MARGARET STACK (1883-1959)

The Cook

Margaret Stack worked as the Wickwire family cook from 1904 to 1911.  She emigrated from Athea, County Limerick, Ireland in 1904.  Her aunt, Catherine Stack Quirke, already lived in Cortland, and may have arranged for her employment in the Wickwire mansion.  Margaret was single and 21 years old when she began working for the Wickwires.

Stack socialized with the substantial Irish population in Cortland.  A March 19, 1910 article in the Cortland Standard describes a St. Patrick’s Day Banquet, hosted by Ladies Auxiliary of the Ancient Order of Hiberians (AOH).  The AOH was an Irish Catholic fraternal organization who assisted Irish immigrants and protected Catholic churches from anti-Catholic discrimination.  Margaret Stack danced at this event as one of a four-person Irish reel.  A reel is a traditional Irish step dance.

Like many servants in America, Stack had limited free time.  Generally, a servant had every Thursday afternoon off, as well as every other Sunday.  On her Sundays, Stack may have attended St. Mary’s Church on North Main Street, which catered to Irish Catholics.

However, the Wickwires granted their servants significant vacation time.  In 1910, Margaret Stack spent the entire summer in Ireland and the British Isles with her fiancée, John Lane.  They secured tickets through local agent James Grant and sailed on the Baltic, a ship of the White Star Line. After their arrival in Athea, Margaret Stack married John, and became Margaret Stack Lane.

They spent the summer at her family home, and also sailed through the British Isles.  She returned to Cortland in autumn and resumed her position as the Wickwire cook, a job she held for another year.  She then returned to her native Ireland, where she ran a grocery store with her husband, and had children.

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The impressive collection found throughout the 1890 House Museum offer visitors the opportunity to step back in time to 19th century Cortland.  The unique history within our walls tells the stories of the Wickwire family, their servants, and the factory workers who toiled in Wickwire Wire Mills Factory.


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