Friday, November 5, 2010
Funeral Card Friday - Funeral bill for Joseph F. Gorry, age 7
So, I know this is supposed to be a "funeral card" theme, but I thought it might be interesting to share something in the same vein that my Gorry relatives had a penchant for saving - funeral bills.
Morbid, morbid folk, those Gorrys. The genealogist in me thanks them profusely every day.
Anyway, since a lot of the funeral cards they saved belonged to friends as opposed to family, I thought I'd switch it up, and start with someone who, had he belonged to a less genealogically inclined family, might have been lost to history forever - my great grandfather Elmer Gorry's older brother Joseph, who died when he was just 7 years old. Joseph Francis Gorry was born Nov. 11, 1891 in New York City and died there on Nov. 8, 1898 at age 7 from acute endocarditis and acute nephritis - whether this was something that came on suddenly or something he lived with for awhile in his short life, I don't know. I do know that less than a year after Mary Horgan Gorry lost her husband Jimmy when he was just 27, she lost her third of four children. My great grandfather Elmer was only 2.
So, this is what we know from Joseph's death certificate. What we find out from his funeral bill is that his funeral expenses were billed to his paternal aunt, Hannah Gorry, on Jan. 9, 1899 by Maxcy Brothers, undertakers located on 504 East 14th Street in Manhattan, opposite "the Church" according to their bill - that would be the Gorrys' parish, Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church. Included in the bill is a "white embossed plush draped couch casket - full open, with engraved silver name plate" and handle ornaments with satin lining for $75, a hearse for $10, five carriages for $27.50, preserving of the remains, candles, use of a large candleabra and chairs, advertising (evidence of an obituary - in future funeral bills you will see they sometimes post what paper the funeral was advertised in), an outside case for transporting the casket to the cemetery, and a $5 charge for the opening of the grave, for a total of $137.50. Adjusting that for inflation, the cost of burying Joseph Gorry was almost $3500.
What we know from the bill as well (and you have to look at his grandmother Mary Corr Gorry's bill to see this, but of course the Gorrys saved that) is that it took the Gorrys until July of 1901, a year and a half, to pay off those expenses - $5 here, $25 there. Considering they couldn't even afford a headstone, that's no surprise. Maybe that's why they couldn't afford a headstone - between 1893-1901, the Gorrys buried James Gorry the Elder (1893) and his wife, Mary Corr Gorry (1901), their son Jimmy (1897), and three of his four kids - infant twins Mary and Ellen (1893 & 1894) and Joseph Francis, 1898.