Margaret J. (Sullivan) Harrington: From Rags to Riches

Posted on September 8, 2014 by Jennifer Stingley at
Categories: An Ancestor a Week
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Margaret "Maggie" J. (Sullivan) Harrington
(1867 - abt. 1923)

Margaret J. Sullivan was born in March 1867, in County Cork, Ireland.  She had at least one brother, Peter, and a sister, Hannah.  The names of her parents and any other siblings are lost to the sands of time, but I keep searching…

Margaret’s sister Hannah was to be sent to America to work in the household of John and Hannah Harrington, but backed out at the last minute, leaving Margaret to take her place.  In 1883, at the tender age of 16, young Margaret left her home and her family to fulfill her destiny.

The earliest record I’ve been able to locate for Margaret is the 1885 Nebraska census, where she was enumerated as an 18-year-old servant in the Harrington household in Hubbell, Thayer County, Nebraska.  About a year later, Margaret married John and Hannah’s oldest son John, and they set up housekeeping in the same yard.  From this union, 5 children were born:

  • Hannah May (Harrington) Wanamaker (1887 – 1955)
  • Anna Frances (Harrington) Sailors  (1888 – 1955)
  • John Michael Harrington (1891 – 1937)
  • Arnold Kenneth (dates unknown – died at 5 months)
  • Walter (dates unknown – died at 5 days)

1900 finds John, Maggie, Hannah May, Anna, Johnnie and John’s mother, Hannah, living in the Swan Lake precinct of Hayes County, Nebraska.  By 1910, Anna had married John Chaney Sailors, and was living in Hopewell, Hayes County, NE with their firstborn, a daughter named Parnel Hester.  The rest of the family group was living in Galena (also in Hayes County).

John and Maggie's new headstone; Victor, CO

John and Margaret Harrington’s headstone – Sunnyside Cemetery, Victor, CO; (Photo Credit: Ron West, Find-a-Grave member #47389384)

Sometime after the birth of their second grandchild (Gerald Lamoine Sailors, son of John Chaney Sailors and Anna), John and Maggie decided to chase the Gold Rush.  Leaving their daughters behind, they headed west, ending up in the Victor/Goldfield area in Colorado with their son Johnnie.  Family legend says that John and Maggie bought a hotel, as well as a number of “dwelling places”.  WWI broke out, and young Johnnie left home to fight in France, while those at home fought a great influenza pandemic that eventually claimed the elder John’s life in 1919.

The 1920 federal census finds Maggie as the “keeper” of a rooming house in Goldfield, Teller County, CO.  Her son Johnnie, returned from the Great War, is listed as living with her and working in the gold mines.  At the time, they had 9 boarders, all working in the mines as well.

To the best of my knowledge, Maggie kept the boarding house up until her death, circa 1923, when she was laid to rest in the plot beside her husband.  They are buried at Sunnyside Cemetery in Victor, CO.

My Connection to Maggie

In each pair listed below, the italicized individual is my direct ancestor connection to the person/people in question. Each person's name is hyperlinked to their profile on my family tree, and will open in a new tab or browser window.

  • “Nebraska, State Census, 1885”, index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 08 Sep 2014), Margret Sulivan in entry for John Harrington, 1885.

  •, 1900 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2004),, Year: 1900; Census Place: Swan Lake, Hayes, Nebraska; Roll: 930; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0104; FHL microfilm: 1240930.

  •, 1910 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2006),, Year: 1910; Census Place: Galena, Hayes, Nebraska; Roll: T624_847; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0127; FHL microfilm: 1374860.

  •, 1920 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2010),, Year: 1920; Census Place: Goldfield, Teller, Colorado; Roll: T625_172; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 261; Image: 106.

  • Sailors Family Tree Information, Ora Anna (Sailors) Reuttimann, compiler (Copy of handwritten biographical sketch, circa 1990; privately held by Jennifer Saenger, Aurora, CO).

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To cite this post:
Jennifer Lynn Stingley, "Margaret J. (Sullivan) Harrington: From Rags to Riches," Ancestor Archaeology, 8 September 2014 ( : accessed [22 October 2018]).

One response to “Margaret J. (Sullivan) Harrington: From Rags to Riches”

  1. Michele Easterday says:

    I am a descendant of John and Hannah Harrington. Their son Joseph married Lillian Mcgooden and had a daughter Alpha, who is my great grandmother. We called her Little Bitty Grandma, because she was very tiny. I also know that there was a Harrington boarding house operated by Joseph and Lillian inOklahoma. I wonder why Margaret was sent to work for John and Hannah? Perhaps they were family? Im looking for Hannah Harrington’s maiden name.

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