I knew that “Martha G.” on my family tree had married Millard Fillmore Avery (1845-1930), but I didn’t know her maiden name. Searching in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, I quickly found their wedding announcement in the Portland Daily Press. Now I know that her maiden name was Moore.
Looking further in the old newspapers, I found her obituary
Wait – she was famous?
I assumed that this couple, like almost all of my early New England relatives, lived quiet, industrious lives out of the limelight.
So, it was quite a surprise to find out more of her life story. Her obituary describes her early years as a Socialist activist, her conversion to Catholicism, and her work as a lecturer on both of these subjects.
Some genealogical information in the article includes:
- She was born 6 April 1851 in Steuben, Maine.
- She was married in 1880 to Millard Fillmore Avery.
- Their daughter, Katharine, became a Sister of the Order of Notre-Dame and was known as Sister Mary Martha.
- A description of her early New England ancestry.
- Her date of death. This answers another question I had. One source said that she died in 1924 and another in 1929. Now I know that she died on 8 August 1929.
I found dozens of newspaper articles about her lectures and career.
There is also a lengthy article about her in Wikipedia which includes her photograph.
I also found another article about her career, published in 1968:
- Carrigan, D. Own. “Martha Moore Avery: Crusader for Social Justice,” The Catholic Historical Review (April 1968), pages 17-38.
Genealogy Tip: Search the old newspapers for all of your relatives. You might discover there is a lot more to their stories then you thought.