Map of Margaret Maher's Amherst
Margaret Maher's Amherst

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Biography of Margaret Maher
Biography of Tom Kelley

1. THE HOMESTEAD. 280 Main Street. Maher worked as a maid in the Dickinson family home for over thirty years (1869-1899). She was preceded by other servants, among them Margaret O'Brien (1855-1865). Kelley's son William also worked for the Dickinson family.

2. KELLEY SQUARE. Adjacent to Railroad Depot. Home to Margaret Maher (1841-1924), Tom Kelley (1833-1920) and his wife Mary (Maher) Kelley (1825-1909), and their descendants until the 1940s. Two of the houses were bought from Edward Dickinson. Tom and Mary lived in one and, later, their son William and his family lived in the other. A four-family house became the home of Maher, where she and the Kelleys ran a boarding house for Irish immigrants. A barn, sheds, fruit trees, grapes, roses, and gardens occupied the grounds of Kelley Square, where a stand of young trees now grows.

3. THE HAT SHOP. Tom Kelley worked as a hod carrier when the Hills Hat Factory was being built in 1868. He fell during its construction and suffered the loss of an arm. For three months he was nursed around the clock by his wife an sister-in-law.

4. THE DELL. 90 Spring Street. Home of David Todd and Mabel Loomis Todd. Maher worked afternoons and evenings as maid-of-all-work for the Todds in the 1890s while Mabel Todd prepared Dickinson's poems for publication.

5. THE EVERGREENS. 214 Main Street. Austin, Emily Dickinson's brother, made his family home here after 1856. It was here that Margaret kelley, niece of Tom Kelley, worked as a servant and where Margaret Maher nursed the ill.

6. WEST CEMETERY. Triangle Street. At her request, Dickinson's body was borne by Tom Kelley, chief pallbearer; Dennis Scannell; Pat Ward; Steve Sullivan; Dennis Cashman; and Daniel Moynihan--all of whom worked on the Dickinson grounds. She was buried beside her parents.

7. THE DICKINSON'S PLEASANT STREET HOME. Currently the site of a gas station, the Dickinson's lived here from 1840-1855.

8. SAINT BRIDGET'S CHURCH (Formerly). 308 North Pleasant Street. Named for the patron saint of Ireland, the first Catholic church in Amherst opened its doors in March 1871. Located on the site of what is now the Cathedral Apartments, St. Bridget's was the place of worship for Margaret Maher and the Kelley family.

9. ST. BRIGID'S CHURCH. (Currently). 122 North Pleasant Street. A Romanesque-style church, St. Brigid's was consecrated in 1926, two years after Margaret Maher's death.

10. HOME OF LUCIUS M. AND CLARINDA BOLTWOOD. 62 N. Prospect Street. In the 1860s, Maher worked as the Boltwood's domestic servant, both here and in Hartford, CT and Washington, D.C.

11. BOLTWOOD MANSION. Boltwood Avenue. Maher also labored for Lucius and Fanny Boltwood.

12. AMHERST COLLEGE. Tom Kelley was a night watchman for Amherst College. Some of his descendents have also been employed there.

Margaret Maher (1841-1924) was employed in the Homestead as maid-of-all-work for thirty years (1869-1899). Known as "Maggie" by the Dickinsons, she was a skilled nurse who tended to the Dickinson's in both houses. Emily Dickinson stored her fascicles in Maher's trunk and may have asked her maid to burn these upon the poet's death. Maher was assigned to do general housework for Mabel Loomis Todd while Todd prepared the first volume of poems for press. Dickinson's daguerreotype--disliked and discarded by the family--was saved by Maher and made available by her when the first volume of poems went to press. Maher's brother-in-law was Dickinson employee Tom Kelley.

Maher, her three siblings and their parents, emigrated by the mid-1850s from Parish Killusty, County Tipperary, Ireland. Prior to her Homestead tenure, Maher was employed by the Boltwood family. Maher never married and is buried with her brother Thomas and their parents in St. Mary's Cemetery, Northampton, Massachusetts.

Thomas Kelley (1833?-1920) was employed as a workman by Edward Dickinson, comforted Emily Dickinson when Judge Otis Lord was fatally ill (L752), and was chosen by the poet as her chief pallbearer. Kelley emigrated in 1854 from Killurney, Parish Temple-etney, County Tipperary, Ireland. In 1855 he married Mary Maher (1825-1909), elder sister of Margaret Maher. They settled at Kelley Square, adjacent to the Amherst train depot and Dickinson Meadow, where they raised eight children. Some of their children ran errands for Emily Dickinson. Tom and Mary Kelley and many descendants are buried in St. Brigid's Cemetery, Plainville.