Workday Wednesday – Mary Mirota, Private Secretary

Mary Mirota, private secretary, circa 1940. Copyright Genealogy Sisters.

This lovely photograph of Mary Mirota (1913-1969), was taken when she was employed as a private secretary, in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  I love her dress with the brooch, and her pretty shoes! At that time, she worked for a wealthy widow, Mrs. Carolyn Knowland Hyde (1868-1959), of Plainfield, Union County, New Jersey.  Mrs. Hyde’s husband, Francis De Lacy Hyde, had been a banker and real estate investor. The Hyde family lived in a beautiful estate on the ridge of the Watchung Mountains, in Plainfield, called Hydewood Hall. After her husband’s death in 1910, Mrs. Hyde raised their three children, and became very active in many worthy causes, serving for years as a member of the national board of the Young Women’s Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.). Mrs. Hyde had also been the  director of the Skillman Institute for Epileptics, in Skillman, NJ, and was a member of the Plainfield Garden Club – where you can read more about the Hyde family at their website. Mary Mirota had been a graduate of the Drake Business College in Plainfield, NJ, and was hired to take shorthand notes from Mrs. Hyde, attend to her confidential correspondences and files, and also at times travel with her employer. Mary Mirota was from Whitehouse, in Readington Township, Hunterdon County, NJ, and she took the train back and forth from work in Plainfield. At times she also put down Plainfield, NJ as her principal residence.

The entrance lodge to the Hyde family estate. Postcard copyright 1906 by John Neagle. Postcard collection of Mary Mirota.
The entrance lodge to the Hyde family estate. Postcard copyright 1906 by John Neagle.
Postcard collection of Mary Mirota.

Here are two more postcards that had belonged to Mary Mirota. The first one is of the Plainfield Post Office, where Mary often had to go to post mail while working as a secretary, and the second one is of  St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, in Plainfield, where Mary worshiped while in town.

Post Office, Plainfield, NJ. Published by A. M. Line, Plainfield, NJ.Postcard collection of Mary Mirota.
Post Office, Plainfield, NJ. Published by A. M. Line, Plainfield, NJ.
Postcard collection of Mary Mirota.
St. Joseph's Church, Plainfield, NJ. Published by A. M. Line, Plainfield, NJ.Postcard Collection of Mary Mirota.
St. Joseph’s Church, Plainfield, NJ. Published by A. M. Line, Plainfield, NJ.
Postcard Collection of Mary Mirota.

Among Mary Mirota’s photos, there are a few taken with Mrs. Hyde, and her family, that are from the World’s Fair in New York City, which was held from 1939-40. Since there are also photos of a parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City, it could be that the photos were taken one year before the grand opening of the World’s Fair. There had been a large parade with over 200 floats on 30 April 1938 called The Preview of the Fair Parade. Below are two of the photos.

Mary Mirota is on the right, along with Mrs. Hyde, her daughter, and grandson. Copyright Genealogy Sisters.
Mrs. Hyde is second from the left, along with her grandson, and daughter, Carolyne. Mary Mirota is on the right, holding paperwork. Copyright Genealogy Sisters.
Parade on Fifth Avenue near the New York Public Library, circa 193839. Copyright Genealogy Sisters.
Parade on Fifth Avenue near the New York Public Library, circa 1938-39. Copyright Genealogy Sisters.

Mary Mirota also traveled with Mrs. Hyde out to Arizona, from New Jersey, during this time period. Mary always remembered how beautiful the desert countryside was between Tucson and Flagstaff.  Mrs. Hyde’s daughter, Mrs. Carolyne Hyde Woodin Haskell, had moved out to Tucson, Arizona, in 1930.  Mrs. Hyde’s two sons also had moved to Arizona,  Oliver Edward Hyde lived in Tucson and Francis de Lacey Hyde, Jr., lived in Castle Hot Springs.

