JOANNA - AUNT HANNAH

Written By: Marie Fitzgerald Reynolds


It was June 1836, a sailing vessel of those days, glided over the wave of the great Atlantic Ocean giving a feeling of confidence to the passengers from Ireland who were sailing to the New World. Mary Quaid sat on deck with her two younger children, five year old Joanna with her blue eyes and golden curls and three year old Andrew, who stood at her knee. She would not let them out of her sight, but eight year old Jerry was with his father, Timothy, exploring the ship. It was hard leaving her kinfolk in Ireland where she'd had a comfortable home, plenty to eat from the farm, even the flax which she spun into fine linen for their needs, grew there. Timothy had sold his share of the estate to his brother and was determined to seek his fortune in America. Mary would not let him go alone so, with characteristic Irish courage and loyalty, she packed a few possessions and now they were sailing fro the promised land.

A young man and woman, John Hogan and Nora Leahy, who had worked for them in Ireland, were sailing with them. Nora was so fond of the children that she could not let them go without her. The weather was perfect the first two weeks and they enjoyed the fresh sea breeze. The passengers became acquainted and they were like one big family. There were not more than 100 of them on board. The third week out a storm blew up and nearly all on board were sick. Mary was one of the few who did not get seasick and she attended the children and others who needed aid. Finally the wind died down and the passengers were out on deck again looking rather pale and weak.

The Captain was a wise and hardy man who had sailed the seas for a great many years. One day he sighted a ship in the distance that looked like one of the pirate ships that sailed the seas in those days. He called the passengers and told them to put on their oldest clothes and to look as poor as possible, for the pirate ship was coming toward them. When it came close, the Captain of the pirate ship saluted their Captain and said he was looking for money, jewelry or any other valuables on board. Their Captain answered that his passengers were very poor and he would call them up on deck to prove it. They came up looking very forlorn and frightened. The pirates looked them over and decided it was not worth the trouble to take the little that these people had and sailed away to prey on some other more prosperous looking cargo. The people were very much relieved that the Captain's ruse had worked so well. While they were not wealthy they needed whatever money, clothes, etc. that they had brought with them. The remainder of the voyage was uneventful, the weather was good and at the end of the eighth week they were anxiously waiting for the sight of land. Finally one morning the Captain told them that he had sighted land in the distance and within a few hours they would be in Boston harbor. There was a great excitement on board, packing of trunks and preparations for disembarking. Hundreds of fishing boats, sailing vessels of every type came into view as hey entered the harbor. A great crowd waited at the docks as the passengers assembled on deck in groups with their luggage. After some time, they docked and set foot on American soil. They bade each other good-bye and good luck, each group going their separate way to work out their destiny in the land of opportunity.

They found Boston a busy little city with circular streets and a park in the center of the city called the "common". Cows grazed there and children played happily. They found lodgings in a small hotel owned by a man named Burke. Quite a number of Irish had settled in Boston and had built a large Catholic Church where they attended Mass and other devotions regularly. The New World was strange to them. Everyone seemed busy, hurrying through the streets. They did not stay in Boston very long as they had friends in Kenosha, Wisconsin and planned to leave by the next stage for the great middle west. They'd heard so much about Chicago, since landing, that they decided to stop off there for a while. Before leaving Boston, they sent a man, John Hogan, for supplies. They gave him some money and directions to return within an hour as the stage coach would leave at that time. They waited until the last minute before entering the coach but Johnny did not return. They finally had to leave without him, figuring he had become lost in the circular streets of Boston, never doubting his honesty, although, they never heard from him again.

The stage coach was the only way of traveling overland in those days, so they boarded the weekly coach drawn by four horses. It was a pleasant enough trip through Massachusetts; they roads were fairly good and the scenery was beautiful, especially in the Berkshire Hills. They crossed many rivers through covered bridges and finally got down into the lowlands of the Ohio Valley. The going was more difficult there with muddy roads and deep ruts in some places. Then the wind and dust through the sand dunes of Michigan and Indiana, around Lake Michigan. At last they arrived in Chicago tired and dusty from their two weeks journey.

