Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Other Side of the Smith

This is Kate with her two youngest daughters, Helen and Agnes.

Of all my ancestors, the one whom I would most like to meet is my great-grandmother Kate Beggins Smith. At 16, she emigrated from Ireland to Boston in 1889, just as I moved from Massachusetts to Miami at age 17. According to the passenger list, she traveled with 2 pieces of baggage but no relatives. I was learning these things about her when I was the same age as she had been. How I wish she had kept a journal! What she excited about the trip? Did she enjoy the voyage? And like my grandmother meeting me at the airport in Miami, she was greeted in Boston by an older brother and sister.

Of course, John Smith didn't have those 10 children by himself. He married Kate in 1893 and the children followed in quick succession like the proverbial Irish twins. Kate was born in 1874 in Clones, Co. Monaghan, Ireland, right in the middle of six siblings. I can vividly remember her daughter, my Aunt Kate telling me that she had a brother Michael and a brother Peter (so do I) and a set of twin sisters and one of them had a handicap of some kind.
Irish research is notoriously difficult, especially since the war and subsequent fire in 1922 that destroyed nearly all of Ireland's vital records. I hadn't made much progress until I wrote that letter to the local newspaper. Since that time, all of Aunt Kate's stories have been verified by cousins in Ireland - there were a set of twins (Margaret and Mary) and Margaret was a bit deaf.
Kate had a hard life, like old Mother Hubbard, she had too many children, and probably never enough food to go around. She died in 1931 at age 57 of gall bladder cancer. Her youngest daughter, Aunt Agnes was only 16 at the time.
Kate and her brother Bernard, who was already in the U.S. when she arrived.

There were several Beggins family members as well as Smiths in this photograph:
11 is John Donovan, who married 15, Margaret Beggins Donovan. She was the daughter of 16, Bernard and Ellen (Donaghue) Beggins. Her mother died the day she was born and she was raised by 14, Rose Beggins Ordway. Rose's granddaughter, Mary Rose "Rhodie" Ordway Shaughnessy is 13 and her husband "Jimmy" Shaughnessy is 12.

No comments:

Post a Comment