|Stories of Henry and Jane (Mullane) McLaughlin's family
From a letter sent to Sister Dolores Marie McLaughlin from Judy (McLaughlin) Seggerson, 29 Dec 1977.
Note: "Dad" is Art McLaughlin, Henry and Jane's son, brother to our ancestor Leo McLaughlin
One story is about how the family had moved from Erie to Oil City [PA] when [Art] was about twelve. They were exceedingly poor. It was just before Christmas and they had nothing at all except a basket of fruit a neighbor left on their front door step.
[Art] often talked about the first Mary who died as a baby. And about the little boy who died in the mother's arms from acute appendicitis [this could be Philip or John]. And about the time Bill (I think) was killed on the railroad. Bill was Dad's idol and Dad (about twelve) refused to believe it had happened [Bill's death also had a big impact on Leo, who was 7 at the time].
After Dad graduated from high school, he went to work. After some time, he and Uncle Joe made a down payment on the house at 47 Manning St. Grandfather [Henry] McLaughlin was dismayed because he disapproved of any kind of debts. But he was delighted because of the bathroom. No one in the family was allowed to take a bath until he did and they made a great ceremony of it. It had been Grandfather's only luxury all those years before to go down to have a shave and bath every Saturday night at one of the barber shops.
Grandfather McLaughlin was a teetotaler and was very much against any alcohol. Grandmother [Jenny (Mullane) McLaughlin] liked her beer. On pay day, Dad would bring home a bucket of beer from the saloon and hide it in the cellar. After Grandfather went to bed, they would rescue the bucket from the cellar and drink it.
Msgr. McLaughlin [Henry's brother] would visit now and then. One time, Grandfather came home from work to find the family in the parlor serving Msgr. a beer (or perhaps something stronger). Grandfather roared "What's going on?" Grandmother told him to mind his peace and let her enjoy her company. Which he did. Apparently, the father's word was law in the house and that was one of the rare times he did not have his way. But he just sat there, glaring.
Grandmother was a tiny woman with red hair and a fiery temper to match. She was the disciplinarian and a cuff on the head was the only answer to the children's sass or whatever most of the time. The father took care of anything serious but usually only with a word. One time, he whipped the boys. Harry, Joe and Dad (your Dad [Leo McLaughlin] must have been too young at the time) stole some apples off a tree. The farmer complained and the boys were whipped with a belt. Dad said that is the only time he could remember his father really angry. But he often talked of his mother's temper. When she would start storming about something, the father would simply and quietly say, "Now Jenny—calm down." Usually, she did.
…By the way, did you ever hear of an Archbishop Quigley? Dad used to say he was the first or one of the first bishops of New Orleans. He would have been a great or great, great uncle, on the Mullane side, I think. Strange how one remembers one story after another once one gets started.