Known in Death as "Mary Cecelia" Vosburgh

On our 1992 visit to St. Louis, my mother and I visited the beautiful and tranquil Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis where we knew my 2nd great grandfather, Thomas A. Moore, was laid to rest.  While there, we looked about for headstone markers of other family members and made notes of possible relations, including one headstone for "Mary Cecelia Vosburg."

Vosburgh, also spelled Vosburg, was the married name of my mother's great aunt Beulah.  She was, during the course of my mother's life, the widow of Roy D. Vosburg, and had resided in Webster Groves with her widowed sister, Mabel (Moore) Jones.  The name Mary Cecelia, however, was not a familiar given name - not even to my mother who often spent time with her Aunt Beu. 

It was not until recent years when I began looking for Beulah's death certificate online at Missouri Digital Heritage, and matched the date of birth and name of parents, that I realized this Mary Cecelia and Beulah were the very same person.

Additional knowledge of Beulah/Mary Cecelia prior to this search:
  1. Daughter of Thomas Anderson Moore and Clarissa Vanbergen (Pilcher)
  2. Born Beulah Abrams Moore in St. Louis, Missouri on 13 Mar 1887
  3. Named after her brother Tom's girlfriend (whom he did not marry)
  4. Beulah had just turned three when her mother died in April of 1890
  5. Listed in 1900 census residing with father in Central Twp., St. Louis Co., MO
  6. Married Roy David Vosburg, was mother of Sheldon, Winston, and Althea
Curious to know more about this Mary Cecelia whose headstone we had seen in 1992, I contacted friend and Bellefontaine archivist, Connie Nisinger, who had on file a death notice/obituary different from the obituary I had, and which - of all things! listed both names: Beulah (Moore) and Mary Cecelia Vosburgh.

Alms House, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
My suspicions were now confirmed, but I was still perplexed at the two names, so I put a call into Beulah's granddaughter, Marsie, and asked if she had ever known her grandmother to have used the name Mary Cecelia.  She hadn't.  The only other information she could offer me was that Beulah had gone to Lancaster where she had trained as a nurse.  That was helpful.  I located her in the 1920 census living at the Alms House - and listed as Mary Cecelia!  This was the earliest instance in which I had seen her use that name, but she appeared again in the 1930 census residing at Port Royal also as Mary C. Vosburg, 43, widowed, working as a nurse and living in the household of Roy's aunt, Louise Sieber.  Her daughter, Althea, was also included in the household - easily confirming this Mary C. as the same person as Beulah (Moore), widow of Roy D. Vosburgh.
I thought perhaps something might show up in the Vosburg family that would explain the name change, so I researched further into this family and learned a little more about Roy David Vosburgh.  He appears to have descended from Abraham Vosburg of the Netherlands.  His father was Tunis, who was born about April 1840 in New York and was listed in the 1850 census residing in Galen, Wayne Co., New York.  He was the the son of John Vosburgh and Christiana (Race)  and served in the 9th New York Heavy Artillery.  His mother was Clara B. (Sieber), who was born in Pennsylvania in about August 1855 and was the daughter of David and Anna Elizabeth (Whitmer).  According to the census records, she appears to have been the caregiver of Roy and Beulah's sons - Sheldon and Winston, and died in 1931.  She was laid to rest at Union Cemetery in Mifflintown, Juniata Co., Pennsylvania.

Interesting, but I still was no closer to discovering why Beulah would change her name.  The only possible reason I could think of had to do with her husband - who still remains somewhat of a mystery.  I learned from the census record that he had been a designer in a factory, and it is believed that he lost his sight, became depressed, and may have taken his life.  Since suicide for some Believers - then and now - is considered an unforgivable act, perhaps this would account for Beulah moving away and changing her name.  Still, nothing supports this speculation, and it is not even known if Beulah was a devout Christian - but for now, it remains one plausible explanation.

So although I can not explain the use of the two names, I have been able to confirm that the headstone marker belongs to her.  Thanks to my cousin Marsie for Beulah's obituary and the group football photo of Roy from Eastman college.  Also, my thanks to Pete Witze who shared his Vosburgh research and ideas with me; and finally to Connie Nisinger who provided the headstone photos, Vosburgh burial information, and the death/obit clipping which allowed me to positively confirm the use of both names.

As always, I welcome your comments and emails, and appreciate you taking the time to share a little piece of history with me.  If you have additional information, or a link to the families, please email me as I would enjoy sharing information.  For more information on Beulah and the Vosburgh family, you may be interested in visiting my Moore & Pilcher website.

Thanks for sharing!



Heather Rojo said...

I had the same problem with an ancestor named Edwin Healey, who emmigrated from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts. His son was named Joseph Edwin Healey. The city of Beverly contacted me about a Joseph E. Healey who died in the Civil War, and they were honoring him in a Veteran's Day ceremony. I was surprised to find out that the father was also Joseph Edwin Healey, and died with this name as a sailor in the Civil War. No other document (Birth or marriage) has this name. It was a big surprise to me to find out he had died in the War, but then, I hadn't been looking for a Joseph Healey who died in Arkansas! Perhaps he changed his name upon moving to a new place, too?

Amy said...

Im not sure if you are still looking but this is my great x3 grandmother.. if you are greenoktobur@gmail.com my name is amy