Friday, August 17, 2018

Searching for Ed's first wife

Edward Vincent McFadden (1889-1977) married a Mary A. Curley (1894-1969) sometime between 1940 and 1942 when he was in his early fifties and she was about 47. So far no marriage record has been located. However in his World War II draft registration card he is listed as being married and his contact person is listed as Mary A. McFadden.[1] According to family stories this was his second marriage. At some point he is believed to have married a woman in the nineteen teens when he was in his mid to late twenties. It is also believed that she died in 1918 as a result of the influenza epidemic.

This is according to his nieces, my mother and aunt who have repeated the story over the years.
In the 1910[2] census he is boarder in the household of a Mary Gee and family. Then in the 1920[3] census he is back in the household of his father Dennis McFadden. Both records have his marital status as single rather than married or widowed. Of course that only indicates that’s the information provided to the census taker rather than it being completely accurate information. The 1930 census has a column for age at first marriage. Unfortunately no Edward McFadden has been located in that year that fits with the other sources of information on him.

I searched the available city directories for Pittsburgh between 1910-1920 on He was located in the 1915 directory[4] and the 1916 directory[5] but neither include a spouse for him in the listing. The next directory is for 1918 and it is incomplete and stops at the letter C. Edward is listed in the 1929 Pittsburgh directory[6] sharing a house with his widowed mother Elizabeth Neuland (1866-1949) and sister Ruth McFadden (1905-1985). At some point between the information for the directory was compiled and the 1930 census numerator visited in April, Elizabeth and Ruth moved to Baltimore, Maryland to the household of their son and brother, respectively, Cornelius. Edward does not appear in or near the household. 

On 10 April 1919 Edward filled out an application for a passport[7] to visit France and Great Britain as part of the Knights of Columbus war relief effort. The section that includes accompanied by my wife is crossed out and no other indication of marital status was included.

Finally my great great grandmother Elizabeth Neuland McFadden (1866-1949) had a diary for the year 1918. She was about as good at writing in it as I am about doing this blog. The dates where she wrote items could range anywhere between 1918 to the 1940s.

However, she did have several newspaper clippings regarding the deaths of family members some of which had occurred before 1918. She also included several mentions of people I assume to be friends and neighbors who died while she wrote in the diary. I think if Ed had had a wife who died there would have been an entry about it or there would have been a newspaper clipping reporting it glued to the back with the others.

My best guess for who the person, if she existed, who died may have been:

1. A girlfriend of Ed who died around the time of the flu.
2. A family friend, neighbor or acquaintance who died of the flu around that time.
3. A story that morphed over time whether it was about a family member or not.
4. A story about a different Ed that over time became associated with this Ed.

These are just the options off the top of my head. I'm sure there are many other possibilities I will think of later. I won't stop searching, but I think I'll put this question on the back burner for a bit.

[1] “World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” digital images, ( : accessed 18 August 2018), serial no. u 137, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II draft cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania; citing   Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M1951.

[2] 1910 U.S. census, Washington County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Monongahela Ward 2, p. not paginated,  enumeration district (ED) 215, sheet 4-A, dwelling 72, family 74, Mary Gee; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1426.

[3] 1920 U. S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 624, 4A (written), dwelling 57, family 65, Dennis McFadden; digital image, ( accessed 5 February 2013); citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 1523.
[4] R.L. Polk & Company and R.L. Dudley, publishers, Pittsburgh Directory, 1915, ( accessed 17 August 2018), 593, “Edwd. McFadden.”

[5] R.L. Polk & Company and R.L. Dudley, publishers, Pittsburgh Directory, 1916, ( accessed 17 August 2018), 835, “Edwd. V. McFadden.”

[6] R.L. Polk & Company and R.L. Dudley, publishers, Pittsburgh Directory, 1929, ( accessed 17 August 2018), 757, “Edw. V. McFadden.”

[7] Edward Vincent McFadden, 10 April 1919; Passport Application; U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 759; Volume #: Roll 0759 - Certificates: 78250-78499, 29 Apr 1919-30 Apr 1919.

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