January 30, 2013
Pride Causes Death
Recently I was hunting for the obituary of a distant Peer relative and found a sad, yet intriguing notice about her in an Indiana newspaper of 1937.
Mary A. Peer was born in Berrien Michigan in 1857 and married Robert Curran in Michigan in 1883. At some point after her husband's death in 1889, Mary and her son Elwood Curran moved to the area of South Bend Indiana.
I don't know much about Mary but I did know she died in September 1937 so I decided to hunt on GenealogyBank for a newspaper obituary. To my surprise I found this item on page 1 of the Valparaiso Vidette Messenger published on August 19, 1937
The headline is WOMAN DYING, TOO PROUD TO TAKE CHARITY
"Because she was too proud to ask for charity, Mrs. Mary A. Curran, 82 [sic], is dying of starvation in Epworth Hospital today. She was found in bed in her shabby little shack where she lived alone...."
The article goes on to say that a neighbour decided to check on her because he hadn't seen her in three days.
"She had only a few potatoes and a sack of oatmeal in the home. She once applied for a state old-age pension but withdrew it on the protest she would have an income from her farm."
What is even sadder is that according to the article, her only son Elwood was in another hospital at the time. I am sure he would have taken care of his mother had he been able to. Mary must have lingered in her weakened state, because according to my records she did not die until September 10th, some three weeks after this article was published.
I could not find an obituary but do not have access to the South Bend Tribune where I understand there is one. Thanks to crowdsourcing on my Facebook page, I learned that the St. Joseph County Public Library has an online index to obituaries in the South Bend Tribune from 1913-present. Researchers can pay a small fee for lookups, so off I went and sure enough there were 3 entries for Mary A. Curran. I printed the request form, filled it out and will mail it today. I hope to learn more of Mary's sad story from the notices.
Poor Mary, her husband died so soon after they were married, leaving her with a very young son. To die in such sad circumstances is indeed a cruel twist of fate.