Tuesday, February 9, 2021

52 Ancestors - VALENTINE: To Mother

My dad’s favorite grandmother was Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh. Judging by all the greeting cards glued into a scrapbook, she must have been a sentimental woman.


Two of Mary Theresa's scrapbooks
Not in the best of shape 

Among the many Valentine’s Day cards is this one from her daughter Catherine, known to family and friends as “Cat.”

Mary Theresa was obviously close to her youngest two daughters, Cat and “Tate” (Teresa), both of whom lived in Washington DC. 

Mary Theresa and Cat
either 1936 or 1937
(similar photos show both dates
so they must not have
remembered when)

The three traveled back and forth visiting one another. This particular letter covers several topics that more easily could have been handled by a telephone call – confusion over travel plans and the return of a dress.

Thursday Nite

Dearest Mom:

Guess you think I have deserted you but I have been quite busy for the past few days and just didn’t get a chance to write you.

Tate was over last night and she was reading your letter and she said you told her you were coming up on the 10th. Then I


Page 2 is on the right; page 3 on the left

realized that you were probably looking for us to come down but I didn’t know because you didn’t tell me when you were coming up. Did you mean in your letter that if we came down last week that you would have come back with us? I didn’t plan on coming until I knew definitely that you were coming because I didn’t want to make a trip down and

then you say you would have to wait a couple of weeks longer. Mom if you will just drop me a note and let me know when you can come we will come and get you and you know it will be perfectly alright to bring the kids if you think they won’t worry you too much. Let me know please.

Mom, I took back the dress and they gave me my money back. I

The "kids" are my dad and 
his brother

didn’t know just why you didn’t keep it so I thought I would wait until you were here then we could get another one.

Did both the kids pass? I surely hope so.

Well Mom I will be looking for a note from you telling us just when to come for you so let me know.

Until then I will say so long.

All my love




Mary Theresa died a month later.

I suppose it was a sign of the times that they wrote letters instead of making a phone call. And what a gift that Mary Theresa kept the cards and letters – at least some of them anyway – as a testimony to their loving relationship.

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. What a wonderful collection of cards. It's a shame that they are glued down but at least you still have them to enjoy.

  2. You have the scrapbook gene in your family, as well. I'm not sure I have any valentines but I'm on the lookout.

  3. You have such wonderful treasures from you ancestors, Wendy! I love the scrapbooks. My mom was frugal and pasted her cards onto construction paper, punched holes, and tied the pages together with yarn.
    You didn't say the year the letter was written but you're probably right that letters were more common than phone calls, true even into the 1970s and '80s. It had to be an emergency for our family to make long-distance phone calls.