There must have been more to life in late 1890s Chicago than I can fathom by looking at today’s photographs and articles. Take the Ancient Order of Hibernians, for instance. I know a little about the AOH, mostly from what I’ve read online about its history in Ireland and across the Atlantic in New York, Boston, and the coal mines of Pennsylvania. But not in Chicago.
There is, admittedly, an online presence of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America’s Chicago Division 32, though the site also profiles the Ireland and East Coast heritage more than the history of their local domain. Though AOH certainly entails an organization with membership in the mother country and a hardy following on the east coast of the United States, the history reports I’ve read online don’t seem to include too many remembrances of the home country’s children that have dispersed to Chicago. And yet, Chicago claimed many Irish among its residents.
One of the pictures saved in the collection of the William and Sarah Tully family, for instance, is the one above. The inscription on the back of the photo explains that the flowers were for "Grandpa Tully," probably sent about the time of his funeral in late October, 1896. The fact that the picture has been kept and handed down through the generations is a token of the meaning that gesture held for the immediate family. However, I have yet to uncover anything in the Tully family history demonstrating that William was an active member of this organization—but they certainly made their presence known in the significant events in this family’s life.
Perhaps one of those items I need to include in my ever-expanding To-Do list is to seek a membership roll of the Hibernians to determine how many of our Chicago family members were actively involved. But wouldn’t the essence of being a secret society mean that no such list would be in existence?