Jessie Armit was the first cousin of my maternal grandfather, Hugh Brawley. Her mother Elizabeth Keenan and Hugh’s mother Ellen were sisters. Jessie was born on 1 November 1887 at 10 Hope Street, Newmains. There were eight Keenan sisters all close in age but when Elizabeth married John Armit in 1887 it caused a falling out in the family. John Armit was not Catholic and their marriage and the fact that they would raise the children as Protestants was very much frowned upon.
Jessie was the one of ten children and the 1891 and 1901 censuses show her living in Newmains with the ever growing family. By 1911 however she had left Scotland and the census shows her working as a domestic servant in Chiswick, Middlesex. The head of the family was John Meek, an engineer originally from Glasgow. Jessie was one of two servants in the house. With the other employee being a children’s nurse Jessie would have done the hard chores within the home. It would have been hard work and there would be little or no opportunity to visit her family.
Middlesex is quite a way from Newmains but the next record relating to Jessie show that she was to travel further still. In February 1913 she sailed from Glasgow to New York on the SS California. You can see from the passenger manifesto that she was bound for Mount Savage, Maryland. There are two passengers headed to Mount Savage and both are recorded as going to the home of a friend by the name of Jessie Ramsay. As both are domestic servants I assume it was more of an employment opportunity than a visit to a friend.
I found this article written by a Lanarkshire minister who was travelling in America and paid a visit to the Ramsays home where he met Jessie Armit.
There must have been something special about Mount Savage as Jessie remained there for the rest of her life. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say “someone” special. John Meanyhan was born in Pennsylvania but by the 1900 census he and his family were living in Mount Savage. It’s a small town and a new arrival from Scotland must have been noticed. It wasn’t long before Jessie with her dark brown hair and brown eyes caught John’s eye. The couple were married in 1916 and while I don’t have the details, it is highly likely they married in the beautiful St Patrick’s church. John was a member of the parish there his whole life. The church was named to reflect the strong Irish links of the town. While Jessie was born in Scotland her roots, at least on her mother’s side, were very definitely Irish.
Between 1917 and 1928 the couple welcomed six children into the world. John was in the army for a short period during the Great War but for the majority of his life he worked as an iron moulder. In 1941 he contracted pneumonia and he died on 9 February of that year.
Jessie died in 1968 aged 80. Her obituary shows that she was survived by her six children as well as nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren.