Amanuensis Monday: Mrs. Roche Notes 88th Birthday

I’m offering this for Amanuensis Monday, and selfishly including it in my NewsClips file too. It was the most fantastic find from my unexpected bonanza of Troy, N.Y. newspaper clippings.

My great-great-aunt Maggie Haigney Roche and her sibs certainly had their share of publicity over various birthdays, but nothing topped the ink Maggie got in 1958, when a features reporter for the Troy (N.Y.) Times-Record sat down for a talk with her as she turned 88. The result? A personality profile that not only yields the date of Maggie’s parents’ marriage, but also gives an irreplaceable sense of Maggie’s lively personality. I so want to find out who Maggie’s PR rep was.

(Amanuensis Monday is the ongoing initiative by John Newmark at TransylvanianDutch in which participants transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts.)

For Maggie’s moment in the spotlight, read on:

The Times-Record, Troy, N.Y., Wednesday evening 15 Jan. 1958, Page 15

Mrs. Roche Notes 88th Birthday • By Mrs. Mary Vanwie

A pair of twinkling eyes, an infectious laugh and a keen sense of humor are just three of the many remarkable characteristics of Mrs. Margaret Roche of Verdoy who celebrated her 88th birthday recently.

Mrs. Roche is well-known by all her neighbors and the children of her neighborhood for her interest in all that goes on about her and her willingness to help those who are in need of it. Despite her age and a recent illness, from which she is rapidly recovering, she still tries to take her daily walks, when the weather permits, keeps up a voluminous amount of correspondence, and never forgets her friends with flowers, cards and letters, on their birthdays.

Mrs. Roche, the former Margaret Haighney, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Martin Haighney, was born in Watervliet, then moved to Troy where she resided for 10 years at 105 First St. She has lived in Green Island, Island Park, Long Island, and moved to Latham about 8 years ago. She first resided on Kelly Road in Verdoy and three years ago moved to her present residence in the Kennette Apartments, also in Verdoy.

Does Own Housework

Mrs. Roche has living with her, her brother Martin, who is 83 years old and a veteran of the Spanish-American War. Mrs. Roche also took care of her sister, Mary Ann, who died a year ago at the age of 83. Martin is the youngest of a family of 8 children, five girls and three boys and Mrs. Roche and her brother are the only living members of the family.

She takes care of her own home, a large four-room apartment without help. In addition to all her other activities, she crochets rugs by hand “whenever she gets lonesome and needs something to keep her occupied.”

Her husband, James, died in February 1929 in Troy and it was then that she went to live with her sister in Long Island.

She attended Troy public schools and graduated from Troy Business College, but upon the death of her mother, found it necessary to assume the duties of a household and has been a housewife ever since.

Came From Ireland

Her parents came to this country from Tipperary, Ireland, and were married in Cohoes on May 17, 1857. At that time, her father was stationed with the U.S. Army at the Watervliet Arsenal.

Although her memory needed no prodding, Mrs. Roche brought out the family Bible, which her mother brought from Ireland, and refreshed her dates from notes carefully kept in the flyleaves of the worn Bible.

When asked if she had any hobbies, she hesitated for a minute and said, “you’ll laugh when I show you these, but I love to read and this is what I read.” At that point, she drew from beside her chair a handful of Western and mystery novels. “I love the Westerns on television,” she said, “ and get a big kick out of the old movies. I look at some of those people and say to myself, ‘I remember when you were in your prime.’”

Her amazing vitality, her vivacious interest in everything around her and her general love for people have brought this little lady along to her wonderful age with a mellow philosophy and graciousness which pervades the whole atmosphere of her home.

The interview was summed up with a statement by Mrs. Roche, which unconsciously on her part gave the key to her outlook on life. “Age doesn’t floor you, unless you let it!”


  1. Margaret Haigney Roche (11 Jan. 1870-24 Sept. 1964) was the eldest surviving daughter of my GG-grandfather Martin Haigney (c. 1830-1911). Spelling and punctuation are transcribed as they were in the original article. For example: “Haighney” is the way the reporter spelled it, although Margaret and other family members were using the spelling of “Haigney” consistently since the 1890s. “Haigney” is the spelling on the family’s tombstone at St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Watervliet, N.Y..
  2. Margaret’s married surname, Roche, is also spelled Roach and Roache in other articles in the Times-Record.
  3. The article mentions 8 children of Martin and Mary Haigney, Margaret’s parents. This is one more than the total listed on a handwritten family fact sheet compiled by Catherine Haigney, Margaret’s great-niece.
  4. Alas, I do not know what has become of the “family Bible” mentioned in the article. Cousins, if you’re reading this and you’ve heard something, drop me a line!
  5. This article is transcribed from a page scan downloaded from the Troy Times-Record online newspaper database at

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