Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nellie Barrett

This is the first of two posts about my great-great-grandmother, Nellie Barrett.

Nellie O'Hare Barrett and husband Albert Patrick Barrett

My 2nd great grandmother, Helen Cecilia O’Hare Barrett, was born on August 5, 1875 in Alma, Illinois. She was known as Nellie.

Nellie was the daughter of Michael O’Hare and Temperance Burns (mistakenly called Mary Temperance Mathis in some online accounts). Her father was an immigrant from Ireland. Her mother was born either in Tennessee or Illinois. Accounts of her birthplace vary on official documents.

Nellie had an older brother, Thomas. She also had two half-brothers, John and Joseph O'Hare, from her father's first marriage, plus two half-siblings from her mother’s first marriage, Martha and Robert Burns. (Side note: John O'Hare later married his step-sister, Martha Burns).

Nellie married Albert Patrick Barrett of Mount Savage, Maryland, on October 18, 1893 in Belleville, Illinois. Between 1894 and 1906, Nellie and Albert had six children in Illinois:

Julia Ellen Barrett (1894-1941)
Martha Magdalene Barrett (1897-1970)
Stephen James Barrett (1900-1949)
Charles William Barrett  (1903-1975)
Bernard Theodore Barrett (1906-1990)

Nellie Barrett with her son Bernard

In late 1906, Nellie and Albert moved their family to Bakerton, Pennsylvania. Albert's sister, Ellen Barrett Evans, had been widowed there and Albert intended to assist her in running the innkeeping business her husband left to her.  However, Albert died just a few years later, on May 6, 1910.  Upon her husband's death, Nellie decided not to stay in Pennsylvania.  Rather, she moved her five children all the way across the country to Los Angeles, California.

According to my grandmother, LaVerne Rutherfurd Smith, Nellie had terrible asthma, which prompted the family’s move west to a dryer climate. The years in cold, wet Bakerton had not been easy for her.  My grandmother told me that she remembered hearing stories of Nellie’s frightening asthma attacks, and that Nellie burned and inhaled a powder called Asthmador to relieve the symptoms of asthma. It was made from ingredients that included belladonna and stramonium, both plants in the poisonous nightshade family. This commonly-used asthma medication was apparently quite effective for many asthmatics, but could cause hallucinations if ingested rather than inhaled.

Nellie with one of her children

My grandmother told me that she remembered Nellie being small, quiet and dark haired.  She was a very motherly figure, warm and maternal.

Nellie died on February 9, 1942 in Los Angeles. I was always told she died from a stroke, like her daughter Julia, but her death certificate lists three causes of death: hypostatic pneumonia, cerebral hemorrhage and hypertension. Hypertension (high blood pressure) and cerebral hemorrhage seem to confirm the account of a stroke. Hypostatic pneumonia evidently occurs primarily in those such as the bedridden or elderly who are confined to a supine position for extended periods. Nellie was 66 at the time of her death.

Nellie with her grandchildren.  (L-R:) LaVerne Rutherfurd, Nellie Barrett, Gil Cook, Stephen Patrick Barrett

Nellie is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.  Her grave is right next to that of her eldest child, Julia, who died a year before her.

This story continues here

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