This is a picture of my grandmother Alice Fleming Connery taken at St. Joseph’s Academy in Adrian, Michigan circa 1900. It appears that she is standing on a bridge. The time frame can be determined by the fact that Alice’s brother Michael was then a priest, of the Detroit diocese, serving at St Joseph Academy.[i] On the same census image also appears the name of six-year old Mary Connery, Alice’s oldest daughter.
As I look at this picture, I wonder what Alice’s thoughts were that day. Was she enjoying the beauty of the day, or was she looking back and wondering how she came to this place in her life?
It had been less than 10 years since Alice had traveled to the United States with her brother Michael, leaving her elderly parents behind in Ballylanders, County Limerick, Ireland. Michael took the young Alice to the home of their older sister Mary Walsh who lived in Port Huron, Michifan, where Mary’s daughters often mocked her old country ways and manner of dress. Alice must have longed for the freedom of her life in Ireland and the adventures she shared with her cousin Molly Hogan, but as the youngest child in the family it was determined that she should travel to the United States where her siblings could impose more supervision than their parents. Since Alice had nine siblings living in the United States, there was more than one place she could stay. As Alice traveled between her sister Mary’s home and the homes of her three brothers in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, she often stopped in Chicago and that is where she reconnected with Michael Connery, the young man who had captured her heart in Ireland.
On 28 June 1893, Alice, aged 21 years, became the Bride of Michael Connery at the Port Huron home of her sister Mary Walsh. The service was performed by the same brother, Michael, who had brought Alice to the United States.[ii]
Michael and Alice moved to Chicago, Illinois where they lived for the rest of their lives. By the time this picture happened Alice was the mother of four children, Mary, Kathleen, Alice, and Leo. This picture is taken either in the fall, when the young Mary first went to St Joseph’s or in June of 1900 when it was time to return home for the summer. So much had happened in the past ten years!
Or was Alice trying to see what the future might hold? The only thing we know for sure is that the horse is named “Dolly”.[iii]
[i] Year: 1900; Census Place: Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan; Roll: 725; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0039; FHL microfilm: 1240725. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.
[ii] Marriage of Michael Connery and Alice Fleming; 27 June 1893; FHL film 2,342,497. Item 4 page 213; Michigan Marriages 1868-1925: ; Department of Vital Records, Lansing, Lansing, Michigan.
[iii] Sister Mary Phillip Ryan O.P., Amid the Alien Corn, paperback (Jones Wood Press: St Charles. Illinois, 1967), page 144.