Friday, December 26, 2014

PHOTOS FROM OUT OF THE PAST - Mary Cecelia Kennedy

I will never forget how excited my parents were when John F. Kennedy was elected president.  My family loved JFK and watched and read everything they could about the president and Jackie.  I also remember how excited they were when someone in the family said that we were distantly related to the Kennedys through our relatives in New York - specifically through our cousin Mary Kennedy.  

I vaguely remembered Mary Kennedy from my childhood as a cousin of my grandmother.  The last time I saw Mary was at my grandmother's funeral in 1966, although we did exchange letters in the 1970s when I started researching my family tree.  But Mary Kennedy is someone I have not thought about for a long time, and I doubt if many of my relatives around today even remember her.  So, imagine my surprise when I recently received the following email through

RE: Mary Cecilia Kennedy - Hi, I work at the Longwood Public Library in Middle Island NY. In our local history collection, we have 2 photos of Mary Cecilia as a nurse at Camp Upton. If you would like us to email you a copy of the pictures, please contact Melanie@xxxxxxxxxx and she would be happy to send it to you.  

Wow!  Talk about a Blast from the Past!  I quickly emailed back and told Melanie that I would love to have copies of her photos of Mary Kennedy. Before we look at those wonderful photos from long ago, let's see what we know about Mary Kennedy. 

Mary Cecelia Kennedy was born May 5, 1893 in Wappingers Falls, New York to William J. Kennedy (1857-1894) and Cecelia, nee Mulligan (1860-1894).  Note:  The American spelling of the name is "Cecilia" but the Irish usually spelled it "Cecelia."  Mary was a second generation American inasmuch as both of her parents were born in New York from parents who had immigrated from Ireland.  William Kennedy worked in a print shop.

Tragedy struck the young family at the end of 1894 when both of Mary's parents died within days of each other.  Cecelia Mulligan Kennedy died December 7, 1894 and her husband William followed her on Christmas Day - December 25, 1894.  The cause of their deaths is unknown.  I could not find any record of any epidemic in Dutchess County, New York at the end of 1894.  There had been a serious outbreak of influenza, but that was the winter of 1893-1894 and Mary's parents did not die until the end of 1894.  However, in those days cholera and typhoid fever were widespread.  No matter what the cause of their deaths, Mary was an orphan before her second birthday.

In those days families came together in times of crisis and Mary's family was no exception.  My grandmother's older sister Maria had married James Kennedy, the brother of Mary's father.  I know from family lore that Mary Kennedy was brought up by a myriad of relatives including my grandmother and her immediate family.  My grandmother always said that Mary was more like a sister to her than a cousin.

I was unable to locate either Mary Kennedy or my grandmother in the 1900 US Census.  My grandmother was in Europe when the census was taken, making the grand tour as a companion to a wealthy older lady. Mary was only seven years old in 1900 so it is doubtful that she was on the trip with my grandmother.  Why Mary doesn't show up on the 1900 Census will have to remain a mystery for now.

By the 1910 US Census Mary Kennedy was living with her uncle James Kennedy and his family in the Town of Washington, Dutchess County, New York on Daheim, the 2000 acre Dieterich Estate.  James Kennedy was the estate manager for the Dieterich family.

Here is the entrance gate:

Here is the main house:

Not too bad for the little orphan girl from Wappinger's Falls.

But Mary Kennedy couldn't stay at Daheim forever - she decided to become a registered nurse, and as a nurse she enlisted in the US Army during World War I.  Her enlistment date was September 30, 1918, and she was stationed at the base hospital at Camp Upton on Long Island.  

We can be sure that Mary was kept very busy during the Spanish Influenza epidemic which struck Camp Upton during the highly fatal second wave (September-November, 1918).  The first case was reported at Camp Upton on September 13, just 2 weeks before Mary's arrival. During the second wave, 27.5% (437,224) of over 1.5 million men in U.S. Army training camps were hospitalized for respiratory illness, with a case-fatality rate that peaked at 5.1% in September, while in the week of October 4, the highest number of deaths from influenza was reached with 6160 fatalities from the training camps alone.

It is not known whether or not Mary caught the flu, but we do know that she was discharged from Active Duty to the Reserves on July 14, 1919. 