The coach took them to the Lake House, one of the small hotels run by a Mr. Lane. They were disappointed with their first view of Chicago. They had expected to find a much larger city although it was only a few years old. It had been a hot dry summer and great many people were sick with a fever due to poor sanitation. This fever was contagious so they did not stay there long, fearing that the children might become sick. If they'd had the foresight to invest their money in Chicago land at that time, they would have become very wealthy in a few years but their health was more important so they moved on to Joliet. It was a larger city, on higher ground, and was a much healthier place to live. They found comfortable quarters in Joliet and decided to remain there for the winter. Timothy went to Kenosha in October to see his friend and look over the surrounding country. It was good farm land, heavily wooded in spots with virgin timber. He liked a section about ten miles west of Kenosha, Pleasant Prairie, and went to the Court House to inquire about it. He paid deposit and later bought 400 acres of land to be cleared and settled in the spring. He hired two men and they started clearing that fall. Dozens of trees were felled and hewn into logs for the house and barn. They had to work fast before winter set in. It was harder work than Timothy had ever done before, but he enjoyed making his home in the New World and his health was never better. Meanwhile Mary and the children stayed in Joliet, anxiously waiting for spring and the move into their new home. Spring came, at last, and the journey into Wisconsin was again by coach. The house was nearly completed; the barn was stocked with cows, pigs and a few chickens. Mary liked the farm; it seemed more like her home in Ireland, but there was a great deal of work to be done. Furniture and supplies were bought in Kenosha, and with the linens and silver she had brought from Ireland, they were soon settled with the help of faithful Nora.

The country was wild, but beautiful. Indians roamed the woods although they were friendly and often called at the house. Mary would give them food or tobacco, and in return, they would give her wild game and skins from animals which were used for rugs, caps, muffs, etc. The wolves were the greatest menace. They prowled around at night to prey on chickens and small animals on the farm. Timothy always carried a gun and killed many of them, but it was years before they were entirely free of the wolf.

As there were no schools nearby, Mary taught the younger children their primary lessons until they were old enough to go to school in Kenosha. They loved the farm and it was a great treat to drive into Kenosha to shop on Saturday or to go to Church on Sunday. When Joanna was 12 years old, she had a pair of shoes made in Kenosha. These were high button shoes made of fine leather. She was so anxious to have them to wear to Church on Christmas, that her father made a special trip into town to get them. It had been snowing for several days and turned bitterly cold on Christmas Eve. The shoes were pretty, but a little snug. On Christmas morning, the family were up bright and early. Joanna had such a time getting the shoes buttoned, that her mother advised against wearing them, but Joanna was determined to wear them. They started out in the sleigh, with blanket and robes to keep them warm, but ten miles in such cold weather is a long drive. When they finally arrived at Church, they all got out but Joanna, she could not walk, her feet were numb. So they carried her into the home of a friend that lived nearby. They removed the new shoes and found that her feet were frozen. It was some time before she could feel circulation in them, so she stayed in town several days until she could get around again. Years after, in very cold weather her feet would pain and she still felt the affects of her pride in her new shoes.

Joanna grew to be a lovely girl, with fair skin and golden curls, blue eyes and a gentle manner. She had many admirers among the young men of the vicinity, but Timothy had a friend in Milwaukee who was well to do and had a son about Joanna's age. They thought to make a match between them, but the young people could not see it that way. They were good friends but thought they should choose their own partners in life.

After a few years, the young man went East to college, where he later married and continued to live, going into business. A young school teacher, by the name of Michael McCormick, was very attentive to Joanna and she was very fond of him too, but her parents thought she was too young, being only 18, and wanted her to marry their friend's son in Milwaukee. Joanna felt badly about this but would not oppose their wishes. Mr. McCormick was a very fine young man, tall and good looking, a member of the later famous, Reaper family. He gave her beautiful book which her father demanded her to return to him. This discouraged him and he went away, shortly after, to teach in another city.

These were happy days on the farm. Three more children were born to Mary and Timothy, two sons and a daughter (this girl was probably Mary - your grandmother). Nora continued to stay with them and she was a great help, but after a few years had passed, she was taken sick and died, and was sadly missed by Mary who was not very strong.

