Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Irish Family Lore and Those GAELS

On this day, when we're facing yet another winter weather advisory, I thought I'd share a little Irish family lore.  

Yesterday, my cousin Mary sent out a letter which she had found, regarding the family of our great-grandfather George Andrew Brown.  

It was written by Jennie McGovern Curtis, a member of family line and most likely written a long time ago, certainly before before the computer age. 

The piece focused on our great-great grandmother Margaret McDonough McGovern Brown, and though it was a bit confusing in places, the information was fun to read. 

So, here it is.  Hope you enjoy. 

George has a remarkable mother who was Margaret McDonough McGovern Brown.  She was born in County Mayo, Ireland.  Before going to Canada, she was married to a man by the name of William McGovern who owned many Thoroughbred horses.  

He rented the horses for fox hunting, mostly for the English who had larges estates in Brownstown, a beautiful, picturesque town in Mayo County, a short distance from Mr. McGovern's castle. 

It was a real castle historically known throughout Ireland and may still be standing as it was. Fox hunting was a great sport, especially with the English nobility. 

Mrs. McGovern had a brother called "the man about town" and a heavy drinker. Frequently, while on those drinking bouts, he would go to the stables, demanding the grooms to give him the best horse.  Madly, he would go dashing about the countryside.

Finally, Mr. McGovern demanded a stop and requested the grooms not to let John, the brother-in-law have a horse at any time. 

This provoked John so he found a brick and when the opportunity came, he knocked on Mr. McGovern's door and told the valet to summons [sic] him as someone was hurt outside.  
When he appeared, John threw the brick.  It struck him in the head, and it wasn't long until he passed on. They had seven children, one of them being my father William.  I was the only child and am giving a resume of the above story. 

A few years later, Mrs. McGovern married John Brown of Brownstown, Ireland.  He was the son of English nobility and marrying an Irish woman was considered bad taste because the English and the Irish always quarreled in those days.  

The Browns decided to go to Canada. As Mrs. Brown had a competent housekeeper, she left the children there.  The Browns settled in their new country but soon their money began to dwindle.  

Mr. Brown was forced to seek employment. He had a brilliant mind, and so it wasn't long until he found a position teaching school.  As time went by, Mrs. Brown had six children by this husband. 

She longed for her seven children in Ireland. She had provided well for them but missed their presence.  They moved to Boston, Mass., and again Mr. Brown found employment but of a different kind.  He was a connoisseur of liquors.  After they located, they sent for the children in Ireland, including the old governess who had practically raised the children. 

They were all very happy with their newly found brothers and sisters and step-father.  He was kind and generous. He died in Boston many years later.  The children, now grown up, were good citizens and worked side by side. 

Some time later, the Browns and McGoverns moved to Chicago, Illinois, with the exception of one son, who was the oldest of her first husband's children.  He remained in Boston and was a sign painter for White Department Store. It was the only place he ever worked.  He died at the age of 100, leaving a wife but no children.

Mrs. Margaret Brown had thirteen children by two husbands.  People always said, "This is a woman with a baker's dozen." 

The reason I say she was a remarkable woman is that she was kind to all with whom she came in contact, and generous to a fault. She had the reputation of being a wonderful neighbor by helping the less fortunate around her, a dutiful wife and mother, always visiting the sick. When anyone was hurt during the fox hunt, she always managed to be close by to lend an ever-ready hand, being capable in every way. 

Her parents were devout Catholics and taught to obey and to live up to their teachings.  She was small but robust and inclined to be witty like her father.  The Irish usually are. 

When Mrs. Brown and her children moved to Chicago, she purchased a 20-room house on Van Buren Street, which was a good neighborhood.  Living with her were three of the McGovern sons; one son, James, had three boys of working age; my father and mother; one married daughter; George Brown, his wife and four sons, Johnny, George, Harry and Fred. 

Soon they were all working, and Grandmother knew she had a big responsibility so she began to dabble in real estate.  She had a formula to make furniture polish so she decided to make and market it.  

She called on the managers of department stores such as the Boston, Hillmans and the Fair.  They were the big stores who handled such products.  Her polish was so good she had too many orders to handle alone.  She put the whole family, including the maid (Mrs. Faith) to work. 

These stores and many others sold her products for 15 years without complaint. She was a success in real estate too.  She was a widow for 40 years and raised these children alone. This makes her a remarkable woman. 

She passed on after 96 years of work and pleasure raising her family in a small suburb of Chicago called Argo. At her bedside were her youngest son, then 63 years old, and his wife Ida who was very kind to her in her last years; two of the Brown sons, Fred and George.  The were the last of the Browns; my father, William McGovern and myself. They have all passed on but me. 

       ---------Written by Jennie McGovern Curtis, daughter of William McGovern (Bill). 

Finally, on this day when the ZAGS will play the Gaels for the WCC Championship (both men and women's teams), congratulations to Coach Mark Few for being named NBC Sports Coach of the Year and USA Today Coach of the Year. 

Pretty neat, and he is so deserving.  

Happy Tuesday.  GO, ZAGS !!!

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