Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Mary Fife

This is the gravestone of my great-great grandmother, Mary Frances (McConnell) Fife. She is buried with her husband at Bethel Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. Her husband's family were early members of the church from the 1770s, and I believe her mother's Morrow family may have been also, although I haven't found a connection, YET, between Mary's grandfather, John Morrow and the many Morrows buried at Bethel Cemetery. Mary's father, Charles, was an immigrant from County Donegal Ireland, making him my most recent immigrant ancestor. You can see my entry about his tombstone here.

This stone reads:

Mary F.
Wife of
John Calvin Fife
Born Nov 6, 1851
Died Feb 24, 1917

Mary's husband, John Calvin Fife, died young, and you can read about him HERE. As I mentioned in the post I wrote about Calvin Fife, Mary was left alone with 3 very young children and a fourth on the way, daughter Calvin (called Callie) who was born about 3 months after her father had died. The day his obituary appeared in the newspaper, there was also the following classified ad at the bottom of the same page:

The undersigned will sell at the late residence of Calvin Fife, at the corner of Green and College Streets, Canonsburg.
Saturday, November 22d, 1879
Two good work Horses, 1 spring Colt, 1 two-horse Wagon, set work Harness, Collars, Bridles, set of double Buggy Harness, Plow, Harrow, double Shovel Plow, 1 single Shovel Plow, 1 barrel of Vinegar, 1 barrel of Salt, 1 riding Saddle, Double Tree, Coal Shovel, Kitchen Furniture and numerous other articles not mentioned.

Sale to commence at 1 o'clock, p. m. A credit of 6 months will be given.

Mrs. Mary F. Fife.

I've always thought it was admirable, although very sad, too, that g-g-grandma would be thinking about the practical realities of life so soon after her husband died. She never remarried, so she must have found a way to support herself. In her later years, the census listed her as a nurse.

A legacy passed down from Mary and her family was her religion. When I first started researching, I found that my dad's side of the family were almost all members of the Presbyterian Church, so I wondered how my grandparents came to be members of the First United Methodist Church in Canonsburg, PA. When I discovered that Mary's parents were buried at Fawcett Methodist Church Cemetery, I found my answer. While Mary was buried with her husband with his family in the Presbyterian cemetery, she, along with her children and grandchildren, attended a church of the same denomination as her parents. My grandfather, raised in the Presbyterian Church, joined the Methodist Church when he and Grandma got married. He served as a church administrator in his later years, as did grandma's brother, Raymond Fife, who grew up going to the Methodist Church. Much later, my brother and I were baptized in that church.


  1. That all sounds so familiar.

  2. I have never been to the Bethel Presby cemetery. My cousin, who lives nearby, went and took photos. I have to look those up as I think she just walked about and snapped any Fife tombstones she could find. She also went into the church and was able to get some literature. She did send me a booklet a year or so ago---part of a series--on the area where the Fife's lived. I'll have to check it out again to see if there might be some new info for us.

    Also, I just received a newsy letter from my cousin on the Frederick side. I guess her husband has been out on ancestry and found your info on the Fredericks. She asked if I knew you. I had to smile!!!!


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