Joanna did what she could to assist her mother in keeping house and caring for the family. The older boys helped Timothy with the work on the farm. It was hard to get help in that sparsely settled territory. In the early 1840's two nephews of Timothy's Jerry and Michael Shine, came over from Ireland and stayed with them in Wisconsin for several months, helping with the work on the farm and getting acquainted in the new country. They were very happy to see them as mail deliveries were few and far between in those days, and they were anxious to hear the new from Ireland. Jerry Shine settled in Kenosha and married Ann Mack who he had known in Ireland and who had recently arrived in America. Michael Shine went to Chicago, which had grown rapidly in a few years, to seek his fortune. There he married Ann Magner, also recently arrived from Ireland. They raised a large family and were a very happy couple. He went into the hotel business and was quite successful, accommodating the many new arrivals in the city when Chicago was young.

When Joanna was 19 years old, a brother of Ann Mack Shine came from Ireland. She met him at her cousin's house and he fell in love with her immediately. At first she was not sure that she cared that much for him, but was encouraged by his sister and her husband, who were trying to make the match. He was rather a small man, about five feet, seven inches in height, with fair skin and dark hair, scarcely more than an inch taller than Joanna. She later told about a friend who read tea leaves in her cup and advised her to marry the taller man, who would become wealthy, be very kind and make a fine husband. She told her the shorter man was also a good man, but would never have much of the world's goods. If she married him, she would have a large family and would always have to work hard. She laughed this off, however, as she didn't believe in fortune tellers, but thought about in many times in years to come.

Tom Mack was very persistent in his courtship, Joanna met him often at her cousin's house in Kenosha, as her parents did not approve of him so she couldn't invite him to come to the farm. He told her he planned to go to Chicago to work and urged her to marry him and go with him. She was anxious to see Chicago, which had grown to be a large city, she was getting tired of farm life and her parent's opposition to her marriage. After all, she was now 20 years old and, she thought, old enough to know her own mind, so they were married in the parish church in Kenosha with Jerry Shine and his wife as their witnesses.

They went back to their home for dinner. That afternoon the newly married couple left for Chicago, from where Joanna wrote to her parents, breaking the news. Mary was terribly broken up over Joanna's marriage, she blamed herself for being too strict. She felt Joanna would not have acted so impulsively had she been allowed to have more company. She missed her, sadly, as her younger daughter, Mary, was only ten years old, too young to be much help or comfort to her. Timothy was very angry at first, but later forgave her and also missed her a great deal.

The new Mr. and Mrs. Mack stayed at the hotel owned by her cousin, Michael Shine, until Tom obtained work on the railroad. They rented a small house, in what is now the downtown section of Chicago, to start their first home in the big city. This was in the Fall of 1851. The following winter was a long cold one. The work on the farm was too much for Mary and it was hard to get help. Her health was failing and they decided to try to sell the farm and move to Chicago.

The next spring, 1852, Timothy thought he would go into Kenosha to the general store, Bullard & Co., where they had traded for years, giving grain and other products from the farm for merchandise from the store, to settle his account and see how he stood. He took with him a large bag filled with receipts for produce he had brought into the store. Mary advised him to take one of the boys with him, as the owner of the store had the reputation of being a shrewd business man and not very honest. But Timothy thought he could handle it himself. So he drove in one Saturday morning, found the proprietor, who asked him to come into his private office. He did so and showed the man the receipts, told him he was thinking of selling his farm and wanted a check-up of his account, as he thought he should have some cash to his credit. The two were alone in the room, a fire was burning in the fireplace, Bullard took the bag and pretended to be looking over the receipts when suddenly he rushed to the fireplace and threw the bag into the fire. Timothy was dumb founded. He tried to save the bag from the flames but it was useless, all he had to show for his work was begin destroyed. Bullard stood there with a sneer on his face, and when Timothy went to strike him, he called the clerks from the store and told them to put this man out, he had come there to make trouble. Timothy tried to explain, but they would not listen and he had nothing to prove his claim. He returned home broken hearted. He hired a lawyer who tried to get evidence from the clerks in the store, but they were not interested or were just as dishonest as their employer. The books showed all purchases made in the store which amounted to several thousand dollars, but no record of the grain etc. that Timothy had given them. Bullard knew the farm land was valuable and immediately made claim on it for the amount shown on this books. Timothy did not have the money to redeem it, and no witnesses to prove his story, so he had to give up the farm. He sold his stock and farm implements for a few hundred dollars and moved to Chicago with his family. Bullard was a very wealthy man and living in the best house in Kenosha but was greedy and ruthless. However his ill gotten money, did not do him much good for a few months later he was riding his horse and it became frightened and threw him, breaking his neck; he died immediately.

