Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Inquiring Into Which Mary

Although I’ve worked on it for over a year now—posting daily, piece by piece—I still have several items left to post from the collection of Agnes Tully Stevens’ personal papers I received last year. Everything from nearly-meaningless scraps of paper to tenderly-kept letters from a son far away at war has been preserved in this collection. Some of these items I’ve been able to identify, or at least discover some back story. But some, frankly, I’ve put at the bottom of the pile until—hopefully—I could extract some meaningful explanation.

That time has come to face the music and post the remainders, story or no story.

Today, I’ll begin this series of miscellaneous postings with a form letter. Sad, short, but nevertheless, a form letter.

It is one of those unfortunate requirements of life: the pre-printed thank-you note for use by the family bereaved of a loved one.

The message is sparse. On the cover, simply the phrase, “In Appreciation.” Inside, the sentiment states:

The Relatives of the late
Mrs. Mary Tully
acknowledges with grateful appreciation
your kind expression of sympathy

This begs the question: which Mary Tully? Along with an over-abundance of Tully women named Margaret, this family also had its fair share of women with some form of the name Mary.

My guess at this point—given that the card came with no envelope or any indication of a date—is that this Mary Tully would be Agnes’ aunt, the woman married to Patrick Tully, brother of Agnes’ father, John. If this is the case, Mary’s maiden name would be Hogan, and, depending on which document you are viewing at the time, she was reportedly born in either Ireland or Canada.

As to the location in Canada, it would be the village of Paris in Brant County, Ontario, where she does show in the 1861 census, serendipitously on the same page as the Tully family. This, also, is the likely spot for her marriage to Patrick, although I have yet to discover anything documenting that event.

Mary Hogan Tully, having been the mother of seven children, saw the passing of three of them before the 1900 census—and all but two of them before her own death—including her son, Bert, who like his younger brother succumbed to tuberculosis in Chicago seven months prior to Mary’s own passing. Perhaps it was because of these many losses that the widow journeyed from her home in Chicago to live with her daughter Margaret, now the Mrs. Michael E. Dempsey, in Hamilton, Ohio, thirty miles to the northwest of Cincinnati.

At her passing on August 22, 1914, Mary Hogan Tully made that same journey in reverse, being buried in the family plot at Mount Olivet cemetery in Chicago.

A Butler County newspaper, the Hamilton Daily Republican-News, recorded her passing in the manner in which those of that past century would be familiar:
Mrs. Mary Tully died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. M. E. Dempsey, of 816 Dayton street at 11:15 o'clock p.m. Saturday of a complication of affections aged 70 years. She was a communicant of St. Mary's church, was a devout Catholic and her death has brought pain and sorrow in many relatives and friends. The remains will be conveyed tonight to Chicago where the funeral will take place Tuesday from St. Patrick's church with interment in the Mt. Olivet cemetery, Chicago.
Alas for those of us interested in tracing her genealogical records, such an obituary neglects mention of which other child still survives her. Or perhaps the inferences I’ve been left to glean from other documents has not served me as well as I’d hoped. Perhaps I’ve lost count. Perhaps she was now only survived by one.


  1. It's a pleasant irony that the card that seemed to tell no story has inspired such a rich and full one.

    1. Thankfully, Wendy! Those names with their stories missing are so tantalizing!

  2. I cant wait to read on here one day in the future where that journey lead to...
    Will the real Mary Tully, please stand up? Don't we wish it was that easy?

    1. Oh, believe me, I would love to know more about this Mary. Actually, you've inspired me to insert a bit more about what I know of this Mary in another post. I do have some more documentation...I may as well share it!

  3. This is definitely a case of too many Mary's.

    I find this curious:

    ..just looking at Chicago, I see about 5 Mary's...

    1. I know it, Iggy. I'm sure there were more than even five. At least I have that limiting factor of looking for someone related to Patrick and John Tully's generation. Except for that missing other brother, it keeps the list somewhat restricted.


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