"Aged Lady Dead"
Mrs. Mary Duncan, aged 82 years, died of paralysis at her home in the east end Tuesday morning. Funeral at 2 o’clock Thursday afternoon. Interment at Mt. Rose cemetery.
(Moundsville Daily Echo, 29 March 1905)."
This "aged lady" is my great-great-great grandmother, Mary, married to John Duncan, mother of Emeline Duncan Myers. She's a bit of an enigma, and with Pennsylvania being the black hole of records (at least where my ancestors lived), I wonder if I'll ever solve her mysteries.
Here's what I know:
1850 Census - Aleppo, Greene, Pennsylvania - Mary is married to John "Dunkan", she is 26, he is 21, they have two children listed with them: William, age 4, and Lucinda, age 2. All were born in Pennsylvania, and the next family listed is Andrew and Easther Myers, whose son, Andrew, will eventually marry John and Mary's daughter Emeline (not born yet). John is a farmer.
1860 Census - Aleppo, Greene, Pennsylvania - Mary and John are listed as age 41 and 40, respectively. William H., 17, Lucinda, 12, Isaac, 5, Rebecca J., 4, Emeline, 2, are the children listed with them. All are born in Pennsylvania, except Emeline, who is listed born in Virginia. Still living near the Myers family. John is a farm laborer.
1870 Census - Springhill, Greene, Pennsylvania - Mary is 47, John is 41. Isaac is 17, Rebecca is 14, Emaline is 12, George is 7, Mary Anne is 3, and Delila is 2. All born in Pennsylvania. John is a laborer.
1880 Census - Aleppo, Greene, Pennsylvania - Mary "Dunkins" is 44 (truly, an ageless woman!), John is 41, Mary Anne is 14, Delila J. is 12. John is again a farmer, all born in Pennsylvania.
1900 Census - Moundsville, Marshall, West Virginia - Mary is 77, born May 1823. John is 69, born Mar 1831. They've been married 45 years, she says she's born 5 children, 3 of which are still living. Daughter Isabella is 31, born Jan 1869 in West Virginia. I believe this is either Mary Anne or Delila, it fits Delila's birth date better. John owns the home free from mortgage.
In John's pension papers, it appears that they moved to Balls, Marshall, West Virginia in 1890, and were in Moundsville by 1891. There is no mention of Mary or the children in any of the pension papers in my possession.
Mary died 28 Mar 1905 in Moundsville, West Virginia.
Obviously the census is not the source of all wisdom and truth, so I take the age fluctuations with a grain of salt. I was thrown off by the "5 children, 3 living" marks because I count 8, maybe 9, and I know for sure that 4 were still living. William and Isaac had died by 1900, but Rebecca, Emaline, George, Delila, and Isabella (who may be Delila) were still living. I don't know what happened to Lucinda, and there is a Mary Buble Duncan buried next to John and Mary in the Mount Rose Cemetery in Moundsville, with no dates on her headstone.
George's middle name is McClelland, and I've wondered if that's Mary's maiden name. I also wondered if she was perhaps married previously, and if William and Lucinda are from a previous marriage, because John would have been 17 when William was born. Not impossible, but an interesting switch in the typical marriages where the girl is younger. There's a discrepancy in John's birth year - it's either 1827 or 1831, and if it's 1831, he would have actually been 15 when William was born. Highly unlikely. And a little creepy.
But, since they lived one mile from the border of West Virginia, in rural Pennsylvania, it's likely that I may never find answers to these questions.