Anora—a fresh look

Anora (“Anna”, “Annie”) (Lee) (Horan) Prettyman (1847–1892) was my 3rd-great-grandmother and she has been something of an enigma to all recent researchers—myself included—who have tried to discover who she was and where she came from.

Thanks to new information I’ve gotten from a handful of newly discovered cousins, I think I’ve got a much better handle on Anora. While there are still large gaps and unknowns in her story, I’ve revised so much of her history that a new post is warranted. Most notably, I had the misidentified her parents (there were two girls named Anora/Anna/Annie Lee born in Indiana at the same time, and I was tracking the wrong one) and I got some details of her early years wrong.

I’d like to thank my newly discovered cousins Lorna, Suzette, and Michael for sharing what they know about our shared Prettyman ancestors as well as Anora’s first husband, William Horan. I’d like to give special recognition to Lorna for responsibly caring for, recording, and organizing so much Horan and Prettyman history and photos. Without her and her late father’s impressive memory, many of the details of Anora’s life would have been lost forever.

Because I’m still trying to sort out the facts of Anora’s life, I’ll present this revision as a timeline. As more facts come to light, I hope to work this into narrative prose.


  • ca. Dec. 15, 1846—Anora was conceived in southern Ireland by her parents, Martin and Catherine Lee. The Irish Potato Famine had started less than two years previously. Potato production in 1845 was down 32.3% compared to 1844, and the 1846 crop was only 20.2% the size of the 1844 crop. Despite this, the worst was yet to come—the 1847 crop was only 13.8% the size of the last pre-blight crop in 1844. The Famine lasted from 1845 to 1852, and during this time about 1 million people died and 2 million fled Ireland, primarily to Great Britain and North America.
  • (Spring 1847)—Like so many others in Ireland, Martin and Catherine Lee (and possibly Catherine’s father Barney McCune and her sister Barbara McCune) made plans to sail to the United States, but the U.S. quota for Ireland was exceeded for the year, so they had to sail instead to Canada. According to Gallagher’s 1936 The Irish Emigration of 1847 and Its Canadian Consequences, any ship that could be repurposed to carry humans across the Atlantic was pressed into service. Most of these ships were lumber ships used to haul Canadian Lumber to Europe. The ships were not outfitted to accommodate or feed the number of passengers they took on, and death was rampant. According to Gallagher, “Ireland was connected to Canada by a chain of dead bodies of her children—old man and infant, parent and child, found a grave in the Atlantic.” These ships were called floating coffins or coffin ships, and the 400-ship flotilla that travelled from Ireland to Canada in 1847 was referred to as the Fever Fleet.
  • ca. summer 1847—Martin and Catherine (and possibly Catherine’s father and sister) arrived at a Canadian port, possibly in Nova Scotia.
  • ca. summer 1847—Martin and Catherine travel to the United States, probably by water along the St. Lawrence River and associated canals to the Great Lakes and then on to Chicago. It was presumably in Chicago that Martin looked for his first job in the U.S. Martin and Catherine would have then taken a canal boat on the Wabash and Erie Canal south to near Terre Haute.
  • Sept. 15, 1847—Anora was born in Terre Haute, Vigo County, Indiana. It seems quite likely that Anora’s parents were living in the Terre Haute area because Martin Lee had gotten a job digging the Wabash and Erie Canal, which reached Terre Haute in 1848. Irish immigrants in the 1840s made up a large portion of the unskilled workers on huge canal construction projects of the era, and the workers typically settled along canal routes.
  • July 24, 1850—Anora and her parents moved 70 miles south to Pike County, Indiana, where they were living in the western part of the county, in either Washington township, Monroe township, or Patoka township. Anora (then called “Aney”) was three years old. Her 22-year-old mother went by the unusual name “Colula.” Her 30-year-old father Martin’s occupation was listed as “canaler” (a canaler was someone working on a canal boat or otherwise involved in canal transportation, for instance in digging the canals). The earliest map I can find of this area is from 1902, and the Wabash and Erie Canal is shown running through this area, from Francisco to Petersburg, with the section from Francisco to Glezen already noted as abandoned in 1902. So it seems that Anora’s family’s movements followed the Wabash and Erie Canal construction projects south though in Indiana in the late 1840s and early 1850s. The article Canal Construction in Indiana gives additional historical tidbits.
  • ca. 1850—Anora’s brother Patrick (“Pat”) Robert Lee was born in Indiana, presumably in the same area of Pike County.
  • ca. 1852–1854—Anora’s family moved to Iowa. This is another hint that Martin Lee was involved in building the canals and not working on a canal boat. Once the last portion of the Wabash and Erie Canal was completed in 1853 (this was the portion that Martin would have been working on in 1850, then extending south to Evansville), canal digging jobs would have evaporated, and Martin would have had to move on and look for new work.
  • Dec. 1854—Anora’s brother Bernard (“Barney”) E. Lee was born in Iowa.
  • ca. 1856—Anora’s brother Peter (“Pete”) Lee was born in the Minnesota Territory.
  • ca. 1856—Anora’s sister Mary Lee was born in the Minnesota Territory.
  • Nov. 3, 1857—From the 1857 Minnesota territorial census, we see that a 10-year-old Anora (now going by “Ann”), her 37-year-old father Martin, her 35-year-old mother Catherine (now going by “Mary”), her three brothers and one sister (ages 7, 4, 2, and 1), and a 38-year-old woman named Barbara McCann (presumably Catherine/Mary/Colula’s older sister) were now living in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, just 35 miles southwest of Minneapolis. Martin Lee’s occupation was listed as farmer.
  • ca. 1857–1860—Anora’s sister Mary died as an infant.
  • June 14, 1860—From the 1860 U.S. census, we see that 13-year-old Anora (now going by “Anna”), her 42-year-old father Martin, her 30(?)-year-old mother(?) “Delula”, her three brothers (aged 10, 6, and 4), and Anora’s 60-year-old grandfather Barney McCune were living in St. Lawrence, Scott County, Minnesota. As St. Lawrence and Belle Plain are adjacent and only 4 miles apart with farmland between them, I expect that the Lees were living between the two towns and didn’t actually move to a new home (rather the territorial census taker and the federal census taker made different judgements as to which town they were closer to). Martin has no occupation listed, and the value of his real estate and personal estate were on the low side, so he was presumably either a small farmer or a farm laborer.
