2008 Genea Bloggers Summer Games Competition · About My Ancestors

My Great Great Grandmother, Margaret (Kelly) Jones

Margaret Kelly was born in November of 1849 in Manchester, NH. Margaret was the oldest child of Martin Kelly and Catherine Dolan, natives of Co. Roscommon, Ireland.

Her parents moved the family to Boston, MA around 1851. They only stayed there a couple of years. By 1854, the family had moved across the country and resettled in San Francisco, CA. Margaret was about 13 when they moved.

Margaret’s family first owned a horse trading business, then boarding houses. She helped keep the business going with whatever chores her parents set out for her.

In 1868, a young Australian named Thomas Augustine Jones, moved next door on Jessie Street. The 18 year old was working as an apprentice to a the blacksmith at H. Casebolt and Co., Car and Carriage Manufacturers.  Thomas soon began to court Margaret.

The couple was married 7 Feb 1869 at St. Patrick’s Church in San Francisco. She was 21 and he was 20.  It’d be curious to see how well Margaret’s parents received Thomas. He was not Irish and he was not a Catholic at a time when San Francisco’s neighborhoods were divided by ethnicity.

The couple set up roots first on Jessie Street. Their first child, Josephine was born a little over a year after their marriage.

By 1880 the family lived on Natoma Street in San Francisco. Thomas’ mother, Mary Jane (Haywards) Jones, was living with them.They had four more children: John, Clara, Matilda, and Margaret, who was my great grandmother. Clara did not make it to her second birthday and Matilda died four days after birth. Margaret gave birth to two more children who survived: Gertrude and Alice.

In 1888, Margaret became pregnant for the eighth time. Unfortunately, Margaret died of puerperal fever shortly after giving birth. Margaret was only 49 years old. The baby boy named Francis died ten days later.

Margaret was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA. About that time, the cemetery where her deceased children were buried was shut down to make way for San Francisco’s burgeoning population. Her deceased children were reburied at Holy Cross with Margaret. The reburials were paid for by a well off uncle on her mother’s side, Patrick Dolan.

Margaret’s life probably wasn’t easy.  Her parents uprooted her at least twice.  Once to move to a nearby state and another to move clear across country.  At 13, she was starting life over in a strange city with no friends or familiar faces.  San Francisco was a dirty, rat infested city.  In couldn’t have been easy setting up a home and raising children in that climate. She brought six children into the world who survived.  At 49, she was most likely overworked and a little too old to be giving birth.  Her death pushed the responsibility of the younger children onto my Great Grandmother, Margaret.  My Great Grandmother was only 9 when she took on that responsibility.

[Note: I wouldn’t know very much about Margaret (Dolan) Kelly had it not been for a research whim.  Most records surrounding her life had been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. After a year of utter frustration on my Kelly-Jones line, I decided to write the repository that holds San Francisco’s surviving Catholic Church records. Though no mention of Catherine could be found in records, her obituary was located in the local Catholic newspaper, The Monitor. That obituary gave me her birth date, birth place, and death date. From there I found the obituary in the San Francisco Examiner newspaper which provided more details about her family.  I found mention in census records, city directories, and newspaper announcements.  From those sources, I was able to piece together a few details of her short life.]

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