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Hudson Roots The newsletter of the Hudson County Genealogical Society

Issue #3

July 2008

‘Madame Congressman’ The nation’s first Democratic woman elected to Congress had Hudson roots By Jacqueline Wisner HCGS Vice President


ove over Hillary. You’re not the only woman in the Democratic Party to make history. The first Democratic woman elected to the Congress was none other than Jersey City’s own Mary Hopkins Norton.

Hudson County Connections


Mary Norton, or “Aunt Mary” as she was known in Washington, was a political powerhouse for Hudson County in Congress. Not only was she the first Democratic woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, but also she was the first woman to head a standing committee of the

U.S. Rep. Mary T. Norton was born and raised in Jersey City and served New Jersey’s 13th Congressional District for 26 years. House (the District of Columbia Mary Theresa Hopkins was Committee) and she was the born of Irish immigrants, first person in modern times to Thomas Hopkins, a construction chair three major committees. worker and Maria Shea

•What’s on the Calendar?.........2 •Query Corner...............3

You know you grew up in Union City if... Page 8

Hopkins, a homemaker and governess prior to her marriage. Both Thomas and Maria hailed from County Langford, Ireland. Previous articles have described both Thomas and Maria as “ambitious.” Maria Shea had hoped to become a teacher in Ireland. The eldest of eight children, she was educated “as was the custom of wellbred Irish girls.” At the age of nineteen, she sailed to Liverpool and then onto America. Upon landing at Castle Garden in New York, she became ill with typhoid. A doctor who reportedly cared for her, noted her ambition to become a teacher and encouraged her to become a governess to his four children. She worked as a governess for ten years prior to marriage, paying the way for two sisters and two brothers to come to America. Census records from 1900 indicate that Thomas Hopkins was born in December, 1838 in Langford County Ireland to a prosperous farmer. As the eldest son, he was decreed to inherit the farm. However, Thomas reportedly disliked farming and instead borrowed some money and sailed for America. He worked briefly for the railroad and eventually began to work Continued on Page 

•Standard Oil fire.....................6 •A 1947 tech breakthrough ..........................7

Hudson Roots - Issue 3 - July 2008  
Hudson Roots - Issue 3 - July 2008  

Sample issue of the newsletter of the Hudson County Genealogical & Historical Society. Members enjoy full access to newsletters and more. Jo...