Sunday, February 24, 2013

Black Sheep Sunday: Disowned for Love

As I've been on the hunt for any information on my second great grandparents, George and Mary (Baldwin) Sellers, yesterday I decided to give Genealogy Bank a whirl. The Sellers family was residing in Philadelphia at the turn of the 20th century. The site had The Philadelphia Inquirer available for the years I was most interested in, so I signed up and began my hunting.

As usual when it comes to this particular duo, I came up with bupkis.

Not content to let the night be a total loss, I started searching for the other relatives, including my second great grandfather Frederick Gledhill, and his wife, Elizabeth Gormley. I found an interesting article on a boom of June brides applying for licenses. Among them was Elizabeth. 

The most interesting thing was that Miss Elizabeth, residing at 2045 Annin Street, was marrying her beau--and he resided at the same address1. This must have been unusual for the time they were marrying (1906).

I mentioned this scandalous finding to my mom, who of course mentioned it to my grandfather. As often happens, he chose this moment to dole out a tidbit of interesting information. According to him, Frederick had been disowned by his family when he decided to marry Elizabeth Gormley. Apparently they did not approve because she was Catholic2. Frederick's parents were immigrants from England and were, one presumes, devout Protestants. Elizabeth was also the oldest daughter of Irish immigrant parents3. Anti-Irish sentiment was certainly an issue around this time, and that may have affected Fred's parents' feelings toward his fiancé as well.

By today's standards, inter-faith marriages are hardly uncommon. But back during Fred's time, it seems to have been an offense worthy of disowning. Elizabeth faced several tragedies during her short life, so it is a comfort to know that at least she had a husband who loved her enough to accept being disowned by his parents. On another bright side, not everyone in Fred's family agreed with his parents. His brother, Amor (pronounced Aim-er), remained quite close with Fred. He brought his children to see Fred's family at their farm4. During the last years of his life, Fred was quite ill and rarely left his bedroom in his son's house. Amor came to visit his brother often5. I'm told the pair looked alike--but Fred had more hair!
1"Rush of June Brides," The Philadelphia Inquirer, 05 Jun 1906, p. 16.
2Richard J. Gledhill, Sr. and Barbara Gledhill-Begg. Oral interview, 24 Feb 2013, by Barbara Gledhill-Begg via telephone. Interview synopsis in the possession of Stacy McConnell, Azusa, California.
31900 U.S. census, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia, 30th Ward, enumeration district (ED) 764, sheet 9A, dwelling 141, family 169, Mary Gormley household; digital images, (; citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm 1241472 roll 1472.
4Dan Dyke, "Re: Amor Gledhill," message to Stacy McConnell, 19 Feb 2013.
5Richard J. Gledhill, Sr. and Stacy McConnell. Oral interview, 21 Feb 2013, by Stacy McConnell via telephone. Interview synopsis in the possession of Stacy McConnell, Azusa, California.


  1. Hi--I've found several ancestors who were living at the same address as the people they married, either early in the 20th century (roughly when your clipping is dated) or even as late as 1930s. In almost every case, the reason was that the address was a multi-family dwelling OR boarders taken in by the family that owned the home because they needed the money. Maybe that's the case with your ancestors?

    1. Great suggestion! I browsed the city directory for 1906 and 1907. In 1906, I see Fred and his father still living at the same address (he is living at home on the 1900 census as well), so if he did choose to leave the family home and strike out on his own, he did it relatively soon before meeting Elizabeth. The Annin Street address was also home to Elizabeth's mother at this time. I don't think her mother (Mary) owned the home, because they seem to move around quite a lot (at a new address in 1907, neither address matched the 1900 census). I do find Fred with his mother-in-law at the new address in 1907. Possible conclusions seem to be that Elizabeth's family was renting this house and Fred moved in after meeting her; or that Fred decided to move out, and he ended up boarding at the same place as the Gormley's. Do you have any suggestions on how to determine whether other families may have been living at this particular address in 1906? I have not mastered the art of tracing a particular property through the years yet. :)


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