The History of Taylor County Chapter 284

Mrs. Donohue Passes

The passing of Mrs. Virginia Himan Donohue, wife of Captain John Donohue, at her home on Washington Street on September 8,1903, removed one of the oldest settlers and most remarkable women on the town.

Born Mary Virginia Wattier, a native of France, she came to the United States at an early age and met and wedded Major A. Himan in New York and realizing the possibilities of material gain in a new country then being pieced by the great Baltimore and Ohio railroad, the couple came to the settlement known as Grafton Junction to permanently locate. Thrifty souls they acquired large property holdings and at the time of her death was the largest landlord in Grafton.

Her husband, Mayor Himan, soon won political prominence as one of the early town trustees and member of the town council. A musician of considerable talent, he joined those old organizations that furnished the music for the many social functions held in the spacious old dinning room of the historic old Grafton House and other social functions. Amusements were few and sociability was the outstanding features in the effort of the people to add zest to their lives.

Mayor Himan died September 27,1878, and the widow managed with care the large property holding they had managed with care the large property holdings they had accrued and at the time was considered the wealthiest woman in Grafton. Almost a decade after the death of her husband, she married Captain John Donohue and the couple moved in the historic old Samuel Todd residence on Washington  and St. John street whose roof sheltered in bygone years the families of Todd, Cassteel, Allen and Martin, all of whom were largely connected with history to the making of the town of Grafton.

Mrs. Donohue gave largely of her means for charitable and religious purposes toward her own, the Catholic Church, and she was the largest contributor toward the erection of the splendid St. St. Augustine Catholic School which stands as a lasting monument to the memory of her and the other contributors that made this institution of learning possible for the future generations to acquire the knowledge that will start them on their way to take their place in life.

She, during long residence in Grafton, saw the little settlement grow from just 10 families and a population of approximately 70 people to a modern little city of 7,000 souls with improvements little dreamed of in the beginning and to which she contributed to in no small degree and then having seen so much of the history of the town unfold before her eyes and both she and her first husband concerned with much of the early events and happenings. In her advanced years she was marked for death by an illness of some two years duration that ended on the above date leaving behind her all then with no blood kin and only sorrowing friends to bear all that was mortal to her to the old Catholic cemetery atop the hill and lower her remains beside the body of her first husband and those other old settlers in that hallowed place of the dead who lived neighbors with her when the town and they were young.

For many years she and her first husband occupied the living quarters of the old Pollock building at the corner of main and St. John streets and when the rumor began to spread of the contemplated erection of a new passenger station by the Baltimore and Ohio it was thought that the historic old Pollock building would be secured for the main street approach to the proposed new station and buyers came in numbers to hopes of securing a price for this corner that would give them a profit. She disposed the property to Colonel James H. Hurry of Bridgeport who in turn sold to Thomas J. McAvay, but the property was never taken over by the Baltimore and Ohio and Colonel McAvay finally disposed of the property to Joseph Cohen who erected the Cohen building on the site in 1926.


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