My great-grandmother Bridget Hassett was born in Doneraile, Co. Cork, on 1 September 1871, the fifth of eight children of David Hassett (1839-1909) and Ellen O'Brien (1842-1917). In early 1881, the family moved to Lincoln, England, where David found work in the iron foundries and later the glue works. It tells us something about the economic conditions in Ireland at the time that those jobs were preferable to farming in Doneraile.
The family story is that Bridget came to the U.S. as a companion to a person or a family, didn't like it, and ran away from that situation. There seems no way to verify that information! Ships' passenger lists show a Bridget Hassett of Lincoln, England, "servant," arriving in New York in October 1885. How she got from there to San Francisco (with her employer? alone?) remains a mystery. In July 1890, she gave birth to the first of her three children, David. By then, she was calling herself Delia (a common pet name for Bridget), and in later years, she was known as Della. I'm quite sure that none of her children or grandchildren ever knew her original first name.
In 1893, she married William Francis Grady, a stonecutter who was born in California in 1866. We know very little about him, as Bridget/Della refused to discuss him; I'm not certain that he was David's father, though he was the father of Bridget's second child, my paternal grandmother Katherine Frances, born in December 1894 in Placer County, California. Two months later, Bridget married Cornelius Reese, a stagecoach driver, who adopted her two children and was the father of her third child, Eugene V. Reese. Sadly, Cornelius died of pneumonia in 1899. The 1910 census shows Bridget working as a housekeeper for two priests in Auburn, Placer Co.
Bridget married for the third and last time in October 1915, to Arthur Dutton (1865-1939), a walnut grower in Sonoma County, Calif. They later moved to Napa, Calif., where she continued to live for most of the rest of her life, finally joining her son Eugene and his family in San Luis Obispo, Calif. in her last years. (Poignantly, Eugene was the only one of her children who outlived her.) She died in San Luis Obispo on 28 September 1958.