Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sometimes It's the Smallest Things . . .

Aunt Maggie, as Margaret Ryan was known to her great-niece Evelyn McCafferty, was the 7th of eight children born to Hugh Ryan and Mary Ellen McInerney.  Census records show that Margaret and her younger sister, Ellen, were born in Iowa.  From 1882 through 1903, Maggie is listed in the City Directories as living with her mother as they moved about the West End of Cincinnati.  As  teenagers, both Maggie and Ellen were listed as "knitters" when they were still too young to be employed in the workforce.

Later Maggie worked in a tailor shop being listed at various times as a tailoress, vest maker, forelady, etc. Aunt Evelyn remembers that Maggie made the most beautiful button holes and had a great deal of skill.  Later in her life, Maggie lived alone in what Aunt Evelyn described as a very small second-floor apartment. The 1930 Census lists Margaret as a renter on Laurel. Her monthly rent was $12 per month.  Her Death Certificate lists her residence as 933 Laurel St.

There were a couple of recollections that "stuck" with Aunt Evelyn over the years. Evelyn remembers to this day that on her 10th birthday, Aunt Maggie gave her a dime as a birthday present.  Evelyn seemed to understand even at that young age that that was quite a gift from someone she knew was extremely poor.  She also recalls that anytime you visited Maggie, there was a votive candle lit in front of either a statue of the Blessed Virgin or the Sacred Heart -- she's not sure which.  The other recollection is that every Sunday, Maggie attended two Masses -- one for herself and one for her brother (probably John) who no longer attended Church.  As a young child, Evelyn could not imagine going to two Masses every Sunday.

In our conversation, Aunt Evelyn recalled that her Great-Aunt Maggie had come out to visit the family.  She seems to recall that there was some agreement that her mother and father would visit Maggie at her home the next day.  Instead the visit was delayed a day and they were quite upset to discover that Maggie was on the floor and had been there at least 24 hours.

Margaret died on August 2, 1937.  The Death Certificate says that she was being treated by her doctor from June 15th until her death.  It is hard to read the exact cause of death, but coronary sclerosis was a secondary cause of her death.  The informant on the Death Certificate was Mary McGinnis, Maggie's niece.  She is buried in an  unmarked grave on Lot 1 of St. Joseph New Cemetery.  As I type this on April 15, 2010 however, I can say that Maggie left an impression on a little 10-year old girl.  She obviously was very religious, a talented seamstress, and a caring sister and Aunt to her family members.  I wish I could have known her.

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