"Our entrance on Fort Lowell Road - Sept. 1938". Mrs. Hyde's daughter, Carolyn, lived at the Rincon Stock Farm, in Tucson, while married to Melville Hanna Haskell.
“Our entrance on Fort Lowell Road – Sept. 1938.” Mrs. Hyde’s daughter, Carolyne, lived at the Rincon Stock Farm, in Tucson, while married to Melville Hanna Haskell.

By the mid 1940s, Mrs. Hyde had moved permanently to Tucson, living with her daughter. Mary Mirota ended her employment as her private secretary. Here are two more of the postcards Mary kept from the time she was employed as a private secretary to Mrs. Hyde.


Postcard collection of Mary Mirota, dated 14 January 1942.
Postcard collection of Mary Mirota, dated 14 January 1942.

I would really enjoy hearing from anyone associated with the Hyde family of Plainfield, New Jersey. I’m sure there were lots of other folks employed by the family over the years, and it would be interesting to hear their stories.

Occupations are always worth noting down when recording family research and searching through records. Workday Wednesday is a daily genealogy blogging post suggested by Denise Spurlock through Geneabloggers.

12 thoughts on “Workday Wednesday – Mary Mirota, Private Secretary

  1. Maryann:

    I’m delighted to find your photo of Mrs. Hyde and more information about her. My grandfather Han Liang Huang (abbreviated HLH below), a student from China who studied at Princeton and got his PhD from Columbia in 1918, dedicated his PhD dissertation to Mrs. Hyde, but nobody in my family knows anything more than what I have been able to find out, as below. Now your site adds a bit more information and a photo! May I have your permission to use the photo in my family genealogy album, and would you possibly have more information of relevance to the Huangs?

    Thank you!
    Dede Huang

    “Interestingly, HLH “gratefully” dedicated his doctoral dissertation to Carolyn Knowland Hyde (1869-1959). He said she had been “a mother to me during my residence in America and whose love and sympathy for China have endeared her to many of my countrymen”.

    “It is not known how HLH made Mrs. Hyde’s acquaintance, but the poet WB Yeats had described her as “a very cultivated woman”. Yeats had overnighted with Mr. and Mrs. Francis de Lacy Hyde at Hydewood Hall, their house in Plainfield, New Jersey, in 1903. Mr. Hyde’s family had made its fortune in the western Pennsylvania oil rush, and Hydewood – which another visitor described as “palatial” – featured one of America’s first private golf courses.

    “Although Mrs. Hyde resided in New Jersey, she is not known to have any Princeton affiliations. Possibly the YMCA and YWCA were the link between her and HLH. A widow after her husband’s suicide in 1910, Mrs. Hyde was the only woman on the Greater New York Planning Board, sat on several educational boards, and from 1918 to 1926 was a member of the YWCA’s National Board.

    “As reported in the pictured article from 1921, the women running the American YWCA were concerned about the conditions of women working in China’s silk industry and hosted a delegation in New York. The article notes that Mrs. Hyde had visited China in the previous year in Fall 1920. Perhaps she and HLH had a chance to meet again then.”


  2. Dear Dede,
    I am so happy to hear from you! I do give you permission to use Mrs. Hyde’s photograph.
    Thank you for the very interesting connection to your grandfather. I think Mrs. Hyde’s connection to China was from her work with the YWCA. She remained active with this organization for decades. I recently found another photo of Mrs. Hyde from the collection of photos that Mary Mirota accumulated. I will post that today.
    In case you haven’t seen the research that the Plainfield Garden Club, from Plainfield, New Jersey, has posted about Mrs. Hyde, I’m adding the link below. They also are using the photograph that I have posted, but cropped to show only Mrs. Hyde. The young boy in the photograph with Mrs. Hyde is her grandson. I think he is still alive, but out of privacy I haven’t listed his name.
    I’m sure there is more with the Princeton connection. If I find out anything more I will let you know.
    Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me!
    Warm regards,
    Maryann Barnes


