Atchison People Will Be Interested in an Omaha Item

Searching through newspaper archives, I discovered something about my paternal grandmother, Geraldine O’Malley DeBacker, that I did not know. Apparently, she was a singer of enough renown to have that mentioned a few times in her hometown newspaper.

I found the following item in the August 29, 1918 edition of The Atchison (KS) Daily Globe.

My father’s mother, Geraldine O’Malley DeBacker, died the year that I was born. She came from a family of all girls and she was the youngest of the six daughters of Patrick O’Malley and Molly Hooks O’Malley. I knew from my father that Patrick had been a railroad conductor in Kansas. Later, after my father died, through my own research, I learned that his family had settled in Minnesota in the 1850s after coming over from Ireland via Canada in the early 1840s. Patrick was born near Montreal in 1851. Geraldine was born in Hiawatha, Kansas in 1892. The family lived for a while in Omaha, Nebraska, but were living in Atchison, Kansas, according to census records, from at least 1910 to the early 1920s.

Searching through the pages of the Atchison Daily Globe, I found little items here and there that briefly chronicled the lives of my grandparents and great-grandparents. The longest and most detailed item that I found was the one dated August 29, 1918.

My grandfather, Leopold J. DeBacker, graduated from medical school in the spring of 1918 right at the start of the Spanish Flu pandemic. Upon leaving school, he was immediately drafted into the United States Navy and before leaving for his first assignment at the Navy medical school in Washington DC, he and my grandmother were married. The item in the Atchison paper makes a joke about my grandmother being the only woman in Omaha who had a husband in the Navy. Midwesterners love to make jokes about there not being any oceans nearby.

In a previous blog post, I described finding an item in Omaha newspaper from September 1918 that revealed that my grandfather had graduated first in his class from the naval medical school in Washington. So, the new information from the Atchison Daily Globe item was that my grandmother was “a singer of considerable talent” who sang for the troops, the Red Cross, and at liberty bond drives during World War I. This is something that I absolutely did not know.

All in all, I found over a dozen little items published in the Atchison Daily Globe over the course of a decade.

Atchison Daily Globe Friday, August 8, 1919

Following his discharge from the navy in Summer of 1919, my grandparents visited my great-grandparents. The item states that they went from there to O’Brien Nebraska. But I think they actually went to Spalding, Nebraska, where they resided briefly before settling in Hastings.

Atchison Daily Globe Tuesday, September 30, 1919

An item regarding my great-grandfather, Patrick A. O’Malley, attending the funeral of one of his nephews, reminds me that although I know from census records the names of his siblings, I do not know the names of any of their descendants.

Atchison Daily Globe January 15, 1920

My grandmother visited her parents for Christmas 1919.

Atchison Daily Globe May 3, 1921

This is an item announcing the birth of my uncle Leo (April 1921) and one of his cousins whose name I do not know.

Atchison Daily Globe November 16, 1922

By 1922, my great-grandfather Patrick A, O’Malley, who had retired from his job as a conductor for the Missouri Pacific Railroad and was now living in Omaha, suffered a paralytic stroke. My great aunt Mary Loretto (Mrs. Joseph McCrum) was still living Atchison.

Atchison Daily Globe November 27, 1922

His status was reported again in the paper about 10 days later.

Atchison Daily Globe December 18, 1922

Then in December of that year, his daughter Mary went to Omaha to visit them for the holidays.

Atchison Daily Globe July 20, 1923

This item from the summer of 1923, states that my grandmother who “has an excellent voice” was in a radio concert broadcast from Omaha and heard by listeners down in Atchison.

Atchison Daily Globe January 19, 1925

My great grandfather passed away in January 1925. He died in Omaha Nebraska and his obituary appeared in the Atchison Daily Globe.

Atchison Daily Globe January 21, 1925

A few days after his death this tiny item appeared on page 9 of the newspaper. It read: “Heard a dozen times on Commercial Street: ‘The late Pat O’Malley was a fine old gentleman.'”

Atchison Daily Globe January 30, 1929

In January 1929, my grandmother visited her sister Mary for a few days.

Atchison Daily Globe June 1, 1929

That same year my great-grandmother, Molly O’Malley was dying.

Atchison Daily Globe July 2, 1929

My great-grandmother, Mary “Molly” Hooks O’Malley died June 29, 1929 in Hastings Nebraska at age 73.

I found some more items in Nebraska newspapers, but I will save those for a later posting.

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