Mary Harrigan in 1921
Harrigan was born December 28, 1846, in Tipperary, County Tipperary,
Ireland. Her father was James Harrigan, and her mother was Anne
Kennedy. She had five brothers: Patrick, John, James, Michael,
and Edmund, and one sister, Johanna. They were christened in the
parish church of St. Michaels in Tipperary town.
an old town, nearly 800 years old, in fact. The Harrigans are
shown in tax records in Bohercrow
townland, just outside of Tipperary town.
at Castle Garden, New York in 1865, at the age of 17. There is
no record of her entering the United States. Her daughter Anne
said, "She is shown as lost at sea, because she slipped away
over the fence with some cousins, named Irwin that she saw
accidentally. They gave her a glorious week while her sister
was looking for her. Finally found, she went with her sister,
Anne (Johanna) Lynch, to Clinton, Iowa. She worked very hard,
mainly for thanks, so ran away to Chicago, to a cousin, Mrs.
Lawson, on Randolph Street." Mary stayed with her, and in
a year met and married John Carey, at the age of 18 on 13 July
1866 in Chicago. (Mary's daughter, Anne Carey Rossing, reported
that "after Mary died it was said that Mary Harrigan
certainly made a big step down when she married John Carey,
for she was Irish quality".) Mary had fourteen children.
Twelve children lived past infancy.
1897 John Carey died, leaving Mary a widow at the age of 47. She
moved to 123 Lytle, and then by 1908 bought a home at 1923 S. Central Park, in
Chicago. Her grandson, Harvey Rossing, remembers her as being "very
much the mistress of the household, and really the person who
ran it, even though, at one time three of her daughters lived
there with her, as well as a son, a son-in-law, and three
Dolores Carey Gonczo remember some of the events associated with
Mary's death: "She had a heart problem. Her doctor was Dr.
Hamlin, and he gave her some medication. She asked him: "Will
this give me a new heart?" When he replied that it wouldn't,
she refused to take the medicine. According to Anne, a few
minutes before she passed away having been in a coma for quite
some time, she suddenly sat up, opened her eyes, and said,
"I'm coming, Bill". Whether this is some of Anne's Irish
"folklore" or the truth, I do not know, but I do remember that
as a child, it made quite an impression on me." Mary died
November 23, 1923, at the age of 74. She was buried in Calvary Cemetery on November
of Mary Harrigan Carey (Chicago Daily Tribune, Saturday,
November 24, 1923):
Mary Harrigan Carey, son James Carey,
granddaughter Mae Carey Johnson,
and great-grandson Roland Johnson - four generations.
spent a lot of time with Grandma Carey, and she was truly an
"Irish Matriarch". She ruled — and I do mean ruled —
from her Morris chair. She was a very heavy woman, and she sat
in that chair and dictated what each one of her children were to
do, regardless of the fact that they were married and had
children. One of the events I remember from early childhood was
when Grandma decided she was going to curb the cemetery lot at
Calvary Cemetery. She dictated that each one of the boys were to
donate $10 towards it, and each of the girls $5. When my mother
asked her why the girls (who were married) only donated $5, her
curt answer was "because her husband is a stranger!"
the roost - every year all the boys that worked, married
or unmarried, bought a new front parlor carpet, and the year-old
one went into the back parlor. The Carey boys had to be in by 9
p.m., and the man next door used to set his watch by the boys
rounding the corner and sprinting on home.
I remember (or was told about) is that she dictated that each
one could only get married in chronological order. But my Father
and Mother (who was German) decided to get married before John
and Mae Hickey were married (John was two years older than my
Dad), and that, coupled with the fact that my father was
marrying a German girl, Grandma came to the wedding - but, she
came in after the wedding party had gone down the aisle and sat
in the back pew. Hence, she was the first one to
congratulate them! She would never give the neighbors anything
to talk about.
a person of intense likes or dislikes where people are
concerned. I, as a child, would be out on the porch with her at
1923 S. Central Park, Chicago, when a neighbor would come along.
If she liked the neighbor, she would be very friendly, but if
she disliked them, she was curt, nasty, and sometimes cut them
But she was a lovely lady, and I do mean
lady. I, too, had heard that she was much higher class than her
husband, and many a time, sitting at her feet in the Morris
chair, she would regale us with stories of Ireland, and the fact
that "we are all descendants of Brian Boru on one side of her
family and the King of Munster on the other side of her family."
by Ruth Wheelock Matheny
was pretty young when she died, and I have only two memories. I
always picture her as sitting on a throne on the side of
the living room! My other memory is an unfortunate one: For some
reason, I stamped my foot at her, and I "got it" from the whole
mother said that she was violently opposed to the use of makeup
by her daughters. When they were young ladies, she would still
stand by the front door with a damp cloth and swipe the face of
anyone wearing even powder!
a happy family, though, who made their own fun. They enjoyed
sing-alongs. My mother said she never learned to play the piano
because every time she tried to practice, one of her brothers
would hop on one foot, waiting for her to play the next note!
know that some of them went with Grandfather Carey to the
Columbian Exposition in 1893.
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