Sunday, March 17, 2013

In Memory of an Irish Lady

Today on St. Patrick's Day my thoughts turn to the Irish side of my family, the maternal side to be more specific, and present my great grandmother Catherine Lenore McDonald and her young family....

Although this photo needs major restoration, it is clear enough to identify Catherine and her husband Silas VanDette, my grandfather (the young man standing with his hand on his sister Maude's shoulder) baby Joesph and Laurence leaning on his father's leg. This was taken at the turn of the century in Montreal Quebec Canada. She had three other children who passed away at a young age, Victor who had  Meningitis, Arthur who caught Strep Throat at 16 and died within 4 days, and a 4 year old named Mamie that I never did find out how she passed.

Story has it that my great grandmother was a very tough Irish lady who ruled her home with an iron will that never failed her to the very end. Her daughter Maude died at 68 and never married or had a career because mama decided that was how it was going to be! I heard many tales from my mother about the way Catherine's household was run and to say she was strict in all she said and did is a vast understatement.
So the fact that she was born on Valentine's Day 1864 doesn't seem to have soften her demeanor overmuch! Still she was loved by her family and always had a little dog by her side, the last one so devoted to her that he followed her into death.
I have many photos, much crochet from her hand, camisoles and hand crocheted table cloths and these few precious items she always had with her....

A small silver pill safe, one of her many watches and a gold locket my great uncle Joesph created for her (he was a jeweler for many years at Birk's in Montreal) the initial's are C and L for Catherine Lenore. These items are laying on one of the many doilies that graced her home.
I guess on days like today (St Pat's) even though I never had the opportunity to meet Catherine in person I feel very close to her and wish I knew more about their family story. How did they arrive in the U.S. and why did she end up in Montreal married to my great grandfather? No one ever was able to give me those details and now those who might have known are long gone.
So to you Great Grandmother I wish you the very best St. Patrick's Day, I hope you are having cabbage and corned beef up there with the Saints! Hugs and Kisses from a grateful female descendant!

Tina xo


  1. Catherine was her own woman, wasn't she? I love the story you told about her and that her dog! What a special memory. And how pretty the locket is!
    I'm a genealogy buff and love to hear other peoples family histories. And there is ALWAYS a brick wall someplace, isn't there? Over the years I have wondered about my family that I never met, too. I have no idea if my theory of how their life was is correct, since there isn't anyone to tell me otherwise! But it's fun to put my own spin on it!!!!

    Lovely photos and Happy St Patty's Day to you!!!


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and for leaving a comment. It truly brightens my day to read your thoughtful remarks!
Tina xo