The Quaid family moved to Chicago in the summer of 1852. Timothy and Mary felt, keenly, the loss of the farm, but the boys wanted to work in Chicago and the youngest son, Timmy intended to go to Cathedral College to study for the priesthood. So they settled down to city life and were glad to be near Joanna.

Mary's health did not improve, she went to one of the best doctors of that time, she said her heart was very weak and she should be careful. However, her condition became steadily worse and in October 1852, she died and was laid to rest in Calvary Cemetary, only 45 years old, much too young to die. She was truly a devoted mother, an educated, refined Christian woman with plenty of that pioneer spirit which helped so much to make our country great.

Timothy kept the family together for awhile. The boys went to work for the railroad. The Rock Island had started laying tracks out of the Chicago, so Jerry went to work for them and was soon made Superintendent of Construction. His sister, Mary, who was 11 years old, would bring his lunch each day. When the work was completed, he rode on the first train, with officials of the road, from Chicago to Joliet. They took Mary with them on that first ride and she lived to see the 75th anniversary of that occasion. Andy was not satisfied working for the railroad. He'd heard so much about the Golden West, and the recent find of gold in California was a great inducement to a young man with an adventuresome spirit, so west he went. He decided to go with a group of his friends; a cousin, Patrick Shine, went with them.

Patrick married in San Francisco, settled out there and raised a large family. He and his wife lived to celebrate their golden wedding and many of their descendants are still living there. Andy regretted leaving Betsy Raphan, that he had been keeping company with. He told her he would be back in a couple of years if he struck it rich, if not, he would stay until he did. She promised to wait until he returned. She received a few letters from him the first two years. There was a washout in the mine in California where he had been working, so he moved further north. The letters were less frequent then and finally none were received but Betsy never lost her faith in him. She obtained a job as a cashier in a large dry goods store and worked there for several years. She often visited Joanna and they talked of Andy, wondering when he was coming back. After 10 years had passed, Joanne was going about her work one spring morning, Andy appeared in the doorway. She was so surprised and happy to see him that she wept with joy. He looked very well and had prospered. He had not made a fortune, but a considerable amount, which had taken a long time and a lot of hard work. He told her of his experiences and asked about Betsy, expecting to find her married as she had been a popular girl. When Joanna told him where she was, he went there immediately. Betsy saw him come in the store looking bigger and handsomer than ever. She jumped down from the stool on which she had been sitting and ran to him. They were overjoyed to find one another, . She left with him never to return to work again. They were married shortly after and had a long and happy married life.

In the summer of 1854 there was an epidemic of Cholera in Chicago. Two of Joanna's brothers were taken sick with it. The doctors could not check it and many hundreds of people died, among them her brother Timothy and two days later, her brother Patrick. They were buried in Calvary with their mother. The next summer Joanna's two oldest children, Maryann and Timmy, contracted a child's disease and although she called the best doctor in Chicago, Dr. N. P. Davis, he could not save them. She lost them both within a short time. She missed them so much that she and her husband decided to move to Springfield, I where he obtained work and they had friends and relatives.

It was a friendly little city and they felt right at home. Joanna's third child was born there, she named her Joanna, Jo for short. The child was very much like her mother and grew up to be a great help and comfort to her. There was a celebrated lawyer living there at the time by the name of Abraham Lincoln. Joanna knew and admired him very much. He was a very plain man, but his wife was ambitious and hard to get along with. A story is told of a big Irishwoman, who worked for her. On day she was washing the clothes with Mrs. Lincoln running around giving orders. It was too much for Maggie, so she lifted Mrs. Lincoln, who was a small woman and set her in the wash tub, clothes and all and walked out. Another story Joanna told was that one day while she was in the market buying meat, a fashionably dressed woman came in, gave an order for meat and said she wanted it sent, as she was not going right home. A tall gentleman was in the market at the same time and offered to take it, saying he passed right by there on his way home. This man was none other than Abraham Lincoln, always kind and thoughtful, a very humble man. Joanna and Tom moved back to Chicago. Two more children were born to them but they died in infancy.

