Thursday, September 8, 2016

It's Tough Being Mary Dolan


I've learned a lot about our family and its history over the years. I've learned some things I didn't know, and confirmed many things I did know. I have discovered some things that nobody knew. I've come across many things that make me happy and bring a smile to my face. On the other  hand there are some stories that are tragic and make me sad. This story would be one of them.

I have come to the conclusion that it's tough to be Mary Dolan! 

First of all, let me be clear. When I say that it's tough being Mary Dolan, I do not have in mind the present day, currently living versions of Mary Dolan. However, in their own way, and maybe with a lot  of tongue in check,  I'm sure that my sister, Mary Beth and my sister-in-law, Mary Lou will be nodding their heads and responding to this with a "no kidding - tell me about it!" 

There are a couple of other Mary Dolans that I do want to tell you about, and a two others that could make a case as well. The first two Mary Dolans were half sisters (kind of). They shared a father (William James Dolan), and  they shared the same decade (1888 - 1896). But they never had a chance to meet. The first Mary was a Scot, born in Newmilns, Ayrshire, Scotland, and the second Mary was a Swede who ended up living in Newmilns. They now rest together just across the path from each other in the cemetery on the hill overlooking the town of Newmilns.
1993 - John Dolan with his two "helpers"
Cemetery in Newmilns, Scotland
The Two Marys rest not far from the monument in back left.
Mary Ann Dolan was born in the early  hours  (5:20am) of September 22nd, 1888. She was the first child of the recently married Scottish couple, William Dolan and the teenager (17) Catherine (Boyd). She was born at home on Isle Street, Newmilns. Her stay on this earth was to be a short one, however, and she was the victim of one  of  the  tragedies I mentioned above. Somehow, and no details are known, at 4:05 in the afternoon on October 2nd, 1890, the 2 year old must have somehow gotten away and drowned "in the Noral (sp) Burn near her father's house in Isle Street." (quote from official death record.) A "burn" is a Gaelic word for a small stream with a current - sometimes called a "millstream" or a "millrace"when connected to or associated with a water-powered mill nearby. It is also known as a "lade" which is a channel constructed for carrying water to and from a mill. To this day I can still hear my Gramma Dolan's voice as she told me about this, "she drowned in the lade, you know!" 
from Pictorial History of Newmilns (in JD library.) Read the caption .
The Noral Burn is in the right foreground.
Isle Street is right and out of the picture.
The River Irvine flows through the town of Newmilns, and very close to the town  green and the Dolan  cottage on Isle Street. I crossed this river myself with  Daddy in 1993, and walked the area pictured above as we tried to locate the place where Mary lost her life. There was an official "investigation", as you might  expect. "The following report of result of a precognition has been received touching the death of Mary Ann Dolan under Entry Number 79 in the Register Book of Deaths for the year 1890." (Procurator Fiscal's Office, Kilmarnock, 27 October 1890, J. Pollock Stevenson, Procurator Fiscal. At Newmilns 28 October 1890, Allan Jackson, Assistant Registrar. Register of Corrected Enties, Volume 5, Page 80, Parish of Loudoun, County of Ayrshire.) A "precognition" is the examination of witnesses and other parties to decide whether  there are grounds for a trial. A "procurator fiscal" is a public prosecutor, who, despite  the tile, has little to do with fiscal issues. There was no trial as far as I can tell - just a sad accident. Official cause of death was "asphyxia by drowning."

Mary Ann was buried in the cemetery on the hill, grave C135. Also buried in this plot is wee Mary's grandmother and namesake, Mary Ann (Smith) Dolan (died 1898), and a baby boy who would have been a step-cousin, William Axel Dolan, infant son of Axel (Allan) and Kate Dolan (died 1906.)

1993 Harry and John Dolan
Grave C135
The story of the second Mary Dolan is not as dramatic, but just as sad. Mary (or Mari in some Swedish records) was born on March 16, 1894 in Goteborg, Sweden, the first child of the re-marriage of the widower, William James Dolan and the widow, Augusta (Jonsson) Ljungberg. She joined her five Swedish half siblings (Evelyn, Allan, Carrie, Bruno, and our Grampa Ernie)  in this now blended family. Another sister (Ellen) and a brother (William) would be added before in 1896 when the Dolans left Sweden and returned to Scotland. Mary would have been just over two years old.

The Dolans began their new life back in Newmilns, where three more children (Harry, Joe, and Lily) were eventually added to what must have been a full house! Although only six years old, Mary witnessed the turn of the century. But for this Mary too, life would be short. The Advertiser (local newspaper) had this brief announcement: "31 May 1901 - at 2 Greenside, Newmilns, MARY DOLAN, age 7 years, 2 month, beloved daughter of William and Augusta Dolan; sadly missed." 

Mary died at home on May 25th at 11:45pm. She  had been sick for two months or so, and died of tubercular meningitis. She too was buried in the  cemetery on  the  hill on May 28th in grave A51. Her father had purchased graves A51 and A52. She  is  the only one buried in these two sites. It is against  the wall and just across the path not far from the other Mary Dolan.
1993 - Harry and John Dolan
Graves A51 and A52
I mentioned Grandma Mary Ann (Smith) Dolan before, the mother of William James Dolan, and said that she too could make a case for "it's tough  being Mary Dolan."  Although she lived into adulthood, her 60 year long life was plenty full. Born in Ireland in 1838 (she survived the great Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1852 - look it up), she married Felix Dolan, and raised a family of 10 herself (as far as I've been able to tell.) That would be challenging enough, but note the birthplaces of those children: Ireland, Scotland, England, Ireland again, India, New Zealand, India, and Scotland one more time. Whew!! You see, husband Felix was a "career soldier" (21st Regiment of Foot, Royal Scots Fusiliers), and apparently, where he went she and the kids went along. Can't imagine that. No wonder she only lived to be 60! But  she outlived Felix by 17  years. Felix died young - age 44. Mom Mary Ann would have lived  through the death of the previous two Marys, granddaughters, no doubt named after her. She lived in Sterling, Scotland, where Felix mustered out of  the military, then Perth, and finally lived with her daughter Ellen in Newmilns, where  she died at 7 Union Street (I walked down that street also in 1993) on August 22, 1898. She had been ill for  few months and cause of death  is given as "chronic bronchitis and cardiac dilatation with oedema. (enlarged heart and water in the heart.). She is buried in grave C135 (see above.)

I believe with some certainty (educated guess) that this is Mary Ann (Smith) Dolan
But wait - one more Mary. She too is Mary Ann and the first-born of Felix and Mary Ann (smith) Dolan. This Mary was born in 1855 in Londonderry, Ireland. The "It's Tough to be Mary Dolan" case she could make is that she was the oldest and no doubt had to take care of her younger siblings as they grew up as army brats all over the world - in the 19th century at that! She too married a soldier, William Parker, while in India, in March of 1871, in Bengal, India. She had a son and they named him William James (go figure!) born in England in 1875, and a daughter born in Kildare, Ireland in 1879. They named her ... wait for it ... Mary Ann. The Parkers also ended up in Newmilns at the turn of the century, and where William Parker was an army reservist drill instructor.

Mary Ann (Dolan) Parker with husband William Henry,
son William James, and daughter Mary Ann
All of this may have gotten a little confusing and you almost need a scorecard (or genealogical chart) to keep your Mary and William Dolans straight. But I think you can see why I say, "It's Tough being Mary Dolan.

1 comment:

  1. Yikes! So many Mary and Williams! Sad stories...

    ReplyDelete