Thirty-four year old Schiller elementary school
teacher, Maria / Marie T. Meagher (b. 1869), and her
younger sister, thirty year old Ellen F. Meagher
(b.1873), attended the Mr. Bluebeard matinee.
Ellen survived; Maria did not.
The sisters were the daughters of Irish immigrants,
John Meagher (1825-1911) and the late Ellen Hurley
Meagher (d.1890). John emigrated to America in
1852. Until retirement in 1887, he was an accountant
for a Chicago medical supply wholesaler, Bliss &
Five of John and Ellen’s children grew to
maturity. Two sons moved to Helena, Montana where
John Meagher Jr. became a steam fitter and Daniel J.
Meagher (b. 1866) became a watchmaker and jeweler.
Daniel and John Jr. traveled from Montana to Chicago
for Maria’s funeral. A third son, also a steam
fitter, Joseph F. Meagher (b. 1876), was killed in
some sort of accident “at Harvard.”
Maria lived with her father and sister Ellen at 656
Orchard Street in Chicago. The family had lost their
home in the 1871 Chicago fire and built another.
Maria was one of the twelve graduates from the 1879
class at North Division High School (today’s Lincoln
Park High School). In 1910 Ellen lived alone on
Chicago teachers died at the Iroquois. The school
where Maria taught on Vedder Street had been rebuilt
after being destroyed by the Great Chicago fire in
1871, a $32,000 loss to the city and one of ten
city-owned schools destroyed by that fire.
The school then was
named North Branch Primary. It is amazing to note
that schools were closed for only two weeks after
the Great fire. Several Chicago school records
report that Maria was a teacher at Schiller school
as early as 1885, when she was only 16 years old.
When rebuilt, the Vedder street school was named
after German poet, Johann Christoph Friedrich von
Schiller. Freedom was a common theme of Schiller’s
work and many schools bore his name in the late
1800s and early 1900s. Chicago’s Schiller school was
located at 700 W. Vedder until the street was
renamed W. Scott street. Among the text books Maria
may have used with her students was Metcalf's
English Grammar and McMaster's Primary History of
the United States.
In 1962 the Schiller school was rebuilt,
incorporating the turquoise architectural panels
that helped make it a familiar structure in the
Cabrini-Green area. There were 26 teachers and 1,050
students at Schiller School in 1915; the number in
1903 is not known.
Hope to learn more about Maria and the John Meagher
family. What I’ve found on the web thus far has been
limited and the genealogy has many inconsistencies.