Monday, June 03, 2013

Margaret Kerrigan 1863-1937

Sorting through boxes I found Mom's letters from her grandmother, a correspondence from Mom's boarding school days. I never heard much about Margreth Kerrigan; so her letters to my mom charmed me with her daily life and longings.  And there's a voice here, a freshness coming through the old-fashioned occasionally blotted penmanship.

In the fall of 1931, my great-grandfather Frank hurt his arm, "and i miss him so much. he always visit to the store for me and all over brought up the cole. When I go the stairs my leg opens." They are in their late 60s, and winter was cold in Milwaukee. Margaret wrote that Jean (my mom) must be enjoying her nice warm school "you may be glad in your home it is so warm. We must make fire, we almost freeze here your old. cold. Grandmother...."

Margaret always reminds Jean how lucky she is that her "dere parents" send her to such a fine school.  Margaret wishes she could go to School "but i guess that would put me in the last bench do you think you think I would pass?

"...Be a good girl learn hard and some Day i hope to see you a great Laidy the joy of your Parents." The immigrant girl from Ireland's County Leitrim took pride in Jean as a scholar and recipient of high honors. "Learn all you can. Some day you will be glad and happy.... you must Studdy hard. and may be your self can teach better than the[y] can Some day. that would be nice...."

While Jean is studying in her warm school, Margaret is keeping track of the big family. Charles is out of work; Alexander "has visited for about 10 minutes and then he went home." She has 3 grandchildren for 2 weeks because their mother got sick; Grandfather is better but "did not stop Chuwen tobaco So what do [you] think about that." At Christmas "we hope to see all Our Childern again we have not such a big family Only 21 we wish it would be twice that much and think not to be so far away..."

In every letter Margaret reminds Jean to pray for her parents: "God. Bless. them all for a long life in this world and Happy in the next... God bless you wherever you go."

Have you heard the hymn, "Things are the way they are because our grandmothers prayed." Margaret prayed without ceasing, thanking God in every letter, in between complaining of bitter cold and a recipe for something called "Boxty" (some kind of cake) and comments on new babies and old aches and pains. Her love for her dear granddaughter and her love for God were spilling out with the black ink onto the lined stationery. What a treasure I found.


Picture of Margaret Kerrigan Winter (on the right) with husband Frank and their grandhildren. Jean is standing in a dark dress behind Grandpa, about 10 years old here I think (c. 1928).


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