  • July 24, 1864—A 16-year-old Anora (written as “Honora Lee”) married a 19-year-old William Horan (written as “William Horen”), the son of her employers, the owners of the Horne Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They were married by Father John Ireland, a Catholic priest, somewhere in Ramsey County, Minnesota. Their marriage was witnessed by John Flanigan and Catherine Curran.
  • ca. 1865—Anora and William’s first child was born, a son named Willie. He died shortly after birth.
  • Aug. 7, 1866—Anora and William had a second child, a daughter named Mary Ann Horan.
  • ca. 1868—Anora and William had a third child, a son named William Joseph Horan.
  • July 22, 1870—From the 1870 U.S. census, we see that a 22-year-old Anora (now going by “Ann”), her 26-year-old husband William Horan, and their 3-year-old daughter Mary A. Horan were living in the Second Ward of the City of St. Paul, Minnesota. William’s occupation was listed as laborer, and Anora’s was listed as ‘keeping house.’
  • ca. 1870—Anora and William Horan homesteaded in Alexandria, Minnesota, 125 straight-line miles northwest of Minneapolis.
  • Aug. 2, 1870—Anora and William had a fourth child, a daughter named Catherine (“Kate”) Horan.
  • Jan. 27, 1873—Anora and William had a fifth child, a son named John Bernard Horan.
  • May 1, 1875—From the 1875 Minnesota state census, we see that a 28-year-old Anora (now going by “Anna”) was living with a 31-year-old William and their three surviving children: Mary A. Horan (age 8), Catherine Horan (age 5), and John B. Horan (age 2). They were living in Belle River, Douglas County, Minnesota. Belle River is 10 miles northeast of Alexandria.
  • May 1, 1875—Anora’s 23-year-old brother Patrick (“Pat”) Robert Lee is living with the Sherin family in Spring Lake, Scott County, Minnesota. The Sherins were an Irish-born couple—54-year-old Peter Sherin and 54-year-old Mary Sherin—who had at least four children while living in Canada: 24-year-old Mary (who had already left home by 1875), 19-year-old Ellen, 16-year-old Sarah, and 14-year-old Thone. Patrick apparently fell in love with the 16-year-old Sarah Sherin while living there, as they married a year later.
  • ca. Fall 1875—Anora’s brother Patrick apparently introduced his girlfriend’s 19-year-old sister Ellen to his and Anora’s younger brother, the 20-year-old Bernard (“Barney”) E. Lee, as the two of them were married a year later.
  • Jan. 10, 1876—Anora and William had a sixth child, a son named Martin Horan.
  • June 19, 1876—Anora’s brother Pat Lee married Sarah G. Sherin in Glendale, Douglas County, Minnesota.
  • Nov. 29, 1876—Anora’s brother Barney Lee married Ellen C. Sherin in Byrnsville, Scott County, Minnesota.
  • Apr. 1, 1877—Anora’s nephew Martin Peter Lee is born (son of her brother Pat Lee and Sarah Sherin). Martin was Anora’s very first nephew or niece. He was born in Spring Lake, Scott County, Minnesota, which is about 125 miles southeast of where Anora and William were living in Douglas County.
  • July 10, 1879—Anora and William had a seventh child, a son named Peter Francis (“Pete”) Horan.
  • 1880 census—I have not been able to find Anora’s family on the 1880 U.S. census.
  • Aug. 23, 1880—Anora’s future husband Frank Prettyman is re-appointed as postmaster for the Spruce Hill Post Office. The term was to last two years, and he was given an annual salary of $12. He had apparently had this appointment since at least 1873, although I don’t yet know if it was continuous.
  • Mar. 29, 1881—Anora and William had an eighth child, a son named Arthur Horan.
  • ca. 1881–1882—William Horan was arrested for stealing a team of oxen and attempting to sell them. I believe that this is the closest version of the story to the truth, but other versions have him stealing horses, or heading west to find his fortune. Whatever the case, William took a risk, lost, and both he and his family paid a steep price for his actions.
  • ca. 1882—Anora’s husband William Horan died in an unknown location under unknown circumstances.
  • ca. 1882–1883—Anora was working at the “Temperance House” hotel in St. Paul, nicknamed “Moffett’s Castle.” The hotel was located at the corner of Jackson Street and Fourth Street. It was while working here that she met Francis (“Frank”) Marian Prettyman. Frank considered himself a physician, although it appears he did not attend a medical school.
  • Jan. 15, 1883—Anora marries Frank Prettyman and is already three months pregnant with his child (Theresa May Prettyman, born in June 1883). Frank reputedly looked down on Anora for being a ‘loose woman’, as she got pregnant with their child before they were married.
  • June 1883—Anora gives birth to her ninth child (and her and Frank’s first child together), Theresa May Prettyman.
  • July 7, 1884—Anora gives birth to her tenth child (and her and Frank’s second child together), Frances Marion Prettyman.
  • Dec. 1, 1884—Anora’s daughter Mary Ann Horan married Frank’s younger brother Alfred Minus Prettyman in the Spruce Hill township of Douglas County, Minnesota.
  • Apr. 18, 1885—Anora gives birth to her eleventh child (and her and Frank’s third child together), Cora Edna Prettyman.
  • June 9, 1885—From the 1885 Minnesota state census, we find a 36-year-old Anora (now going by “Annie”), her 36-year-old husband Frank, and her children—14-year-old Kate Horan, 12-year-old John B. Horan, 9-year-old Martin Horan, 7-year-old Peter F. Horan, 4-year-old Arthur Horan, 2-year-old Theresa May Prettyman, and 2-month-old Cora E. Prettyman—living in Eastern Township (about 5 miles east of Parkers Prairie), Otter Tail County, Minnesota. Interestingly, Anora’s 1-year-old daughter Frances Marion Prettyman was not with the family at the time of the census. Perhaps having a 2-month old and a 1-year-old (and all the other children) was just a bit much.
  • Aug. 26, 1885—Anora’s first grandchild, Roy Alfred Prettyman (son of her daughter Mary Ann Horan and her son-in-law Alfred Minos Prettyman) was born.
  • ca. 1885–1886—Anora’s daughter Theresa May Prettyman seems to have died between June 1885 (when the 1885 census was taken) and summer/fall 1886 (when the photo below was taken). Perhaps 1-year-old Frances being missing on the 1885 census is a hint that her 2-year-old sister Theresa was sick?
  • ca. 1886—A photo was taken of Anora and her children at the homestead of Frank M. Prettyman in Spruce Hill, Minnesota. I put a cropped shot of Anora below the entire photo. This is currently the only known photograph of Anora.

