This prompt comes from Amy Johnson Crow at her blog, No Story Too Small. She suggests we “write once a week about a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, a research problem — any that focuses on that one ancestor.”
I have decided to begin with my grandparents and to work back through the generations. My mother was not able to meet this grandmother of hers. Mary Jo was looking forward to her first grandchild’s birth and bought a little bracelet for the upcoming baby. However, Mary Jo died in December and my mother was born in March.
Mary Josephine Mullane Coyle
3 Aug 1867 Ireland – 17 December
|Mary Josephine Mullane Coyle|
MaryJosephine Mullane was the daughter of Daniel Mullane & Brigid English. She
was the oldest of 11 children. Of those 11 these siblings grew to adulthood:
Timothy, Ellen, Frances, Daniel & Julia. The family lived in Clonmel,
1885 Mary Jo and her cousin Mary Pollack traveled to Queenstown/Cobh and boarded
the SS Britannic for a journey to the United States. They arrived in New York
City on 25 May 1885.,
In New York City, Mary Jo met Michael Coyle, son of Patrick Coyle
& Margaret Brady, when they were in the same boarding house. She was
walking down a flight of stairs and he was starting up those stairs. She
thought he was very handsome. He saw her and instantly fell in love. They were married on 9
November, 1895 by Father Patrick F. McSweeny, the pastor at Saint Brigid’s
My grandmother was the oldest of Mary Jo’s 7 children. Helen was
born 9 January 1897. The next child, Francis
Patrick, died as a toddler. Mary Jo had four more daughters and another son.
On 2 June 1900 a Federal Census taker visited the little Coyle
family at their home at 159 113th Street in Manhattan. The enumerator listed
Michael as a baker in a bake shop. Mary Jo was listed as a mother of three children;
two living. Their daughters were listed as Nellie and Mary. In 1910 they were renting
an apartment on Third Avenue. Michael was still working as a baker. Mary Jo was
the mother of five; four living.
Mary Jo kept in touch with her family in Ireland. In September
1910 two of Mary Jo’s siblings arrived for a visit. Timothy Mullane was 36 years old. He was a laborer in Ireland. Ellen Mullane was
39 years old and a servant in Ireland. In February 1914 the
Coyles got another visit from Mary Jo’s sister, Ellen Mullane.
Michael and Mary Jo’s
children continued to grow. Mary Jo always remembered her first son, Francis. She would take Lillian and Kathleen to visit their brother’s grave at St. Raymond’s
Cemetery in the Bronx. They would take a picnic lunch because the
trip would take most of the day.
Kathleen remembered taking three different trolleys to get there. Mary
Jo would carry a little bouquet of forget-me-nots to place on her son’s
grave. She’d sit under a large oak tree
and pray. The little girls would sing
and dance among the graves. Kathleen
thought of the cemetery as a fun place and not morbid at all. It was just a place to visit her brother; a
brother who had died 17 years before she was born. One night, Mary Jo had a
dream. In the dream, a man came and
spoke to her. He said she had been
visiting the wrong grave. The next day,
Mary Jo took her youngest child by the hand and walked to the trolley for the
long trip to the cemetery. She went
straight to the office. Mary Jo asked about the location of Francis’
grave. His grave had no headstone. Headstones were very expensive. The gentleman in the office led Mary Jo and
Billie to the spot where Francis was buried.
Mary Jo had, indeed, been visiting the wrong grave site. She bent over and placed delicate
forget-me-nots on the right spot. She
sat down and prayed silently.
The 1920 Census is
important in the history of the Coyle family because it is the only census to
show the whole family: Michael, Mary Jo and their six living children, ages 23
to 3 years old. Michael was still a baker. By the 1925 NYS census
their oldest daughter was married.
Dreams and intuition
have always had an important role in our family. In 1920, Mary Jo had a strange feeling about
her mother, Brigid English Mullane.
According to Kathleen, her mother sometimes had these feelings about
things that were about to happen. Mary
Jo thought her mother was ill. In May
1920 she applied for a U. S. Passport.
On the application she said she intended to go to Ireland to “visit my
mother.” The passport photo of Mary Jo included daughters Lillian and Kathleen
who were to accompany her. The passport described Mary Jo: 4’ 10” tall; high
forehead, blue eyes; brown hair; fair complexion; and a round face. She planned
on leave on 24 July 1920 on the vessel Celtic. She packed a trunk with everything she would
need for herself and “the kids”. Mary
Jo, Lillian and Kathleen headed by ship to Ireland. When the trio arrived in
Clonmel, Mary Jo found her mother in good health. Relieved, they settled in for a good
visit. Just months after they returned
to their New York City home, Mary Jo received word that her mother died. Brigid English Mullane died 28 November 1920.
Mary Jo’s premonitions had been correct after all.
Josephine died 17 December 1927.
Her death certificate gives Cardiac Respiratory Failure as the cause of death.
My mother told me that Mary Jo’s health issues began with an infected tooth.
Mary Jo’s youngest daughter was just 11 years old. On 20 December she was
buried at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery.
The funeral, including a solid oak casket, a hearse, 2 auto coaches, opening
the grave, embalming and flowers, cost $564.65.
New York Passenger Lists 1820 - 1957, Microfilm #M237-486; S. S. Britannic, arrival
25 May 1885; Passengers: Mary Mullane & Mary A. Pollack.
Castle Garden Web Site. Ship: Britannic; Arrived 25 May 1885. Port: Liverpool
& Queenstown; Mary Mullane.
with Kathleen Coyle [daughter of Michael], January 2006.
Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, S. S. Oceanic from Queenstown, Ireland to New
York, September 1910.
Passenger Lists 1820 - 1957, microfilm #T715-2260; S. S. Oceanic, page 115,
February 1914. Ellen Mullane.
with Kathleen G. Coyle, August 2000.
1925 New York
State Census, New York Co, Microfilm Box #151, AD 18, ED 32, Page 47, NYS
Library, Albany, NY. Michael Coyle
family at 223 E 113th.
with Kathleen G. Coyle, August 2000.
Chart for Kathleen Coyle prepared by Kathleen Coyle.
Certificate of Death for Mary
Josephine Coyle, 17 December 1927, certificate #8271; State of New York, Dept.
of Health of the City of New York, Bureau of Records.
May 1993 letter from : The
Trustees of St. Patrick's Cathedral; Gate of Heaven Cemetery; Stevens Avenue;
Hawthorne; NY; 10532.