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Eleanor O'Malley

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Eleanor Elizabeth Caitlyn O'Malley

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Eleanor Elizabeth Caitlyn O’Malley

The oldest of three daughters Eleanor was Born June 5, 1827 to Mr Henry O’Malley and Mrs Elizabeth Jane O’Malley in New York City.
From down south in Texas to the far north of Montana and of course across the continent all the way to the big city of New York, the O’Malley name was one everyone knew.
Mr O’Malley had been born and raised in Texas. His parents had travelled by ship to America with only a few coins in their pocket and a child on the way. At first they bordered a room, where Henry’s father found work on one of the cattle ranches just out of the small town they had settled in. While his mother, a seamstress, mended clothes and ironed for the higher class citizens to make a few extra cents and dollars.
It was while Henry’s father worked on the ranch that his employer found he had a natural talent with horses. It didn’t take long for his employer to reassign him in breaking horses. Word quickly spread in the township of the Irishman’s talent and soon men from neighbouring towns, ranches and farms came to have their horses broken, trained or even shoed. Within a short few months the young couple had enough money to buy their own place. A small cabin set on a few acres. By the time Henry was born his father had his own herd of wild horses. He broke them in one by one and made a decent profit of each horse. By the time Henry was five his father had built a larger homestead. He had bought extra acreage, set up barns and stables. He even had his own team of cowboys to help break in the horses. Men came from all over Texas and neighbouring states to buy horses from the O’Malley man.
His popularity grew and with it his name, reputation and fortune. As soon as Henry could walk his father taught him how to ride, how to listen to a horse, how to talk to a horse, know a horse. He didn’t learn what his father taught him, it was in his blood. By his 16th birthday Henry was helping his father establish ranches in Montana, Nebraska and even as far down as Georgia.
The next biggest move and investment the O’Malley father made before he passed from a horse riding accident was establishing stables in New York City. He had decided to bring his best horses to NYC to sell to the rich. It was during this new phase in the O’Malley venture that Henry met Elizabeth. They fell in love the first time they met. Within a year the young couple were married and their first child was on it’s way. However the city was not home for the Texan born cowboy. He always felt claustrophobic and isolated in the city. His spirit was in the west of Texas or riding over the plains of Nebraska and Montana. His heart and spirit was broken in the city. He was restless in New York.
So it came that Henry would only spend 3 to 6 months of year in New York. The rest of the year he would be somewhere……..free and at peace where he belonged.
Elizabeth was left to raise their first daughter, Eleanor, on her own. The new life of motherhood for the young woman took its toll. She hated it. She had had to give up her high end social life, the parties, the dinners, the concerts, opera…..Elizabeth had also come from money but instead of working for it she had been born into it. Her family had come over during the first gold rush and her grandfather had made his fortune with a substantial find. She had never known any other life other then New York. So when Eleanor was born her life was tipped upside down. Instead of raising the child herself Elizabeth left Eleanor to be raised by the help. She had her grandmothers Irish emerald green eyes, her mothers dark chestnut brown hair and her delicate features. But it was her fathers spirit and blood that coursed inside her. It became evident as soon as she began walking. Eleanor wouldn’t sit still and if she was made to sit in her cot she would scream until she was let out to run around the house. As she grew her wild side became more evident. She loved playing outside with the other children and every time she would come home with scrapped knees, torn socks and dresses and sticks or leaves in her hair. It was a nightmare for her mother who tried to keep up appearances. It was the hiring of a strict tutor and discipline from a strict nanny that bought Eleanor in line. Yet every so often Eleanor would slip up. This generally happened after she received a letter from her father. A letter that told stories of the wild west. The horses he broke in, the men that worked for him, the seedy saloons, the way the moon and stars were brighter then she could ever imagine. The stories of the buffalo they hunted or the eagles they saw. The wolves that howled in the night or the runs they would make with the horses. He also told her of how savage the natives were. How they had run a tribe out from their lands to settle more horses. He told of how brutal they were. The scalping and bloody murders they committed for no reason. The picture he painted of the natives was of nightmares and it always scared her. She would write back wishing him safety. Once she had read the letters she normally played up, embarrassed her mother somehow and was disciplined strongly. It became easier getting away with her mischief when her younger sisters came along. They took her mothers attention away from her. Unlike Eleanor her sisters were everything their mother was. They were refined and sophisticated. They loved the finer things in life like the newest fashions from Paris or the tea parties that were held each week. They loved their French classes and ballet lessons and went crazy for the opera and theatre their mother would take them too.
Eleanor hated French , she hated the embroidery lessons, the tutus itched when she did ballet and she despised the theatre. She was bored! The only thing she loved was her reading and writing tutorials. It allowed her to learn to read the books her father sent or write him letters of her agony in New York. She loved the horse riding lessons but other then that….like her father…she was broken and her spirit trapped.
As she got older she began pushing the boundaries. She began rebelling. At first she would sneak out of the house at dark for an hour or two. When she discovered she could get away with it she disappeared for longer periods. She skipped her lessons and began exploring down town New York. She was looking for something…she just didn’t know what.
It was when she was 16 that she pushed the boundaries too far. One night she snuck out of her home and met her friends on the wrong side of town. With her name and a nice bribe Eleanor got her and her friends into a bar. She had her first taste of whiskey and even went as far as trying tobacco. The whiskey hit her and before she knew it she was dancing with her friends. The band played a fiddle and the piano and the group danced around the bar singing old irish tunes her father had taught her when he had visited her as a child.
Being an O’Malley everyone knew who she was. Eleanor snuck home in the wee hours of the morning only to be woken by the wrath of her mother then next morning. Dragged for her bed by her hair, she was taken downstairs in her under garments. Her mother had been humiliated and told Eleanor she had bought shame on the family. An employee from the stables had been fetched….the belt left welts one her back and she couldn’t sleep on her back for weeks until the wounds healed and crusted.
After that Eleanor’s spirit had been broken like one of her fathers horses.
She spent the next two years a shadow of herself and followed the examples of her sisters. She became a proper lady of money that her mother had expected from her from that time on.
On her 18th birthday she got the news and her whole life was about to be turned upside down.
July 1845.
The horse drawn coach finally pulled up just outside the large double story homestead. It had been a 3 day journey across the vast country side of Nebraska. Before that she had travelled by train. One from NYC to Chicago. Then from Chicago she caught another train that took her to the end of the line. From that she then boarded a 6 horse drawn coach that took her to the O’Malley ranch of Nebraska.
The coach door opened and her brown leather boot stepped out onto the step. An African american held his hand out and her white laced gloved hand reached out to grab hold. He helped steady her as Eleanor exited the coach. Her hair was pinned up in a classic city style bun under a huge olive green hat with a large white feather that pointed to the back of the hat. Her matching olive green dress was embroidered with delicate darker green flowers and leaves. It was intricate and one of the newest designs from France. The boldest across her chest had details of fine white lace and her chest heaved as she breathed in the fresh clean country side air.
She closed her eyes for a moment…..the wind was gentle and cooling in the summer mid morning sun. She opened her eyes as she heard her fathers voice call her ….Katie….it was short for Caitlyn, the name he had wanted to give her, his mothers name. Only he called her Katie.
She had arrived to her new home.
While she was excited to be with her father…..she was also scared of what her future would hold with the man she was about to wed. A man she had never met. Her fathers best friend and business partner.