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“December 1st, a Memorable Day”


William & Anna Gallagher

painted by Pauline Gallagher for 50th wedding anniversary 12/1/1978




 Today is December 1st, 2005, a day for all of us who are Gallaghers to remember. It was on this very day in 1928 that a man of 21 years of age with dark hair and equally dark eyes married a young red haired green eyed 16 year old girl in a small Manayunk Catholic church in the city of Philadelphia.


 The wedding was simple fare with only a few close family members in attendance. Coll and Anna McCaffery stood as witnesses as William and Mary Gallagher stood by proudly to watch their only son William exchange vows with his future wife Anna Marie McCaffery.


 It would appear to the readers of this article that the same names are used over and over again. It may even be confusing. But as confusing as it seems, it is really very simple. William Gallagher married Mary Keller. They had a son named William and a daughter named Anna Marie. Anna Marie Gallagher married Coll McCaffery. William Gallagher married Anna Marie McCaffery, Coll’s cousin.


 1928 Manayunk was a small bustling blue collared town where everyone knew their neighbors. Social life was built around the local church and the corner bar. Automobiles were a luxury and transportation was mainly provided by one’s own two feet. This in turn forced those who worked in Manayunk to live in Manayunk. It was a time where families moved and lived near employment. A time when few blue collared workers raising house loads of children actually owed the houses in which they lived. A time when children played in the streets freely as their mothers hung the family laundry in their backyards. I call this period in time the calm before the storm. (Before the stock market crash and the start of the depression)


 When and where William and Anna first met is not known. They were neighbors and related in marriage when William’s sister and Anna’s cousin were married. What I can tell you is when they fell in love.


 Anna McCaffery lost her mother when she was 3 years old. After the death of her mother in 1915, she was sent by her father to live with her maternal grandparents John and Ella (Ellen) Boland. The next four years were spent in peaceful childhood bliss in the very loving arms of a grandmother who adored her. Tragedy would strike young Anna’s life once again when her grandmother Ellen died suddenly in 1919 leaving behind a small grieving girl. The 7 year old Anna could not be sent back to live with her father because at this time her father John McCaffery had already succumbed to a life of alcoholism. A habit he picked up after the sudden death of his wife Agnes Bridget, Anna’s mother in 1915. Though there were other Aunts and an Uncle in Young Anna’s life, it would be the home of her mother’s younger sister Catherine in which she would be sent and spend the next nine years of her life. Years that would place a permanent scar on a woman’s life.


 Life in the home of Catherine Boland Malervey was nothing less then cruel. Affection was rare and punishment was often. Punishment that continued until Anna at the age of 16 years old was taken into the home and tender care of a neighbor Mary Gallagher. It was in this home that attraction then affection and finally love blossomed between the young Anna and the older William. It would not be long before the two would want to marry and begin their lives as husband and wife. So it was on a cold December day that the two stood hand in hand at the altar in St John the Baptist Catholic Church and exchanged vows in front of God and family and thus began their life together as one.



December 1st, 1978, a Second Memorable Day”


 Fifty years, five children, fifteen grandchildren and one great grandchild later, William and Anna stood in the living room of their daughter Mary’s home and exchanged their wedding vows once again in front of God and family. It would be one of the last happy moments the couple and their family would share together.


December 1st, 1980, a Third Memorable day” 


 It was on this day that the family would all stand together again. Except on this day, the family stood together in the funeral home as Anna kissed her life long love William goodbye before placing the casket blanket over him. Then the family stood in the church as the priest up on the altar spoke words of peace and eternity. Finally the family stood together one last time at the cemetery around the casket and placed red roses upon the coffin as we said our final goodbyes. Fifty two years, five children, fifteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren later.