Margaret Agnes Keig nee McHugh, Kidsfort, Killererin 1870-1934

From Kidsfort to Chicago, Illlinois

Martin G. McHugh, Kidsfort, Killererin

Margaret Agnes Keig nee McHugh formerly of Kidsfort, Killererin and subsequently Lockport, Illinois
Martin G. McHugh, Kidsfort

§  Margaret Agnes McHugh

§  Child emigrant

§  Kidsfort to Chicago Illinois

§  Became through marriage Margaret Agnes Keig, mother and family woman.

Family background

Margaret Agnes was one of 7 children born to Patrick McHugh and Honore Burke of Coolrevagh, Togher in the parish of Killererin, Co. Galway. Patrick and Honore would have experienced the effects of “The Great Famine” (1846-1847) during their childhood years.  This was a period of great stress and hardship.  Deaths through disease from starvation and malnutrition as well as removals due to eviction and emigration caused the decrease in population as shown in the (1841 – 1851 census).

When the census was taken for the parish of Killererin in 1841, Lisnaminaun (Irish for Kidsfort) had a population of 55 and 7 houses. During the following 10 years, the number of houses would almost double from 7 to 13 and the population increased to 70.  Of all the townlands in the parish, some 10% experienced an increase in both houses and population at a time when the parish overall lost 1,641 people and 263 houses.

By the time Patrick McHugh took up a position as herdsman and stock manager in Lisnaminaun, there was only 1 house left standing (sites are still identifiable – the removal of 13 families in local folklore) and this is recorded as herd’s house and offices held in the title of Henry – landowners[1].  It has remained a 1 house townland for 150 years and because of its singularity, the house became known as Kidsfort House – taking its name from the fine ancient Hill fort situated approximately central to its 263 acres in total[2].

Emigration

It was from Kidsfort that Margaret Agnes McHugh emigrated in the year 1883 at the age of 13 years and settled in Lockport – her adopted town where she met and married John James Keig. There were 5 children to the marriage……..  Margaret was not only endowed with good looks but was also an extremely energetic young lady. It was not until she had reared her family of 5 and when many people would be looking to retirement and the easy life that she engaged in her political career.

Margaret’s achievements

It was during the deep economic recession with massive unemployment and poverty on a huge scale that Margaret A. Keig was elected to the Board of Supervisors in Lockport in the State of Illinois 1933.

–           She held the second highest office in the County, elected by 48 men out of 49 members of the Board of Supervisors.

–           She was on the Board of the Silver Cross Hospital.

–           She was the first woman to be Chairperson of the Schools committee.

–           She was the first woman ever elected President of the Forestry Preserve.

–           She was chairperson of the committee on Charitable Institutions.

–           She was on the committee of Stationery and Printing.

–           She was the only member on three committees and

–           She was the only woman of three members on the Board of Supervisors to her adopted town of Lockport Illinois with a population of 175,000.

 

Extract from the Chicago Daily News 27th May, 1908.

“Island Park Church on Drainage Canal: This edifice was built by and is the joint property of Protestants and Roman Catholics who use it alternately. ISLAND PARK HAS UNIQUE CHURCH – built by Protestants and Catholics …….  In Island Park, just west of Remeo on the Chicago drainage canal, may be seen an isolated church building that the builders think stands alone as one of the most unique church records in all Illinois”.

The digging of the canal caused the building of the church and the by-work in an unusual church partnership.  Protestants and Catholics united in this bit of church work and have shared the ownership of the property ever since.  When thousands of men were engaged in the construction of the big canal, Christian people in the vicinity of Romeo felt the need of a building in which to hold church services where workers might attend church on Sunday.  Both the catholics and the protestants joined hands in raising enough money to build the sanctuary and by zealous work the project was accomplished.  Each side took its turn in holding services and a number of noted ministers of the two faiths have preached from the same little pulpit.

Island Park Church still stands today

The little structure, standing almost alone in a bit of woods, seems to have a charm that guards it against desecration of any kind.  Hundreds of fishermen, picnicers and others pass along the roadway every day of the week but in all the time in which it has stood there, not a window pane has been broken.  It has never been unlawfully entered nor the organ or other property within, disturbed.  It is known simply as Island Park Church.

Joint effort by catholics and protestants alike

It has been said of Margaret A. Keig, that she was the only woman on record to have a Church built for the workers who were digging the canal near Lockport.  A place of worship where Protestants and Catholics would in turn hold Sunday services.  The workmen jointly gave their time and effort to have t his church built.

[1] Griffiths Valuation 1851
[2] Griffiths Valuation 1851

(This article first appeared in local magazine Out and About in Killererin, in 2001 and subsequently in Killererin – A Parish History in 2015)

This page was added on 07/02/2018.

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