On the north side of Mineral Point, where Pine Street turns westward into Garden and Alice streets, is a cluster of properties that is no longer owned by my mother’s family, but once was a Fitzsimons compound of sorts. It once held the homes of several close-knit generations of my mother’s family. In her 1999 memoire, From High on the Bluff, my mother, Laura Annette Fitzsimons, refers often to this “Grove of Fitzsimonses.” Mother was born here in 1906, in a rambling, ten-room house that was previously part of an old German schoolhouse. It sat on a plot of land between what are now Ridge, Garden and West Commerce streets. Unfortunately, it has since burned down.
Her father, Will Fitzsimons, infamously relocated the schoolhouse from its original location a half-mile down the hill; I fictionalize this moving day in Giddyap Tin Lizzie. My mother’s parents, Will and Elizabeth Fitzsimons, are the inspiration for Will and Mary O’Shaughnessy in the O’Shaughnessy Chronicles novels. Other nearby homes in which my mother’s family resided remain standing today, including one my great-grandparents, Ed and Elizabeth Fitzsimons, built on Alice Street in 1894. It’s just down the hill and past a buggy shed from the home where my mother grew up. Some of the outbuildings around my great-grandparents’ home remain, including that buggy shed, which is mentioned in From High on the Bluff. Homes that once belonged to some of my mother’s aunts and uncles — and great aunts and uncles — also remain standing on Garden and Pine streets.