By this time Mary was ready for a change of scenery.  I could not find her in the 1920 US Census but it was during this time that she lived in Chicago.  She came out for a visit and decided to stay.  She quickly got a job at St. Joseph's Hospital:

Mary was very smart and a hard worker, so it wasn't long before she began moving up through the ranks, ultimately becoming the Director of Nursing at St. Joseph's.  All was going well until one day she abruptly left Chicago and moved to Miami, Florida.  What happened? There were rumors about Mary being interested in a married man...but then the man's wife got involved and told Mary to "hit the road."

By the time of the 1930 US Census Mary Kennedy had left Chicago and was living and working at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, Florida

Mary did not stay long in Miami, and by 1935 was living in Verona, New Jersey at the Essex Mountain Sanatorium.

Essex Mountain Sanatorium

Founded in 1907 amidst protests and a burgeoning suffrage movement, Essex Mountain Sanatorium was the result of two Montclair, New Jersey, women who successfully lobbied local government to establish a tuberculosis sanatorium in a then vacant cottage for wayward girls. From these humble beginnings, the hospital grew to become one of the finest treatment centers in the nation, expanding into a complex of 20 buildings that encompassed nearly 300 acres.

Mary was still living at Essex Mountain (Ward 5) when the 1940 US Census was taken, and from that we can learn a few interesting things about her.  For "Highest Grade Completed" she indicated "High School, 4th Year".  Why she did not include her nurse's training I do not know. "Weeks worked in 1939: 51" (Only one week of vacation!);  "Hours Worked Week Prior to Census: 60" (Wow!); "Income $1400", "Income Other Sources: Yes".  Now that is interesting.  If she was working 60 hours per week at the Sanatorium, where did she find the time (or energy) to work somewhere else? She could have made additional income as a Private Duty Nurse, but we know for certain there was no family trust fund sending her checks every quarter.

On May 5, 1958, Mary Kennedy turned sixty-five which in those days meant mandatory retirement. About that time Mary moved again, this time to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she was living when I became aware of who she was.  She had lived frugally and between her government pension and Social Security she was financially secure. She used to come to Chicago often to visit and every year she went at least once to Atlantic City, New Jersey with her cousin, Sister M. Eileen, OP (Ann Kennedy).

Here is a photo of Mary from Easter, 1960 when she was visiting in Chicago:

You could never miss when trying to figure out Mary's ethnic background.  With her red hair and freckles, she had the map of Ireland all over her face, as they used to say.

In the mid-1970s, when Mary was in her mid-eighties, she moved back to the Hudson River Valley - to Millbrook, New York, with her cousin Katherine A. Kennedy who the family always called "Kak" because of her initials.  I mentioned earlier that when I started getting interested in genealogy I wrote to Mary with a list of family-related questions.  Mary was my living connection to my grandmother's family, so I figured I had better get to her while she was still alive.  I received a nice letter from her dated July 6, 1977 where she told me she had just gotten out after spending a few days in the Health Center.  She answered most of my questions but it was obvious that by the end of the letter she thought I was one of my uncles because she kept saying that my mother and father had raised nine children, when it was my grandparents who had done that .

In June of 1978 we received word from Millbrook that Mary Kennedy had died at the age of 85 at the VA Hospital in Castle Point, New York. Here is her obituary from the Millbrook newspaper:

Here is where she was living with her cousin:

274 Hooker Avenue, Millbrook, NY

And here is her memorial card from the wake:

In 2005 while on a business trip to New York, I made a pilgrimage to Millbrook to see where my grandmother had grown up, and to visit the graves of my great-grandparents and my grandmother's siblings. Grandmother had always said that the area where she grew up was beautiful country and it was - and still is.  Beautiful winding roads through horse farms, forests and streams.  While in the Hudson River Valley I decided to visit Mary Kennedy's grave as well.  I knew from her obituary that she was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, Wappingers Falls, New York.  It was a beautiful summer day when I made the twenty-three mile drive from Millbrook to Wappingers Falls.  Mary is buried with her parents, who died before she even got a chance to know them.

