THOMAS WALSH, of Grand Forks, North Dakota, is one of the oldest pioneers of the Red River Valley. He was born in County Louth, Ireland, November 14, 1822. He commenced life for himself when about twelve years old by learning the tailor’s trade at Montreal, Canada, serving an apprenticeship of four years. He then for two years worked as a journeyman at Burlington, Vermont, from where he went to Willsborough, Essex county, New York, where he opened a tailor shop on his own account. In 1856 he removed to Henderson, Sibley county, Minnesota, where he opened a shop and clothing store and served as postmaster under President Johnson’s administration. In August, 1862, he enlisted in Company I, Tenth Minnesota Infantry, and participated in all the battles and skirmishes in which his regiment was engaged up to the battle of Nashville. He was wounded in this battle and for three months laid in the hospital at Jeffersonville, Indiana, after which he joined his regiment at New Orleans, proceeded to Mobile, and participated in the taking of Spanish Fort. He was mustered out in September, 1865, and returned to Henderson to resume his business.
In April, 1871, he removed to Grand Forks, North Dakota, and engaged in the lumber, milling and mercantile business as a member of the firm of Griggs, Walsh & Co. Four years later they sold out to the Hudson Bay Company, and since that time he has been engaged in the real estate business. He has held about all the city or county offices at different times and served for six years as register of deeds. He built the first house in Grand Forks. He has taken a very prominent part in the upbuilding of the city and his name is a familiar one throughout the entire valley. No man has been more prominently identified with the history of this region. Mr. Walsh was married at Montreal, Canada, February 2, 1846, to Miss Eleanor Ranson, and they became the parents of the following family – George H., Carrie, Charles A. and Edmund. Carrie and Charles are dead. George married Laura M., a sister of Capt. Alex. Griggs, and is living on his farm near Grand Forks. He is an attorney by profession, and is at present a member of the Territorial council. Edmund is a resident of Crookston, and is clerk of court, and one of the leading citizens of Polk county, Minnesota. Thomas Walsh is an honored member of the Catholic church, and also of the Grand Army of the Republic. (Illustrated Album of Biography of the Famous Valley of the Red River of the North and the Park Regions, Alden, Ogle & Company, Chicago, 1889, Page 757)
Thos. Walsh came to Grand Forks in 1871, and the firm of Griggs, Walsh & Co. was organized soon after. They engaged in lumber and merchandise business. Mr. Walsh was register of deeds for several years. He formerly lived at Henderson, Minn. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Friday Morning, December 11, 1891, Volume XXI, Number 35, Page 2)
Thomas Walsh was born in Ireland, from whence he came to the province of Quebec, Canada, presumably with his parents, for this was during his boyhood. In after years he joined in the emigration movement of the ‘fifties, then flowing like a springtide toward Minnesota territory, and located at Henderson in 1856. When Capt. (Alexander) Griggs returned to Henderson late in the fall of 1870, he arranged with Thomas Walsh to come to Dakota in the spring and settle upon the site he had chosen at the forks of Red river. This understanding was had in December and Mr. Walsh was to have a half interest in the townsite. Griggs interested others at Henderson in the proposed settlement on or about the same time. The captain with Walsh and (M. E.) Hurd, were to erect a steam saw-mill at the settlement and Walsh was also to assist in establishing a general store there. (History of Grand Forks County, With Special Reference to the First Ten Years of Grand Forks City, H. V. Arnold, Larimore Pioneer, Larimore, North Dakota, 1900, Page 66)
THOMAS WALSH. This gentleman is one of the pioneer settlers of Grand Forks county, and is one of the widely known and most highly-respected citizens of North Dakota. He was born in county, Lauth, Ireland, November 14, 1822, and is now living retired from active labors in the city of Grand Forks. Our subject’s parents, George and Bridget (McGurry) Walsh, were natives of Ireland and they emigrated to American in 1824, and followed farming in Canada during the remainder of their lives. They were the parents of three sons and four daughters, all of whom are now deceased, except our subject. Mr. Walsh was reared and educated in Canada until eighteen years of age and in 1840 went to Burlington, Vermont, and there found work at his trade, that of tailor, which he learned in Canada. He remained in Vermont about two years and then spent two years in Canada again, after which he went to New York. Sibley county, Minnesota, became his home in 1856 and he resided there eight years, and in 1862 enlisted in Company I, Tenth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, and served three years in the war. He participated in the battles of Oldtown Creek, Nashville, Tennessee, Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, and at Nashville was shot through both shoulders, injuring the spine. He was mustered out of the service as first sergeant and returned to Minnesota and remained there until 1871, when he went to Grand Forks, North Dakota, and in company with Captain Griggs, established a sawmill and general store and operated them four years and then disposed of the business to the Hudson’s Bay Company. He purchased land in the valley during the early days and still retains his real estate interests.
