Funding was provided by Humanities Nebraska (HN) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.


The Creighton Family


Edward Creighton

Edward Charles Creighton, the fifth child of James and Bridget Creighton, was born in Belmont County, Ohio on August 31, 1820. At the age of 18, Edward received a gift of a wagon and team of horses from his father, which he used to begin a freighting business.

At the age of twenty-seven, Edward began his venture in constructing telegraph lines which took him West, eventually bringing the telegraph line to Omaha. Edward achieved his dream of a transcontinental telegraph line in 1861 after reaching the West Coast. Edward also found financial success in ranching, real estate, railroads, mining, and banking while working closely with his youngest brother, John A. Creighton.

During a business trip, Edward met his future wife, Mary Lucretia Wareham. They married on October 7, 1856 in Dayton, Ohio. The two had a son, Charles David, three years later. Their son passed away at the age of four. Edward’s career ended in 1874 when he suddenly collapsed in his office and passed away without a will.


Mary Lucretia Wareham Creighton

Mary Lucretia Wareham, the oldest child of David and Emily Wareham, was born in Dayton, Ohio on February 3, 1834. “Lu” met Edward Creighton when he visited her father on business. Following their wedding in 1856, the newlyweds moved to Omaha. At some point, she adopted the name Mary – even though she had a younger sister with that name. Mary and Edward’s only son, Charles David, was born in April 1859. Young Charles died a few days after his fourth birthday.

Omaha was known across the county as a rough place to live in the 1860s. Even so, Mary Lucretia traveled to all parts of the city to help those in need, giving out practical items and $25 each day – roughly $750 in 2021. Her support of the Catholic Church and her charitable deeds demonstrate the importance of faith in Mary’s life.

When Edward died in 1874 without a will, Mary inherited his entire estate. John A. Creighton, Mary’s brother-in-law, advised her to leave a will to ensure her estate was not lost. Mary died in January of 1876 with a will allocating $100,000 to create “Creighton College” in memory of her late husband.


John A. Creighton

John Andrew Creighton was born on October 15, 1831, becoming the ninth and last child of James and Bridget Creighton. John would go and work for his brother Edward. Later, the brothers invested time and money into banking and mining, where they found great financial success.

John met Emma (Sarah Emily) Wareham when she was visiting her older sister, Mary Lucretia Creighton. They wed five years later, on June 9, 1868, in Omaha. The couple lived with their siblings, Edward and Mary Lucretia. The couple had a daughter, Lucretia, that passed away 11 months later.

John A. Creighton was known throughout Omaha and the world for his philanthropy. Because of his widespread charitable efforts, especially to many Catholic causes, Pope Leo XIII knighted John, making him a Count of the Holy Roman Empire. John and Sarah Emily invested a large amount of time and money into Creighton University, leading to the expansion of the original building, beginning a natural sciences department, and much more. After the death of his wife, John donated $150,000 to create “Creighton Memorial St. Joseph’s Hospital” in honor of his wife. John A. Creighton died on February 7, 1907, and 4,000 people attended his funeral.


Sarah Emily Wareham Creighton

Sarah Emily Wareham (who also went by Emma) was born to Emily and David Wareham in Dayton, Ohio, on October 17, 1840. While in Omaha to visit her oldest sister, Mary Lucretia Creighton, she met her future husband, John A. Creighton (Mary’s brother-in-law). John and Sarah E. Creighton wed five years later. On June 9, 1868, in Omaha. Their first and only child, daughter Lucretia “LuLu” Creighton, was born in May 1869. LuLu died eleven months later.

After the creation of “Creighton College” by her sister Mary Lucretia’s will, Sarah Emily dedicated a great amount of time and effort to the school. Sarah Emily’s support of the school included decorating for commencement, encouraging John to fund modern science equipment, and advocating for the first expansion of the original building so that Jesuits would have better living quarters. Additionally, Sarah Emily’s push for a worship space on campus led to St. John’s Collegiate Chapel, dedicated May 1888. To host her funeral later that year required special permission since St. John’s was not yet a church. It became a parish in 1897.

In her will, Sarah Emily bequeathed $50,000 for construction of a new hospital building. Creighton Memorial St. Joseph’s Hospital, named in her honor, opened in 1892.


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