MRS. MARY TERESA GARRITY

BIOGRAPHY

AS RECORDED IN:

COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF 
TOLLAND AND WINDHAM COUNTIES CONNECTICUT.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT AND REPRESENTATIVE  CITIZENS AND OF MANY OF THE EARLY SETTLED FAMILIES
PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903     P.  1008

MRS. MARY TERESA GARRITY has by her own efforts solved the question as to the possibility of one of her sex not only building up a large and successful business, but also doing the same without any loss of womanly characteristics and attractions.  Through many obstacles and discouragements, Mrs. Garrity has earned for herself and family a comfortable home, a respected name and a flourishing business as the leading florist of Willimantic and Windham County.

Joseph Henchler, the father of Mrs. Garrity, was a carpenter by occupation, and died in his native Austria, when his only child, Mary Teresa, was quite small.  Her mother, Teresa (Meinhar) Henchler brought her daughter to America in 1859, landing in New York after a passage of two weeks.  Soon after Mrs. Henchler was married, in Bloomfield, N.J., to John Kline, who was a former acquaintance, but who, at this time, was residing in Cromwell, Conn.  After marriage Mr. Kline took his wife and her daughter to Cromwell, and there Mrs. Kline died Sept. 1, 1898, lacking two months of being seventy years old.  By her marriage with Mr. Kline, she became the mother of the following children:  William H., a resident of Middletown, Conn.,  John L., a farmer at Cromwell;  Lizzie, residing at Saybrook, the widow of George McGuire, who was drowned in the Connecticut river;  and Kate, wife of Frank Rasted, an engraver of Meriden, Connecticut.

Mary Teresa (Henchler) Garrity was born in Austria, Jan. 11, 1856, and was brought at the age of three years to the United States.  Her early life was spent in the hardest kind of work, and her only schooling was gained during the winter, for a short time previous to her eighth year.  She assisted her mother and step-father in the household duties, and was compelled at a tender age to assist in farm work, and to perform duties far beyond her strength with no remuneration, no play, and as few clothes as possible.  When she had reached the age of twelve, she grew rebellious, and in the hope of bettering her condition, ran away, and went to Middletown where she was employed as a nurse, receiving for this service, four dollars per month.  She was not permitted either to handle or to save her wages, her mother taking them, and providing her in return with only second-hand garments.  By the time Mary was fifteen years old, she saw the advantages of a trade, and resolved to become a dressmaker, soon becoming very expert with her needle, and for eight years she followed this business in Middletown; then going to New York city, she secured employment in a dressmaking establishment on Grand street, remaining there until it suited her to open up a first-class establishment in Hartford, Conn.  This she located in the Marble block, on Asylum street, over Warner’s music store, where she remained for five years, and then removed to another location, in Willimantic, where she continued for three years, or until 1891.  Mrs. Garrity was a very successful dressmaker, and conducted her establishment on business principles.  Her work was of the most perfect kind, her assistants were also trained in the same line, and thus she built up a fine class of trade.  From childhood she had been accustomed to hard work and economy, and thus had been able to save a sum of about $5,000 at the time of her second marriage, to Thomas H. Garrity, a florist.  On Feb. 18, 1882, she was wedded to Frederick A. Lowman, a native of London, England, who was a silver plater, by trade, and who, while introducing and patenting an invention, contracted blood poison and died, in London, and was interred there, being at the time in that city, in the interest of his invention.  The children of this marriage were two sons, who have developed into most capable, industrious and excellent young men:  Frederick Andrew, born April 26, 1884, who has attended the Willimantic High school, and the Willimantic Business College;  and George Alfred, born Oct. 7, 1886.  The second marriage was to Thomas H. Garrity, in Hartford, Conn.  By occupation he was a florist, and for a number of years was in the employ of Spear, the well-known florist of Hartford.  Three children came to this marriage:  Eddie and Mary, twins, both deceased, the former dying at the age of eight months;  and William H., born March 9, 1893.

After her second marriage, Mrs. Garrity assisted her husband in the purchase of the florist business, in Willimantic, and removed here in 1891.  With her capital, the land now occupied by her greenhouses was purchased, at that time being but a rocky field.  Here was erected a house, barn and greenhouses, of which in a few years Mrs. Garrity took charge, proving her excellence as a business woman.  She assumed entire management of the plant, and with the assistance of her excellent and able sons, has built up a large and constantly increasing business.  She has met with many reverses, and one of these was when on July 4, 1900, a miscreant fired her barn, and the house also caught fire, the family having a very narrow escape.  The barn was entirely destroyed, with tools, four wagons, and two horses, while the dwelling house was badly damaged.  The insurance was but $100.  Although Mrs. Garrity was badly burned in her attempt to save her property, she immediately made arrangements to rebuild, and a couple of months later had erected new buildings, among which is a fine brick house, after her own plans.  In 1902 an extensive addition to the greenhouse was constructed.

The business so ably conducted by Mrs. Garrity and her capable sons is that of florist and market gardening, managing about fifteen acres of land.  Previous to 1897, she conducted a flower store on Main street, in Willimantic, for several years.  She is a very industrious and upright woman, and possesses fine judgement and excellent business ability.  Kind and liberal to her children and ready with her help for others, she is most highly esteemed in the community.  Her religious connection is with the Lutheran Church, and she is a  member of the American Benefit society, of Willimantic, while both she and her son Frederick belong to the State Border Grange, No. 93.  

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel – great-great granddaughter of Cyrus White of Rockville, Ct.

 

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