Let me begin this series by explaining why I have selected a mother and daughter to examine in more detail rather than one person or a couple and their children, as I intend to do going forward.
Mary Mahoney is my maternal great-great-great grandmother. She married three times, and her daughter Kate, was my great-great-grandmother. My own own grandmother, told me many stories of Kate growing up, of the bar she owned with her second husband and the fire that claimed it at some point in my grandmother’s childhood–I would imagine in the late 1940s.
Despite the heavy family connection, I know less about Mary and Kate than I do about some of the other ancestors. Their records are messy and a mix of family tales and mistakes on various documents. Kate used several forms of her name throughout her life and Mary’s three marriages make it difficult to track her before 1890, particularly since the first two were short-lived.
So I’m going to take them apart, piece by piece: Their birth records and family, their marriages, children, deaths, and information about how they lived.
Mary Mahoney Hartman Lidon Cannon (1862 – ca.1925)
Mary Mahoney was born sometime between 1858-1863 in Pennsylvania. There are various dates given in the census records found at Ancestry.com.
Birth Date Without Official Record
In 1900, her specific birth date is given as September 1862. She lists her age as 37, which does confirm she’s born in the later half of the year, between June-December.
In addition, Mary’s parents are both listed as being from Pennsylvania.
In 1910, her age is listed as 52, which is somehow fifteen years older than she was ten years ago. So that would put her birthdate around 1858. Her parents are split in their nationality: her father is from Pennsylvania, her mother from Ireland.
In 1920, the last census I have been able to find for Mary, her birth is given as 57, which puts her back in 1862/63 age. This time, her parents are both from Ireland.
The fact that in 1900 and 1920, her age is consistent with a birth date in September 1862 leads me to believe this is likely to be closer to the truth.
Beyond census records, the only other record I have with regards to a possible birth is a marriage license for her third marriage to George Cannon in June 1889. Here, Mary says she is 28 years old. This again, does seem to corroborate a birth date of September 1862.
As already insinuated, Mary’s parents are not consistently listed in census records. However, on her marriage license, their birth places are given as Ireland. Given their names, there is no reason to assume that is not true. On that record, Mary lists her parents as William Mahoney and Mary McNulty.
Beyond those names, I only know two more facts about her family: Mary had at least two siblings. A sister, Catherine, and an unnamed brother. I know they exist because my grandmother had a huge suitcase full of photos, and several in her handwriting:
Catherine’s caption, in my grandmother’s handwriting, writes that this is Great Grandmom Mahoney’s sister, and in the corner of a larger version of it are the words “Aunt Catherine”
The brother’s photo is listed on this smaller version as Grandmom’s Brother, but the larger version says Great-Grandmother Brother. There is no name given. I have, when trying to search for him, tentatively called him William.
I have been unable to trace this family further, due to their common Irish names and the time period.
So what are my ways forward to trace Mary’s family? Her birth is not listed in the online database of Philadelphia births at Familysearch.org, nor are any of her siblings. I might look for church records, but for a variety of reasons, I’m unsure of her religion (later on that).
I’ve hit a bit of a brick wall here, at least for now.
Next: Mary and Her Three Marriages