Monday, July 31, 2017
Tombstone Tuesday/ I Wonder About Annie
For a long time, I was unsure what to make of the child called Annie. I saw her tombstone in St. Anne's Cemetery in Palmyra, New York right next to my 2nd great-uncle James White and his wife Mary Ford so I assumed she must have been their daughter. On her small stone was engraved simply, "Annie 1890-1893". I found no record of her baptism in St. Anne's records, only her burial in 1893 which matched the date on her stone. The burial record gave her father's name as James White, so that's that. Except... in the census of 1900, which asked women if they had children, how many, and how many of them were still living, Mary told the census taker she never had any children. So was Annie adopted? A niece or other relative?
Mary, a native of County Laois, Ireland would have been 37 at the time of Annie's birth and James 41. That's rather late to begin a family and there were no other children born to this marriage, but then again James and Mary didn't wed until 1887. Today it occurred to me I had never located this family in the New York State census taken in 1892 when Annie would have been two years old. Palmyra was a small town, it took only eight pages to enumerate it's residents that year, so I went page by page after an Ancestry search failed to turn them up. Still nothing. Ancestry wouldn't allow me to search by county, so I switched to Family Search which would. They weren't listed anywhere in Wayne County, where Palmyra is located, so I tried Ontario, the next county over. There they were! James White, Mary White, and Anna M. White aged two living in the town of Phelps.
So little Annie was with James and Mary at the age of two-- she must be theirs I thought, and named for her grandmother, Anna Ryan White. I recalled the census of 1910 also asked women about their children so I checked that one next. This time Mary, now living in Palmyra, told the enumerator she had one child who was still living. What? All I can imagine is that Mary was so undone by her only child's death she couldn't bear to talk about it, certainly not to a stranger who came to her door asking intrusive questions. I looked at the New York State Death Index, now coming online at Internet Archive, and found "Anna M. White" died 24 September 1893 in Palmyra.
All the evidence points to James and Mary being Annie's parents. The next time I'm able to look at church registers in Phelps I will look for her baptism there; since she isn't in St. Anne's baptismal records I think it's probable she was born in Phelps. And I won't be at all surprised when I read that her parents were James White and Mary Ford.