The theme/prompt of Strong Woman brought to mind many of my ancestors, several of whom I have written about previously as strong women. I decided to write about my third great-aunt, Ellen Murphy.
Ellen Murphy was born on the 5th of May in County Kilkenny, Ireland. She came to the United States with her family in about 1849 when she was eight years old. Ellen was the sixth of seven known children of James and Alice Reade Murphy. The family settled in Kickapoo, Peoria County, Illinois. In 1861, at the age of twenty, Ellen married (who I believe to be) her first cousin, Edmund "Ned" O'Neill, who was twenty-nine years old. It appears that their mothers were sisters.
A daughter, Alice, had been born in 1868, but had died in infancy in a scalding accident. In the 1870 Kickapoo Census, Ned and Ellen were living with their children Michael, James and Catherine. The following year, the family moved from Kickapoo to Crescent City in Iroquois County, Illinois, which was about 120 miles away, moving Ellen away from her family. By 1873, Ned's younger brother, Thomas, was also living in the Crescent City area, but I don't know who moved there first or why.
Over the next ten years, Ned and Ellen had six more children, including two sets of twins. The children were: Mary Ellen and Alice Agnes (twins), Nellie and Johanna (twins), Thomas and William Aloysius. Sadly, Nellie died when she was two years old. So, out of the ten children born to them, eight lived to adulthood. The 1880 Census shows Ned working as a farmer. Ellen's mother, Alice Reade Murphy, died in July of 1880 in Peoria. Ellen had given birth to her youngest child in March of that year, and, besides the newborn baby, had several young children in the household, so she may have not been able to attend the services for her mother. Her son, James, died in 1885 at the age of 21 in a ditch-digging accident. He was the third of Ellen's children to have died.
In 1887, Ellen's aged father, James Murphy, came to live with the family. He had been widowed for ten years by this time and was in rather frail health. He lived with them for three years until his death in 1890. James was buried with the O'Neill family in the Gilman Catholic Cemetery. In 1896, Ned and Ellen's son, Michael married, and in 1897, their daughter, Mary Ellen, married.
The 1900 Iroquois County, Illinois Census shows that Ned and Ellen were living with five of their adult children in the home. Ned was still farming. In 1902, William married, and in 1907, Thomas married.
In June of 1907, Ned died. He was seventy-five years old. In the 1910 Census, Ellen was listed with her three daughters, Katie, Alice and Josie. Katie worked for the telephone company, and Josie was a school teacher. None of the three girls ever married.
On the 19th of October in 1919, Ellen passed away. She was seventy-seven years old. She had outlived her parents and her husband and four of her six siblings. She had buried three children. She had moved quite a distance from her family as a young bride and settled on a farm, raising her young children. She had cared for her dying father. A strong woman indeed.
I wish that I had a picture of Ellen, but I don't. That Murphy family didn't seem to be ones for having portraits done!