The following is an excerpt from our family genealogy, compiled and written by my mother, Peggie Toomey Notarianni in 2004.
Anna Murphy (b. 1852) married Michael Toomey, who had been a hired hand on the farm of her father. At one time they lived in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa (where this portrait was taken, and where Anna was a milliner) where their younger children, Paul and Joseph were born....
Later, Michael was said to have driven the first train from St. Paul, Minnesota to Fargo, North Dakota. Perhaps his first job for the railroad accounted for his absences and for the fact that Anna and the two younger boys were living in Devil's Lake, North Dakota when Anna died in 1900.
This account of her last days is very difficult for me to type.
Their older son, Eugene, was already living in Devil's Lake when Anna and the boys arrived. Anna's half-brothers, Alfred and Edward Murphy, had homesteaded in the county and they brought food and checked up on her from time to time. Her older son Eugene was sheriff of the county and had to put his mother and the two boys out on the street for non-payment of rent. They ended up living out of town in a 'shack.' Anna's brothers brought them a barrel of flour that winter. My father (Joe) never spoke of these early years except to remark that one winter they had nothing to eat but pancakes.
Anna took in laundry, which Paul and Joe would pick up and deliver in a wagon. Their mother instructed them not to fight anyone. One afternoon the boys were coming home with their wagon load of laundry when some boys began to poke fun at them. Paul ran into the house, but Joe fought with them, and when he looked up he saw his mother watching from the window. He expected to be scolded but she never said a word.
Anna died that winter of 1900, of tuberculosis and starvation. The boys were alone with her body for two days before someone from the school came by to see why they were not in school. Anna is buried in the Catholic corner of the cemetery in Devil's Lake, N.D.
In the 1940's Joe and Paul attended the funeral of their brother, Eugene, in Devil's Lake, and at the cemetery the question arose as to where their mother was buried. Joe pointed to the lower, weedy Catholic part of the Protestant cemetery and said, "I'll take you there." He walked directly to a spot, kicked and pushed weeds aside and there was a small stone with her name on it. Joe was six years old when she was buried.
***Linking up with Tuesday Muse, Texture Tuesday (I used kk_laurel and kk_magicfilm), and Groupies of Kim Klassen, where this week's One Word Creative Challenge is 'handmade' and/or 'yellow.'