Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Long-Winded Obituary


Receiving a copy of the February 15, 1917, obituary for Mrs. Anna Creahan, for me, was a delight. Not only was it effortless to obtain the record via email from the Indiana library serving as hometown repository for the Bloomington Daily Telephone, the report itself was composed in that genteel and flowery manner of Victorian sensibilities. It was sure to produce the kind of information I’d be seeking.

In many respects, the obituary did not disappoint. Though it started out with the blunt headline, “Mrs. Creahan Dead, Age 78,” it eased up considerably after delivering its duty as factual informer in the first sentence.
Mrs. Anna Creahan, age 78, step-mother of Mrs. Ella Fulk of this city, died Tuesday night at Lafayette from the infirmities of old age. Mrs. Creahan was a fine old Irish lady who came to this country from Ireland when she was a girl. Her husband died two years ago. The funeral will be tomorrow at Lafayette and Mrs. Fulk will attend.

Because I already had found the burial information for both Anna Creahan and her husband Michael, the date and location in Lafayette, Indiana, helped confirm that I was reading the right obituary. This was the Ann Creahan I was seeking.

After this introduction, the Daily Telephone noted that the rest of the obituary was gleaned from the Lafayette newspaper, the Courier—fitting, because that was not only where she had lived, it was actually where Anna Creahan had passed away.
Mrs. Anna Creahan, widow of Michael Creahan, an old and highly respected resident of Lafayette, died at 11:30 Tuesday night at St. Elizabeth hospital. Two weeks ago she was stricken with a severe attack of grip, and several days ago she developed pneumonia.

The Courier seemed in the mood to go into greater detail about Mrs. Creahan’s illness—something we’d rarely see in an obituary today—and though the narrative seems somewhat monotonous, it did provide additional family clues.
She was taken to the hospital a week ago today from the home of her niece Miss Louise Lenihan, 511 Kossuth street. Her condition had been critical since Saturday, and when she passed away she was surrounded by her niece and nephews. Mr. Creahan died in May, 1915.

Lenihan? Hmmm…I’ll have to make a note of this. Very helpful. Remember, I’m still tracing this line in hopes of uncovering who, exactly, that mystery niece “A. M. Crahan” in Mathew Kelly’s household was. Perhaps at last, I’ll find out what those initials “A. M.” stood for.

Right after the sentence that confirmed Anna’s husband’s date of passing—which we had already found, thanks to Find A Grave—my reading came to a screeching halt.
Mrs. Creahan was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, and came to Lafayette with her mother

All was well and good up to this point. Not only had I gleaned the name of another possible relative, but I had received the bonus goodie of learning her county of origin in Ireland—something I’ve yet to determine for these impossible Kellys.

All in the same breath, I had grasped a victory and had it torn from my reach with the very next words:
Mrs. Creahan was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, and came to Lafayette with her mother Mrs. Mary Cunningham, when a little girl and had been a resident here for half a century.

With that, I lost all zest for the discovery—for anything following that sentence, actually. Did it really matter any more? This was not our Ann Kelly. It was someone named Anna Cunningham.

On general principles—the hope that someone will be searching for this Anna Creahan, even if she turned out not to be ours—I’ll post the rest of the obituary below, with the complete transcription. Maybe someone will be entering that phrase in quotes, “Anna Creahan” in a Google search box, and will appreciate the find. I know I would have.

As for the Kelly niece, A. M. Crahan, it seemed I was farther than ever from being able to determine what had become of her. There were too many obstacles to overcome in continuing the search.

Somehow, though, I couldn’t let the thing go. With some brick walls—combined with stubbornness—it seems they come in handy for a good head banging.


            Mrs. Anna Creahan, age 78, step-mother of Mrs. Ella Fulk of this city, died Tuesday night at Lafayette from the infirmities of old age. Mrs. Creahan was a fine old Irish lady who came to this country from Ireland when she was a girl. Her husband died two years ago. The funeral will be tomorrow at Lafayette and Mrs. Fulk will attend.
            Of Mrs. Creahan’s death the Lafayette Courier says:
            Mrs. Anna Creahan, widow of Michael Creahan, an old and highly respected resident of Lafayette, died at 11:30 Tuesday night at St. Elizabeth hospital. Two weeks ago she was stricken with a severe attack of grip, and several days ago she developed pneumonia. She was taken to the hospital a week ago today from the home of her niece Miss Louise Lenihan, 511 Kossuth street. Her condition had been critical since Saturday, and when she passed away she was surrounded by her niece and nephews. Mr. Creahan died in May, 1915. Mrs. Creahan was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, and came to Lafayette with her mother Mrs. Mary Cunningham, when a little girl and had been a resident here for half a century. For more than thirty years she resided at 1112 south Fifth street. Deceased was an earnest member of St. Ann’s church and had belonged to that congregation since the parish was established. Prior to that she was a member of St. Mary’s church. She was possessed of deep religious convictions, and her religion was exemplified in her every day life. She had been a member of the Rosary society of the church for more than thirty years and was also a member of the ladies’ auxiliary of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. She took an active interest in the Hibernian society and was a kind and sympathetic neighbor and friend. Mrs. Creahan had a wide acquaintance throughout the city and her memory will long be revered by those who knew her best. During her long life she was the author of many kind deeds and her passing will be regretted by many. She is survived by the following step-children: John E. Creahan and Mrs. John P. Quinlisk of Lafayette; Mrs. Ella Fulk of Bloomington, and Mrs. Julia Sullivan of Denver, Colo.

8 comments:

  1. Jacqi, you were close but no match. we have all had that experience more often than we like.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Colleen, and it can be so bruising--but in the big picture, it is only a momentary disappointment. It all goes into the mix of what makes the chase so alluring.

      Delete
  2. Maybe she was married twice, or the person who wrote the obit got the name wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You and I are on the same wavelength, Claudia. That was my first thought, too.

      Delete
  3. I was thinking, too, that Mrs. Mary Cunningham might be her name from a second marriage. I think it's worth investigating before you dismiss this Ann Creahan. It's a wonderful obituary anyway!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jacqi. is it not possible that -- oh, I was going to say just what Lisa, above me said: maybe her mother remarried. I haven't researched in Ireland but maybe it's worth a try to see if you can find anything.

    These old obituaries are so wonderful. I've only found a few in my searches so far. I hope this one turns out to be your ancestor.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm with everyone else---sounds like more digging.

    I understand the privacy concerns of our time, but oh how I love the details in the old obits and all of the clues that they give us. Future generations will not likely feel quite the same about many of todays obits.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I find the names of the old causes of death to be endlessly fascinating.

    I read on, to see if Ms. Cunningham remarried! I bet you know already - since I am so far behind in my reading!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...