Alice Fleming circa 1888
Alice Fleming was born 1 Jan 1872 in Ballylanders, Co Limerick, Ireland. She was the twelfth child born to Thomas Fleming and Mary Hennessy. Records in Ireland indicate that Alace Fleming, daughter of Thomas Fleming was baptized at Galbally, Limerick, Ireland[i]. Alice’s parents were elderly as she entered her teens and there was probably little or no parental supervision as she and her cousin Molly freely roamed the countryside. Thomas Fleming was a grocer in Ballylanders and sent Alice to school where she completed four years of high school. At some point word was sent to her brother Michael, who was in the United States, that Alice was “running wild”. In 1890 Michael went back to Ireland packed his sister up for a move to the United States. Alice was sent to live with her older sister Mary Ann Walsh, twenty six years her senior, in Port Huron, Michigan.
Life in Mary’s home was not easy for Alice. Mary’s daughters teased her about her foreign clothes and country ways. Alice often traveled to visit her brothers, John, Edmund, James, and Michael who were all living in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Alice married Michael Connery in her sister Mary Walsh’s home in Port Huron, Michigan on 28 June 1893.[ii] Her brother Fr Michael Fleming preformed the ceremony.
As I have tracked my grandparents through the years something my grandmother used to say came to mind: “A lady never discusses her age.” It seems that as the years passed, Alice became younger! Between the censuses of 1900 to 1940 her birth year changed from 1872 to 1875 to 1880.[iii]
Many of my memories of my grandmother center on my visits to her house. She had memorized many poems and would recite them dramatically on occasion. She would also tell us about the “little people” she saw and heard as a young girl. Tales of banshees and Leprechauns were never far from her lips. She was very well educated and she and MJ saw to it that their children were also well educated.
One of my most vivid memories was Mama Dear sitting in a chair in the living room to read “her” newspaper. Usually her hair was worn in a long braid wound into a coronet at the top of her head or pinned into a bun on the back of her head. As she began to read her paper with a magnifying glass, she would slowly unpin her hair and let it tumble down her back. Then she would hand me her hair brush and allow me to brush that silver hair while she read her paper. To me this was the greatest privilege.