Mary, Mysterious Mary.
I have been whirling around in the spin cycle of an OCD dryer, the control knob stuck on "search", wasting my time looking for mysteriously missing Mary Herseys. There are several missing Marys in my Hersey Family Tree (there are also some intriguing missing Nancys, but I will leave them for later). These Marys are almost impossible to find in records. Mysterious Mary number one may appear in a census, and then disappear from all subsequent records. Number two will surface with a birth record but will appear to not have died, having no death record. Mary number three has a grave but no apparent previous life. Others are born with the name "Mary” only to change it to an alias or a middle name; something easy to figure, like "Elther". Some of the Marys are not born with the name "Mary" at all, but for unknown reasons acquire it before dying.
I shall give you an example: Canadian Mary Ann Smith (1808 - 1888) married Yankee Daniel Hersey (1797–1879) sometime around 1836. She is my great-great-great grandmother (in one month she is going to have a great-great-great-great- granddaughter whose middle name will be Marie). I previously introduced her to you as "Oma" in David John Hersey's Flood Run (click to read). Their marriage year is not known; 1836 a best guess. Her last name is debatable: it may have been Schmidt. Her middle name, Ann, is recorded in the 1871 Canadian Census. Her father's name (according to a note hand-written by her daughter, Harriet Adelaide Hersey Howard, 1837–1924) appears to have been Johann Schmidt. Believe me, even in the relatively scant population of Ontario, Canada West in the decades of 1800 - 1830, Johns and Marys Smith were crawling out of the archival Canadian woodwork. We do have a death for our Mary Ann Smith Hersey - we have her grave in Kingston; but no death record.
Alas, here is her enigma: Mary Ann Smith quirkily appears to have been living in upper New York bearing children, simultaneously living in Canada bearing a different set of children, but fortunately with the same man. In fact, this particular Mary, her dates and her children's' dates and locales are so confusing that some Ancestry.com users have affixed this image to her husband's, Daniel Hersey's, profile
These Marys drive me crazy. The Marys that disappear without a trace (like Mary Acker) are especially irksome. I do not like missing information; dangling Family Tree chads. I am driven to find out as much as possible. So, all else comes to a halt in my dogged digging into Mary records.
What a waste of time. There are so many great Hersey stories to tell: murder, suicide, ghosts, treks to the west reaches of the Klondike, mining for silver in the Sierra Nevada, witch hunting, gun slinging, trips into insane asylums, harsh jail sentences, intermarriage, daring nighttime escapes through dark forests, escapes from enemy concentration camps, sons and fathers fighting on the same battlefield, brothers fighting on opposite sides, deeds of valor, family infighting, instances of great forgiveness, earthquakes, perilous Atlantic crossings, the hunting of robbing-hoods in Nottinghamshire, and soldiering in William The Conqueror's quest.
But alas, I remain stuck on Marys.
During two days of binge triple-tasking (writing the above words - searching - playing Facebook games), I discovered a death notice for our Mary Ann Smith Hersey and clue indicating she may have been previously married to a mysterious Mr. Popple. How much time will I waste looking for Mr. Popple?
Widow: A derelict, old surviving species of an otherwise extinct organism.
Post note: there was a Popple family in Kingston in the 1800's. So, Mary Ann Smith Hersey was most likely not Mary Popple. She certainly was not Mary Acker.