  3. My grandfather, Dr. Howard A Kelly was a long time friend of Mrs. Hyde and our families were very close.I first met “Aunt” Betty Lloyd, wife of Frank,Jr., and their daughter “Tuffet” in 1947 at the Lloyds camp in Canada,which my children now own.I spent part of the winters of ’47-’48 and ’48-’49 at “Humbug” working for “Uncle” Frank, and part as guest of the Haskells at the Rincon Ranch in Tucson where “Tuffet” and Bill Wooden were in college. Frank had gone to Hill School with my father and my uncle, “Aunt” Caroline I believe was at Masters with my Aunt. I spent many pleasant hours with Bill “collecting”, shooting, and spelunking. Being a house guest with no duties or schedule I regularly “chauffeured” Mother Hyde on shopping trips downtown. She was about 80 and lived in a small separate house on the property. Her other son, O.Edward lived on the property also and I was later good friends with his son, Ed Jr. I visited the Hyde camp on Lake WahWashKesh years ago–it no longer exists but I had a picnic on the property,Hyde Island, in 2012. In days past Ed, Bill and his wife Ann, and “Tuffet” visited at our family home, “Liriodendron, in Maryland. I enjoyed reading all you have posted about the whole family. Woollcott Kelly


    1. Mr. Kelly, I thank you for your very interesting reminiscences on Mrs. Hyde and her family! There are also a few photographs that may have been taken at the Rincon Ranch of a young girl named Carol. Do you remember anyone named Carol that would have been born in late 1943? The photos end in 1947 and may have been sent to Mary from Mrs. Hyde. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson could have some of what you collected with Bill. Mrs. Hyde was a very interesting lady, and she reached out to so many others around the world.
      Warm regards, Maryann


      1. Hi Maryann–Hmm–in the house hold at the time were”Uncle” Melville’s two sons, Schuyler and Melville jr, away at school mostly, and the daughter of Uncle Melville and Aunt Carolyn who probably was about 6 in 1948-49.I would have said her name was Mary though it has been a long time ago—I can picture her being there but don’t remember her clearly. She did have a “Nanny”. I have wondered what became of her.She would be 1/2 Aunt to Bill’s children.Seems late for Aunt Carolyn to be having a child— she was born about 1901 I think. “Carol” seems a logical choice for her name, or maybe Mary Carolyn.Maybe the Nanny was Mary. Sorry to be rambling but I am stirring up old memories. I am trying to remember the name of their elegant black butler/cook.Pat ? Regards, Woollcott


  4. I’m back again, Maryann,
    A little quick detective work. Obit for Melville Hanna Haskell mentions only daughter as Mary Haskell Heywood. Google her and you get Sweetbriar Alumnae, in1990 Mary C. Haskell Heywood, class of 1966. Mary Carolyn seems right to me.


  5. Hi Woollcott, I find all of what you remember of the Hyde extended family very interesting. I will post a few of the unknown photos we have tomorrow. Please let me know if any of the people look familiar to you. There are two of a woman on horseback, two different women holding a baby named Carol. Possibly these two women worked for the Hyde family. There was a nanny named Mary Salmon that had been with the Hyde family for decades, and had been the nanny of Mrs. Carolyn Knowland Hyde’s children and also the nanny for her grandchildren. Mary Salmon was originally from Ireland. The Mary Carolyn that you mentioned would be the right age, but every one of these photos from the 1940s only has the name Carol on the back. Thanks for your help, and for your “detective” work! Warm regards, Maryann


    1. Maryann–I have a book that includes information about Hyde Island on Lake Wah-Wash-Kesh and about their camp and how the family got there in 1884. There are 4 or 5 pages and a picture. Don’t know if you are interested in stuff this far removed though Mother Hyde and the family spent many summers there. Also have photos of Carolyn Hyde Wooden Haskell and Carolyn “Tuffet” Hyde, and Frank and Betty, her parents.I’m not very good with the computer so would need a physical address to send copies if you want them.


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