Saturday 8 March 2014

Fearless Females: Kate Tucker’s letter

In honour of National Women’s History Month in the U.S., Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Ggenealogist created a series of 31 great blogging prompts, designed to celebrate the ‘fearless females’ in our family trees. Today, Lisa asks ‘Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or a collection of letters?’ So, I thought I would share an excerpt, all that remains, from a nineteenth-century letter sent by Kate Tucker to her niece Mary (Wynne) Finnegan.

Letter from Kate Tucker c. 1895
It is another treasure that I received from Mary's great-granddaughter, Phyllis. Mary Wynne was born in Thomas St., Dublin, in 1850, the sister of my great-grandfather, Patrick Wynne. Mary and Patrick were both children of John Wynne and Bridget Hynes. In the closing decade of the nineteenth century, Mary and her family left Ireland and made their home in Colorado Springs.

Circumstantial evidence had long suggested that Catherine (Kate) Hynes, who married James Tucker in Dublin in 1857, was a sister of Bridget Hynes and hence my great-great-grandaunt. Given this letter confirms that Kate Tucker was Mary's aunt, it pretty much proves her connection to Bridget.

The surviving excerpt from Kate’s letter reads:

 ‘… knocked about.  He seems to have no one to look after him. I know it is very hard. It is so expensive.  He comes to see me very often.  I do my best for him. I am sure Bella [Mary’s sister, Isabella] is kind to him to [sic].  I would advise you to write to your father in regard of your boy - You need not say I told you to do so – as you left him in his charge.

Dear Mary, I will conclude with love from Tom, Jim, Joe, Maggie, Sissy and myself. I remain your fond Aunt, [signed] Kate Tucker. 

P.S. Give my love to Mick and the children. I will go into further details about your family when I write again.’

Finnegan family lore recollects that Mary’s eldest son, John was ill in 1892, when Mary was due to travel to Colorado Springs to join her husband, Michael Finnegan. The child was therefore left behind in Dublin with Mary’s father. It is true that John did not travel to the US with his mother and younger brother Frank, as he was not listed with them arriving at Ellis Island in March 1892. The US federal census confirms that John had joined the family in Colorado Springs by June 1900, but no record of his journey has yet been found.  The 1910 US Federal census stated that John traveled to the US in 1892, but it is unclear how the then six year old child could have made this journey and it may well have been later. In her letter, Kate sends her love to the ‘children’ and in 1892 Mary had only one child, other than John.  

This letter is wonderful, not only because it is one of the few remaining nineteenth-century documents relating to our family, but also because it proves Kate’s relationship to Bridget Hynes.  I only know the names of my great-great-great-grandparents, Bridget’s parents, because of Kate Tucker. Kate’s father, John Hynes, with an address in Limerick City, was recorded on her marriage register and her mother Margaret Hynes (c.1808 – 1884), the widow of a carpenter, shares Kate’s grave in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

Sources: Church records at; Church records at (subscription); Ellis Island register at; US Federal Census, 1900 and 1910 at (subscription); Glasnevin Trust  at (subscription).

See also the previous post about Mary: Mary Wynne – a woman of many names


  1. Dara, how wonderful that you have this letter to confirm connections! The relationship practically leaps off the page with Kate's remarks about family, and the strength of their bond comes through with the love expressed in closing.

  2. Indeed it is Jennifer. It brings these distant relations so much closer to us, somehow. Thank you for your comment.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!