Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation

Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation

Where Detroit's History Endures
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Margaret Mather Finlayson

Born in Tilbury, Ontario on October 21, 1862, Maggie was the daughter of John Finlayson who ran a boarding house for sailors near the Detroit River. She did the chores of a maid at the boarding house. At the age of 10, she sold newspapers downtown Detroit and, at 16, she was a maid at one of the Jefferson Avenue mansions. She moved to New York at the urging of an older sister.

In New York, she adopted her mother’s maiden name, Mather, and began to get bit parts in the theatre. She worked in a small troupe that toured New York State. During the tour, she came to the attention of J. M. Hill, a prominent theatrical manager. He signed her to a five-year contract and she began a two-year rigorous schedule of study and training. She made her debut at the McVickers Theatre in Chicago on August 1, 1882 as Juliet. She was a great success and was hailed as the new queen of the American stage. She toured the country and opened in New York at the Union Square Theatre to the acclaim of critics and audiences.

Margaret was twice married, first to Emil Havekorn, an orchestra leader in New York. Her second marriage was to Gustave G. Pabst of the Milwaukee Brewing family. Both marriages were of short duration.

After her association with Hill, she was managed by Detroit Theatrical Manager, B. C. Whitney, who organized sumptuous productions and tours. During a performance of Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline” in Charleston, West Virginia on April 7, 1898, Margaret, playing the role of Imogene, collapsed on stage during the Fourth Act. She died the next day without regaining consciousness.

She was buried on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1898 from the Chapel at Elmwood with a small number of immediate family and friends attending the service inside the Chapel and hundreds of mourners and onlookers outside. She was buried in one of the costumes she had worn during her spectacular stage career.

Born: October 21,1862
Died: April 7, 1898
Buried: Lot 134, Section 3