Over the past several months, I have used the items left behind by my great-grandmother Annie Hill Regan to help tell the story of an Irish woman who came to the United States at the turn of the last century.
Items have included a sweet Christmas card from a sister in Ireland, a small photo-pin of a priest, some memorial cards, and a Whitsun postcard.
I find these remnants from Annie’s life fascinating, and they have provided tiny, yet invaluable peeks into her life. They have also complicated my vision of Annie, creating new questions and contributing to ongoing mysteries. This is especially the case with the photographs.
Nearly all of Annie’s photographs are unidentified. There is ONE photo with the label, John’s Aunt Mary.
Initially I was so excited to find an identification that I forgot I had no idea who this Aunt Mary was! I assumed the “John” was my grandpa, and he had an Aunt Mary Regan, but she died when she was thirty-years-old. This Aunt Mary appeared older than thirty. And the photo was one of Annie’s, so this Aunt Mary must have come from her side. I knew so little about Annie’s family, so I set the photo aside and I would think about it later.
Later turned out to be seven years ago my mother and I began looking into our family history. When we learned that Annie had a sister named Mary Hill O’Brien who lived in Montana, I remembered the photo. Some lucky timing brought me in contact with Mary’s grandson who still lived in Montana. Jack O’Brien has this same photograph of his grandmother, Mary.
Here is one last postcard that was among Annie’s things. This is from Mary to Annie:
Click here to read my story in the current issue of Irish America magazine about how meeting two of my great-grandmother’s nephews has brought me closer to developing an understanding of the woman Annie was.
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July 18, 2011 at 10:38 am
It’s facinating how you link all of the loose ends together. Great story!