Our subject was married, in Canada, in 1844, to Ellenor L. Ranson, a native of Canada, of English descent. Three sons and one daughter have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Walsh, named as follows: George H., Caroline, deceased, Charles, deceased, and Edmund. Mrs. Walsh died in November, 1896. Mr. Walsh is a member of the Masonic fraternity and G. A. R. He assisted in the organization of the county and was a member of the first board of county commissioners and was appointed county treasurer and also probate judge, and at the same meeting was chosen as one of two to act as justice of the peace for the county. He was later elected register of deeds and filled the office six years, and has also served as county clerk. Politically, he is a Democrat and has served his party many years. (Compendium of History and Biography of North Dakota, Geo. A. Ogle & Co., Chicago, 1900, Page 1030)
The Oldest Member. Thomas Walsh, the oldest member of Willis A. Gorman Post, is also one of the pioneer residents of Grand Forks. With several other residents of Henderson, Minnesota, he came to Grand Forks in April, 1871, making the trip down the Red river from Fort Abercrombie on a small lighter or scow. At that time the present city existed only in name, and one log shack in which George Aker was “holding a claim” for H. R. Vaughn, of Pembina. Mr. Walsh and his comrades came, however, at the instance of Capt. Alex Griggs to found a town here, and were accompanied by the material for a small saw mill and a stock of general merchandise. A temporary saw mill was first erected and then a store and Grand Forks had its beginning. Mr. Walsh has been ever since one of the city’s residents and during its early history took a prominent part in the development of the city and this section of the country. He was the first treasurer and also the first judge of probate of the county, and held the former position for a number of years. Mr. Walsh was born in Ireland 86 years ago. He is still in vigorous health. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Sunday Morning, August 16, 1908, Volume XXVII, Number 249, Page 5)
THOMAS WALSH PASSES AWAY. Pioneer Resident of Grand Forks Since Territorial Days. Veteran of Civil War With Minnesota Regiment Dies at Home of His Granddaughter at the Age of 92 Years – Had Been in Excellent Health and Spirits Until Last Fall – Born in Louth County, Ireland. Yesterday afternoon (April 8, 1915) at 4 o’clock Thomas Walsh, aged 92, passed away at the home of his granddaughter, Mrs. J. B. Wineman in this city. Death followed an illness of several months, although until last fall he was in excellent health and in full control of all his faculties. The following brief biographical sketch is furnished through the courtesy of Justice Phil McLoughlin, who has known him intimately during his residence in this city:
Thomas Walsh, of Grand Forks, N. D., was one of the oldest pioneers of the Red River valley. He was born in the County Louth, Ireland, on November 14, 1822. He began life for himself when about 12 years old by learning the tailor’s trade at Montreal, Canada, serving an apprenticeship of four years. He then for two years worked as a journeyman at Burlington, Vermont. From there he went to Willsborough, Essex county, New York, there opening a tailor shop of his own. In 1856 he removed to Henderson, Sibley county, Minnesota, where he opened a shop and clothing store and served as postmaster under President Johnson’s administration, and in August, 1862, enlisted in Co. I, Tenth Minnesota infantry, participating in all the battles and skirmishes in which his regiment was engaged up to the battle of Nashville.
He was wounded in that battle and for three months lay in the hospital at Jeffersonville, Ind. He rejoined his regiment at New Orleans, proceeded to Mobile and participated in the taking of the Spanish fort. He was mustered out in September, 1865, and returned to Henderson, Minn., to resume his business. In April, 1871, he removed to Grand Forks, Dakota Territory, now North Dakota, and engaged in the lumber, milling and mercantile business as a member of the firm of Griggs, Walsh & Co. Four years later they sold out to the Hudson Bay Co. and since that time he has been engaged in the real estate business. He has held about all the city and county offices at different times and served for six years as register of deeds of this county.
He built the first house in Grand Forks. He has taken a very prominent part in the upbuilding of the city and his name is a familiar one throughout the valley. No man has been more prominently identified with the history of this region. Mr. Walsh was married at Montreal, Canada, February 2, 1846, to Miss Eleanor Ranson, and they became the parents of George H., deceased; Chas. A., deceased; Carrie, deceased, and Edmund Walsh, now a successful business man in Crookston, Minn. Thomas Walsh was an honored member of St. Michael’s Catholic church and at the time of his death lived in the new parish of St. Mary. He was a member of Willis A. Gorman post, G. A. R. The funeral services will take place from St. Michael’s church at 10 o’clock on Saturday morning. The procession will leave the home at 9:30. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Friday Morning, April 9, 1915, Volume XXXIV, Number 135, Page 10)
Funeral of Thomas Walsh This Morning. Pioneer Citizen of Grand Forks and Veteran of the Civil War Will be Buried Today. Funeral services of the late Thomas Walsh, pioneer resident of Grand Forks and a veteran of the Civil war, will be held from St. Michael’s pro-cathedral this morning at 10 o’clock. The procession will leave the home of J. B. Wineman at 9 o’clock. The flags of the city will be at half mast during the day as a mark of respect and honor for the pioneer and soldier. The pall bearers will be L. Graber, F. J. Peck, A. J. Pierce, L. K. Raymond, A. S. Burrows and R. S. Robbins. The active pallbearers will be D. M. Holmes, Stephen Collins, W. L. Wilder, M. J. Moran, Don McDonald and Phil McLoughlin. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Saturday Morning, April 10, 1915, Volume XXXIV, Number 136, Page 8).