Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Sad and Untimely Death of Mary M. McPherson, nee Housel, July 30, 1891

On April 4th, I posted a transcript from the Centennial History of Springdale, Dane County, Wisconsin, 1848-1948, on Furman Housel, which noted that Furman's daughter Mary Margaret married my great-great grandparent's, James P. and Mary B. McPherson, third son, Jabez Burns McPherson.  The following are undated newspaper clippings about the death of Mary M. McPherson.  The clippings are most likely from the Dodgeville Chronicle which was established in 1862.

A Sad and Untimely Death

On the return from the Monoa Lake excursion on Thursday of last week the hundreds of people who went forth joyous and hopeful in the morning were,  startled, pained and surprised, to learn upon their arrival at our home depot that Mrs. J. B . McPherson had suddenly died during their absence.  The death was so untimely and unexpected that her sons Jabus and Willie and daughter May, were with the excursionists, little dreaming of the terriable cloud that was to shadow their course before the setting sun would sink to its course over the western seas.  Deceased gave no evidence that the end was so near until about nine o'clock in the morning, when  her case became not only critical but hopeless.  She was told that she must die, and signified her willingness to go, relying on the mercies of Jesus.  Mrs. M. was one of the converts of last summers revival and was a consistent active member of Daniel's Band also of the P.M. church and other societies.  She leaves a very large family, from  a infant one week old, to a son and daughter just passing the threshold of man and womanhood.  All the sympathy that could be given was devoted by one and all to the sorrowing family, which at most could slightly aid them in their great sorrow.  The funeral took place on Sunday afternoon from the family residence, thence to the P.M. church and finally to the sacred home of the silent sleepers in our city cemetery.  Rev. M. C. Baker officiating. Bouquets of flowers, pillows and wreaths given by friends, not only attested the merit of the dead, but also the kindly power of love and affection borne for her by all.  Beside the children a beloved companion who has born the joys and sorrows for so many long years together with the sad hearts that remain, to suffer and weep a little longer before the glad reunion when each shall wear the crown of immortal glory on the evergreen shore of deliverance and delight.

Here is another clipping of a  short obituary:

Mary M. McPherson, whose maiden name was Housel, was born in the state of New Jersey, Sept. 14th, 1852, and died July 30, 1891, aged 38 years, ten months and fifteen days.  She left her native state with her parents and came to Wisconsin when very young.  She married J. B. McPherson April 10, 1872 who with six children are left to mourn her loss.  About ten months ago she was united with the P.M. church, and was loved and respected by all her associates.  Her end was peaceful and happy. (A hand-written note at the bottom states: "& Baby died 11/10/91)

Another clipping noted family members who had traveled to attend the funeral  (Jabez B. McPherson's family was  represented by his mother and father (J.P.), his brother James B., and sisters, Mrs. Blair (Mary Jane). Mrs. Ireland (Emma), and Mrs. Burmeister (Margaret/Maggie): 

J.P. McPherson and wife of Verona, Mrs. H. Housel of Middleton, James B. McPherson and Wife of Verona, Mrs. Blair from Brooklyn, Mrs. Ireland and Mrs. Burmeister of Madison,  Jacob Housel and wife of Mazonanie, were here last week attending the funeral of their sister and aunt, Mrs. J. B. McPherson.
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 © Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications


  1. Joan this story reminded me so much of my Julia Gavin Kunkel. it is such a tragic tale. I wonder how it affected her children. BTW what is the P M church?

  2. I just have miscellaneous bits and piece about her, her Jabez (my grandfather was also a Jabez Burns McPherson, and a cousin to her Jabez), and their children. I do know that I found, in the last two fed. census reports of his life, her Jabez was alone and living in boarding houses. Begs a question(s) of which I haven't yet to begun unraveling.

    The P.M.church was called the "Pioneer Methodist" or the "Primitive Methodist" church, an evangelical church given to day long (or longer) "camp meetings," as was "David's Band, which had a very small number of churches --- if I remember correctly, it reached a high point with 124 churches, primarily in Michigan - and apparently Wisconsin.

  3. Childbirth was so much more dangerous back then! Some things are better now.

    1. I just couldn't imagine the shock to her children who had gone off on a holiday excursion returning to find their mother dead --- after just a few days before welcoming a baby brother. It was sad and shocking. Thanks for stopping by ---I always enjoy your comments.