“Aunt Margret Newkirk” is written on the back of this cabinet card that was found in Auburn, Indiana. The sitter is Margaret (nee Warwick). The inscription leads me to believe this photo belonged to Maud Kelley, a foster daughter, who lived in the Newkirk home for some years, and who fondly referred to the sitter as Aunt Margret (a variation of Margaret.)
Margaret Newkirk was a daughter, a wife, and a mother. But, she wasn’t defined by the traditional roles of women in the 19th century. You see, Margaret was a suffragette!
On January 27, 1890, Emma (nee Berger) Toomey, aged 26, died after being run over by a train. Almost two years later, on December 23, 1891, her husband, Michael Toomey, was also “killed by the cars.” It’s believed they were struck because they couldn’t hear the train coming, as both Emma and Michael lost their hearing as the result of childhood illnesses.
I wonder if anyone else thinks it’s possible Michael’s death was a suicide. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that a deaf man whose wife was killed by a train would be walking on the tracks!
The timing and circumstances of Michael’s death also make it very suspect. He and Emma were married on December 25, 1884, so their anniversary was near, as was the anniversary of Emma’s death. Also, Michael just remarried and it seems from the following newspaper report that he may not have had everything in order for his new bride. Possibly the stress was too much?
Nonetheless, it was a tragic event, whether Michael’s death was an unfortunate accident or suicide, Not only did it adversely affect his newlywed bride, Jennie (nee Emerling), but it left Michael and Emma’s young daughter, Grace, without either of her parents.
Note – The spelling B”a”rger was surely an error on the carte de visite. Emma’s maiden name is indeed Berger, as indicated from the 1880 census, her marriage record, as well as her daughter’s marriage record.