Friday, September 24, 2010

Funeral Card Friday - a family hobby

This is actually a topic that is near and dear to my heart, as it seems Irish Catholics in particular have an obsession with, besides reading the obituaries, collecting funeral cards. I was about to call out my grandparents for this somewhat morbid hobby when I glanced at the wall of my cubicle and realized I have not one, not two, but three funeral cards pinned there. And I know I have one on my dresser at home. And another one on top of my bookcase on the other side of my room...

Macabre? Maybe. But extremely informative. Date of death. Sometimes a date of birth. Sometimes a photo. Usually the name of a funeral home, which can be a clue as to where a person died. Of course, if your relatives collect funeral cards like normal people collect baseball cards, you may have to sift through the family friends and neighbors and co-workers and complete strangers to find the ones that belong to actual relations of yours, but they're definitely helpful tools in your genealogical pursuits.


Michael Gorry was my great-great grandfather James' older brother. He was in his 70s when he died in 1933. He never married, and lived in Brooklyn with his and James' two sisters, Hannah and Mary. After James died in 1897 at the age of 28, his widow Mary Horgan didn't remarry, so while she worked for a living in Manhattan, she sent her son Elmer Anthony, my great-grandfather, to live with his spinster aunts Hannah and Mary and bachelor uncle, Michael, in Brooklyn, where they pretty much raised him. Hannah, Mary, and Michael never had any children of their own, which is why something like this funeral card is important - they might not have any descendents to remember them, but it helps me remember them and the huge role they played in forming the kind of person my great-grandfather became, which in even just a small way is helping to form the kind of person I'm becoming.

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