Monday, May 24, 2010

Madness Monday - Mary Lillian Geraldine Fitzgerald Abbott death by suicide

The story of Mary Lillian Geraldine Fitzgerald Abbott has always saddened me.

Known as Lillian, she was the youngest child and only daughter born to John Fitzgerald and his wife, Mary Kelly Fitzgerald. Lillian was born to the couple on April 30, 1885. She was born into wealth, her father having amassed a fortune in the railroad contracting business and later in banking. The emigrant Irishman built his wealth from nothing and left an estate valued at more than $1.5 million at the time of his death in 1894.

The Fitzgeralds lived in what could truly be described as a mansion, known as Mount Emerald, close to the Nebraska state capitol building in Lincoln. Mount Emerald was Lillian's home.

When Lillian was born in 1885, a houseful of relatives were living at Mount Emerald. In addition to her parents and brothers, Edward (13), John (10) and Paul (4), the household included cousins Edward Cagney (25), James Toomey (17), Mary Toomey (18) and Mary Blake (22), children of John's married sisters.

John's brother, David, age 33, was living in the house, as were Mary Casey Kelly (my great great grandmother and mother-in-law of John Fitzgerald) and Nellie Kelly, sister of Mary Kelly Fitzgerald. Four servants also lived at Mount Emerald. By the looks of the house, they certainly seemed to have plenty of room!

After her father's death, Lillian's life as a young lady involved a lot of social activities and parties. In 1909, age the age of 24, she married Chauncy Abbott of Schuyler, Nebraska, an up and coming businessman in his own right. The wedding was attended by 250 guests at St. Theresa's pro-cathedral in Lincoln.

The child's first son, Chauncy, was born in 1912, followed by a second son, John Fitzgerald Abbott, in 1914. The baby lived only two weeks.

The news of Lillian's death at age 35 in 1920 was tragic, and it was reported in the press that she died in Omaha after suffering for two years from a nervous breakdown.

The events surrounding Lillian's death became known and the newspapers reported her death as a suicide. The press stated that she was found by her husband in the bathroom of the couple's Omaha home. He had climbed a ladder and broke in the bathroom window. When found, a revolver was still clutched in her hand.

Lillian is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska, next to her infant son, John Fitzgerald Abbott and her parents, John and Mary.


  1. That is a sad story, esp. where she was so young and had everything to live for. I have a suicide in my family, but the woman was in her 60s.

  2. How sad that Lillian felt she had to her own life. Nowadays she would have had so much more help and support. Poor husband and son :-( Jo