The writing on the original tombstone is almost obliterated by age and the elements, but I was able to reconstruct what it says:

Dec 25, 1894
Aged 37 Years

Dec 7, 1894
34 Years

Rest in Peace

At the bottom of the tombstone they added:


And Mary had a military issue tombstone as well:

So you can imagine how excited I was when I was contacted by the Longwood Public Library about the photos they had of Mary.  And here they are:

On the back of the first photo it says:

March 1919, Mary C Kennedy, Poughkeepsie, NY Nurse, Camp Upton, NY

The second photo listed the same information but also included "Patient-Mumps" and the name of the other nurse as a Miss Haimly.

So now you know the story of Mary Kennedy, who lost both parents as an infant, but as part of a loving family went on to live a rich and full life.

Oh - and our relation to JFK and Jackie?  If it does exist, it is so remote that it's not even worth mentioning.

Mary Cecelia Kennedy - may she rest in peace.  

Friday, December 19, 2014


Readers of the Chicago Daily Tribune for August 11, 1906 saw the following horrific story:

Real Estate Dealer Victim at Englewood Station

While at Railroad Depot Waiting for Cars to Take Him to Michigan Resort, Where His Wife and Children Are, He Is Run Down in an Unknown Manner - Nephew of the Late Webster Bacheller.

Charles W. Shippey, for many years a real estate dealer in Chicago, was killed at the Englewood Union Station at 9 o'clock last night by a Pere Marquette railroad train.  He had gone there to board the train to take him to visit his wife and two children at their summer home in Rex Terrace, Mich.

The exact manner of Mr. Shippey's death is not known.  His body was found on the railway tracks east of the station after the train had left, and was taken to an undertaking shop at 6807 Wentworth avenue.

Shippey was seen first at the depot by E.J. Kohn, the baggage agent, who checked his trunk for Rex terrace.  The broker chatted about his wife and children - Raymond, 11 years old, and Webster, 9 years old - who had gone to Michigan on June 28.  he was pleased of the prospect of joining them soon.  Then Shippey went to the platform to await the train, then almost due.  No one recalls having seen him again until the train had gone and his body lay on the tracks.

Body Taken to Station.

H.G. Brassart, 1063 Garfield boulevard, and W.H. Mabee, 6456 Parnell avenue, assisted the baggageman in carrying Shippey's body to the baggage room.  The crew of the train, which was recalled to the station after the accident, was unable to throw any light upon the details of the accident.

Mr. Shippey was 47 years old, had real estate offices at 112 Clark street and lived at 4365 Lake avenue.  He was a nephew of Webster Batcheller, a wealthy retired lumber merchant, who died recently.  Mr. Batcheller left Mr. Shippey a bequest of $100,000.

A broken box, containing candy and cakes, evidently intended for his children, was found beside his body.

Charles Webster Shippey was born May 8, 1859 in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania to George Shippey (1818-1876) and Sarah Dorah nee Batcheller (1822-1903).   George Shippey was a carpenter by trade.  George and Sarah had married in 1848 in New York.  Their first three children were born in New York:  George Frank (1849-1913), Martha Florence “Mattie” (1851-1928), and Alfred (1854-????).  By the late 1850s, the Shippey family had relocated to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, and that is where their two remaining children were born:  Charles Webster (1859-1906), and Clarence L. (1863-1871).

The 1860 US Census shows the Shippey family living in Lock Haven. Forty-two year old George lists his occupation as " Lumberman".  He is joined by thirty-seven year old Sarah, eleven year old George F., nine year old Martha, six year old Fred, and one year old Charles.

The 1870 US Census still finds the Shippeys in Lock Haven; all are ten years older, and little seven year old Clarence has joined the family. 1870 was still too early for the Shippeys to have a street address in Lock Haven, but the Census did indicate that they lived in the "Second Ward."

By the 1880 US Census, Charles Shippey has struck out on his own. He has moved to Ferrysburg, Michigan where he is working as a laborer in a saw mill.

The 1890 US Census is lost, however by 1895 Charles Shippey is living in Chicago.  On October 9, 1895, thirty-six year old Charles Webster Shippey married Miss Lulu A. Richards (1862-1941) in Chicago.  Miss Richards reported her age as thirty-three.

Charles and Lulu Shippey were blessed with two children:  a son, Webster Batcheller Shippey (1896-1981) and a daughter, Raymonde (1898-1991).

By the 1900 US Census the Shippey family is complete.  They are living at 4365 Lake Avenue (now S. Lake Park Avenue) in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

4365 S. Lake Park Avenue, Chicago

In addition to Charles, Lulu, Webster and Raymonde, they also have a live-in servant, twenty-one year old Jennie Anderson.  Lulu's mother, Amelia Richards was also living with them.  

