Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Marion Elizabeth Brennan 1917 - 2014

Marion 1989

Marion Elizabeth Brennan was born on 1 Oct 1917 in Chicago, Illinois as youngest child and the only daughter of Stephen Francis Brennan and Anna Elizabeth Marcusen. She had two older brothers: Clarence Francis, who died as an infant, and Charles Joseph.

About 1918:  Front Row:  Henry Hanson, Berjetta's nephew and Marion's Godfather; Charles Brennan (Marion's brother), Marion Brennan on her father's lap.
Back row:  Berjetta Hanson Marcusen (Marion's grandmother); Anna Elizabeth Marcusen Brennan (Marion's mother); Stephen Brennan (Marion's father).
Marion – c. 1923

She grew up in a two-flat at 4242 Wilcox Street in Chicago, Illinois as noted in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 US Census enumerations.  Her grandmother Berjetta owned the home and ran her laundry business out of the basement.  Marion helped with the business when she was old enough.  She also had a pet dog that she adored.

Marion and her dog

4242 Wilcox indicated by X in photo

4242 W Wilcox St, Chicago

She graduated from John Marshall High School in January 1936. 
High School Yearbook picture

She attended and graduated from Northern Illinois State Teachers College, now known as Northern Illinois University (NIU), on 17 June 1940. 

Schaeffer House Friends – c. 1939

Her first teaching position was in a one-room school in Brookfield, Illinois. Marion told us she took the trolley to get to the school.  After she married and moved to DeKalb, she taught third grade at Ellwood School in the DeKalb school system, teaching a total of 43 years.

Marion – c. 1940

Marion married Eli Enich, son of George and Yeka Enich, on 9 January 1943 in Chicago, Illinois. They did not have any children.  They lived in DeKalb all their married lives.  As newlyweds they lived with Eli’s parents. 

Eli and Marion Enich Wedding Picture - 1943

DeKalb City Directory - 1959

By 1959, Marion and Eli bought their own home at 129 Harrison Street in DeKalb.  I was told that they had NIU college students rooming with them for several years.   Marion’s mother Anna lived with Marion and Eli from the early 1960s when she sold the family home in Chicago until 1988 when she died. They moved back to Market Street after Eli’s parents died. They were living there in 1978 when I first met them.

25th Wedding Anniversary

After Eli died in 2002, Marion continued living in their home on Market Street until she moved to Green Bay in 2007, first to an independent living community and then to an assisted living residence.   When I asked her about the timing of her move, she told me she was waiting for her 20+ year old cat to die, so she would not have to move him and upset him.  Finally she had no choice and the cat went with her.   The cat lived for a few more years with her in Green Bay and to the best of her knowledge was 27 years old when he died.

1160 Market St, DeKalb IL

Marion Brennan Enich passed away peacefully in her sleep October 23, 2014 at the age of 97 years and 22 days old. Funeral services were held Monday, October 27, 2014 at 2:00PM in the Ronan-Moore-Finch Funeral Home in DeKalb, Illinois.

Here are some things I learned about Marion over the years I knew her.  She loved her brother Charlie and her cats.  She read the Chicago Tribune every day until she was 96 – it was delivered to her in the retirement community.  She kept in correspondence with her college classmates for many years.  She kept her favorite doll from when she was 6 years old – it is now in my care.  She saved and shared many very old photos of her mother’s family.  Some are old tintypes!

We shared an interest in genealogy.  She was distressed because she never found her Brennan grandparents.  She searched for years trying to find her father’s family.  The story was that the Catholic Brennan family disowned Stephen when he married a Lutheran.  Marion told me she thought her grandparents were Michael and Annie Brennan who came from Ireland and ended up in Chicago, but she had no documentation.  Marion believed that her father Stephen was born in Chicago as he reported in the 1910 and 1920 US Census, but was unable to obtain a birth certificate.  According to the Cook County Clerk’s Office “it burned up in the Fire.”  She was told he had “several brothers and sisters” but the only one she ever met was her father’s sister Mary Brennan a few times as a child.  Her Aunt Mary worked (and lived) in a convent on the North side of Chicago, but was not a nun. Marion couldn’t remember the name of the convent.  It would have been in the early to mid-1930s.  We were able to get a DNA sample from Marion before she died.  We are hoping it leads us to finding her Brennan family.


  1. This is great, Caron. We should all do this with our ancestors and relatives. You captured the life very well and succinctly.

  2. She was a beautiful woman, and you wrote a lovely post commemorating her life. I hope DNA research proves fruitful.

  3. What a great tribute. I especially like focusing on unmarried women in my family or on women who had no children of their own. I love her hair in the early and late photos--it reminds me of my mother, who wore her hair that way as a child and also well into her 80s. I look forward to following your posts in 2015.

  4. As Chriss stated in the comment above, you have written a wonderful memorial post of a lovely lady. Wasn't she beautiful in her 1940's photo and her wedding photo? I especially loved the photo of her with her beloved dog....remarkable. Very enjoyable read. Well done.

    Visiting from 52 Ancestors recap post. Here are links to my blog and this weeks post.
    Sue at Tracks Of My Georgia Ancestors
    52 Ancestors#1Firsts and Fresh Starts

  5. What wonderful photos! And, I'm sorry for your loss. I, too, hope the DNA proves fruitful!