Monday, April 9, 2012


Among Agnes Tully Stevens’ many saved letters was a business envelope from the firm of Concannon, Dillon, Bostelman and Snook. Despite the imposing appearance of the letterhead, though, the typewritten message enclosed was a personal note to Agnes from Matthias Concannon, himself. Evidently—and long before attainment of his professional standing—he and Agnes were classmates.

Agnes was apparently writing to call his remembrance to an acquaintance in the priesthood that they both knew and honored during that time so long before this 1939 letter, when they had attended the same Catholic church, St. Anne’s on the south side of Chicago.

Since those school days of these old friends, much had transpired in the life of Matthias Concannon. Though he was born in rather humble surroundings to Irish immigrant and Chicago carpet-layer Malachi Concannon and his wife Agnes in 1888, Matthias aspired to the educational goal of becoming an attorney. Indeed, he achieved recognition for his capabilities, serving for a time as legal counsel for the Chicago Times newspaper and also for the Kellogg Foundation and company. A lifelong Chicago resident, his business associations were such that, at the time of his 1953 death at his summer home in Indiana, his obituary was carried by none less than the New York Times.

Once again, seeing that Agnes saved a letter like this, I’m tempted to contemplate any hidden nuances of the significance of her choice. Did Agnes merely wish to say, “I knew him”?

                                                                      June 30, 1939

Dear Agnes:
            It was very nice of you to send the photograph of Monsignor Murray to me. It is a very good likeness.
            I was sorry that I was unable to be present at his investiture, but it was necessary for me to be out of the City on the day of the ceremony. I was present at the dedication of his new church about a year ago.
            I was married over five years ago and am glad to say that we have been very happy. I now have a son about eight months old.
            Shortly after our baby was born Catherine Flavin called my wife up. She is living in River Forest and saw an announcement of the birth of the baby in a local paper. She came over to our house on two or three occasions.
            I also saw Tom Ryan while I was on a train to New York a few months ago. Joe Guerin was in to see me about a year ago, but except for those I have not seen any of the members of our class for many years.
            My family are at Long Beach, Indiana, for the summer but expect to return around the middle of September. We live at 643 North East Avenue, Oak Park, which is the southwest corner of Augusta Street and East Avenue. We should be very happy if you and Mr. Stephens would visit us some time after the return of my wife in September.
            With very best regards to yourself and your family, I am
                                          Very sincerely yours
                                                          Matthias Concannon


  1. The cast of characters grows by leaps an bounds - but this is nice - a partial listing of Agnes classmates (I assume) from high school?

    Long Beach, Indiana sounds so far away from Chicago doesn't it? It is only 50 miles away and is closer than South Bend, located on the shores of Lake Michigan.

    1. Just found another small bit of confirmation: a funeral notice transcribed from the collection, "Chicago Irish Families" which shows Matthias as the oldest son of Agnes Ethel, nee McMannon, of County Mayo. The Concannon family residence at the time of her funeral (August 26, 1900) was at 5223 Armour Avenue. The funeral was at St. Anne's church with burial at Mount Olivet--confirming the St. Anne's connection with the Tully family. I am presuming Matthias Concannon and Agnes Tully connected either in high school or grade school (keeping in mind that, at that time, not everyone finished high school).

      See the transcription at


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