Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sunday Search: Just Around The Corner

 Barren Hill Cemetery
This past week I was finally able to find the marriage license of my great great grandparents, William McKannan and Susan Laura Corner. It proved to be a difficult task as like many first generation Irish Americans the McKannan surname has been recorded in a myriad of different ways. While I was familiar with the current spelling and the way by which it was recorded for my great grandparents and grandparents in the 1940 census, McKenna, this new document brought to light another possibility, McCann. However, every single one of the other details in the document where accurate leaving no doubt in my mind that I had finally found one of the family records that had eluded me for nearly a decade.

Marriage License - 9 December 1890
When looking at this record I was surprised to find that the marriage actually took place on 9 December 1890, only five days prior to the birth of my great grandfather William Jacob McKannan when my grandmother was seventeen years old. Seems as though there may have been a little rush to the alter to say the least but the marriage did last for the rest of their lives so there must have been more of a connection beyond the simple fact of an unplanned pregnancy. Additionally, as I researched the details of their lives, it was fascinating to see the full lives that they had especially with regard to my great great grandmother.

1880 Census
Susan Laura Corner was born in Philadelphia on 20 August 1873 to Jacob Corner and Tamise Culp. Growing up the daughter of a farmer in Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County, she experienced loss at an early age as her twin sister, Emma Flora Corner, passed away on 17 September 1875. It is unclear how they met but by the time Laura was 16 she was pregnant and by the time she was 17 she was married to William who was six years her senior.
Sunday Times Advertiser - 22 January 1928
While my great great grandfather was working for the Pennsylvania Railroad (eventually becoming yardmaster at Morrisville), Laura was busy first raising her family and then, later in life, increasing her social activity among many of the organizations in the Trenton area. This is one of those situations where she may not have had an occupation listed in the census but she did work and she worked hard. This resulted in her being mentioned in the various Trenton newspapers over 140 times during the approximately 30 years prior to her passing in 1949. While she was a founding member of the Get Together Club (seemingly started after her husband’s passing in 1933, she was also active with her Bible Study Class, a member of Iska Council No. 33 (Improved Order of Red Men), a member of Laurel Temple No. 3 (Knights of the Golden Eagle), and, most prominently, she served as District President of the Patriotic Order of Americans and, later, appointed as Director of the National Patriotic Order of Americans Home and Orphanage in Lambertville. In the latter she also held various roles in Camp No. 6 ranging from Orator to Publicist to Trustee.

Sunday Times Advertiser - 2 December 1934
It seems as though both William and Laura slowly moved up in their respective social circles over the course of their unlikely marriage. They had at least 3 children, William, Mary, and Reuben and were married for 43 years at the time of my great great grandfather’s passing after a six year illness (still uncertain as to the cause of this illness). And, by the time she took her final breath only her daughter, three grandchildren, and four great grandchildren remained. Beyond the simple documents that have been found she is remembered as a good hearted, happy, giving, thoughtful, and intelligent mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and community leader. And, in the end, that is really all that any of us can hope for.

Trenton Evening Times - 3 November 1949