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Agnes ByrneAgnes Byrne
Ann Byrne mother
John Byrne markerfather
Bridgete Byrneswife of D. J. Byrnes d. Apr 4 1878 aged 99 yrs (A native of Ireland She was a loving wife and kind mother
Burnsville Name Belies That of Irish FounderBy RALPH THORNTON
Mlnneapolis Star - November 26, 1963

High atop a windswept hill just south of the Minnesota River in Dakota County, in the cemetery he gave to his community, is the grave of William Byrne, early settler of Burnsville.

But what may make the old patriarch rest uneasily, according to his descendants, is that · his township today bears a Scottish name rather than one commemorating its Irish beginnings.

There are others who will stoutly maintain that Burns is also a good old Gaelic name.

Nearly every headstone in the old Mount Calvary cemetery there's a name such as Duffy, O'Brien, Dillon, Dempsey, Hanrahan, Gallagher and Murphy.

Burial Ground
From the burial ground one may look over the former Byrne Farm, another portion of which its owners gave for the settlements first Chapel, built logs in 1853.

Earlier, the first services have been celebrated in the Byrne home by father Ravoux, Noted missionary priest from Mendota.

The discrepancy and the spelling of the name of the town and that of its founder is due to a clerical error, said Mrs. Dorothy Byrne Benson. 127 W. Lake Street, enough is to live in great grandchildren. The other, John Byrne, resides in Phoenix Arizona.

Their family history states that William Bern, a native of County Kilkenny, Ireland, sailed to Montréal Canada about 1820. In 1853 he homesteaded near the junction of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers.

"The Township of Burnsville was then established", reads the story.
10 children

William Bern and his wife Julia had 10 children and many grandchildren. Their sons James, Daniel and John had 15, 10 and 10 children, respectively.

With so many Byrnes in the area, some added an "S" to their name to facilitate delivery of mail.

Later William Byrne moved to west St. Paul, where he died in 1877 at the age of 81.One of his grandsons was monsignor James C Bern, well-known St. Paul Catholic priest

Records in the Minnesota historical Society bear out details of this history,But referred to the family as "Burns."

The census of 1860 lists Burns, his wife and children as Burns. The history of Dakota County by Rev. Edward T Neill, states that "In 1853 William Burns and family came from CanadaAnd settled in the north west corner of town."

However, the history states that "early records of the town from its date organization until 1860 were destroyed. It kept at all. The first officers of the town did not appear. At the time of its organization that was named in honor of William Burns, father of several sons located in and adjoining the town.

At the first recorded town meeting, April 3, 1860, Thomas Burns, his son, was elected chairman, the book states period

And these historical records the family insists, the name Byrne seems to have been mistaken for Burns by official recorders. And this mistake gave the town its present name.

But it is Byrne on its founders tombstone in Mount Calvary Cemetery

Pat Connolly, Burnsville village clerk, said"I can remember when every house between Nichols Station (Cedar Avenue) and Savage as Irish." In that area lived the Ryans, Kennellys, O'Regans, Conroys, Kellehers and many others.

Whether Byrnesville or Burnsville, the Township, which plans to seek incorporation as a village soon, just wanted Minnesota's fastest growing communities.

Perhaps it's founder, William Byrne, would take pride in the flowering of the settlement he founded 110 years ago and forget the misspelling of his name.
Graves of John Byrne family at St. John the Baptist.A son of William Byrne he and his wife are buried with the majority of their children in a series of plots overlooking Judicial Road. There is no major Byrne marker, nor do any of the foot stones contain birth or death dates.
William H marker Elizabeth G markerWilliam H marker infant son of DJ and BE Byrnes (d. Dec 8 1863 age 12 days)
Elizabeth G marker (b. Dec 23, 1975 d. May 10, 1896)
Julia Byrnes George E ByrneJulia Byrnes (wife of James Hurley b. Apr 22, 1861 d. Feb 13, 1884) George E Byrne b. Jul 19, 1974 d. Jan 4, 1881)
Byrnesville?by Richard Brooks
used in 1976bCommunity History

William Byrne immigrated from County Kilkerry, Ireland, to Hamil­ton, Ontario, Canada about 1840. He moved his family to the northwest cor­ ner of what is now our city limits about 1855. Upon arrival, he named what we now call Savage "Hamilton" after the city he left in Canada. This community was the focal point for new settlers. Trade, school, religion and social events were centered there. Byrne donated land for a church, school, and a cemetery, later named Mount Calvary. It has been assumed by some that BYRNESVILLE township was named after him.

