These carte de visites, of a girl and her stepmother, are in rough condition which makes me wonder where they’ve been and whose hands they’ve gone through over the last one hundred and fifty years.
The girl, Mary E. Hurd, was born July 1, 1848, and grew up in Yates County, New York where her father, Seymour, worked as a clothing merchant and tailor. In December 1864, Mary’s mother, Rebecca (nee Bell), died, paving the way for the stepmother’s entrance. To me, Mary’s body language and facial expression scream teenage angst. I suspected she sat for this photo shortly after the death of her mother. However, writing on the tax stamp dates the photo to April 1868 when Mary was nineteen years old.
The stepmother, Charlotte (nee French) Bundy, was the widow of Peter Bundy who passed in 1856 leaving her the single parent of a seven-year-old son, Clinton Delos. Mary’s father wed Charlotte in 1865 and the blended family moved to Lima, New York.
This must have been a very difficult time for Mary. Not only did her father remarry just months after her mother’s death, but she was no longer the only child and had to share the attention of her father with her sixteen-year-old stepbrother. Oh, and we can’t forget the move to Lima which would have meant leaving behind friends, familiar faces, and routines.
I realize we can’t know for sure how Mary felt about all of these changes, or how she reacted to them, but again, I look at her photo from 1868 and I can’t help but imagine she did not take it well.
On the 1870 census, Mary was a single woman living with her father and stepmother. When the 1880 census information was collected she was again in her father’s household but was now Mary E. Barker, a widow. The writing on the cdv, “Mary Hurd Wells Barker,” tells us there was a first marriage, to a Wells.
Looking through the pages of the 1870 census for Lima, I found a Benjamin Wells, age 24, working as a laborer and living in the home of Gilbert and Mary A. Graham. This might have been Mary’s first husband. Unfortunately, I was not able to locate marriage or death records for either of Mary’s spouses. And Mary is almost as elusive. I find no further trace of her until her passing on March 24, 1919, in Manhattan, New York. She was 72 years old and her death record listed her as a widowed hairdresser.
How I wish I could know more about Mary’s life. I haven’t given up all hope on the matter, and I’ll definitely make an update if I find anything more.
Charlotte died at the age of 62 in Honeoye Falls, New York. Tragically, she outlived her son, Clinton, who died at the age of 26 years. If you would like to learn more about Charlotte and Clinton, along with a bit more about Seymour Hurd as well, check out Chapter Three of the Clinton Delos Bundy book. The link is in the sources below.
Mary’s father wed one last time, in 1895, to Adaline Fidelia (nee Gaylord) Day, and died two years later, aged 72 years.
Find A Grave
New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949 (familysearch.org)
Clinton Delos Bundy: his ancestors and decendants (sic), by James B. Battles (Chapter 3)
Yates County Cemetery Project