WEEK 4 – 2015: Mary Ann CARNEY – The Lost Sister

Mary (Carney) O'Mara. 1881-1955.

Mary (Carney) O’Mara. 1881-1955.

This week’s theme for the 52 Ancestor challenge is “Closest to your birthday.” I actually share a birthday with my great grand aunt, Mary Ann Carney. And, she has an interesting story, so this blog is dedicated to her.

Mary Ann was born on February 20, 1863 in Dunmore, Pennsylvania to Patrick and Bridget (McDonald) Carney. She was baptized on February 22, 1863 at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Dunmore. Her sponsors were Michael and Marie Donovan.

Sadly, Mary never got to know her parents and her siblings, Margaret and James. Their mother became too ill to take care of them, and the children were placed in a home near Scranton sometime around 1864. Shortly afterwards, Margaret was taken from the home by her father’s uncle, Michael Murray, and was raised in his home in Scranton. James was taken 2 years later by the Peter Murray family, who were cousins of their mother.

A Caveney family had promised to take Mary when she was a little older. However, when they went to the home years later, they had discovered that she was already gone.

Mary had been taken from the home by a Joly family from Tunkhannock, PA. She remembered living with them and remembered the canal boats going up and down the nearby Susquehanna River. The Joly family had been told that Mary was baptized Catholic, and they were not Catholic. So, they gave her to William and Julia Collins of Lovelton, PA. The Collins family, who had 8 children of their own, were the only parents that Mary had known. She lived with them until adulthood.

On January 26, 1881, Mary married John O’Mara at Saint Basil’s Church in Dushore, PA. John and Mary settled down on a large farm in Stowell, PA and raised a large family of 16 children.

Although Mary was very busy with her large family and the farm, she still wondered if she had any other family and siblings. She vaguely remembered having a little brother. She tried to contact the Joly family once to see if they could give her more information. However, she discovered that they had moved out west and she did not know how to find them after that.

On October 31, 1924, her husband was reading the local newspaper, The Wyoming Democrat and saw this ad:

The ad that helped Margaret Carney Cone find her sister, Mary, after 60 years of being apart.

The ad that helped Margaret Carney Cone find her sister, Mary, after 60 years of being apart.

John O’Mara knew right away that it was Mary that they were looking for. Mary was surprised, because she never remembered having a sister. They immediately wrote to Margaret.

MarytoMarg_Nov1924_Page1 MarytoMarg_Nov1924_Page2 MarytoMarg_Nov1924_Page3 MarytoMarg_Nov1924_Page4 MarytoMarg_Nov1924_Page5 MarytoMarg_Nov1924_Page6

After a few letters back and forth, Mary was finally reunited with her sister, Margaret. It was noted that they looked and even acted, very much alike. Afterwards, Margaret and her family would come up to visit with Mary every summer for the next 20 years. Mary and John traveled to Philadelphia once, to visit with Margaret.

Mary reunited with her brother James, in June 1925. He came to Stowell from his home in Lowell, Massachusetts, and stayed for 3 weeks.  However, his health was very poor and he died on February 18, 1927. Their 3 week reunion was the only time Mary got to see her brother.

Mary died on January 4, 1955 at the age of 91. She is buried in St. Anthony’s Church Cemetery in Stowell, PA.

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