In the 60's the Civil War broke out and there was great excitement, arguing for and against slavery. Their friend, Mr. Lincoln was in the White House by now and was calling for volunteers. Tom had injured his arm while working for the railroad, so was incapacitated for army service but his brother was called and served in Mulligans Irish Brigade. He fought in several battles down south and was taken prisoner by the Confederates and died in the famous Libby prison. His wife received a pension from the government for the rest of her life. Joanna always called her Ann Hassett, her maiden name. She was a great talker and would come in and sit for hours and talk while Joanna did her work. One day Joanna became so exhausted from listening to her that she fainted. It so frightened Ann, that she did not come in for a long time after that.

As the years went by, two more children were born to them, Minnie, who had dark brown hair and large blue eyes, and Tommy, who had blonde curls all over his head and very blue eyes. Joanna was kept busy taking care of her home and the children. She liked to sew and made all their clothes by hand. She also made shirts for her brothers, with fine seams and tucks, many nights sitting up until midnight sewing by lamp light or helping her sister Mary make a party dress to attend the many social affairs to which she was invited. Timothy, her father, had remarried and built a home at 18th street and took up gardening and raising flowers, work that he always liked.

After the Civil War ended, times were hard for several years, but the railroads kept going and building new lines so that Tom had steady work. Although he never did earn a large salary, Joanna was a good manager so they always had plenty of food, clothes and a comfortable clean home.

It was in October 1871 that Tom and Joanna had moved into a new frame home on Harrison Street not far from the river - also near the railroad yard where Tom worked. She put the children to bed on this Sunday night, October 8th, and sat by the window watching the boats on the river. Something seemed to tell her to stay there. She was unusually nervous and knew that she could not sleep if she went to bed. It had been very windy all day and there had been no rain for weeks. Tom went to bed and kept telling her that wasn't any danger although she could see that a fire had started west of the river, probably miles away. She watched it, fascinated, but when it came near the river and the masts of the boats caught fire, she became alarmed and wakened the children, dressing them and gathering together a few possessions in case they had to leave. Tom was still skeptical, thinking the fire would not cross the river, but when the house caught fire, he realized the velocity of the wind and ran out with the others. A friend, Mr. Drew, who worked with him, was passing and together they went back into the house and carried down bedding and a chest of drawers containing clothing and linens which Joanna prized highly, as some of them had belonged to her mother and had come from Ireland. There was confusion everywhere. People were running by, screaming, crying and all heading toward the Lake. Joanna did not know where to turn. She left the two younger children with Jo, her oldest daughter, and went back to see if the men were safely out of the house. Meanwhile a large colored woman came by and grabbed little Tommy, attracted by his golden curls and his fair skin. She thought she could take him away and hold him for ransom. However, Jo, held tight to her skirts and cried for help. The woman kicked and beat her, but she held firm until Tom and Joanne came running over. Then the woman dropped Tommy and ran away with the crowd. The children were all crying, then and poor Joanna was nearly distraught. She prayed to God to send them help and not long after, who should come for the, but her brother Andy with a horse and wagon. He helped them into the wagon, with the few things they had saved, and west side of Chicago where his good wife was waiting to welcome them and make them comfortable. The fire burned for three days before it was brought under control. All of the downtown and most of the north side was destroyed. There was a great deal of suffering for a few days, but neighboring cities sent in food and supplies so that Chicago was soon on her feet again and building a new city. On October 10th , Joanns's youngest child was born, her daughter Annie. They stayed with her brother for several weeks until they found a new home on the south side at 20th Street. They continued to live There for several years. The children went to St. John's school and later her daughter, JO, went to work in Marshal Field's sewing room. During this time, Joanna's brother, Dennis, was killed in a railroad accident; it was such a shock that she said her hair turned white in a short time.

Timothy's wife died and he came to live with Joanna. He had some vacant property near 41st Street on Dearborn. They built a home on it and this was Joanna's home for 35 years. Her three daughters were married from there, also buried from there, having died when they were young, leaving children. Her husband died in 1894, but she continued to live there, raising her grandchildren until their fathers re-married or until they married.

When Joanna was 83 years old, she went to live with her son, Tommy, and his family. They moved to a large house on West 77th Street. She lived to see the many wonders of the 20th century; telephone, automobile, airplanes, etc. and to welcome home the boys from the First World War. She continued to be active, going to church regularly, and helping where she could until three weeks before she died. She was called to her eternal reward, August 2, 1920 and was laid to rest in Calvary. Her former pastor, Msgr. Riordan came to give the last tribute. She would have been 90 years old on her next birthday, December 5th.

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