"Frank O'Malia to His Father"
Deborah Sutherland


Rosa O'Malia, a 26 year old Irish immigrant, was brutally beaten by her neighbors, William and Margaret Kelley, on December 15, 1859. She tenaciously lingered for 6 days before dying on December 21, 1859. Dr. Charles Hartmann, Coroner of Cuyahoga County, summoned 14 witnesses including the victim's husband, Francis O'Malia, to give statements regarding their knowledge of the crime. The perspective of Frank, as he was generally known, O'Malia regarding the Irishtown tragedy is examined though fictionalized letters to his father in Ireland. They are arranged in chronological order.

Frank O'Malia's fabricated letters to his father provide a perspective on the Irishtown tragedy and the murder of Rosa O'Malia while at the same time providing a description of the world in which she and her husband lived. The conditions in which the O'Malias and the other Irish immigrants lived produced an odd mixture of hope and despair, kindness and brutality, with the determination to survive at all costs whether here in Cleveland or back home in Ireland.  

Editor's Note: This fictionalized set of letters draws on the historical record
to shed light on the lives of immigrants to Cleveland in the nineteenth-century.

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