Johanna Fennell Moroney


Just a short preface about the following story... "Top of the Morning to You, Too!" was written by my great grandmother when she was in her 70's if I remember all the facts correctly. Nanny wrote that her grandparents left Ireland in the 1700's.  Personally, I am not sure of this date and feel more that it would be in the early to mid 1800's, at the early times of the Great Famine, but at present have no concrete date of immigration.  With further investigation, I am being led to believe that "the sons" that left for America came from an area in County Clare called The Lands of Tullybrack,  prior to the Evictions of Kilrush Union, a very bleak time in Irish history.

Although, Nanny spelled Maroney with an 'a' when I remember her, Maroney was spelled with an 'o'.  I know this to be true from a picture of her grandmother inscribed on the back with the words, "Johanna Fennell Moroney".  I have left all spellings from her story the same as she wrote them.  

It is colored with her way of speech and the love she always had for all of us in "her family" shines through in each word.  Nanny, as I knew her, was pure Irish in all the best ways and taught me so much about how to live from day to day and still keep a smile on my face. Even though she is now in heaven, I can hear her voice when I read "her story." Please enjoy this nugget of my family history that was shared by so many Irish immigrants from this time in history.



by Kathryn Moroney Baker, 1978

This is a little story about my grandparents, and their parents in Ireland.

It was a lovely summer morning in dear old Ireland. Mr. and Mrs. Maroney were just back from church, and Mother Maroney lost no time in getting in the house. Dad, meanwhile, put the jaunting car in the barn.

On this day, there was both a look of gladness and a look of sadness on the faces of this Mother and Dad. Mother was getting a big dinner ready for her large family of boys and all of her grandchildren.

Tomorrow, three of her sons were leaving for the United States of America. The boys had got in touch with the U.S. government for information about land open to settlers. Their applications had been accepted, so excitement was at a very high pitch.

The boys had sold off all their holdings, and Dad and Mother had given each a gift of money.

This was late in the 1700's.

The night was spent in dreams of the new world. Monday morning, yes, it was finally here and off they went, amid tears and laughter. They had chosen Chesterton, Indiana to settle in.

I can just see that black, virgin soil and all of the families just arriving and ready to work. Which they did.

The boys and their families soon became very rich. Their children went to universities to become doctors, lawyers, and teachers of their day. The names of the three Maroney men were John, Thomas, and Fred. John was destined to become my grandfather. While in Ireland, John had married the beautiful and capable Johanna Finnel. John and Johanna became the parents of two sons, James and Martin, who were born in Chesterton, Indiana.

On this morning, Mother Maroney was finding a cool spot on the back porch while she shelled peas and pared apples for the evening meal. Oh, those pies! And Mother was doing some dreaming herself.

She and Dad had decided they would go to South Chicago to do a little sight-seeing. "Yes," they said, "tomorrow is the day." And off they went. When the gentleman saw these folks from Chesterton, he showed them all of South Chicago. Not very interested, they drove on further south and stopped at 103RD Street.

When they saw the activity...products being shipped by rail and water.. that was it. They bought land at 103RD Street and Commercial Avenue. In fact, they bought about seven city lots.

Then there came the building boom. It was the talk of the town. The Maroneys' were building two large houses, one an apartment house and the other a two-story saloon and boarding house, and a three-story ice house.

Activity everywhere. Ice was cut at little Calumet Lake. Two large barns were build next. Wagons of all descriptions were seen often in and around the Maroney barns. Barrel wagons were used to haul new barrels to the stockyards.

The name of Maroney was the talk of the town. People came to the Butcher Shop which was built into the corner of the apartment building. My Uncle Jim and my dad made long trips to nearby towns, selling all the meat which they hauled from town to town.

Then came the big meat truck. Uncle Jim and my dad drove to the stock- yards and bought their meat. Then they brought it home and cut and packed it in ice for tomorrow's trip, during which they visited all small towns that had no butcher shops. People were waiting for the meat truck everywhere. They used to drive as far as Dyer, and east of Dyer (Indiana). They would stop to rest their horses (they had rented teams) before the long trip home.

My grandparents must have been very happy at this time. Things were working out beautifully for them and their young family.

Then one day, the meat truck stopped at Mrs. P. Mulcahy's boarding house in Hegewisch. A cute little trick was waiting for the truck. She did all her own sewing and was, therefore, a bundle of ruffles and lace. Of course, one butcher took the second and third look, and in due time, there was a wedding. Katy was her name and she became my mother.

