Henry Emmett I. FitzMaurice [M2.3]
(28 Nov 1897 - 4 Dec 1937)


Family Name: Fitzmaurice
Name taken in baptism: Henry Emmett
Date of Birth: 28 Nov 1897
Names of parents: John Fitzmaurice
and Nora Mulvihill
Date of Baptism: 12 Dec 1897
God parents' names: Grattan McGrath
and Debrin McGrath
Priest: (illegible)
Source: Mormon film 1704692, Item 3: Holy Family Church, Chicago IL,
Baptisms 1887-1903, Vol. 5, p. 454.
My mother told me that the priest refused to baptize this child with "Emmett" as a first name because Robert Emmett (the Irish rebel who made the name "Emmett" popular in Ireland) was a famous Protestant. However, the priest allowed "Emmett" as a middle name. So the child was given the name "Henry" only for purposes of his baptism. I have found no record or oral history indicating that my Uncle Emmett ever used the name "Henry" although "Henry" was the name of his Uncle Henry FitzMaurice. At his confirmation, Emmett took a name that began with "I". It may have been a variation of "Ignatius" that sounded something like "Ignots".

In Ireland, the Emmett family invariably spelled their name with a double 't'.18

This photo (taken c. 1903) is the only photo of Emmett that I have ever seen. The three siblings (from left to right) are Veronica, John, and Emmett. I note that Emmett is the only one of the three children who resembles his father. Veronica and John both resemble their mother.
Emmett grew up in Holy Family Parish and attended Holy Family School as did his siblings. My Aunt Nellie (Cahill) remembered that Emmett once noted that more gangsters came from Holy Family Parish than from any other parish in the city. He was no doubt thinking of Bugs Moran, Terry Druggan, and Roger Touey among others.

I recall that both Emmett and his father were members of the Catholic Order of Foresters.

Emmett never married.

1914 Fitzmaurice Emmett clk h 1329 Elburn av
1915 Fitzmaurice Emmett clk h 1329 Elburn av
1916 Fitzmaurice Emmett clk h 1105 S Racine av
1917 Fitzmaurice Emmet clk h 1105 S Racine av
1923 Fitzmorris Emmett cigars 722 E Pershing rd h 1105 S Racine av

As indicated in the Chicago Directories above, Emmett worked as a clerk prior to the depression. When I knew him (in the 1930s), however, he worked occasionally on a newspaper delivery truck for the Chicago American. Most of the time, however, he had no steady job. He was one of the many victims of the Depression.

In between regular jobs, our Uncle Emmett worked as a handyman for my father. My father never did any painting or other work on our house at 1218 Wisconsin Ave. in Berwyn. Such work was always handled by Uncle Emmett. When our mother went off to the hospital to have another baby, it was Emmett who came and stayed with the other children while our father was working.

During Prohibition, Emmett was in charge of making beer for home consumption. We bought the raw materials in a store (Coleman's?) on the southwest corner of Grove Ave. and Roosevelt Rd. in Berwyn. We just followed the simple instructions on the box and put the beer in quart bottles. I can still visualize the scene in our basement as I helped my uncle cap the bottles. Surrounded by about 100 bottles, I knelt in the center of the concrete floor using a manually operated bottle-capper.

We always kept a supply of beer in the icebox on our back porch. The iceman stopped by every day to fill the icebox with ice. We never paid him, however. He just took some beer on each visit.

One or more of our Italian neighbors owned a grape press for use in the production of wine. Such a press was about the size of a washing machine. One day, my father brought home a grape press and turned it over to my Uncle Emmett to make some wine. I don't recall how the wine turned out but I don't think that we ever again used the winepress.

My Aunt Nellie (Cahill) described Emmett as a "happy go lucky" person who "didn't care whether school kept or not". "Good to kids". "Like Uncle Tom [her brother] to a tee".

Emmett tried to be even-handed in his treatment of the children but he never quite succeeded. In retrospect, it seems that he spent more time with me (perhaps because I was the oldest boy and he could most easily relate to me). By way of contrast, I can still remember his annoyance with my sister Dolores.

Emmett died of cancer at the age of 40. A few weeks before his death, he gave me his watch. Except for clothing, that was just about his only material possession. When I visited him in the hospital, he dissolved in tears. He seemed to be less concerned about his own future then he was about the loss of all the family and friends that he would never see again. I was then 11 years old.

The only time that I can recall seeing my father in tears was when his brother Emmett died. When I was not permitted to attend Emmett's funeral, I assumed that it was because my father did not want me to be present if he should break down again.

During all the time that I knew them (except during the last few weeks of their lives), both Emmett and his brother expressed an intense dislike of priests. Their animosity seemed to be derived from a perceived avarice in the temporal Church as represented by priests extorting excessive financial contributions from the laity. Yet, neither man ever really lost the faith of his childhood. Each of the brothers returned to the Church before his death and, no doubt, died in a state of sanctifying grace.

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