Place of migration:
Migrated to/Born in USA

Edward PHELAN [or PHALAN] was born in "Londonderry,"/Derry, Ireland in 1811. The year of his arrival in the United States is unknown but it was prior to his enlistment in the U.S. Army at the age of 24. He had previously worked as a laborer. Phelan has been described as a tall man, 6 feet 2 inches with a fair complexion.

He was stationed at Fort Snelling, located in sparsely-populated Wisconsin Territory. He was discharged from military service in 1838. Prior to his discharge, John Hays, a fellow soldier at Fort Snelling, asked him to make a claim and purchase some nearby property in what would later become the City of St. Paul, Minnesota. Hays agreed to put up the money for the lots. Phelan agreed to buy the property and start building a cabin that they both could live in upon Hays's discharge from the army in the spring. But after Hays joined Phelan in the cabin, the two could not get along and fought constantly that summer according to later testimony by neighbors. 

Then in September 1839 John Hays mysteriously disappeared. Phelan was questioned by neighbors but gave evasive answers. Major Taliaferro, the Indian Agent, inquired of the nearby Native Americans if they had seen Hays. On September 27, 1839 the body of John Hays was found in Carver's Cave. Phelan was arrested, tried and spent six months in the territorial Prison at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin Territory before he was acquitted and released.

He returned to Minnesota and purchased additional property but sold it in 1844. Sometime after 1850 Phelan left Minnesota en route to California with some traveling companions.

It was claimed that "he behaved so violently toward his traveling companions that they had been forced to kill him in self-defense." His burial place is unknown.

Today there is a lake in St. Paul, Minnesota that bears his name: Lake Phalen


"Pig's Eye Notepad: Encyclopedia of St. Paul, Minnesota, 1830-1850," Lareau Web Parlour [Wayback Machine]

"Edward Phalen: Namesake for Lake Phalen," by Peter Boulay, Maplewood Heritage Preservation Commissioner.

Image of Lake Phalen, St. Paul, Minnesota, ca. 1924,  from Wikimedia Commons




Note: This is not my ancestor.[PrairieRose--J.S.]



Additional Information
Date of Birth 1811 (circa)  
Date of Death 1850 (circa)  
Occupation laborer, soldier and farmer  
Townland born "Londonderry,"/Derry, Ireland