The Egg Lady

Emma Staylor Pryor

1 April 1838- 2 November 1914

Baltimore, Maryland

decorated egg


It’s funny the things you learn from obituaries. I was collecting data in the Baltimore Sun for my long ago Staylor relatives and didn’t expect to find anything beyond the usual dates, possibly cemetery information, and maybe a new name or two. I didn’t expect to find a story that I would carry with me from Easter to Easter.

Little Sisters of the Poor opened their home for the aged and poor of Baltimore at the corner or Valley and Biddle Streets in the 1869. In the beginning, the home was dependent on charity – even for their food. The donations were generous; hotels and housekeepers both always purchased extra foods and made donations of it.

It came to Emma Staylor Pryor’s attention that the Sisters received all sorts of donations. Baltimoreans were generous, but there was one thing that was not donated – ever. Eggs.

In 1880, Aunt Emma enlisted the services of some friends and collected funds for the purchase of eggs for the residents. There were 30 men and women living there at the time. The eggs were a tremendous success with everyone and Aunt Emma collected money the following year as well. This gift went on for 34 years. Aunt Emma became known as the “Egg Lady”.

The residents were always thrilled to receive the eggs. Indeed, it was the one day of the year when they had fresh eggs and they could have as many as they wished. Some residents were reported to have eaten as many as half a dozen of them in one sitting.

By 1914, there were over 300 residents at the Little Sisters of the Poor Home. Over 300 dozen eggs were purchased that year and served for Easter.  Indeed, monetary donations were so generous that there was enough left to purchase many pounds of sausage (something considered easy for the elderly to eat).

My Aunt Emma died 2 November 1914. That 3,600-egg purchase in April was to be her last. But the Sisters and her charity were in her final thoughts. Among her last words she “cautioned” her children not to forget the Easter eggs.  And they didn’t. For Easter in 1915, over 350 dozen eggs were collected and sent for the residents’ enjoyment.

The eggs were soft boiled, hard boiled, made into omelets, and even rolled on the lawn. There were “picking contests” with the altar boys from St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, located on the same property. And after eating all the eggs, the residents enjoyed watching a baseball game on their lawn.

And yes, there were enough donations left for the purchase of 55 pounds sausage that year to be enjoyed with the eggs.

I’m not sure how long Aunt Emma’s charity continued on after her death, but it is certain that she made a great many people happy– especially on Easter morning.




“Obituary,” The Baltimore Sun, 7 November 1914, p. 5, col. 2.

“In ‘Egg Lady’s” Memory,” The Baltimore Sun, 2 April 1915, p. 7, col. 5.

“Old Folks Feast On Eggs,” The Baltimore Sun, 15 April 1915, p. 5, col. 4.