Thursday, April 5, 2012

Margaret Donnelly no. 1

I was once told that my Aunt Peggy (given name Margaret) had wanted to research and write a book about the Margaret Donnellys in our family before she passed away.  I don't think she knew about the first in our American family ...

Margaret Donnelly was born in 1837 in Madrid, New York, the seventh of Ann and Patrick Donley's nine children.  We know little about her youth.  She did not marry and was principally helping her mother run their farm home until about the age of 30.  She must have learned to sew well, as she earned a living as a dressmaker after she left home, probably in the late 1860s.  I haven't found her between about 1860 and 1875, when she was living in Chicago.  Her brother, Edward, may have been living in Chicago in 1872 (according to a marriage record), so perhaps they met there after Edward's service in the army ended in 1865.  Her younger sister, Mary, joined her in Chicago after their mother died in 1875.  Margaret remained in Chicago, working as a dress maker, until about 1883, when she returned to Waddington, New York, formerly part of Madrid, her native town.  By this time, her only sibling in the area was Kate Donnelly Gorman, though the husband and some of the children of her late sister, Bridget Donley/Donnelly Gorman, lived in Waddington, and her brother John and his young family lived just across the river in Morrisburg, Ontario.  I can only speculate on what happened between 1883 and 1900. [I've removed the perhaps and maybes from the following, which is "historical fiction" - my guess at what might have happened based on what little we know.]  Margaret probably lived in Waddington a few years, working as a seamstress, enjoying visiting with her many nieces and nephews and her sister, Catherine, just five years older than she.  When her brother-in-law, Jim Graham, passed away in the early 1890s, she went to Memphis, Michigan, to help her sister, Ann, now widowed and with no children. She ended up staying in Memphis.  Her older brother, also Jim, came to live with her at some point, possibly when Jim Graham died, possibly after the death of his daughter, Maggie Donnelly, in 1899.  Ann passed away in 1895.  When brother-in-law Christy Gorman passed away in 1900, Margaret and Jim moved back to Waddington.  I wonder if, at this point, Margaret was mostly living off of inheritances and relatives.  (She was named in the wills of her mother, Nancy, in 1875, and brother Michael in 1881.  Being Ann's only family in Michigan when she passed away, I would guess that all of Ann's property was passed on to her and Jim.  The 1900 census says that Margaret had not worked for most of the previous year.  In 1910, she was living with the family of her niece, Catherine Gorman Murphy.)  In October of 1912, Margaret moved back to Chicago, where she developed a severe bronchitis.  Two months later she passed away.  She was returned to Waddington for burial.