  • Apr. 28, 1887—Anora gives birth to her twelfth child (and her and Frank’s fourth child together), Robert Sherman Prettyman.
  • July 14, 1887—Anora’s second grandchild, George Irvin (“G.I.”) Prettyman (son of Mary Ann Horan and Alfred Minos Prettyman) was born.
  • Aug. 18, 1889—Anora’s third grandchild, Charles Austin Prettyman (son of Mary Ann Horan and Alfred Minos Prettyman) was born.
  • Dec. 13, 1889—Anora gives birth to her thirteenth child (and her and Frank’s fifth child together), Annie Laurie (“Laura”) Prettyman.
  • Jan. 19, 1890—Anora’s son Martin died at the age of 14 at the family’s Spruce Hill homestead.
  • May 18, 1891—Anora’s fourth grandchild, Gracie Prettyman (daughter of Mary Ann Horan and Alfred Minos Prettyman) was born.
  • Jan. 17, 1892—Alfred Wharton Prettyman, the father of Anora’s son-in-law Alfred Minos Prettyman, died in Parkers Prairie, Minnesota.
  • Dec. 1892—Anora was supporting her six youngest children by doing other people’s laundry and cleaning other people’s houses.
  • Dec. 6, 1892—Anora was pregnant with a 14th child, was looking after her six youngest children, and was outside in the yard doing laundry when she suddenly starts hemorrhaging profusely (perhaps due to placenta previa or a ruptured uterine artery). Her children watched helplessly as Anora bleeds out. When Anora realized that she would probably not live through this, she pleaded with her husband Frank to fetch a Catholic priest to administer her last rites. Frank refused her request as he was a Protestant. Anora died without having received her last rites.
  • ca. Dec. 7, 1892—Anora was buried in a poorly marked grave in the Parkers Prairie Cemetery.
  • ca. Dec. 8, 1892—Anora’s children were gathered together and had their photo taken together. Frank Prettyman sent them away to different homes and for the most part they never saw each other again.
  • 1894—Anora’s daughter Catherine (“Kate”) Horan married Lewis Arthur Barrick.
  • Feb. 6, 1900—According to the 1900 U.S. census, Anora’s widower Frank Prettyman is living alone in southern Beltrami county, near Bemidji.
  • ca. 1906?—Anora’s children by her first marriage replaced her original grave marker with an engraving on the back of her daughter Mary Ann (Horan) Prettyman’s gravestone. They shared a love of their mother Anora and a deep disdain for their step-father Frank Prettyman, whom they called a “quack.”
  • June 28, 1907—Anora’s 57-year-old widower Frank Prettyman gets remarried, to a 52-year-old woman named Annie E. Shaukland.

