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James Behan
1859 - 1939
James Behan was the grandfather of our mother,  Mary (Hoge) Stock.  Born in St. Louis in 1859, James was the oldest of five children of Michael Behan and Jane (Jordon) Behan.  Like his father, he was a farmer and inherited a tract of land in the Columbia Bottoms district of St. Louis when his father died in 1885. He worked the farm with his brother Michael Behan until his death in 1914, then with his son John.  The property was condemned by the city around 1920 because of flood hazards, and James moved his family into the city.  Our grandmother Ellen (Behan) Hoge described this as one of the happiest times of her life, because she had a room to herself for the first time, and she had complained she could never stay clean when they lived on the farm because of all the flooding and mud that it produced.  Grandma Ellen Hoge told me that her father never got to go to high school, but he was always interested in education.  He served on the local school board the entire time his children were in school, and he treasured his encyclopedias which had pages "yellowed with wear".  He married Bridget Hewitt in 1890 and the couple would go on to have seven children, five of whom survived into adulthood.  James died in June 1939 and is buried at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis, along side his wife Bridget, son John Joseph Behan, and daughter Jane (Behan) Comer.

This is a picture of James and Bridget (Hewitt) Behan, probably taken in front of their home in St. Louis on Robin Ave. sometime in the late 1920s.  She was born in 1866 in St. Louis, the second of five children of John and Catherine (Waters) Hewitt.  Bridget was the person that Grandma Ellen Hoge felt the closest and would honor by naming her only daughter Mary Bridget.  She had seven children, and saw three of them die before she passed away in 1933.

This is the only photo we have of Grandma Ellen Hoge's oldest brother, John Joseph Behan.  Born in 1891, John was a farmer who worked with his father on the family farm.  He died in October 1918, still the deadliest month in American history, from the Spanish Flu epidemic.  Grandma told me that he came in from work early one day not feeling well and went straight to bed with no dinner.  Later that evening he became delusional with fever and died before dawn.  Grandma Ellen was stricken with the same virus and survived, but only after spending a week unconscious in the hospital.  She described John as her favorite brother.  He was ten years older than her and lavished her with attention, and I could tell that 50 years later, as she told me this story, that she still grieved for him.  John was 28 years old at his death, but he had never married.  He is buried in St. Louis at Calvary Cemetery with his parents and sister Jane.




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