Margaret Haughery came to America as a child in 1818 and promptly lost her entire family to disease and desertion. She married and had a child, but before her 24th birthday she lost her husband and daughter to disease. Through the help of her parish priest she turned this tragedy and pain into energy to work hard and help others. For the next 40-plus years she became one of the most prominent philanthropists in New Orleans, turning a dairy business, and then a bread empire, into orphanages, homes for indigent mothers and elderly, and schools. She became known as “The Bread Woman of New Orleans.” Her death in 1882 was a public calamity. The archbishop, many priests, many politicians, and even the Pope honored her at her funeral. Two years later a public monument to her was erected, the first statue honoring a woman erected on public land in the United States.
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