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Ellis in Ellis County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Praying John Horrigan

The kneeling figure of Ellis folklore who stumped the curious

 

—and became a legend in his own time —

 
Praying John Horrigan Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 19, 2012
1. Praying John Horrigan Marker
Inscription.

Though little is known of John's life prior to his arrival in Ellis during the 1870's, it is known that he worked as an Army muleskinner and also spent some time working on the Mississippi. In Ellis, John supported himself working as a stonemason until old age forced him to retire. Even though great speculation of why he prayed existed then and today, John never revealed the true reasons. Despite this, he always spoke freely of other subjects to those he knew.

With clock-like regularity each day, no matter the weather, John went to a spot along the railroad tracks and prayed three to four times a day, many times for several hours. John always prayed bareheaded, his long hair blown by the Kansas wind and his face bare of any beard, exposed to the relentless summer sun and biting winter winds. Despite the ridicule by some of his lengthy and frequent prayers, John always spoke well of others and never uttered a cross word or cursed.

For many years he prayed along the railroad tracks at the western edge of town, however with the advent of the Kodak and John's legendary status, curious onlookers flocked to photograph him as he prayed, forcing him to abandon his rail-side altar and seek seclusion near Cemetery Hill. After suffering a two-week long illness, Praying John Horrigan died on a Monday evening, 22 May 1905.
Praying John Horrigan Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 19, 2012
2. Praying John Horrigan Marker
Looking NNE toward Ellis Railroad Museum
Today John is buried on Cemetery Hill near where he knelt so often in the prairie grasses. A red cedar tree near the north wall of Mount Hope Cemetery shades his grave and a stone marking his place of rest reads

Praying John Horrigan
Died 1905

 
Erected by Benedict Leonard Schoenberger.
 
Location. 38° 56.282′ N, 99° 33.609′ W. Marker is in Ellis, Kansas, in Ellis County. Marker is on Washington Street near the railroad grade crossing, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Ellis KS 67637, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); The Ellis House (within shouting distance of this marker); Ellis' Original Main Street (within shouting distance of this marker); Settlers from Bukovina, Austria (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Hickey Building (about 400 feet away); History of The Walter P. Chrysler Boyhood Home (about 600 feet away); The Grand Army Hall (about 600 feet away).
 
Also see . . .  Welcome to Ellis, Kansas. (Submitted on September 4, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. Notable Persons
 
Praying John Horrigan Photos on Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, undated
3. Praying John Horrigan Photos on Marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 4, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 481 times since then and 87 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 4, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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