woman going on 105 in Tennessee
Elizabeth Hamilton is proud of her Irish roots.
is the story of Bridget Elizabeth Hamilton who
was born in Mayo over 104 years ago back in 1897. She lived
for many years in Philadelphia and now resides in Tennessee.
Her daughters Mary Hamilton-Hire says her mother is very
proud of her Mayo and Irish roots and the family will be
especially delighted to see her story featured in a Mayo
She was born in the Foxford-Pontoon area of Mayo and was
daughter of Thomas and Bridget Mulrooney. She was one of
a family of five girls and one boy. Our cousin Mary
who is married to Thomas Conlon resides in the home area
where mom was born. Mary was moms brother Richard
Mulrooneys daughter. Some family relations will surely
make the connection when they read the story, says
Elizabeth celebrated her 104th birthday last May (7th) in
Tennessee. It was a long way from the rural Mayo into which
she was born at the end of the 19th century. This is the
story of the Wild Irish Rose as contributed
by her daughter, Mary Hire. Enjoy it.
Elizabeth Teresa Bridget Mulrooney Hamilton,
now of NHC nursing home here in Tennessee was born on a
May day in County Mayo, Ireland, 1897. She was one of six
girls and one boy born to Bridget and Thomas Mulrooney.
Her parents survived the Black Plague when Elizabeth was
a very young child. She remembers them talking of the terrible
disease that found its way to Ireland and killed so many
The children contracted it first and her Mom was overtaken
with it after taking care of the children. Her Dad was the
last to get it. The doctor told them not to drink cold water,
but one day Elizabeth thought her father had gone to town
and she slipped down to the well and drank all the water
she could. When she returned her sisters threatened to tell
on her but actually she got well quicker than all the rest
and through Gods grace the whole family survived.
The schools in Ireland were open year round and the teachers
were strict. Therefore Elizabeth was a great speller and
she remembered poems that she can still recite. She enjoyed
competing with the children and helped them all became interested
in their schoolwork.
At the time of the sinking of the Titanic there was a poem
written and to this day Elizabeth remembers all the lines.
She still has a great memory for all the old Irish songs
Like many of her friends before her Elizabeths sister
came to America, where they had been told the streets
were paved with gold. When Elizabeth was 17 she came
to join her sister and to work for the John T Dorrance family,
of Campbell Soup Company fame. When the ship arrived in
Philadelphia after a two week journey at sea, there was
no one there to meet her. The reasons became clear very
soon. The letter announcing her arrival time came on the
same ship she did! Her sister did not receive it until the
day after she arrived.
She soon settled into the American customs and with the
help of her sister she learned the countryside. They worked
hard but had fun times. When they would get a chance they
would go to Irish dances on weekends or write letters back
home. They sent money home to help out the family as it
was very hard for farmers in those years.
Another reason many young Irish women came to America was
because in those years parents made matches for their daughters
and the groom gave a dowry. Such a match was made for one
of Elizabeths older sisters, who in turn had to work
hard in the fields and had several children.
Elizabeth realised the same was in store for her and so
she said There will be no matching for me. She
still has the independent spirit today.
After working in the USA and saving all she could, Elizabeth
went home and made what would become her last visit home
to her native land of Ireland.
After returning to the States she worked for the Hugh L
Adams family. He was vice-president of Budd Machine Company.
During this period she met her future husband, Robert Hamilton.
His parents had come over from Ireland on their honeymoon
on the maiden voyage of the Haverford (the same ship Elizabeth
made her last voyage on).
In 1925 Elizabeth and Robert were married and started their
family, having four sons and three daughters. One daughter
died at birth. In 1941 the family moved to Atlantic city
and enjoyed the ocean, boardwalk and beach.
Then the war years began and one by one all four sons (Robert,
James, Richard and John), went into the services, each one
choosing a different branch; the Marine Corp, Air Force,
Army and Navy were all represented. When the boys would
get together there was some fun and rivalry about which
branch was the best.
Elizabeth attributes her faith in God for bringing her through
the war years. Her oldest son, Robert, was in Okinawa at
age 17 as a young marine; then in Korea and Vietnam, becoming
a career serviceman for his country. He has many ribbons
Two sons were career servicemen. Another was president of
an insurance company in California. Still another son headed
a louvered window and door company with outlets in many
After the children started leaving home Elizabeth and Robert
and youngest girl Nancy left Philadelphia. They moved to
Tennesse where their daughter Mary had moved after marrying
From Tennessee they went to Long Beach, California and managed
apartments until her husbands death in 1974. Elizabeth brought
her husband back to Tennessee to be interred at Spring Hill
Mausoleum and stayed here to be close to her girls.
The one very exciting time in Elizabeths later years
came in 1980. She has always loved Irish music and was still
able to do the Irish jigs. Her daughter, Mary, entered her
for Senior Queen in the first St. Patricks Day Parade.
The contestants had to be originally from Ireland.
She still had her Irish brogue and could dance with the
best of them. She was so thrilled when they placed her sash
on her and put her and her 8 year old grandchild in a horse-drawn
cart, with the carts owner and his wife riding up
The parade route was wet from an early rain and the horse
was skittish. About three blocks from the end of the parade
route the horse ran out of line resulting in the cart and
all jumping the curb and leaping into a gas station before
the horse fell down.
By Gods protection no one was hurt and the head of
the march came and asked if Elizabeth felt like marching
the rest of the way. Her family was watching with great
apprehension as she jauntily marched along. Her daughter
said, Mon, this may be too much for you. You could
have a heart attack. She just looked at her and said,
Well, you can tell them I died happy!
Another surprise for Elizabeth was a reunion held at Christian
Manor in 1987 for a combination of Mothers Day and
birthday celebration. All her children from many states
(California, Washington state, Arizona, etc.) got to come
in and have several days to see this area and be reunited.
Some had not seen each other for 25 years.
In addition to her children, 11 grandchildren were able
to make the trip. Elizabeth has 16 grandchildren and 16
great grandchildren. It was a joy to all the family to watch
her as she danced with each of her sons and see her so thrilled
Osteoporosis sent Elizabeth to NHC nursing home in 1995
but after two years she was released and took an apartment
in Cumberland Greene where she lived till age 100 in independent
living. One month after a huge 1997 reunion party
for Elizabeths 100th birthday her hip gave way and
she came back to be a patient at NHC where everyone treats
her like family!
Elizabeth has enjoyed her stay at NHC participating in events
and joining a group of ladies called The Sweethearts.
They do praise signing at several gatherings
and a near by church. They are always endearing with the
help of our recreation directors Amy Goodwin and Pat Shroyer.
Elizabeth shows that at 104 plus years there can still be
a lot of life to enjoy! She attributes her years with love
for God and family, and her Irish heritage of enjoying life.
Her independent loving nature is keeping her friends and
family amazed at her stamina. Independent -
thats Elizabeth our Irish Queen. Hope you enjoyed
hearing from a lady from the County Mayo.
- courtesy of the Western People