and sometimes, tell him what will be in it, or what they hope will be in it when it arrives. Occasionally they will wait until the letter is in their hands before sharing their news with him. But they trust him and think of him as their friend and confidante. In 40 years, Mr. Monogue has been let in on many secrets…and he has kept them.”
Besides working hard at the post office, the other activity that Tom enjoyed greatly in his early years was playing baseball (although after reading the article, one wonders when he ever had any spare time). According to Pat Monogue, his son, Tom was quite a good player and possibly could have played pro ball in Canada. When his playing days were over, he then went on to umpiring and did games all over Hamilton. He remembers one games where he was umpiring a game in the East End and the people in the stands didn’t like the call and started pelting him with stones.
In the early 1920’s, the Monogue family lived on the Mountain at 12 Hamilton Ave. Tom was good friends with Bill Cassin whose family lived a short distance away at 112 Alpine Avenue and I imagine it wasn’t long before he met Bill’s sister, Kathleen.
Catherine, usually called just “Cath” or Kathleen, had seen a bit more of the world than Tom. She was almost four years older than him and immigration records show that she had crossed the U.S. border on Sept. 24, 1915 to attend St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in Detroit. I’m not sure why she picked St. Mary’s over a closer school but I found in my research that it was an excellent hospital during that time period and was underwent a large expansion while she was there. Four additional floors were added on with one whole floor dedicated to obstetrical patients who came some distances to have their babies there. This was a critical time to be a student nurse. Wounded soldiers from the First World War were being sent back to U.S. hospitals from Europe for care and rehabilitation and of course, the worst ever influenza pandemic occurred in 1918 while Kathleen was in nursing school. She would have been very involved in both of these events and also all the general nursing care that occurs in a large city hospital. Nursing programs at that time were three years in length and I haven’t found evidence that she crossed back over the border during that time. It’s possible that she did not see her family for three years. There were twenty girls in Kathleen’s graduating class – I wonder if any of her family were able to travel to see her receive her nursing cap. (This picture was not labeled in a family album, but is assumed to be Catherine.) Helen Walsh who was listed as a classmate of Catherine's was one of her close friends and it is believed that Catherine named her second daughter after this friend.
Kathleen was born in Valcartier, Quebec on April 18th, 1894 to Patrick Cassin and Rose Ann Holton and was baptized “Catherine Winnifred” the following day in St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church by Father McGratty. The godparents were Thomas Holton and his wife Isabella Cosgrove. Thomas was Kathleen’s uncle on her mother’s side. Kathleen was the second oldest child – she had four brothers and one sister. One brother died in infancy. The family lived in this mostly Irish settlement, about forty miles north of Quebec City, until Kathleen was eighteen. We don’t know why the family left Valcartier I 1912 but we do know that the Canadian government expropriated many of the farms shortly after this to build the Valcartier Army Camp. The property owners lost their homes and land and were paid very little in return. Perhaps, Kathleen’s father had heard rumors that this was going to take place and decided to leave before it came to fruition. We also don’t know why they decided to go to Hamilton rather than somewhere else but it was quite a change to go from a very rural farming community to a bustling city known for it’s steel companies that were probably in full swing with the war effort. The Cassin family made their first home in Hamilton at 4 Kensington Ave. I imagine that Kathleen worked somewhere in Hamilton for the three years before she left for Detroit at age twenty-one. When she completed nursing school and returned home, she worked as a private duty nurse. A year after coming home, her younger sister, Mary who had just turned nineteen, was tragically involved in a sledding accident in November, 1919 and died from meningitis, probably due to a brain injury she sustained in the accident. I’m sure this was very traumatizing to the whole family and especially to Kathleen who lost her only sister. We know that the family knew Tom Monogue well at this time as he served as pall bearer at Mary’s funeral. Tom and Kathleen married on the 21st of November, 1922. Tom was twenty-four and Kathleen was twenty-eight. The marriage was performed by Father James Kirby and the witnesses were Thomas Cassin (brother of the bride) and Agnes Monogue (sister of the groom). The event took place in the original Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Mountainview Ave. on the Mountain. This was a wooden structure that still stands today behind the current church. Tom and Kathleen were the first couple to have been married in that building.
