Saturday, November 23, 2013

Scrambled Names and Missing Data

By the time we reach Emma Carle Kelly’s seventh child, you’d think we’d have the hang of these doubtful documentations. We’ve certainly had our practice keeping things straight for her other children—Helen, Stephen and Emmet—to say the least!

With Patrick and Emma’s baby girl born March 20, 1911, it all begins to amount to so much déjà vu.

To start off with, on April 2, 1911, the Kellys’ new arrival was baptized—as were all their children—at Saint Patrick Church in downtown Fort Wayne. While I had only the microfilmed version of the document to rely on (and believe me, it was difficult to read), I could barely make out the details of the sponsors’ names: Henry and Anna Peters.

I think.

I have no idea who that couple was. If relatives, they are not any I’ve discovered yet. If friends, well…welcome to a new century, where people were not so set on clustering around extended family to the exclusion of everyone else.

About the time of this happy occasion at church, the county government was celebrating in their own kind of way—by documenting the child’s name as Anna Marie Kelly.

While Anna Marie has a nice ring to it, as the child grew up, apparently she didn’t think so. Witness the eight year old daughter of Patrick and Emma in the 1920 census: listed as Marie. Check her out in the 1930 census: now claiming her name as Marie A. Kelly.

When she married—three days before her twenty-sixth birthday—she signed her name to the marriage license application as Marie Ann Kelly.

Something tells me an individual and her own parents would know better than a government hireling what her name was.

Becoming Marie A. Boyd—her new married name—didn’t mean the end of name problems. Thankfully, we now had her husband’s name to help track the record and keep this Kelly daughter separate from the other Marie A. Boyds in town.

Our Marie married a man by the name of Paul Brice Boyd. Son of Whitley County, Indiana, transplants to Fort Wayne—Alfred Leroy and Cora Ellen Agnes Collins Boyd—Paul was actually a Fort Wayne native. The young couple stayed in Fort Wayne their entire life, as did, apparently, their two children—a daughter and a son, whom they named after Paul’s brother.

I say apparently, because I have no way to trace that through the end of Marie’s life story. You see, while I can find her husband’s obituary—published in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on Thursday, November 28, 1974, two days after his death—I can’t find Marie’s obituary.

Well, let me amend that. I can find an obituary for Marie A. Boyd. There is one dated February 27, 1979, in the Gazette. But that would never do. For one thing, Marie was mentioned as a survivor in her sister Helen’s 1985 obituary. Then, there is the 1986 obituary of her baby sister, whom we’ve not yet met, which also listed her among the family’s survivors. Don’t think there are any reporting errors there.

So, who is this other Marie A. Boyd?

It appears that this other woman was, herself, victim of some clerical reporting errors.

To witness, scroll down the Boyd listings for the Allen County area obituaries to see the entry for Marie A. Boyd. See? The print date was 1979. (You can also scroll a little further to see the print date for Paul Boyd’s own obituary.)

Then, take a look at the Fort Wayne Catholic Cemetery burial listings for all Boyd entries through 1983, kindly provided to us through the efforts of the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library.

Notice the entry for Paul Boyd’s burial. It lines up fairly well with the November 28, 1974, obituary entry we just saw. Also, notice the fine print on his cemetery details. It notes his next of kin to be his wife, Marie A. Boyd.

I’m sure it hasn’t been lost on you, if you are checking all these links as I’ve provided them, that there is a burial entry for a Marie A. Boyd listed just above Paul’s entry. However, in addition to showing a different burial plot, you may have noticed that this time, her record specified what that A stood for: Alma.

In fact, her given date of death matches that of the mistaken obituary which I’ve been disabused of thinking was our Kelly descendant. Note, too, that this Marie A. Boyd had her daughter Jean Neher listed as next of kin. That is not a name in our Kelly family tree.

The clerical issue popped up when I started pursuing this Marie Alma’s information. Thankfully—and this is sometimes a hit-or-miss proposition when researching burials—not only did Find-A-Grave have an entry for this woman, but a volunteer provided additional information. Evidently, she was actually known as Alma Marie Gocke Boyd, and her headstone read Alma M. Boyd. While relying on headstones hasn’t worked too well in the past for me, all this is enough to satisfy me that the 1979 passing of that “Marie A. Boyd” was not for our Marie, but for Alma.

Just to be sure, though, I took a look under Boyd listings, 1984 through 1993, in the Catholic Cemetery records at the Genealogy Center, for our Marie’s given date of death in 1989—and there she was! So, too, for the Find-A-Grave page, though there was precious little information provided.

But what about Marie's obituary? Where was it? Was she really supposed to be listed as Anna Marie instead of Marie Ann? Believe me, I tried all those variations in looking up any leads, with no luck. While I’d love to find Marie’s obituary to trace her line forward and possibly connect with distant cousins, the information I’ve already gleaned will have to suffice.

Whether her memory was perpetuated through the device of an obituary or not—whether in Fort Wayne or wherever her children may have settled by the 1980s—there are still tokens of her life left behind that can help me recreate a bit of who this Kelly descendant was.

As for those who knew her best, I’m sure she still lives on in their memory.


  1. Pouf and she obituary...1974 was really not that long ago. I wonder what Funeral Home they usually used in Fort Wayne. Some families use the same Funeral Home death after death.
    I save Funeral Pamphlets..why because my Mother In law and my Husbands Grandmothers both did. I tuck them in my Bible for a year or so then add a note about the person and file them in a photo box:)

    1. That's a great point about the mortuary, Far Side. I was thinking it would be Mungovan in this family's case, but then I just took a look through the other siblings' obituaries, and found four different funeral homes listed for this Fort Wayne extended family. It may take contacting each one of them to see what can be found. Or maybe the cemetery would have some information...

  2. The "poofers" are hard to deal with. Seems like there ought to be a way to find something... Far Sdie seems to have a good suggestion.

    1. Yes, Far Side has a good suggestion. And it is frustrating, sometimes...but then I remind myself that sometimes, it's the challenge of the search that makes this genealogy so fun!


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