Margaret was baptised on April 14th 1883. She appears on the 1901 census as a 15 year old, another example of the Burke’s cavalier attitude to birthdays! She emigrated to the US in 1904 in the company of her sister Kitty. Kitty had emigrated around 1890 but obviously returned home for a holiday and Margaret travelled with her on her return (See post on Kitty on November 13th 2013 for more info). Margaret always said that she arrived in the US in the “Year of the James” as Pat’s son James was born that year as was Bill’s son, James Desmond. By 1910 she has trained as a stenographer and is working in a law office. She is living with her three brothers, Tom, Ned and Joe at East 56th St., Michigan Aveue. She now claims to be 22 (a good 5 years off the mark!).
I haven’t been able to find her in the 1920 / 1930 census returns but by 1940 she is living with her brother Bill (whose wife, Agnes, had died at this stage) and his daughter, Catherine and son Thomas. According to Catherine she was very good to the family after their mother’s death and they all thought a great deal of her. She is now in complete denial about her age and claims to be 40 (17 years gone at a stroke). She now works as a stenographer at the PWA office and earns $1440 annually. The PWA office may be the Public Works Administration, a public works construction agency set up in response to the 1930s Depression.
Margaret returned to Ireland in 1922 and according to her niece, Catherine, she had trouble returning to the US due to what Catherine calls “the Black & Tan uprising”. However, what actually was going on at that time was the Civil War which broke out immediately after the War of Independence between the majority who supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty which had ended the war and those who opposed it. Over the summer and autumn of 1922 there were large-scale military operations in the south as the Pro-Treaty forces regained control of cities like Limerick and Cork. This must have prevented Margaret getting to Queenstown in Cork, the nearest port for transatlantic crossings. She would then have had to go to Dublin, catch a boat to Liverpool and join her ship there. She arrives in New York on October 22nd on the “SS Baltic”. She gives her nearest relative in Ireland as her sister Annie in Limerick City and declares that she is travelling back to her brother Jack. Her brother Joe got married to Lucy Butler in Chicago on October 11th that year and I'm presuming Margaret intended to be home for that so she was delayed quite a bit. She also came home in June, 1930 with Jack for the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.
She also worked for the Federal Government in Washington DC and on her retirement in 1953 she came to live in Chicago with her niece, Catherine. Her grand-niece, Pat Scumaci, remembers her as a very sweet lady with a “soft, lilting accent”. She tells the story of Margaret visiting them one Christmas. Pat asked her if she’d like to see the toys she’d gotten for Christmas and Margaret having replied – “Oh, ‘twould be lovely” was held captive by Pat for an age as she showed off her presents.
She died on October 11th 1958 and is buried in Mount Olivet cemetery.
|Figure 1 - Margaret as a young woman|
|Figure 2 - Margaret in later years - does anyone recognise the building in background?|