Kathleen was born in Valcartier, Quebec on April 18th, 1894 to Patrick Cassin and Rose Ann Holton and was baptized “Catherine Winnifred” the following day in St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church by Father McGratty. The godparents were Thomas Holton and his wife Isabella Cosgrove. Thomas was Kathleen’s uncle on her mother’s side. Kathleen was the second oldest child – she had four brothers and one sister. One brother died in infancy. The family lived in this mostly Irish settlement, about forty miles north of Quebec City, until Kathleen was eighteen. We don’t know why the family left Valcartier I 1912 but we do know that the Canadian government expropriated many of the farms shortly after this to build the Valcartier Army Camp. The property owners lost their homes and land and were paid very little in return. Perhaps, Kathleen’s father had heard rumors that this was going to take place and decided to leave before it came to fruition. We also don’t know why they decided to go to Hamilton rather than somewhere else but it was quite a change to go from a very rural farming community to a bustling city known for it’s steel companies that were probably in full swing with the war effort.
The Cassin family made their first home in Hamilton at 4 Kensington Ave. I imagine that Kathleen worked somewhere in Hamilton for the three years before she left for Detroit at age twenty-one. When she completed nursing school and returned home, she worked as a private duty nurse. A year after coming home, her younger sister, Mary who had just turned nineteen, was tragically involved in a sledding accident in November, 1919 and died from meningitis, probably due to a brain injury she sustained in the accident. I’m sure this was very traumatizing to the whole family and especially to Kathleen who lost her only sister. We know that the family knew Tom Monogue well at this time as he served as pall bearer at Mary’s funeral.
Tom and Kathleen married on the 21st of November, 1922. Tom was twenty-four and Kathleen was twenty-eight. The marriage was performed by Father James Kirby and the witnesses were Thomas Cassin (brother of the bride) and Agnes Monogue (sister of the groom). The event took place in the original Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Mountainview Ave. on the Mountain. This was a wooden structure that still stands today behind the current church. Tom and Kathleen were the first couple to have been married in that building.
When they were first married, they lived in a small, white, duplex house at 559 Concession Street – they lived on the first floor and a Mrs. Grundy lived on the second floor. When they moved out of here, Tom’s sister, Lizzie and her husband, Walt Young moved in. Tom and Kathleen’s son, Pat, vividly remembers Walt coming around the corner to their new location on E. 22nd St. to babysit while the family was at Midnight Mass (Walt did not go because he was not a Catholic). He used to tell Pat that he could hear Santa’s sleigh bells coming down the street so he better go to sleep quickly.
A year after their marriage, on November 25th, 1923 they had their first child, Mary. A few months after this happy event though, sadly, Kathleen lost her father in February, 1924 and two months later, Tom lost his grandmother (Ann Carter Minogue). In 1925, they traveled to Montreal to be the godparents to Kathleen’s niece, Ann Cassin. Their signatures on the baptismal record give us a sample of their writing as a memento.
Four more children were born, and following the Monogue genetic history I stated earlier, all were girls, except for a single son.
Patrick Thomas – born January 2, 1927
Helen Elizabeth – born June 18, 1928
Catherine – born May 22, 1932
Madelyn Ann – born December 8, 1934
Around 1930, the family moved from Concession St. to 48 E. 22nd St. and the older children started Sacred Heart School. Eventually, probably due to financial concerns or the need for more space, they found it necessary to move again. From about 1935 to 1938, they moved four times. They moved off the mountain, first to 180 Grovesnor Ave., then to 99 Trigina Ave., then 194 Sturton Ave. It was necessary to move from this last place shortly after they arrived when Kathleen found the house had bedbugs. They were now able to stop renting and bought a house at 31 Huron Street where they stayed for about fifteen years.
Over the years, Kathleen continued to work as a private duty nurse when special cases would arise. I’m sure it was difficult to juggle a nursing job, with five young children and a husband who had long hours at his own job. One family that Kathleen worked for over the years, was the well-to-do Douglas family in Ancaster, who had earned their fortune in the liquor business. In fact, Kathleen tried to do some matchmaking between her son, Pat and one of their daughters. Pat, however, turned the offer down. (A possible chance at fortune down the drain!)
Tom continued to work at the post office, but also invested in a gambling and poker club on Concession St. with his friend Harry Hannah. Many people owed the club money during the fortune but Tom and Harry forgave their debts not wishing to put liens on their houses when they were already in deep financial trouble. The Hannah family had a farm up near Mohawk and Upper Gage Avenues. which was eventually sold to developers after his death. This was probably the beginning of the large growth the Mountain was to see over the next several decades.
