Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Additional Details for a Family Story

One of the family stories of my maternal grandmother was that her grandmother, Delia Joyce (1862-1929), was a baby when her mother threw her to safety just as she was dragged to her death by a train.

The 1870 federal census has an accompanying mortality schedule that listed people who died in the year 1870 before the census commenced on June 1st.  Mary Joyce was on this mortality schedule in Pawling, Dutchess County, New York, as being killed by "cars" in May of 1870.  Her widower, Patrick Joyce, and four children, Mary, Adelia (Delia), John, and James were enumerated on the actual census.

Absent a death certificate, additional information was sought from newspapers.  The accident was in Katonah, south of Pawling in Westchester County, New York.  One article did not mention a child and another mentioned an infant child.  Delia was about seven years old at the time of the accident, so the focus was on one of her younger brothers as the baby who was saved.

I just found some more newspaper articles about this tragedy that clarify that the child was female, though she is not named and could have been Delia or her older sister Mary.  The articles appeared June 21st in the New York Herald and June 22nd in the Rochester Daily Union and Advertiser.

The key to finding these articles was by not using Mary's name as a search term.  Instead, I looked for articles containing Katonah (where the accident occurred) and Pawling (where Mary lived) with the narrow date of May or June of 1870.

Two newspapers carried the article about "a respectable married woman" from Pawling, not named, whose leg was "almost sever[ed]" by the train as she attempted to disembark when the train started to depart so that she did not leave her daughter who was already safely on the platform.

According to another article, Mary lived a few hours.

Mary (who was born as Mary or Margaret Campbell in Ireland, according to the records of her children), should not have been on the 1870 mortality schedule if she died after June 1st.  Perhaps her husband could not recall the exact date of death and the census recorder noted her information for the month of May.  Good thing this rule was bent because I may have never found any information on this sad story if Mary had not appeared on that mortality schedule.

No comments:

Post a Comment