Wellington has always been a community of immigrants. A substantial portion of its nineteenth-century population–perhaps as many as one or two out of every ten residents–was born outside of the United States. I have noted before that one of my favorite things about writing this blog is the opportunity to recover stories that have otherwise been lost to the public at large. I recently ran across the following two obituaries in quick succession. I was struck by the commonalities between these two women: both born in Ireland, but dying in faraway Ohio; both spending four decades of their lives in rural Wellington; both passing away in the same year and each receiving front-page newspaper attention to her death; and both choosing to be buried, not in Wellington’s Greenwood Cemetery, but in “the Catholic cemetery” (today called Holy Cross Cemetery) in New London, Ohio. In honor of Women’s History Month and St. Patrick’s Day, I offer these brief remembrances of Bridget O’Neil Hackett and Mary Callely Sweeney.
“MRS. EDWARD HACKETT DEAD. She Had Lived in Wellington Nearly Forty-five Years. Mrs. Edward Hackett, an old resident of Wellington, died at her home on Union street, this city, Wednesday noon of catarrhal pneumonia, aged 76. Bridget O’Neil was born in County Derry, Ireland, 76 years ago. At the age of 18 she, with a younger brother, emigrated to Canada. She was married to Edward Hackett May 24, 1849. They moved to the United States, living in Buffalo, Cleveland, Oberlin and finally settled in Wellington in the year 1857. She was one of those brave women, who, while her husband was at the front fighting for his adopted country, fought the battles at home. She possessed that strong Christian faith and courage, so rarely seen nowadays, which never left her to her dying moment. She was the mother of ten children, three of whom survive. She departed this earthly life Feb. 20, 1901. Funeral services were held at St. Patrick’s church Feb. 22, Father L. Plumanns officiating. The burial took place at the Catholic cemetery, New London” (The Wellington Enterprise, 2-27-1901, pg. 1).
“Mrs. Martin Sweeney. Died, of consumption, at her home on Maygar street, June 12, 1901, Mary Callely, wife of Martin Sweeney. She was born in [the] county of Sligo, Ireland, March 20th, 1833. Mr. and Mrs. Sweeney came to America in 1865, and after a few months in New London they settled in Wellington, very near the site of the present family home. Of eight children, seven survive and visited their mother in her sickness or ministered to her in the last months of her life. She was confined to her bed since January, and in the last three weeks paralysis produced loss of speech but not of consciousness. She was of reticent habit and cheerful disposition, not given to harshness, censure or complaint. These qualities of the Christian mother which had enabled her to do her part in making her home happy, were manifest in the hopeful, patient spirit with which she bore weakness and suffering. Her sufficient and best monument is the character of her children, who truly ‘rise up and call her blessed.’ The funeral was held from St. Patrick’s church June 15th and the interment was at New London” (The Wellington Enterprise, 6-19-1901, pg. 1).
The title of this post is a Irish proverb meaning, “Travellers have tales to tell.”