25 September 1917, the world was a war. The headlines of the day in the Chicago Tribune read “2 Air Raids on England – 6 Dead” and “Steel Prices cut in half by President”.[i] This was the world that Elizabeth Mary Connery was born into. She was the tenth child born to Michael and Alice Fleming Connery. Her next oldest sister was eight years older than Betty and Betty was the very pampered youngest child.
|l-r Eleanor, Betty, Kathy, Tom, Jack.|
By the time Betty was five years old her sister Eleanor left for boarding school and Betty was alone except for her sisters Kathleen and Pauline who had finished High School and returned home to work for their father. In fact, the family was so unused to having a small child that when there was a small kitchen fire and the house was evacuated, Betty was left napping in her crib in a room just off the kitchen. Fortunately, all turned out well and there were no injuries.
In 1927 Betty returned from visiting relatives in Ireland, as she traveled with her parents and sisters Mary and Alice. She had traveled on a family passport with her parents. They returned on August 27, 1927 completing a seven-day crossing of the Atlantic from Liverpool to Quebec. The ship manifest shows Betty’s age to be 8 years. [ii]
|Passport for Connery Family Trip to Ireland|
When she was about twelve years old Betty was enrolled in boarding school following the tradition of her sisters. This time there was no need to travel all the way to Michigan, since a new school run by the Adrian Dominican Sisters had opened in St Charles, IL. Her sister Alice, also known as Sister Marie Camilla, was one of the teachers. Betty enjoyed life at Mount St Mary Academy and made several life-long friends while there. She did tell tales of mischief while there. A favorite trick was to go in the bakery and walk out with a coffee cake under her uniform jacket! At some point in her stay in St Charles, Betty developed a case of diphtheria and her father flew a doctor from Chicago to St Charles to care for her. The school was also closed for a time.
After graduating in 1935, Betty attended Mundelein College for two years before deciding to attend Art School at the Art Institute of Chicago. Betty’s dreams of being a designer of women’s fashion were dashed when she discovered that she would be expected to design clothing that would fit all sizes with the same design. After she left school she went to work at the Chicago Metropolitan Sanitary District.
During the 1930’s Betty’s parents began traveling to Miami for the winter every year. While in Miami, they would stay with their daughter and her family. One of the things they did for entertainment was to go to the horse races. One night they met another Chicagoan who suggested that his nephew would be a good escort for Betty. When Betty visited her parents in Miami, she was introduced to her parents friend who asked Betty if his nephew could visit her when she was home in Chicago. With her permission he would give his nephew her phone number and address.
When Donald Hansen first went to visit Betty, she was out on another date and Donald decided to wait for her return. Things went well and soon they were officially dating. Their courtship was filled with flowers, telegrams, and adventures dancing, and horseback riding, dinners out and nightclub visits.
|flower girls Mary Alice Hardie and Maueen Murray|
They were married in a nuptial Mass at St Mel Catholic Church on June 28, 1940. This is the very church where Betty was baptized and received her other sacraments. The wedding party included the couple’s cousins and best friends. They also each had a niece as a flower girl. The reception was held at the Edgewater Beach Hotel on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. After the reception, the bride changed into a lavender gaberdine suit for their honeymoon trip to Atlanta via Chattanooga.
[i] Fold3.com; Chicago Tribune; Sep 25, 1917; page 1; online; accessed 13 May 2018
[ii] The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Passengers Arriving at St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895-1954; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 - 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: M1464; Roll Number: 534