I’ve been captivated by the story of Margaret Haughery (1813-1882), a poor Irish immigrant who worked to feed and provide for the orphans of New Orleans in the mid-to late 1800’s, ever since I read her story in More than Petticoats: Remarkable Louisiana Women by Bonnye E. Stuart.
I can’t really do justice to her story here, so I encourage you to find out more about this dedicated woman. After her husband and child died due to illness, Margaret went to work as a laundress for a hotel in New Orleans. She began give a portion of her earning to the orphanage she passed on the way to work, but the money wasn’t enough. She wanted to do more. Though saving, she was able to start a dairy business that earned enough to make repairs on a building for the orphans. She also started a very successful bakery, pouring those proceeds into care for the orphans of the city. She build 4 orphanages. So beloved was she for her charity, almost the whole city attended her funeral when she died at age 69.
A statue was built to her. The 1st or 2nd U.S. statue ever dedicated to a woman, there seems to be some debate on this point. The money for the statue was collected through public subscription after her death.
(click above image for directions to statue)
I love the detail of the chair and shawl. Unfortunately, the faces are sugaring and front has been blackened by weather. The statue is in need of restoration. One of my web searches said that it would take about $40,000 to clean it and stop the marble from deteriorating. I also discovered there is a Facebook group that is trying to spread Margaret’s story.
Information Resources I’ve stumbled across:
Buddy Stall’s New Orleans has a couple paragraphs on Margaret in a section that talks about female statues in the city.
Online Catholic Encyclopedia’s Margaret entry
Margaret Haughery’s Wiki page
I haven’t read this one yet, but it is next on my TBR pile: Margaret, Friend of Orphans By Mary Lou Widmer
The article that mentions restoration.
Info about Margaret Haughery on a site that looks like her story is being turned into a theater production.
Filed under: Louisiana Women | Tagged: Louisiana Women, Margaret Haughery, Margaret Statue, New Orleans, orphans, Women's History | 1 Comment »