became his bride in 1907, Mary
Ellen "Nellie" O'Hagan (1866-1947) was secretary to
Iroquois Theater manager,
Will J. Davis. She was born in New York, the second
daughter in five or six children born to Matthew
O'Hagan (1825-1871) and Mary Egan O'Hagan
(1829-1893). Her father was a farmer who
emigrated from Ireland. In the 1860s and
1870s the family lived in the Lisbon, New York area,
in St. Lawrence county. By the late 1800s
they'd moved to nearby Ogdensburg, New York.
1893, the year of her mother's death, Nellie went to
work for Will J. Davis as his stenographer and
secretary. In later years she would report in
the census that she only attended school until the
8th grade but the little bit of information
available about her suggests that despite a limited
education she was bright and capable.
O'Hagan was often shortened and misconstrued as
Hagan, Hagen, Hogan, Eagan, Egan, and even Higgins,
making researching Nellie a challenge.
she worked at the
Illinois Theater, where Davis maintained his primary
offices. Four years later, at age forty six, two
years after the death of his wife, Jessie Bartlett
Davis, and soon after his acquittal in the Iroquois
Theater fire disaster, Nellie and Will married, the
service conducted in Buchanan, Michigan by Chicago
Catholic priest Father Maurice Dorney.
It was a small, quiet ceremony but the actress
Lillian Russell was performing in the area and
attended the wedding.
Davis' 1919 death Nellie adopted a child and spent
the rest of her life at Davis' farm in Crown Point,
Indiana, Willowdale. Will and Jessie's son,
Willie Davis, and his family lived in Crown
Point until 1938 and were part of Nellie's extended
family. Celebrity Chicago priest, Father Dorney, purchased land near
Willowdale for his retirement but may not have lived
long enough to enjoy it.