Saturday, March 27, 2021

Sepia Saturday: Margee

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

During the month of March, I will be shining the light on my Irish roots.

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo plus my commitment to focus on my Irish roots this month led me to this photo:

1949 St. Paul's Catholic Church Portsmouth, VA
Ebbie Holland Reeves with baby Patrick, Jean Holland (Ebbie's sister), Jack Sprott,
Billy Sprott, Helen Killeen Parker, Margaret Killeen Sprott, Lillie Killeen,
Mike Reeves (Patrick's brother)
Photo courtesy of Cliff Reeves

It’s a group all right, and it’s a mighty fortress, but of a different kind – St. Paul’s Catholic Church in downtown Portsmouth, Virginia.

The occasion may have been to welcome the newest addition to the family: Patrick Reeves, son of my father’s cousin Mary Evelyn “Ebbie” Holland Reeves and her husband James, grandson of my father’s aunt Mae Killeen Holland, and nephew of the numerous Killeen and Walsh aunts and uncles.

Margee, Lillie holding Patrick, Helen
Photo courtesy of Cliff Reeves

I have written often about my granny’s sisters, all but one: Margee (pronounced with a hard “G” not soft like a “J”). Honestly, I have no memory of her although my sister insists that I would have seen her at the home of our grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker. Aunt Helen often hosted family gatherings and celebrations. More often than not, I had no clue who all those people were.

A generous gift of a flash drive filled with Holland and Reeves photos was sent to me by my second cousin Cliff Reeves, younger brother of the baby in the photo. Seeing Margee in Cliff’s collection made me give her family a little more attention this week.

Margee about 1919

Margaret Mary Killeen Sprott, better known as Margee, was born in 1901, the fourth child of Mary Theresa Sheehan and John Joseph Killeen. She worked as a stenographer for the railroad prior to marrying Otto James “Jack” Sprott in 1928. (Jack Sprott – very difficult not to say “Spratt”!) Jack served in the Marines in World War I. Afterwards he worked for the railroad, then a truck line, and finally with a company specializing in interstate traffic adjustment (not sure what that is – sounds important but could be just a fancy term for putting cones in the road HA HA). 

Margee and Jack raised two boys, William James “Billy” and Joseph Berry. They lived in the Ocean View area of Norfolk. If they did not actually own some beach cottages, they at least managed them. My father often spoke of riding the trolley to Ocean View in the summer, apparently hanging out with his Sprott cousins.

Billy, Jack, Berry
June 1949


One of my Holland cousins told about the time her family went to visit Margee at the cottages. She had been cleaning up after guests left and had fallen asleep in a chair, her legs sprung, and tip money just out in the open in the folds of her skirt.

Berry, Margee, Billy

Margee and Jack had at least 4 grandchildren that I know of. I know very little else other than Margee, like her brother and two of her sisters, was a hopeless alcoholic. What is it with the Irish and alcoholism? How can half the children in a family escape the disease and the other half can’t conquer it?

My favorite picture of Margee:

Easter 1951

Line up and join the group at Sepia Saturday!


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. Very interesting! I especially loved seeing how dressed up everyone was for church.

  2. I enjoyed getting to know your great aunt Margee...though she somehow hadn't stuck in your memory at all, except perhaps that she drank too much. Ah, the Irish conundrum! It's always amazing how alcoholics can achieve so much in spite of it. That last colorized portrait is very nice.

  3. Some neat pictures here. I love the first one in front of the church - everyone dressed up. It might have been Patrick's baptism? Alcoholism is true disease and can be inherited which is why you see it often happening within families.

  4. It's crazy that we know more about our family now that they're all gone then we did when we were kids. I love the photo of Margee in 1951!

  5. The days when women always wore hats for church! The final photograph of Margee reminded me so much of my aunt - same era and same style.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I love the first shot of the christening guests. Always fascinated by the fashions that turn up on Sepia Saturday.

  8. You found a great match for our theme and gave us a lovely introduction to another branch of your family tree. How many twigs is that now? I've lost count. That St. Patrick fella gets shared a lot in Christendom. In researching my Irish story this weekend, I initially assumed the family would be Catholic, so I was surprised when I discovered that they were Anglican, and the Reverend was pastor at a St. Patrick Church. My maternal grandfather was Irish-American but from Northern Ireland and Protestant. The dual nature of Ireland can be confusing when the family trees get lost in the forest.