Friday, March 11, 2011

Fearless Females - Mary Rosilla Porter (1875 - 1923)

Mary Rosilla Porter was born 11 Oct 1875 in Knox County, Ohio. She died at the age of 47 on 9 Jun 1923 in Clinton Township, Knox, Ohio. The cause of death was from toxins that germinated in stale canned milk. She is buried in St. John's Cemetery, Pleasant Township, Knox, Ohio. As is the case with many of the Porters buried in St. John's, there is no tombstone nor any record of where she might have been laid to rest.

Her obituary was published in the "Mount Vernon News" on 9 Jun 1923, page 1:

"MRS. MARY PORTER DIES THIS MORNING, Leaves Husband and Seven Children --
Mrs. Mary Rosella [Rosilla] Porter, wife of Mr. Orrin Porter, died at her home on
Crystal avenue, Fairview, at 2:30 o'clock this morning, after an illness of short duration.
Mrs. Porter was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leander Porter and was 47 years of age.
She is survived by her husband, and the following children: Mrs. Mary Macchia of
Washington, D. C., Irene Elizabeth, Pearl Anna, Dorothy, Paul, Lawrence and Laura.
The funeral services will be held from the R. L. Shaw funeral home on N. Main street
on Monday afternnon at 3 o'clock, the Rev. D. C. Coburn of the M. P. church officiating.
Burial will be made in St. John's cemetery."

I really don't know much about Mary's life prior to her death. I do know that she not only is my Great Aunt, but also the wife of my half first cousin twice removed. The dual relationship is because she married her half  first cousin, Orin Clinton Porter. They married 12 Dec 1895 in Knox County, Ohio. Orin is the son of Orrin Clinton Porter, whom I wrote about in Hole in the Brick Wall, Part 2.

The total effect on her family from her early passing is not known. However, it is known that at least two of her youngest children are found living in county homes shortly after the death of their mother. Eight known children were born to the union of Mary R. Porter and Orin C. Porter.

Mary F. Porter, born Mar 1898 in Knox County, Ohio, married Ralph Macchia. It is unknown at this time when and where that marriage took place. They had at least one child, Angelina Marie Macchia, b. 13 Jul 1919 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California. Due to the 1919 birth of Mary's child, it is assumed that the marriage occurred at least five years prior to her mother's death. She was 25 years old when her mother died.

Ethel M. Porter, born about 1901 and died 8 Jul 1910 in Xenia, Greene, Ohio.

Irene Elizabeth Porter, born 22 Nov 1902 in Mount Vernon, Knox, Ohio. She married first Leigh Stanley McKee 20 Mar 1920, Knox County, Ohio. This marriage ended in divorce. She next married Peter "Leo" Guinan on 2 Jul 1923 in Mount Vernon, Knox, Ohio, which was less than a month after her mother passed. She was 20 years old when her mother passed.

Pearl Anna Porter, born 15 Sep 1904, Pleasant Township, Knox, Ohio. She married Howard George Gessling 26 Sep 1925 in Mount Vernon, Knox, Ohio. She was 18 years old at the time of her mother's death.

Dorothy P. Porter, born 29 Jul 1907, Knox County, Ohio, and died 4 Mar 1938 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio at the age of 30. Around 1930 she married Carl Lawrence Gardner. Dorothy was 15 years old when her mother died.

Paul Clint Porter Sr., born 5 Nov 1912 in Ohio, and died 1 Sep 1997 in Saint Augustine, Saint Johns, Florida. He married Marguerite Gause. He was 10 years old when his mother passed away.

Laura Porter, born abt 1914 in Ohio. She married William C. Campbell in 1934 in Clay County, Florida. She was 8 years old when her mother died.

Lawrence Lester Porter, born about 1916 in Ohio, and died 21 Apr 1942. It is unknown at this time if he married. At age 7 his mother was dead.

One pauses to consider what led to Mary's early death? Did she realize that the canned milk might not be good, or was this something that was due to a problem in the processing of the canned milk? Did she know that the milk was bad and drank it as a suicide attempt? Either way, how long did it take for Mary to realize that she was sick? What were her symptoms? Her death certificate does show that she sought medical help. A doctor attended to her from 30 May to 2 June before she died. A curious note also on the death certificate was that the contributory cause of death was entered as heart disease. If she did have heart disease, did it really contribute to her death after drinking spoiled canned milk? If she did not already have heart disease, would she have been able to make it through the poisoning of her body from the spoiled milk?

I have more work to do on Mary and Orin's family. Four of these children were minors when their mother died. Are there legal papers associated with the care of these children after Mary's death? There are most certainly marriages, deaths, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that are waiting to be discovered.

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