Monday, September 30, 2013

My Missing Mary: She Lived

I first mentioned her in a post a couple of months ago. My great-grandfather's sister, Mary O'Hara. She should have been born and baptized around 1908, but her baptismal record isn't found at the church where her sister was baptized a few years earlier. She should have been recorded on the 1910 US Federal Census, but she's missing from the enumeration of her family. She died in 1911, at the age of 3, and I have her death certificate. It had been the only proof I could find of her life.

How sad, how painful, for little Mary's life to be defined by her death. She lived nearly three years before the illness that ended her too-short life. And yet I had no birth certificate, no baptismal certificate, and, bafflingly, no census record.

Mary's sister Malinda also died young, but Malinda's baptismal certificate was easily found at the church that was most logical, given where they lived. Malinda's birth record jumped out at me from indexes, due to her unusual name, and I was able to order the certificate. Malinda is enumerated on both the 1905 NYS and 1910 Federal Census records. Malinda had a life. It was 6 short years, but it was well-documented and that means something. Only Mary was missing.

Mary O'Haras are a dime a dozen in early 20th-century Irish Brooklyn, but I finally felt compelled to begin at the beginning and order the birth record of every Mary O'Hara who could have been mine. I needed to know that Mary had not merely died, but had lived. It meant ordering the records of a number of other Marys, but I finally ended up with the correct one.


Mary Agnes O'Hara Birth Certificate, 4 Nov 1908

Mary Agnes O'Hara was born on 22 October 1908. Her parents were John O'Hara, stableman, and Mary King. They lived at 527 Baltic St., in the same home where most of them would be enumerated 2 years later in 1910. Mary King O'Hara's 4 previous children were my great-grandfather John Joseph, Eugene William, Patrick, and Malinda. Mary was just a month shy of her 3rd birthday when she died on 20 September 1911.

I know now at least a little bit about Mary O'Hara. I can guess that Mrs. Ward (549 Warren St.) was the midwife who delivered her. I know where the family lived when she was born. (The same place they'd lived when Malinda was born, shedding no light on why they weren't baptized at the same church.) I know her middle name was Agnes.

I know, in some brief way, that she did more than just die - that she lived.

2 comments:

Claudia said...

It is quite possible that the mother had a difficult birth and Mary was Baptized at home. They were not always recorded in the church records, if they were Baptized again the entry would say a "conditional Baptism."

McElrea ONS said...

Bless her...and you for remembering her. We had a similar little one lost to memory in our family. It's quite a good feeling to fill in the blanks.

Another Kathleen