That brings us up to the fateful day of August 10, 1906.  As he left for the train station on that Friday, Charles Shippey was a happy man.  He had a successful real estate business, a beautiful wife and two adoring children, and he was leaving hot, humid Chicago to go to his summer home in Rex Terrace, Michigan for rest and relaxation with his beloved family.  But there was more - Charles Shippey had recently received word that his uncle, lumberman Webster Batcheller had left him a bequest of $100,000.00.  Yes, all seemed right with the world of Charles Webster Shippey when he arrived at the Englewood train station.

What happened???  At first, no one knew.  Shippey had been seen at the station visiting with various people; then his body was seen down the tracks after the train went by.  Shippey had been a well known figure - the story of his death was carried by newspapers all over the country with everyone venturing their own opinion as to what must have been the cause.  One out-of-town paper even reported that Shippey was dragged under the train because he refused to let go of a fishing rod.  Speculation was rife.

It wasn't until August 13, 1906, that the mystery was solved.  It was reported in the Chicago Daily Tribune:

Here is his Death Notice from the Tribune of August 13, 1906:

Here is his Death Certificate:

Here is what the Coroner said was the cause of death:

From shock and injuries received caused by being struck and knocked down by the Pilot Train of Pere Marquette RR Cos. Engine #381 drawing passenger train #9 and being run over by one or more cars of said train while said train was east bound on the Track #2 belonging to the Penn. RR Co. at a point in front of said station on August 10, AD 1906 at 8:57 p.m.

But the mystery does not end there.  Just where is Charles Shippey buried?  It would not seem to be a mystery.  His Death Certificate lists the "Place of Burial" as "Grand Haven."  About the time that Charles left home in 1875, his parents and siblings moved to Grand Haven, Michigan.  When Charles' father George Shippey died in 1876 the family was living in Grand Haven, and George was buried there, in Lake Forest Cemetery.  The family bought a cemetery plot and erected a monument to George Shippey there:

The Death Notice for Charles Shippey that was in the Tribune says "Burial at Grand Haven, Michigan".  Find a Grave has him in Grand Haven, and we all know that Find a Grave is never wrong (!!!).  The Grand Haven Daily Tribune on August 13, 1906 carried the following story:

Charles Shippey Will be Buried Here.

The remains of Charles Shippey, who was killed by a Pere Marquette train in Chicago last Friday night [Aug. 10, 1906] will be interred in Lake Forest cemetery, Grand Haven. This decision was duly made by his widow and the funeral will be held Tuesday [Aug. 14, 1906] at 10 a. m. from the old homestead of the family on Washington street, adjoining the Congregational church, now occupied by Mr. Shippey's sister, Mrs. Mattie Slayton.

Undertaker John J. Boer is making arrangements for the funeral. The pallbearers are picked from old time friends of the deceased in Grand Haven and will be the following gentlemen: Fred A. Hutty, Wm. H. Loutit, James P. Armstead, N. Robbins, Stephen L. Munroe and Charles Boyden.

Mr. Shippey's father and mother and brother Fred are buried in Lake Forest and his remains will be laid away in the same lot.

The article is correct about the other members of the Shippey family, for the most part.  Thanks to Find a Grave photo volunteer "Dark Shadows" we see the grave of George Shippey (above).  It is also marked with this stone:

and here is Sarah:

Mattie and her husband are there:

but no sign of Charles.  Was he there in an unmarked grave?  Unlikely.  Was he moved?  More likely.  On a recent Find a Grave photo trip to Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, guess who I found?

It was in front of this impressive family monument:

The inscription is:

That Best Portion of a Good Man's Life
His Little Nameless Unremembered Acts of Kindness
and of Love

Buried in this plot are Charles, Lulu, Webster and Raymonde.

What happened?  I would venture a guess that as the years passed Lulu realized that she had little connection with Grand Haven, Michigan and decided to have her beloved husband's body moved back to Chicago where she could easily visit if she wished.

Normally I could ask in the cemetery office when the body of Charles Shippey had been interred, but this is Rosehill so I know that is not an option. 

Charles Webster Shippey whose charmed life ended abruptly while crossing train tracks - may he rest in peace.