They had 10 children and lost two of them. She raised 4 girls and 4 boys. The boys were John P, William T, Martin J, and Frank S. The girls were May, Katherine, Irene, and Loretta.

There were no radios and TV's, but the boys had their work cut out for them, and then too there was the baseball field, "The Prairie."  My sister May and I helped around the house and we had our chores to do also. We were only too glad to escape for awhile. With our growing up period about over, May and I started to work. I was 15 when I started at the telephone company. Our wages then were $11.00 for two weeks. The boys also helped when they could. We were a happy bunch, and compliments were cheap wages.

Then Uncle Jim met a girl from Irondale, a lovely young woman who was a schoolteacher. They had three wonderful boys. Her name was Delia Hagan and they named their sons John, Jim, and Tom. I wasn't much older than John, about 2 years, but I would baby-sit for Aunt while she made a visit to her mother.

John was the nicest person you would ever like to talk to.  Cousin Jim was a ballplayer.  He was just too good-looking.  He had all the girls setting their caps for him.  But baseball always came first for Cousin Jim.  Then there was Tom, the youngest.  He looked a lot like his father.  He had quite a business of his own besides his job.  He sold real estate.  "Maroney Ambition", hey?

But the clouds grew very dark in the sky.  There was trouble on the way.  Coming home one night with the truck full of meat, my father and my Uncle Jim were sand-bagged and beaten and robbed.  Sometime later, I don't know how long, the train at 94th and Commercial ran into them.  This was fatal in a sense to my Uncle Jim and Dad.  Uncle Jim had a silver plate put in his head, but remained hospitalized for 25 years until his death.  My father had a long deep gash in his head.  He just was not the same man forever after.  He wanted no responsibilities and did not care if it was raining or snowing.  So I knew then the heartache my mother and Aunt Delia had to bear.

But just think of poor Grandma.  Not only were her dreams gone, but her heart was crushed - she was sick over Uncle Jim.  I guess it was time to turn some things back into money.  She was sick herself at this time.  She sold the lumber in the ice house, barns, sold off wagons, harnesses, horses, and what not.  She had to put together her money for bills, insurance, living, etc.  I know that I was a little girl, I would go to the Butcher Shop to see her.  She just sat by the fire.  I don't remember any goodies, such as fruit cookies or sweets being around anymore.  She just sat there eating her heart out.

Finally the day came - she was getting weaker and not able to care for herself.  My mother coaxed her to come upstairs.  She did.  She had Asthma.  One night, as she was coughing, she broke a blood vessel in her throat.  She was gone in a minute.  God love her, and let's say a prayer, hey?

Now I have to say something about my big family.  I have three boys and 3 girls.  All married and some of their children married.  24 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.  Some in college, some out of college.  Lois has 9 children living (tragedy did not avoid Lois' family either - she lost 3 children to the disease Cystic Fibrosis).  All of Lois' children love small vacations - even Anthony, aged 7.  When things don't suit him, out comes the suitcase.

My sisters have grown old gracefully and stay young at heart.  We attended a wedding down at Kay's recently.  Catherine Cadman's youngest daughter.  She was a doll, and we had a barrel of laughs.  It was the first time the Maroney's got together for years.  Paul's wife, Grace, Billie Maroney's wife, Nancy, Mrs. Jack Robb, Kay's daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Cadman, Irene, Charles Schous wife and Mrs. John Cooley.  My two daughters really stole the show.  Of course, that was after the third or fourth highball.  We would have loved to have Aunt Mary down, Jay's wife, but she is not feeling too well.  She has a lovely family.  Jay would be so proud of his grandchildren and beautiful daughters.  His son and family and Jay's son in California.

Now we will include Aunt May.  Her home is open to all of the family and as you get older family seems the most important.  She feels like a mother to all of us, and God in his goodness may he spare us a few more years.  Now, as I write this, my brother Frank's daughter from Nebraska called, and I feel good to know that she is still the same happy Doris May.  She is a Mrs. McDuff.  She has three grown children.

Two of my girls are getting off to Las Vegas.  Mary's daughter Barbara will drive over, or take a plane, and last but not least, I have some beautiful grand daughters myself.  Jim has two girls, Joe has one, Mary has one, Hazel has two, Tom has three, and Lois has three.

Life is so beautiful, and has been very good to me and mine.  This little story may not be a best seller, but it is a story of life and death, love and happiness and it is, most importantly, the story of my ancestors and the generations of family they produced.  It is the story of us.

In loving memory of my dear Grandmother Maroney - Kitty Baker


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