In 1855, after several of the children had married, Tom and Kathleen sold the house on Huron Street and moved to an apartment on John Street across from St. Joseph’s Hospital. Daughter, Betty and her husband, John Alpaugh, managed the building. Some of the Daly family, also lived here, and Tom and Kathleen’s youngest daughter, Madelyn, would marry Paul Daly.
Tom retired in 1963, at the age of sixty-five, after forty-seven years of service. At a special ceremony, he was presented with a scroll from the Postmaster-General of Canada, Ellen Fairclough and Hamilton Postmaster A.B. Morris commended him for his cheerful disposition and devotion to duty while he carried the mail over 40.000 miles to the many Hamilton households.
They had recently moved back to the Mountain to an apartment at 775 Concession Street. Kathleen was very involved in her children’s lives, helping to babysit and with household chores. She would catch the bus and go to a different daughter or daughter-in-law’s house each day of the week. She would spend the day ironing or cleaning or babysitting or doing whatever needed to be done. She was never happy just sitting still and was very devoted to her children and grandchildren.
Tom and Kathleen’s life was not an easy on though. Although Tom performed superbly in his job, after work he struggled with a drinking problem. This took a heavy financial toll on the family and was destructive to his marriage and children. I only insert this comment here because I think it’s important to notes that alcoholism seems to be another genetic trait in the Monogue family and one that current and future generations need to be vigilant against.
This many years of drinking and arthrosclerosis in the brain probably contributed to Tom’s deterioration that started shortly after retirement. One would think that he would have been in excellent physical condition with the amount of miles he walked each, however, his memory and mental stability failed over the next few years. He became confused, disoriented, and somewhat violent and in 1969, he had to be committed to the Ontario Hospital. He died there on Monday, March 31st at age seventy-one. The funeral was on Wednesday from Dermody Funeral Home to Sacred Hart Church. He was buried in Holy Sepluchre Cemetery in Section 21, Row 27, Lot 41.
Kathleen also started to decline a short time later. After a life of “taking care of people”, she did not do well on her own and suffered memory loss and confusion. In 1972, she went to live at St. Joseph’s Villa in Dundas. Over the next several years, she suffered a series of small brain infarctions (strokes) that eventually wiped out all of her memory. In 1979, she fell and broke her hip and suffered a major stroke as a result. This caused her death on December 3rd, at the age of eighty-five. She is buried beside her husband, Tom.
I am including a little information on Tom and Kathleen’s children with an emphasis on the family medical history as this may be important for current and future generations to know.
Mary – remained in Hamilton, and worked for many years as a bookkeeper at Adler’s Furniture Store. She met Leonard Liss there and later married him. They had three children: David, Allison, and Adrienne. She died of bone cancer on November 10, 1993 at the age of sixty-nine. Len died a few months later, in February, of esophageal cancer.
Patrick Thomas – worked at Liquid Air in Hamilton as an operator for several years and then in 1964 was offered a job in Orange, Texas where he and his family moved. He is living there today. Patrick married Loretta Marshall on October 23rd, 1948 and they had five children – John (died in infancy), Patricia, Mary Ellen, Dan, and Martin. Loretta died October 25th, 2001 from esophageal cancer. Patrick remarried in 2003 to Wanda Ferguson. He passed away on May 1, 2013 following a fall two weeks earlier. He had suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for about 5 years.
Helen Elizabeth (Betty) – married John Alpaugh on November 28th, 1955. He was a CPA and they lived in Ancaster and had five children: Peter, Cathy, Patrick, John, and Jeffrey. Johnny passed away from liver cancer on October 9th, 1993. Betty continues to live in Ancaster.
Catherine – married Walt Durka and they live on the Mountain in Hamilton. They had four children: Michael, a twin brother to Michael who died at childbirth, MaryBeth, and Patrick. Michael passed away in 1993. Catherine has been treated for colon cancer and Walt for lymphoma.
Madelyn Ann – married Paul Daly on January 22, 1955. They had four children: Paul, Brian, Marianne, and Michael. Husband, Paul, died from a sudden heart attack in 1980 at the age of 49. Madelyn died from lung cancer in March, 1997 at the age of 62.
Written by Patricia Monogue Balkcom, granddaughter, January 2009 (revised February, 2015)