Matrilineal Monday – Maria Carter Mahoney (1868-1933)

Maria Carter was born in Ireland between 1868 and 1872. She was called Mae by her family and friends for the month she was born in. I had always heard she was born outside Dublin City. I don’t know if it’s true. We have not been able to find a birth or baptism record for her.  Her father’s name was John Carter and her mother’s name was Maria. According to her grandchildren, Mae often spoke Gaelic to them in her home. The knowledge of this habit of hers makes me wonder if she was in fact born in Galway, or some other place in the West of Ireland, where the Irish language was more commonly spoken.

That is the extent of our knowledge of her existence in Ireland. We don’t know why she decided to emigrate, or whether any of her, parents, siblings or cousins came too. We  don’t have any pictures of her, so I’m sorry to say there won’t be any family photographs in this posting.

The little we know of Mae’s adult life was told to us by her grandson, James Doran, who was a young teenager when his grandmother died.  James said that whenever the Doran boys got into trouble at home or on the city streets it was to Nana’s house they ran. She had considerable tolerance for wayward Irish boys and undoubtably enjoyed their spunk and rambunctiousness. She must have loved them unconditionally.  She was brilliant at getting them out of trouble. Her trump card was that she was a laundress and took in cleaning for the Chief of Police of the City of Newark, NJ.   The Chief undoubtably was under her Irish grandmotherly influence since he usually released the boys with no charges against them whenever she pled their case.

Along with the 9 Doran grandchildren born to her daughter Mary Mahoney Doran she had 2 grandchildren by her son Peter and his wife Mary who lived close by in Harrison, NJ. The Mahoney grandchildren may know some of the family history about Mae and John Mahoney and if they ever read this blog I hope they will consider contacting us to share those stories.  What little else we know we have been able to reconstruct through our research.

Maria Carter emigrated to Brooklyn, NY  from Ireland in approximately 1888. We don’t know how she met John Mahoney or where they married. We have searched the NYC vital records over and over and found no plausible marriage record for them. Nor have we found the birth records in the NYC archives for their first two children, John (b 1893) and Mary (b 1895).  By a stroke of luck we have uncovered Mary’s baptism record and the same for her younger brother Timothy. So from that we know that John and Mary attended St. Brigid’s R.C. Church in Brooklyn.

We have also been able to determine through several newspaper articles that during this time they lived at 1424 Gates Avenue, Brooklyn.  A good number of Mahoneys and Carters lived in Brooklyn but we haven’t been able to prove their relationship to John and Mary Carter Mahoney.  At least one Mahoney man was a godparent to one of the children born in Brooklyn and another in Harrison, NJ so we are pretty sure relatives did live nearby in both NY and NJ.

In 1898 Mae and John Mahoney moved to Harrison, NJ with their three young children. Mae’s daughter Mary recalled that she never forgot the year they moved to Harrison because it was then that she met her lifelong, best friend Lillian Flaherty. Lily’s family moved to Harrison around the same time, coming from Connecticut.  Both families attended Holy Cross R. C. Church in Harrison, which was an easy walk from their homes.

Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Harrison, NJ

Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Harrison, NJ

Mae and John had three more boys after they moved to New Jersey, however of these only Peter survived to adulthood.  We found the vital records for the children born in Harrison in a search of the LDS microfilm records for the baptisms, confirmations, and marriages of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church.  From those records we were able to find their actual birth records at the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton. The children were not given first names until their baptisms so each of their birth records were filed without a first name. We were able to match up the official birth records to the dates noted on the baptism records and the address and names of their parents.

Maria Carter Mahoney died in 1933. After finding out through our research where John and Maria Carter Mahoney were buried, my sister and I went to visit their grave a few years ago. She was buried next to her husband in an unmarked grave at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery,  East Orange, NJ. Their son Timothy is buried in the same plot.

It was a déjà vu kind of moment for me when we found their gravesite. I immediately realized I had been there many times as a child accompanying my grandmother when she paid her respects to her parents. The emotional impact of physically being there again was overwhelming to me as if I could feel my own grandmother’s hand holding mine and hear her voice muttering her prayers for their souls in heaven.  John and Mae’s grave site lies just at the edge of the cemetery along side the Garden State Parkway. I remembered being fascinated during those childhood visits by the number of cars whizzing by on the Parkway, so close to me I could feel the vibrations of the cars on the pavement.  It felt much the same the day my sister and I made our visit there to rediscover John and Mae’s final resting place.

Matrilineal Monday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman, of ‘On a flesh and bone foundation’: An Irish History, has created Matrilineal Monday. As Jennifer describes it, blog postings would focus on the female line of the family, and could include any of the following:

1. sharing histories of our female ancestors
2. discussing great genealogical finds in the female line
3. ‘brick walls’ or frustrations we encounter in uncovering the ladies in our line
4. research tips for locating female ancestors

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