Sunday, November 17, 2013

First Born, Second Oldest

It sometimes took the complex arrangements of the large families of the previous century to produce puzzling situations like the one outlined in today’s post title. As we’ve already reviewed, Patrick Kelly and his wife, Emma, were married after she had been widowed. Her son, Frederick William Brown, was apparently adopted by Patrick—either informally or legally—but was actually Patrick’s stepson.

The oldest child born to Patrick and Emma thus became the family’s second-oldest child.

There are some complicating matters involved in tracing the documents for this second-oldest child. For whatever reason, her baptismal record at Saint Patrick’s Church in Fort Wayne shows her as Catherine Mary Kelley. While not precisely accurate, the “Kelley” spelling is forgivable—it certainly was an oft-repeated variation. Perhaps the same lenience should be granted to the spelling variations found for her first name: all sorts of versions beginning with “K” instead of “C.” To top off the matter, I’ve found the middle initial claimed to be either “M” or “A”—with “M” the preferred version, seeing that her marriage license sported the name “May,” which is quite close to the church’s assertion that it was “Mary.”

So much for sheer confidence in official documentation.

However the reporting parties chose to spell her name, Kathryn arrived on September 12, 1900. Regardless of these clerical discrepancies, her baptismal record yielded one tantalizing tidbit of information. Perhaps you recall, at the start of this Kelly series, how I agonized over a different Kelly family which I couldn’t quite link to my own Kelly line, despite such familial clues as becoming co-owners of a family burial plot. I have yet to figure out how that Timothy Kelly line relates to my family’s descent from John T. and Johanna Falvey Kelly.

Besides the cemetery plot co-ownership, here’s another sweet clue: the sponsors listed on Kathryn Kelly’s baptismal record just happened to be Richard and “Louiza” Kelly. Richard, you may remember, was the son of Timothy Kelly who went on to serve for many years as a captain in the Fort Wayne Police Department, working alongside baby Kathryn’s uncle, John Kelly Stevens. While I understand, in our current times, that friends are as likely as family to be designated as godparents, back in the time in which Kathryn was born, it was more likely that those willing to serve in that capacity—no mere nicety, but a real possibility in an era in which many children did lose their parents at young ages—were family members.

But how?

This first daughter of Patrick and Emma Kelly also provided some curious details in her later years. Though she was the first-born among the couple’s children, she was the last of all eight children to be married. In a reversal of her mother’s own situation, Kathryn met a widower with one son, whom she eventually married—in the very same church in which she had been baptized forty eight years earlier—on June 5, 1948.

That same church was there again in Kathryn’s waning years. Though the life narratives of this more recent generation of Kellys took on a decidedly different cast than that of her parents’ generation—she apparently serving as a bookkeeper at a Fort Wayne construction company for many years, rather than the stay-at-home model her own mother knew—the Mrs. Oliver Earl Glass spent her last months in a convalescent hospital before succumbing at the age of seventy three. Besides her husband and stepson, Ronald, all who were left in her family by that point were three of her younger sisters, who joined together after Kathryn’s May 24, 1974, passing in the same church in which their life stories had all begun: Saint Patrick Church.

1 comment:

  1. I suppose one blessing is the family had roots in, and remained in the area - chasing them to the far corners of the earth would be most challenging.


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