Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Margaret Haughery, "the mother of the orphans ", as she was familiarly styled, b. in Cavan, Ireland, about 1814; d. at New Orleans, Louisiana, 9 February, 1882. Her parents, Charles and Margaret O'Rourke Gaffney, died at Baltimore, Maryland, in 1822 and she was left to her own resources and was thus deprived of acquiring a knowledge of reading and writing. A kind-hearted family of Welsh extraction sheltered the little orphan in their home. In 1835 she there married Charles Haughery and went to New Orleans with him. Within a year her husband and infant died. It was then she began her great career of charity. She was employed in the orphan asylum and when the orphans were without food she bought it for them from her earnings. The Female Orphan Asylum of the Sisters of Charity built in 184O was practically her work, for she cleared it of debt. During the yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans in the fifties she went about from house to house, without regard to race or creed, nursing the victims and consoling the dying mothers with the promise to look after their little ones. St. Teresa's Church was practically built by Margaret, in conjunction with Sister Francis Regis. Margaret first established a dairy and drove around the city delivering the milk herself; afterwards she opened a bakery, and for years continued her rounds with the bread cart. Although she provided for orphans, fed the poor, and gave enormously in charity, her resources grew wonderfully and Margaret's bakery (the first steam bakery in the South) became famous. She braved General Butler during the Civil War and readily obtained permission to carry a cargo of flour for bread for her orphans across the lines. The Confederate prisoners were the special object of her solicitude.

Seated in the doorway of the bakery in the heart of the city, she became an integral part of its life, for besides the poor who came to her continually she was consulted by the people of all ranks about their business affairs, her wisdom having become proverbial. "Our Margaret" the people of New Orleans called her, and they will tell you that she was masculine in energy and courage but gifted with the gentlest and kindest manners. Her death was announced in the newspapers with blocked columns as a public calamity. All New Orleans, headed by the archbishop, the governor, and the mayor attended her funeral. She was buried in the same grave with Sister Francis Regis Barret, the Sister of Charity who died in 1862 and with whom Margaret had cooperated in all her early work for the poor. At once the idea of erecting a public monument to Margaret in the city arose spontaneously and in two years it was unveiled, 9 July, 1884. The little park in which it is erected is officially named Margaret Place. It has often been stated that this is the first public monument erected to a woman in the United States but the monument on Dustin Island, N.H., to Mrs. Hannah Dustin who, in 1697, killed nine of her sleeping Indian captors and escaped (Harper's Encyclopedia of American History, New York, 1902) antedates it by ten years.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 36:23-28
23 I am going to display the holiness of my great ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
12 Give me back the joy of your salvation, sustain in ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 22:1-14
1 Jesus began to speak to them in parables once ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 21st, 2014 Image

St. Pius X
August 21: On June 2, 1835, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto saw the light of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter