Friday, October 21, 2011

Not Grey or Brown

On this last slip of paper enclosed with the letter from Theresa Blaising Stevens to her daughter-in-law, Agnes Tully Stevens, Theresa outlines her final wishes. She provides details of what she has already attended to for her burial plans, and gives directions for Agnes to take care of what she, at this time, cannot complete.

Undertaker is

Mungovan an Sons
Donal J. Mungovan
Harrison 2114
2114 South Calhoun St.

There is a box in the top dresser drawer in my bedroom off the dining room that has all my things in to be laid out in. Drawers, slip, stockings, and rosary and the receipt to the cript in Mausaleum which is paid for on only $20.00 will be charged for the inscription on marble slab, and I want slippers and a nice dress but I not want grey or brown. Navy blue or black.

If this last piece of paper in the package, cut from the same stationary but to a smaller size, did indeed come with the letter written on June 30, 1946, it predated Theresa’s passing by little more than a year. While she was so careful to attend to her own burial plans, there were some changes which she couldn’t possibly have anticipated. For one, Mungovan and Sons, though a well-known undertaker in Fort Wayne serving many Stevens and Kelly family members including Theresa’s own husband’s funeral in 1929, did not end up providing the services for which she had paid them. According to her obituary, the Ankenbruck-Imler Funeral Home was in charge.

That change might possibly be related to the events of her last days. Theresa, who a year prior had worried about what was to become of her after her step-son Will’s death considering the estrangement between her and the step-daughter, did indeed end up dying in a hospital—not in Fort Wayne, though, but in Chicago. I don’t know whether her four month’s visit to Agnes was planned as a vacation or as a last residence, but at some point toward the end, she was admitted to St. Bernard’s Hospital there, where she died the evening of July 24, 1947. Her body was returned to her hometown of Fort Wayne, where she was buried alongside her husband, John Kelly Stevens, in the mausoleum of the Catholic Cemetery.

A weekend issue of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette published her obituary:

            "Funeral services will be held Monday for Mrs. Theresa Stevens, 81, lifelong resident of Fort Wayne who died at 5 p.m., Thursday at St. Bernard's Hospital in Chicago. She had gone to visit her step-daughter-in-law, Mrs. Agnes Stevens, in Chicago four months ago.
            "She formerly lived at 1519 Oakland Street. Her husband, John, died in 1929. Surviving are Mrs. Stevens; a step-daughter, Mrs. Fred Stahl, Fort Wayne; six grand-children; and seven great grand-children.
            "Services will be held at 8:30 a.m. Monday at the Ankenbruck-Imler Funeral Home and at 9 a.m. at the Most Precious Blood Church, the Rev. S. J. Kremer officiating. Burial will be in the Catholic Cemetery. Friends may call at the funeral home after 2 p.m. Sunday."

While no mention was made of any surviving Blaising siblings—and there may not have been any, as Theresa was the baby of that family—I am sure that her daughter-in-law and as many family members as possible were there to honor her in her passing. The tokens of Agnes Tully Stevens’ care for her husband’s step-mother—the high masses given in her name, and the fact that Agnes kept these mementos among her personal papers all these years—testify to her esteem for the bonds of family.


  1. Makes you wonder about the funeral home - was it bought out? change hands? or did she get a refund (or not)?

    She was well organized - in any event. Something thats hard to do - this sort of planning.

  2. I don't mean to imply that there was anything amiss about the switch of funeral homes. Strangely enough, in doing a Google search today, it seems that Mungovan is still in operation, while I find no website for Ankenbruck-Imler. I'm presuming the switch was a function of the unexpected detail of receiving the deceased from an out-of-town hospital, which was probably not in Theresa's original plan. At some point, I will research the court papers for both John's and Theresa's wills (and Katie's too, since I'm curious) and see if there is any further mention about financial corrections.

  3. Jacqui, Great job on this series. Interesting and informative, as well as a good sense of time and people. Nice work. Thanks.


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