If you have any information about Anora Lee and William Horan, or Anora and Frank Prettyman, or have any photos of these or any of the people mentioned in this post, please let me know. Even if you have photos you’re not sure of, but that might be of Anora or her family, please let me know.

8 thoughts on “Anora—a fresh look

  1. Michael, I was in contact with you a few years ago. I have Anora and Mr. Prettyman’s wedding photo. I think I shared it with you. There are at least two know pic of Anora. I believe Lorna has the same one. Thank you for all your work on the Horan/Prettyman ancestry.

    • Hi Lorraine,

      Great to hear from you! Wow—you’ve got other photos of Anora and Frank Prettyman? No, I’ve never seen those, and would very much like to see them! I’ll shoot you an email momentarily so that you’ll have a way to send them.


  2. Thanks for continuing to research and share. It’d be fantastic to see Anora’s wedding photo. Afterall, my daughter is Anora’s namesake. ?

    • Hi Tyler,

      Thanks for stopping by and reminding Lorraine and I about the Anora and Frank’s wedding photo. I can’t wait to see it!

      I see that I don’t have you in my family history database, so I’ll send you a private email to get some details so that I can figure out exactly how we’re related. It’s great to hear you’ve kept Anora’s name alive through your daughter. Thank you!


  3. I do have a pic of Anora and Mr. Prettyman. It took me forever to find it again. However, I am having problems posting on the Blackened Blog and it won’t post where you ask for a reply either. More Ideas. I used to have an email address for the originator of the blog. It seems to be gone also. I will keep trying. Can you have Michael send me his email and yours as well?

    • Hi Lorraine,

      Great to hear from you again, and great news about finding the wedding photo! I can’t wait to see it. I’ve sent you an email address that you can send it to. If you like, I can post it here for Tyler and others to see.


  4. Hi Michael, I wanted to clarify something written in the blog. Lorna Smith, Michael Smith and Suzette De Schryver are not from the Horan side, but the Prettyman side. We are all descended from Annie Laurie Prettyman (Frank and Anora’s daughter).

    If Lorraine did send you Anora a Frank’s wedding photo, I would truly appreciate it if you wouldn’t mind sending it to me. I would treasure it.

    • Hi Suzette,

      Correct you are—I’ve corrected the blog to reflect the fact that while Horan was the last name of Anora’s first husband (and my ancestor), he is not on your ancestral lines.

      Lorraine didn’t send me the original of the wedding photo, but she did send me a quick snapshot of it which I’ve just emailed to you.


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