Sunday, April 8, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 14: Maiden Aunts

I am working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I’m looking forward to writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

My aunts all married, so I have no maiden aunts, though one had no children. However, my grandmother, Anna Sullivan, had three aunts who never married: Elizabeth M. Gleeson, Helena M. Gleeson, and Margaret T. Gleeson.

One thing these sisters had in common was they were school teachers. In 1900 in Anaconda, Montana, Helen M., Elizabeth M., and Margaret Gleeson were living together at East 5th Street. Helena was the school superintendent, while her sisters were teachers.[1] City Directories give more detail: Helena M. was principal at Bryan School, located at 4th Street at the southwest corner of Washington, and Margaret was a teacher at Prescott School, located at Park Avenue at the southwest corner of Elm, in 1902.[2]

Focusing on just one of the sisters, Helena lived in Anaconda most of her adult life. She started out as school teacher and then became principal at Bryant School. The Anaconda newspaper, Anaconda Standard, had numerous articles about Helena’s working and social life.

In 1898, Helena M. Gleeson was on the Democratic ticket for the Superintendent of Schools.[3] She beat the Republican opponent, Jessie Blackstone by 1,203 votes.[4] Before she could serve as Superintendent, she had to file a $5000 bond at the office of the county clerk and recorder and L.J. Baker, W.M. Thornton, A.P. Cloutier and J.T. Quigley were her bondsmen.[5] She taught her last day of school for two years on 24 December.

She began her first day on the job on 3 January 1899, succeeding Miss Anna Quigley.[6] Her monthly salary was $125.[7] Over the years she was responsible for many things, especially the testing of teachers.

In September at the county Democratic county convention, three nominations were named for County Superintendent of Schools: Helena M. Gleeson, Mary McLaughlin, and Inez Elliott. After the first ballot, McLaughlin had 57, Elliott, 53, and Gleeson, 17. Miss McLaughlin was chosen on the second ballot.[8]  November of 1900, Mary A. McLaughlin was elected for the next term of superintendent. She resigned as principal of Bryan School and Helena applied for the vacant principal position.[9] She was elected by the school board to replace her.[10]

Besides teaching, she was a member of several clubs. One was the Literary Club. At one time she presented a paper on “The Grimm Brothers” where she “recounted the different writings of the Grimms and the effect they produced upon the people of that age. The different styles in which they wrote and the various subjects they handled formed a very interesting portion of Miss Gleeson’s paper.”[11] She was also an active singer. She performed in plays and sang at church.[12]

Helena enjoyed traveling and spent her summer breaks visiting California, Oregon and other parts of Montana.

After her retirement, she moved to Los Angeles to be near her sisters, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Mary Martha Gilbert.[13] She lived to eighty-five years old, dying 4 November 1950.[14] She is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles.

[1] 1900 U.S. census, Deer Lodge County, Montana, population schedule, Anaconda City, ED 16, Sht 5, line 46, digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 28 Jun 2011), citing NARA T623.
[2] Anaconda City Directory, 1902-1903, p. 148, Helena M & Margaret Gleeson, (R.L. Polk: Helena, Montana, 1902), digital image, Ancestry ( : 7 Apr 2018).
[3] “Deer Lodge County Democratic Ticket,” The Anaconda Standard, 27 Oct 1898, p. 5, col. 1; digital image, Ancestry ( : 7 Apr 2018).
[4] “Anaconda News,” The Anaconda Standard, 11 Nov 1898, p. 5, col. 1; digital image, Ancestry ( : 7 Apr 2018). Also “The Vote is Counted,” The Anaconda Standard, 19 Nov 1898, p. 5, col. 1; digital image, Ancestry ( : 7 Apr 2018).
[5] “Miss Gleeson’s Bond,” Anaconda Standard, 4 Dec 1898, p. 5, col. 2; digital image, Ancestry ( : 7 Apr 2018).
[6] “New Men Will Step In,” Anaconda Standard, 3 Jan 1899, p 3, col. 1; digital image, Ancestry ( : 7 Apr 2018).
[7] “Report of the Proceedings of the County Commissioners of Deer Lodge County, Montana,” The Anaconda Standard, 15 Mar 1899, p. 3, col. 1; digital image, Ancestry ( : 7 Apr 2018).
[8] “Democrats of Deer Lodge in County Convention,” The Anaconda Standard, 18 Sep 1900, p. 3, col. 1; digital image, Ancestry ( : 7 Apr 2018).
[9] “For the Bryan School,” Anaconda Standard, 21 Dec 1900, p. 4, col. 1; digital image, Ancestry ( : 7 Apr 2018).
[10] “Miss Gleeson Chosen,” The Anaconda Standard, 29 Dec 1900, p. 4, col. 1; digital image, Ancestry ( : 7 Apr 2018).
[11] “Miscellany Day in the Literary Club,” The Anaconda Standard, 27 Oct 1901, p. 5, col. 3; digital image, Ancestry ( : 7 Apr 2018).
[12] Anaconda Standard, p. 3, digital image, Ancestry ( : 7 Apr 2018). Also “Engaged,” Anaconda Standard, p. 3, digital image, Ancestry ( : 8 Apr 2018).
[13] Los Angeles Directory Co's, Los Angeles City Directory (Los Angeles, California: n.p., n.d.), 1942, Eliz R Gleeson: 924.
[14] California Death Index, 1940-1997, Helen Mary Gleeson, 1950,

Copyright © 2018 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Helena was quite an accomplished woman! I really enjoyed reading a little about her life. Plus the photo of her is fantastic.

  2. A lovely profile and I liked the way you presented your sources.

    1. Thank you. I write my post in Word with the footnotes, then paste into Blogger. You must complete the whole post first because you can't add another footnote once it's in Blogger.


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