On April 3, 1860 a Thos. Burn signed the minutes of the Town Board meeting. One record states that Tho­ mas Burn was Byrne's son. There is evidence, according to Neill's His­ tory of Dakota County, 1881 that a family whose name was Burn settled here before Byrne. W as Thos. Burn Thomas Byrne? Supposedly Burn is Scotch, and Byrne Irish. Regardless, in 1860 Michael Connelly, the town clerk who wrote the minutes, signed the records BURNSVILLE, Minnesota. So began the basis for the much de­ bated enigma of the spelling of the town's name.

At study of the original Town Board minutes, beginning in 1860, shows that the spelling was BURNSVILLE in every written record until 1876. The town clerk spelled it BU at the March meeting and BY at the December meeting. It appears as BY on March 16, 1881, and as BYRNESVILLE for the last time March 6, 1882. (The records, on microfilm, are at the library; the originals are in the vault at City Hall).

Records show that William Byrne had several sons. Many early sett­lers had large families. For sheer identity from one another, some changed the spelling of the last name to make mailing purposes easier. "Kennelly" is spelled three different ways, for example. Was there so much mail in the 1850's that "son" Thos. had to go from Byrne to Burn? It is doubtful. Long time residents in the community say they simply do not know when or how the spelling changed, IF IT DID AT ALL. Not one can offer an historical fact to pin­ point the change.

Dorothy Byrne Benson, a great granddaughter of William Byrne , in a speech given at the dedication of Byrne School, made much ado about the misspelling of the town's name. She thought, "the least we could do was to correct it". She said she had "called the village manager a- bout it" . In a taped interview dated February 1, 1975, she admitted she had been south of the Minnesota Ri­ ver twice, once to a funeral in Sa­vage at the age of six and again at the school dedication. The fact is not one of the original Byrne family has lived in town for many decades. So why the fuss?

Burnsville is not such a bad name. It's better than Ballclub, or Embar­rass, or Fertile, or Dent, or Climax, Minnesota, to name a few. Per­haps William Byrne, who is buried
in his own cemetery, would care more about Hamilton being renamed Savage than a misspelling. . . if there ever was one. . .of our town's name.
Mrs. D. J. Byrnes 1904St. Paul Globe December 3, 1904 reports: At Byrnesville Friday December 2 Mrs. D.J. Byrnes aged 71 years. Funeral from residence at 9:30 a.m. and services at St. John's in Savage at 10:30 a.m.
William Byrne Elementary SchoolWilliam Byrne Elementary School named in honor of the man Burnsville (originally spelled Byrnesville) was named in honor of.
Byrne Benson dies 2018Byrne Benson was the son of Dorothy Byrne Benson identified as the great grand daughter of town founder William Byrne. Her son died February 4, 2018 in Michigan. His obituary makes no reference to Burnsville or his great great grandfather William, but we are certain of his direct connection.

Byrne was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October lrl932. Upon graduation from high school and his marriage to Mary Louise, he began his lifelong love with the homebuilding business by working for his father-in-Iaw, John Donnay, building homes in Minneapolis and its suburbs. He went on to become an entrepreneur and started his own homebuilding companies in both Minnesota and Michigan.

