Mom and the Girls' Trip to Ireland - 2016

Beyond the Pale


 

Martina Bailey

Martina Swift Bailey

Martina Swift Bailey

I owe an enormous debt to my great Aunt Martina for her perseverance in recording the memories of stories her parents and others told her! In fact, because she took the time while she was in her 80's to recall detailed descriptions of events in her life and in the lives of her family, dozens of people (if not hundreds) have a better appreciation of the family's roots in Ireland. Aunt Martina died in 1992 at the age of 103, and her published memoirs are a source to which I frequently return for a definitive word about the family history.

Martina Swift was the fourteenth and last child born to John Connell Swift and Mary Cecily Rimmer (including three children who died in infancy.) She married Leonard Bailey and they had a family of seven children. She had an amazing ability to recall detail from her life's experience, including childhood memories of her parents and her Grandmother Rimmer, all immigrants who came to America in 1850.

In 1907, when Martina graduated from St. James high school in Washington, IA, she sought qualification as a teacher by taking and pass the state board examination and obtaining a teacher's certificate.

I was pleased to earn my certificate but I knew that it was due to the good teaching I had received in the country school and from the Sisters at St. James, but it was my own dear mother who was the greatest influence. Mother inculcated the desire for learning by giving us good examples of reading and learning from various sources. She certainly encouraged us to continue our education.

As the youngest child in a large family, Martina had the advantage of hearing her parents' perspective on many events in their long life. As she wrote in her memoirs:

It was during this winter [1908-1909] that Dad, Mother and I had long talks about their earlier years. It had been forty-four years since they first came to Iowa. Dad would explain the tree planting, the quarry where he got the rock for the cellar and the well, the trips to Perlee, and about his relatives. It was the same with my mother and it was only natural that it was then that I bought a five-cent note book and began my genealogy note taking. My, but it has been updated so many times. The family has long since outgrown the original nickel note book. Inflation has out grown the nickel note book, too.

Martina's daughter, Sister Joan Bailey, organized the compilation of her mother's memoirs into a printed volume, transcribing audio tapes to a typewritten transcript and then later typing it all again into a computer. Copies of the book were widely shared with family members, and in 2009, Ralph Roesler (husband of one of Martina's granddaughters) compiled the text and added photos to produce a self-published volume which can be acquired for a reasonable sum. (Click here for additional information.) Reading the Memoirs of Martina Swift Bailey is mandatory for those who seek to gain an appreciation of the experience of our immigrant ancestors and their extended family.


 

 
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This page was last edited on 16-Jun-2016

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