Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mary "Mamie" Bailey

Mary "Mamie" Bailey

The theme for Week 9 was "close to home." I knew immediately that I was going to pick Mary "Mamie" Bailey. my 2nd great grand aunt, for this week's story. The explanation said: "Which ancestor is the closest to where you live? Who has a story that hits “close to home”?

I have to preface this by saying that nothing like Aunt Mamie's story has ever happened to me. But when I came upon (and as I got to the bottom of) Aunt Mamie's story... my heart was broken for her. As a mother, I couldn't imagine this event playing out in my own life.

Without further delay... here is her story.

My 2nd great grandfather William Bailey had three siblings, one was an older sister named Mary, who went by Mamie for most of her life. Mamie often threw parties for her friends and both William and Harry (the youngest) are also listed in attendance. In some parties, Melissa Noll (William's future wife and therefore my 2nd great grandmother) and her sister Gertrude are listed as guests too. 

The Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, 30 December 1905, page 6

The Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, 31 January 1906, page 7

I came across these articles while looking for articles that had either William  Bailey or Melissa Noll (my aforementioned 2x great grandparents). I first became aware that there had been a relationship between Aunt Mamie and Lawrence Hirchfelder, the honoree of the birthday party above when I found the following articles. 

The Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, 2 July 1906, page 8

The Ft. Wayne Daily News, 30 June 1906, page 2

The Ft. Wayne Sentinel, 30 June 1906, page 2

I was able to find the court records regarding this suit filed by Aunt Mamie against Lawrence Hirschfelder. Aunt Mamie did become pregnant with a child from her relationship with Lawrence Hirschfelder. She brought suit against Lawrence for the maintenance of the child. Tragically the baby passed away and Mamie changed her suit to one asking for help with the expenses that she had born for the child's delivery, care, funeral and burial. 

While she asked for $1000, she was awarded $300 by the courts. Their child, named Harry Leonard was born on October 1, 1906. I have not been able to determine what was wrong with little Harry Leonard, although I suspect that he may have been somewhat premature. In any case, court documents describe him as a delicate child in ill health and he passes away on November 19, 1906. His funeral took place a St. Mary's Catholic Church in Ft. Wayne, according to their records he is buried at Catholic Cemetery. Despite the fact that we are not direct descendants of Mamie, I feel compelled to tell her and little Harry Leonard's story. I had some pause at airing Aunt Mamie's dirty laundry on the blog, but I have so much respect for her, I think she was really brave and that her family must have been very supportive.  To speak out in 1906 and demand help to care for your child ... when good Catholic girls weren't supposed to get in that kind of trouble and when they did they were supposed to go to a girls home and give their baby away. She said I'm keeping my baby and I'm making the father help with expenses. I think she is remarkable. 

And little Harry has been in my thoughts often since I learned of him. He could so easily have slipped from history without being remarked upon or remembered.  He would have been my great Grandma Bea's first cousin and would have only been about 5 months older than she was, I probably would have known him. My grandmother, who knew Aunt Mamie had never heard the story. 

Aunt Mamie married a man named Charles Beekner, his name is also often listed among the guests at the parties she hosted. Mamie passed away in May in 1954, Her obituary makes no mention of Harry Leonard.