Thomas McCutcheon – 1854-1927 – Prairie Pioneer

Thomas McCutcheon and Margaret Pentland

Pictured Left to right:

Henry Reinke; Margaret Jane Pentland; Henry’s mother – name unknown;

Beatrice Reinke; Thomas McCutcheon

Picture courtesy of Roxanna Pentland – grand-niece
of Thomas McCutcheon and Margaret Jane Pentland.
The Newberry News Clips are courtesy of Roxanna Pentland.


Thomas’ pioneering story would not be complete without some historical mention of his in-laws. Some of his siblings and his parents also immigrated to the USA. Some of his siblings settled for a while in Dollarville, Luce County before moving individually on to somewhere else.

Thomas Pentland (born 1st September 1829 in County Armagh, Ireland) married Deborah Ann Symington (born 17 March 1839 in Derryland, Tartaraghan Parish, County Armagh, Ireland). They had two children while still in Ireland and immigrated to Canada in 1859 settling in Mono Township, Dufferin County, Ontario where their third child, George, was born on the 15th July 1859.

Thomas and Deborah immigrated to the United States, settling in Luce County in late 1881 with their six sons (Isaac, George, Thomas, William, Alexander and Moses) and their only daughter, Margaret Jane Pentland who was already married to Thomas McCutcheon.

Thomas Pentland and his children all settled in the same area in Luce County.  Pentland Township was established in 1887 in the southeast corner of Luce County, just south of the Village of Newberry. The Township was established with a total area of 107.3 square miles. The area where the Pentlands settled was named after them – Pentland Township. Their eldest son, Isaac, was the first Township Supervisor.

In the 1881 Canadian Census, the Henry McCutcheon family were residents of Nottawasaga Township, Simcoe County, Ontario. In 1881 Canadian Census the Pentland family were residents of Kinloss Township, Bruce County, ON. Not found on any 1881 census, are Thomas and Margaret.

In all if the US census available the immigration year for Thomas and Margaret is consistently listed as 1881. Their son Robert was born in Ontario on the 27th November 1881, so the family probably immigrated shortly after that with a newborn baby.

1st March 1888(From the Newberry News): Land Office at Marquette, Michigan:

28th February 1888:  Notice is hereby given that the following named settler has filed notice of his intention to make final proof in support of his claim, and that said proof will be made before the clerk of the circuit court of Luce county, at Newberry, Michigan on the 13th April 1888; viz: Thomas McCutcheon, hd. Application No. 2975, for the NW 1/4 of Section 21, Township 45 N, 10W.  He names the following witnesses to prove his continuous residence upon and cultivation of said land, viz:  David McGrath, of Dollarville, Michigan; Anthony St John; George Eno of Garfield Township, Michigan; Joseph Miller, of Pentland, Michigan; Samuel E. Byrne, Register.

29th March 1888 (From the Newberry News): Thomas McCutcheon and J.R. Miller are erecting new barns on their homesteads.

13th September 1888(From the Newberry News): Thomas McCutcheon of Naubinway was in the village Saturday.  He made sure the News would keep him posted in county affairs for another year at least.

27th June 1889(From the Newberry News): “On Saturday last, Thomas McCutcheon, through his agent, A. Betters, sold his farm in Pentland Township (being the NE 1/4 of Section 21 Township 45N; Range 10W) to Thomas Pentland.  Consideration, $500.00”

6th August 1889(From the Newberry News): US General Land Office Records, 1796-1907

Name:  Thomas McCutcheon

Issue Date:  6 August 1889

Acres:  160

Accession:  MI2320_280

Land Office:  Marquette

Authority:  May 20, 1862, Homestead Entry Original

Document Number:  1366

6th August 1889(From the Newberry News): Land Patent

Dated August 6, 1889

Land Office: Marquette

160 Acres

Document Number 1366

Thomas McCutcheon; NW 21; Township 45-N Range 10-W

Meridian Michigan-Toledo Strip

24th August 1889(From the Newberry News): Mr. [Thomas] McCutcheon and family left Dollarville for Tomahawk last Monday.

So far, there is no evidence that places Thomas’ parents, Henry and Sarah McCutcheon in Dollarville, Luce County. All historical data so far collected, shows them immigrating to Tomahawk, Wisconsin in 1881.  It was here in Tomahawk that Thomas’ second child, Mary Ann, was born in 1890. Also, his father Henry was aging and perhaps Thomas moved to Tomahawk to help him. Henry died in Tomahawk in June of 1897.

1st June 1900 – the family was living in the Village of Bemidji, Minnesota. The Village of Bemidji became organized in 1896 so the McCutcheon family probably arrived from Tomahawk around that time. The name derives from the Ojibwe (also Ojibwa or Ojibway) Bay-may-ji-ga-maug, meaning “lake that traverses another body of water”. On occasion, in Ojibwe, the village of Bemidji is called Wabigamaang (“at the lake channel/narrows”), because part of the village is situated on the Lakes Bemidji/Irving narrows, located on the south end of Lake Bemidji.  Sometimes the name is credited to Chief Bemidji, an Ojibwe chief.

With the formation of a new Village, perhaps Thomas saw an opportunity for work and brought his family. The 1900 US census stated that his occupation was that of “laborer”.  Their son Robert by this time was 19 years old and he was also working as a laborer. Margaret stated that she was the mother of two children, both who were still alive.

6th May 1910 –the family was living in the Village of Nymore, Beltrami, Minnesota. The Village of Nymore is located about 2 ½ miles from the Village of Bemidji.

On this census, Margaret reports that she had 3 children but only 2 were alive suggesting that one child had died sometime between 1900 and 1910. Margaret was a cook in the boarding house and Thomas was working as a Teamster. Robert was working as a logger and Mary, now married, was working as a waitress in the boarding house. From this census, it appeared that the family owned the boarding house. They had eleven boarders living there at that time, most of them who were working in the logging industry, such as scalers, laborers and carpenters in the lumber mill.

1912 – Thomas applied for a land grant for the NW 1/4 of Section 10 in Township 4; Range 24; West of the 2nd meridian.  MICROFILM # C-6462.; Volume 661.  This was in the land mass area known as “Willow Bunch” that included the Village of Bengough. The family immigrated to Saskatchewan from Nymore, Minnesota in 1912 according to the 1916 Census of Canada, one year after his son-in-law, Henry Reinke, daughter, Mary Ann and grand-child, Beatrice Alvina.  At the age of 58 years old, when most people are settling into their retirement years, Thomas set out for new territory on untamed land, again having to meet the rigors of establishing a homestead according to the guidelines set out by the government. He needed to erect a house and barn, clear and plow several acres of land, build a public road in front of his property in order to receive his “Letters Patent” or first title to his land. He was still on this farm at the time of his death in 1927.

The rest of his information can be found under Chapter 5 – B: Henry Smith McCutcheon – 1824-1897.


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