7 June 1923: Sacred Heart Church at 1302 Broadway at 13th replaced an earlier church completely destroyed in the 1900 storm. That older church, the largest in Texas when it was completed in 1892, was designed by Galveston architect, Nicholas Joseph Clayton (1840-1916), in the French Romanesque style. The present Sacred Heart Church consecrated in 1904 was designed by a Jesuit architect, Spanish-born brother Peter Jimenez with Moorish and Byzantine influences,
26 April 2006: The brilliant white Sacred Heart Church remains unaltered since the original lower brown dome was replaced in 1910-12 by a taller and more buoyant dome by Nicholas J. Clayton in his last architectural project.
Postmarked: 7 June 1923; Galveston, Tex.
Stamp: 1c Green George Washington #405
To: Sister M. Angela McNamee
Visitation Convent Riverdale-on-Hudson
New York City New York Bronx
Message: Dear Sister
I have not seen this church - we go to Cathedral which is on the car line from us - It is time I thanked you but, I have not reached the end of the list of the few living friends to tell them of Aunt Monie Galveston is a beautiful City. when Lou comes alone he stops ‘in town” for my sake, we have come to the Beach this time.
The letters “sap” may be a religious reference to “Servarum Spiritus Sancti de Adoratione Perpetua.”
Sister Mary Angela McNamee was born 25 February 1850 in Pennsylvania, daughter of Irish immigrants Patrick McNamee and Jane Broune. She was orphaned at an early age and grew up as Rose McNamee in St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphans Asylum in Philadelphia at the corner of 7th at Spruce [the building is still standing, now a part of The Pennsylvania Hospital Complex]. Early in life she became a cloistered nun, and by 1880 was a Salesian sister at the Convent of Villa de Sales in New Utrecht in Brooklyn near Bath Beach, a small convent of about 30 sisters. In 1900 she was one of 30 sisters at a convent in Audubon Park [in the Washington Heights neighborhood between 155th and 158th, Broadway and Riverside]. Before 1905 she was with the Salesian order of the Sisters of Visitation convent at 254th and Riverdale in the Bronx, and it was there she died 31 January 1929 and was one of only 4 internments at the Monastery of the Visitation Cemetery, 5655 Arlington, Bronx, NY.
Genie seems to know Sister Mary Angela well enough to mention “Lou” and “Aunt Monie” with the apparent expectation that she would know who they were. Genie mailed her postcard from Galveston on the 7th of June, 1923. She is evidently Roman Catholic, but how she came to be acquainted with Sister Mary Angela 1700 miles away in New York isn’t clear. She is writing on a mission to tell the few surviving friends the news about Aunt Monie, and from the context it seems most likely Monie has recently died. She mentions that when Lou comes alone, he stops “in town” and on this occasion they have gone to the beach, but this seems to have no particular relation to the news about Monie. Genie is clearly not on a brief visit to the island, as she mentions a pattern of going to the Cathedral rather than Sacred Heart, which she hasn’t seen, so is perhaps not too long in town or leads a cloistered life. From the mention of “we” it can be inferred she is not alone. She might be a nun with Roman Catholic affiliations to the Salesians in New York City, and although there were no Salesian convents in Galveston at the time, other orders existed. Of the sisters on the 1920 census at Ursuline Convent at 2313 Avenue N, the Dominican Nuns at 1525 Avenue D, and other religious orders in Galveston, no members with the names Genie or Monie can be found, but it must be said that nuns generally took new names when they entered their various orders.
If the author of the postcard was not a member of a religious order, she may have been an ordinary citizen of Galveston. The name Genie appears In the city directories of Galveston in 1921-1924 only two times. The first, Genie Brant, was a black cook who could not be followed up after a single directory entry in 1924. The second, Genie Terral, was a clerk at S. H. Kress in 1920, the wife of Grady Terral, a printer at Hotel Galvez. They lived at 710 17th Street at Winnie, which was indeed just a short trolley ride down Winnie Street to St. Mary’s Cathedral on Church Street, a fine example of the work of architect Nicholas J. Clayton in 1886. Next door at #708 was Grady’s brother, Allie Aladin Terral and his wife and two girls; Allie was a printer at Clarke & Courts Printers. Another of Grady’s brothers, Jack Calk Terrell, worked as a wharf clerk for Mallory Lines in 1921 when he lived with Grady and Genie at 2423 Avenue Q in 1921. Genie, Grady, Jack and Allie were all from Union Parish, LA on the northern border of the state, about 375 miles northeast of Galveston.
Genie was the youngest child of William Matthew McCrary (1839-1923), one of 11 children of Matthew and Barbara Catherine Dixon. She married Samuel Grady Terrell some time before 1917 when he registered as a married man in Lott, Falls County, Texas with the occupation as publisher. They were in Galveston just two years later, and in 1925 Grady took a position in Rayville, LA for the Richland Beacon-News. It is not certain that Genie accompanied him on this move, and by 1928 she had divorced and married a second time to Roy Alexander Mahan, moved to Marietta, Love County, OK where they ran a café in 1930. Grady did not seem to stay long in Rayville, and by 1935 he was the proprietor of Paragon Printing Company in Houston. He went to Monroe, Louisiana for a surgical operation from which he did not recover. He died 9 August 1935 at age 41 and was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Union Parish, LA near where he grew up. Genie remained in Marietta through 1940 when she and Roy became proprietors of a chicken hatchery. They had a daughter Roy Gene in 1936 who married Herald Glenn Stafford. Genie died in 1961, Roy died in 1963, and they are buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Marietta.
Genie McCrary cannot be established as the author of the postcard with any degree of certainty, and is here presented as hypothetical only based on the criteria of having the name Genie while living in Galveston in the appropriate time period. The name “Genie” is firmly attached to her on a Galveston city directory (1921), census records (1910, 1920, 1940), her tombstone, and McCrary family trees. She had a distant relation named “Monie” Guice Acree from her home parish, although Monie lived until 1943, , was married in 1903, and did not seem to have any life events worth reporting in 1923. Genie had an brother Luther Fuller McCrary who might have been “Lou,” but he seems to have spent his life in Union Parish as a farmer. Why he would have been in the habit of coming to Galveston seems very unclear since his occupation would likely have been locally centered on northern Louisiana.
In summary, it seems most likely that “Genie” and “Aunt Monie” were connected to Rose McNamee through her religious connections in New York, and that Genie Terral appears a suitable author for the postcard only from a series of coincidences. Until a penmanship comparison can support the tentative identification, a most dubious possibility, it seems, Genie must remain unconfirmed.