Byrne moved his family to Michigan n 1964 when he joined Bert L. Smokler in Southfield. In 1966, Ortonville became the family address, followed by many years of fond memories. Over the years he also held numerous positions in the NAHB as well as the HBA in Michigan.
Dorothy Byrne Benson letter to the editor 1965Dorothy Byrne Benson, great grand daughter of William and Julia Byrne wrote his letter to the Minneapolis Star Tribune October 25, 1965 addressing the history of the town. The dates she provided for the Byrne donation of the land and the building of the first two churches does not match other Burnsville and church records, as noted in the information added by the Burnsville Historical Society.
Welcome to the Clan (Byrne) 1967At the dedication of William Byrne School in 1967 great grand daughter Dorothy Byrne Benson offers a history of the Byrne Family. The original spelling of the town was Byrnesville and for some unknown reason became Burnsville.
Dorothy Byrne Benson and Douglas Byrne 1967Dorothy Byrne Benson, great grand daughter of William Byrne and her nephew Douglas attended the dedication of the William Byrne School, in South River Hills.
Byrne School named for pioneer 1967Although no additional information appears in this article, this was published by the Minnesota Valley Review when the William Byrne School opened.
Pioneer Burnsville resident relates early township history 1961Minnesota Valley Review November 16, 1966 reports - A request to re-name the proposed new village "Byrnesville" was received recently from a letter sent from Lawrence W Byrne of Minneapolis, opposing the annexation move. Included was the story of the township's founding...
Minnesota Pioneer March 23, 1854 Byrnesville's desire for a catholic churchPerhaps the oldest newspaper clipping uncovered by the historical society confirms the Byrne family involvement in the establishment of a Catholic Church in the town of Byrnesville.
This would be - St. John the Baptist Catholic Church of Byrnesville, now in Savage.

A meeting was held at Byrnesville on the 6th in order to take into consideration the propriety of erecting a Catholic Church in this place. The meeting was well attended and everyone appeared ready and willing to aid in the works. JAMES MARTIN, was appointed President, JAMES BYRNE, Secretary and THOMAS BYRNE, Treasurer. (NOTE - these are sons of William Byrne.)....
Resolved that the erection of a Church in this township being greatly desired, the meeting take into consideration the means best adapted for the erection of the same. Resolved, that a subscription be forth with taken up in behalf of its erection. Resolved, that the thanks of the meeting be tendered to James Martin, for the dignified manner in which he has presided over it.
Resolved, that the proceedings of this meeting be published in the Minnesota Pioneer. James Martin, Pres - Thomas Byrne - Treas- James Byrne - sec.
Cecelia Byrne markerSt. John the Baptist Cemetery, Burnsville.
Burnsville spelling due to clerical error Nov 26, 1963A Minneapolis Star Tribune article addresses the town founder being WIlliam Byrne, with the original spelling Byrnesville and the undocumented change to Burnsville.
Daniel Burns, a farmer 60 years of age killed, probably murder 1887The Minneapolis Star Tribune files for November 10, 1887 report on the death of Daniel Burns, a farmer some 60 years of age, residing at Burnsville, a town 12 miles up the Minnesota River from St. Paul...indications murder. A Daniel Burns is buried at St. John the Baptist Cemetery with a death date of 1887. Another obituary uses the Byrne spelling for the name. He was the son of William Byrne and Julia Doyle.
Daniel ByrneAnother obituary for Daniel Byrne (Burns) following his murder.
Daniel J Byrnes markerd. Nov 8, 1887 aged 54 years - a native of Ottowa Ont.)
Dennis Byrne grave marker
Descendant of Byrne family tells of early Burnsville (2 pages)At the dedication of William Byrne School in 1967 Dorothy Byrne Benson along with nephew Douglas Byrne provided a family history and stories of early Byrnesville/Burnsville.

She notes there are no photos of William Byrne who donated the land for the cemetery and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Original spelling of the township is shown as Byrnesville - with no explanation as to the change to Burnsville.

Dorothy Byrne Benson at school dedictionIn 1968 Willian Byrne school built in honor of the person the township/city was named. Shown in this clipping is his great grand daughter - Dorothy Byrne Benson.
Dorthy Byrne Benson 1961The Star Tribune August 29, 1961 reports on Dorothy Byrne Benson's frustration that Burnsville is not using the original spelling of Byrnesville. The town was named after her Great Grandfather William Byrne and his family.
Elizabeth Byrne markerElizabeth Byrne marker
Harold Byrne marker
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