Posted by on May 17, 2014 |


Now that we know the backbone of Lizzie’s story, it’s time to expand our scope and learn more about her. What was her life like? Who were her friends? What was it like to live at the turn of the 20th century? We’ll start with someone who had a significant impact on Lizzie’s life: her younger sister, Ellen (Nestor) Cardinal.

Ellen Nestor was born in Montreal when Lizzie was four years old. She married cigar-maker, Joseph Cardinal, and the couple immigrated to the United States. Although we don’t know if they arrived with Patrick, Lizzie and Edward, we do know that Lizzie and Edward moved in with them after Patrick’s death. The two sisters would eventually live together for the rest of their lives.

The Cardinal family grew from two members in 1897 to eleven in 1910:

  • Joseph Cardinal; father
  • Ellen M. (Nestor) Cardinal; mother
  • Mary M. Cardinal; daughter (born Aug 1897)
  • Ellen M. Cardinal; daughter (born Sep 1899)
  • Joseph F. Cardinal; son (born Mar 1900)
  • Angeline E. Cardinal; daughter (est. born 1901)
  • Gertrude T. Cardinal; daughter (est. born 1903)
  • Gerard P. Cardinal; son (est. born 1905)
  • Nestor F.  Cardinal; son (est. born 1907)
  • Edward Cardinal; son (est. born 1908)
  • Francis X. Cardinal; son (est. born 1910)

And if you think that sounds like more than enough people to live under one roof, consider that Ellen and Joseph had also taken in four more: Ellen’s mother (Mary (Carroll) Nestor), her brother (John Nestor), and of course Lizzie and Edward, bringing the total population of the Cardinal residence to fifteen. It must have been cozy with six adults and nine children under the age of twelve crammed into 73 Cleveland Ave, Charlestown–a four bedroom home with 1,762 square feet of living space.

By 1920, the average living space of each family member increased due to two events. First, only thirteen of the fifteen moved into their new home at 5 Robinson Road, Malden. (Mary Carroll died in 1917 and Margaret Nestor probably moved out). Second, the place was slightly larger than 73 Cleveland Ave. However, even with the increase, the fact that eight adults and five children under the age of 18 were squeezed into 1,960 square feet couldn’t have been very comfortable.

I can’t help but believe that the Cardinals were a big, noisy, yet still very close family. Also, based on the evidence, Joseph was probably a saint. What else can we call a husband who allowed his in-laws to live under his roof for the rest of his life?

Sources used in this post:

  • 5 Robinson Road