Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Great-great-great Grandma Mary Something-Henry

There is some confusion about my great-great-great grandmother, Mary Henry's, maiden name. Mary died on the 8th of January in 1907. Her son August Henry was listed at the informant on her death certificate. Noted on the certificate is that August could not ascertain his mother’s maiden name.

On April 16, 1906 August Henry married Mary Arsenault at St. Elizabeth's Church in Woodhaven, Queens, New York. On his marriage certificate his mother's maiden name is listed as Carrion; as opposed to Carrian which is listed on her death certificate above. I am not hung up on the spelling of the name. Every genealogist knows that the concept of correct spelling is  a 20th century notion. I just wonder if August was correct about this mother's maiden name at the time of his marriage.

August's best-man was a gentleman by the name of Harry Carillion. Could Carrillion been his mother's maiden name? It does soundex the same as Carrion and Carrian. Could Harry have been a cousin on his mother's side?

According to all the census records I have found listing my Mary Henry, she was born in the U.S., in New York in October of 1855 to parents of French origin; not Swiss. On her death certificate above it says her parents were Swiss but we know August was unclear about other facts at the time of her death; did he make a mistake there too? Mary's husband, Victor Henry, was of Swiss descent. Were Mary's parents French speaking Swiss?

I did attempt to find a Mary Carrion/Carrian in the 1870 census; before she was married. I did find a possible match; a Mary Carrion, line 36 below, aged 13 years old which would have put her birth in about 1857. That could be, however, her parents are listed as being born in Ireland. Eh, this is probably not my Mary since she lists her parents as being born in France in later census records. Interestingly enough though, this Mary's older brother works in a tin factory and my great-great-great grandmother Mary's husband, Victor Henry, was a tinsmith. Hmm...

For now Mary's maiden name will remain a mystery but it saddens me that our mother's lines are often lost to the patriarchal conformity of our culture. When women marry they traditionally give up their maiden names; granted those names are taken from their father's but still that tradition can make maternal research extremely challenging. And so researching Mary Something-Henry's family line has hit the brick wall. Don't worry though, Mary, I won't give up.


  1. I've been waiting for a maiden name-centric post from you! Lol - but you're right, when our maternal ancestors' maiden names are lost, that's half our family history that's lost. This post is actually a good reminder too that not all primary sources are equal, and that a death certificate is for all intents and purposes a secondary source, since the person who it belongs to unfortunately is not around to verify it!

  2. I have already started drafting a post about primary/secondary sources. As you know, Cousin Mary, the only thing a death certificate is a primary source for is a date of death, the cause, the location of the death, and the place of burial...or should I say the ORIGINAL place of burial. Thanks for your loyal readership. :)