This a a picture of my grandmother, Rose Fitzpatrick Casey. I never met her, she died 19 years before she was born. I think Maggie looks a bit like her. And today she is looking for her as well.
This all started a few weeks ago when my brother Pat asked me if I knew where our grandmother Rose Fitzpatrick Casey had gone to high school. Pat has a lot of the family documents (such as they are) but nothing that answered this question. Because of presentations I did at a couple of family reunions, I know a lot of family history, but I didn't know the answer to this question either. Most of my knowledge and the documents involve the Casey's, the paternal side of the family, not the Fitzpatricks on the maternal side.
Pat had already checked with my mom and she didn't know. Her mother Rose died in 1937 when my mom was just a little girl. Her older siblings likely knew, but the last of her siblings died earlier this year. We were sad to realize that meant there as no one left to ask. Naturally that also meant we HAD TO KNOW.
There weren't very many high schools in San Francisco at that time and the one that was full of the Irish was none other than Mission High, the very school Maggie attends today. We know Rose younger siblings Joe and Alice went to Mission, so it is likely that she did as well. Since we have our very own Mission High student, Maggie was the logical one to take this on.
Fortunately, Mission High has a museum. This school recognizes its place in San Francisco history and has taken care to preserve it. I love that. There is a wrinkle, though. Rose was born in 1891, which means she would have been in high school in 1906, when the great Fire and Earthquake rocked San Francisco. It is likely her education was interrupted by that event and it is possible that records were destroyed. Maggie is on the job and I hope they find something.
I would venture to guess that if she is successful, Maggie will be the only student at the school who can claim a connection from 100+ years ago. It just doesn't happen anywhere very often and especially in this city, which has always been a mecca for newcomers. Mission High has long been a school for the newest populations. In the early 1900's those newcomers were the Irish, like Rose Fitzpatrick. Today Mission is full of students from dozens of countries, who speak numerous different languages. That's part of what makes it so interesting, but also makes it far less likely that anyone else has a great grandmother that went there.
As I sit here typing this, Maggie is doing her thing, digging through the archives. I do hope she has help or those precious historical records will be strewn all over the place.
don't you think they look a bit alike?