Friday, July 18, 2008

Mary Pierce Newton and Catch up

The month has gone by fast and I needed a break from the genealogy. We have experienced a motorcycle accident in which, thankfully, no one was seriously injured. I had an allergic reaction to a medication for high cholesterol. And I just got busy with some other things. Here is some of the info on Mary Pierce and Frank Pierce will be on the way.

Mary Emma Pierce
1874 – 1966

Mary was born in July 1874 in Chester, Pennsylvania. She is the youngest daughter of James and Edna Pierce.

1880 Census, Delaware Co., PA.
Chester City, 2nd Precinct 3rd Ward, June 8, 1880
Address: 35 Graham Street

James Pierce age 43/ Laborer / born PA/ father b. PA/ Mother b. ENG
Edna age 38 / keeps house/ born England/ Eng/ Eng
Laura age 18 / born PA works in cotton mill
James age 15/ born PA at school
Amos age 12/ born PA at school
Annie age 10/ born PA at school
George age 9/ born PA at school
Mary E. age 7/ born PA
Frances age 1/ born PA

Around 1894, when Mary was approximately 20 years old, she married Charles Seaman Newton. Charles was born March 1870 in Baltimore, Howard County, Maryland and is the son of George Newton and Elizabeth Gaither.

In September 1895 the Newton family welcomed their first child, a daughter they named Carrie.

Only 8 months later in May 1896 – William Bagshaw Newton is born but he lived only 4 months. He died September 5, 1896 in Chester and is buried at Chester Rural Cemetery.

August 1897 another son is born whom they also name William Bagshaw Newton. (This is always confusing to a researcher when two people have the identical name.) Records indicate Mary gave birth to another daughter, Anna, in January of 1899. Mary must have been happy in the early months of 1899 with three children to love and care for.

Unfortunately Mary’s happiness would be short lived. Baby Anna lived only six months, dying on July 15, 1899. Other stressors, if there could be bigger ones in your life than burying two babies in less than five years, were her brothers’ and mother Edna’s arrests.

In September 1899 Mary’s mother was arrested and charged with “Surety of Peace” and “Abuse” and named in the complaint were members of the Barbour family. This family would figure into Mary’s future…or rather into her husband’s. More later…

Mary’s older brothers, James and Amos, were arrested in January 1900 and charged with the murder of a Chester resident. This had to be extremely upsetting and taxing on Mary, having her family the object of public scandal. Was her husband supportive of her during her brother’s trial? Unknown. Maybe they publicly distanced themselves from the scandal. In newspaper transcripts several of James and Amos’ siblings are noted to have visited the jail or have offered support by appearing in court. There was not a mention of Mary or Charles Newton.

1900 Census - Chester City, Delaware Co., Pa
Enumerated June 14, 1900
Charles Newton, HOH, age 30/ born March 1870/ married 6 years / MD MD MD
Mary E Newton, wife, age 25/ married 6 years/ born July 1874 PA PA ENG
Carrie Newton, daughter / age 4 / born Sept 1995/ PA PA PA
*William B Newton, son / age 1 born August 1898/ PA MD PA*

*The census reports William’s birth year as 1898. I think it’s 1897. His sister Anna was born January of 1899 so she would had to have been born a scant five months after William.

New year’s day, January 1, 1901 Seaman St. Clair Newton was born in Chester. The fourth child of Mary and Charles, with a grand name that had to have come from his paternal side; he died on March 1, 1901 at the tender age of 2 months.

Eight months later, no doubt while they were still grieving for Seaman, William Bagshaw Newton, aged 3 years, died on November 03, 1901 in Chester. He was buried in Chester Rural Cemetery, Section N, grave 5, near his brother of the same name.

May 13, 1905, Franklin Ralph Newton was born. Frank, as he was called, was the only other child besides Carrie who survived into adulthood.

More tragedy hits Mary sometime between 1905 and 1908. Charles Newton takes up with a younger woman – Miss Lillian Barbour. It’s not been established if the aforementioned Barbour family, who were part of Edna Pierce’s arrest, are related to Lillian. It would make sense though that Lillian, who lived in New Jersey with her mother, was visiting family in Chester. This is most likely where Charles met her. They fell in love and Charles, in his late 30s, married very young Lillian. I can’t lay hands on it right now but a cousin says Lillian was early 20s if not 19 years old.

1910 Census - Chester City, Delaware Co., Pa
Enumerated April 20, 1910
Mary Newton, HOH, age 35/ married/ PA PA PA / dressmaker / Home
Carrie Newton, daughter / age 16 / single/ PA PA PA
Frank Newton, son / age 5 / single / PA PA PA

Franklin was baptized April 9, 1911 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Chester by Pastor Bertolet. Witnesses were John Francis Read and Gertrude Ildelphonse Rice. The relationship may be friends of the parents or godparents to Franklin.

Mary Pierce Newton stated "married" on the census but it appears they were divorced between 1905 - 1908. Charles is on the 1920 Baltimore census married to Lillian L. Barbour. Their first daughter, Mildred, was born 1908 in Pennsylvania and Lillian's mother (Mary Barbour) is living with them. In 1920 Charles is in Baltimore but listed as divorced.

1920 Census - Delaware Co., Pa
Mary E Newton, HOH, age 46/ married/ PA PA ENG / housekeeper for private family
Carrie Newton, daughter / age 25 / single/ PA MD PA / works in cotton mill
Franklin R Newton, son / age 14 / single / PA MD PA

Sometime after 1920 Carrie married a man named Ed Cooper.

1930 Census, Philadelphia, PA
Franklin Newton as head of household and Mary is living with him.

Franklin died in 1964 at age 63.

Mary was long lived. She died December 04, 1966 in Philadelphia at the age of 92. Her burial place is unknown.

There are family stories that depict Mary as a cold and unpleasant woman. But here is something to consider… Did Mary have unresolved grief for the babies she’d buried and possibly postpartum depression in her younger years? Did that affect the relationship with her husband? Did she suffer from depression because of the many unpleasant events in her life? Brothers jailed. One took his life and the cloud of suspicion hung over the family name. Her husband left her for a younger woman. That would be enough to make a good woman bitter.

All of that would be speculation but it may provide a reason for her reported unpleasant personality. She lived a long time, into her nineties, and I can’t think of a bigger punishment than a long lonely life to reflect on what might have been. But again, that is speculation beyond what is recorded in the census and newspapers.


CARRIE G NEWTON, b. September 1895; m. ED COOPER.

WILLIAM BAGSHAW NEWTON, b. May 1896; d. September 05, 1896, Chester, Delaware Co, Pennsylvania.

WILLIAM B NEWTON, b. August 1898; d. November 03, 1901, Chester, Delaware Co, Pennsylvania.

ANNA NEWTON, b. January 1899, Chester, Delaware Co, Pennsylvania; d. July 15, 1899, Chester, Delaware Co, Pennsylvania.

SEAMAN ST. CLAIR NEWTON, b. January 01, 1901, Chester, Delaware Co, Pennsylvania; d. March 01, 1901, Chester, Delaware Co, Pennsylvania.

FRANKLIN RALPH NEWTON, b. May 13, 1905; d. 1964.

Baptized April 9, 1911 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.

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