Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Postscript for an Angel

I wanted to tie up another loose strand on the inscription written on the reverse of the Little Lost Angel’s portrait. Edna Tully McCaughey had explained that, in addition to Vivian Lester Bromley, “Aunt Marie” had two daughters from a former marriage. Thinking this might explain why the 1900 US Census had shown Marie Sullivan Lester to have claimed all three of her children were still alive though only one young child showed in the household, I played around with the information given—with only minimal luck, so far.

The two additional daughters were supposedly from one former marriage. Their names were given on the photograph inscription as Kitty Coffee and Margie Hansen. At that point, I had no idea the surname of that former marriage, but figured the two differing names of the daughters did not infer there were three marriages—I hoped.

When I found the old Rootsweb post from a Sullivan researcher the other day, I was encouraged when I saw a mention of Maria. Maria, herself, had been giving me grief with her elusive records, let alone those of the two daughters. But this post provided the missing former surname: Coffey.

Alas, though I thought that would be an easy-to-find, uncommon surname, it was not. To add to my woes, there were not only variations for the spelling, but multiple pairings of Sullivans and Coffees. And, it appears, in this pre-jet-set age, a couple with the same names were married in each of the family locales—Chicago and Wisconsin—adding no help to this tangle.

So, as I set aside this puzzle at its partially unscrambled stage, I take “Kitty Coffee” to be Catherine T. Calhoun, daughter of Patrick J. Coffey and Marie M. Sullivan, born September 9, 1874 in Chicago, dying May 22, 1930, in the same city. I presume “Margie Hansen” could be Margrete Josephine Coffey, though the parents listed on the transcription of her March 19, 1892, marriage record in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are Charles Coffey and May Sullivan Coffey. However, there is always room for a mistake. Though “Charles” in no way resembles the written form of “Patrick,” “May” at least was Maria’s middle name. The groom, handily, was surnamed a variation of Hansen—in this case, recorded as Frank Edward Hanson.

That, however, in no way matches the puzzle created by the fact that, on June 25 of that same year in Chicago, a couple by the names of Francis E. Hanson and Margaret J. Coffey were also married. Perhaps this is just my cue to set aside my attempt to unravel someone else’s family history.


  1. "Patrick COFFEY, born Ireland c1850, married Maria SULLIVAN, daughter of Thomas SULLIVAN and Mary Ann FITZGERALD, in Chicago c1873. The couple had two children, Margaret Josephine (1873-1964) and Catherine Theresa (1874-1930). Patrick then abandoned his family. He is supposed to have died out west in a gun fight or shot by the law. He is supposed to have been declared dead, and Maria remarried to Francis Luther LESTER in 1890 in Chicago."

    Source - http://thecoffeycousins.org/Archives/geobook1.html

    So I think you are on the right track with the names. The marriage record for "Kitty" (i.e., Catherine) looks spot on to me - she being born Sept 9 1874 fits the wedding date of the parents of Oct 30, 1872.

    Going by the quoted material - Margaret was a about a year older. And the 1920 census record for Margaret Hanson (married to Frank E.) shows her born abt 1873.


    So I'd be pretty confident of your findings.

  2. I wonder if the couple registered to be married in Wisconsin and then ran into some difficulties so they had to wait a few months? The licence to marry is not the same as the marriage certificate. Both records look "legit" to me.


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