Sunday, March 4, 2012

Katherine "Katie" M. Fox-a sad story

Katherine "Katie" M. Fox was born in July of 1874 in Illinois, probably in Peoria, Illinois.  She was the daughter of William and Mary Smyth Fox.  She was the fifth of six children in the family.  The first child, Rosanna was born in 1865 and lived for fifteen days.  The next year, a brother, Patrick, was born.  He died when he was ten years old in July of 1876.  A sister, Rosa, was born about 1870, and another sister, Mary Elizabeth, was born around 1872.  Mary Elizabeth also died in 1876 in June.  Katie was born in 1874, and then her brother William was born in October of 1876.   In August of 1878, Mary was godmother for her sister's child, the son of William and Elizabeth Smyth Murphy. William and Elizabeth Murphy were my great-great grandparents. Sadly, the next month on the 25th of September 1878, Mary Smyth Fox died,  leaving her husband William with three young children.

In 1880, William Fox was listed as living in Iroquois County, Illinois working on a farm where one of my Murrphy families was living.  His three children were listed in the Peoria County Illinois 1880 census as boarders at the "Bradley Hospital", which was run by religious sisters.  The children were listed as:

Rosa age 10
Katie age 6
William age 4

The children's father, William Fox, was listed as still living in Iroquois County, Illinois in 1882 in his pension papers.  From Peoria City Directories, William Fox was listed as living in Peoria, Illinois in 1891 and 1894.  There is no indication where his children were.

14 April 1894 Application to Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Home-Quincy IL: in the application William stated that he owned no property and worked as a laborer.  He reported that  that he has no wife and one child living, a daughter, 19 years. That he "desires that Katie Fox of Peoria be notified of his illness or death", and that in case of death his personal effects be sent to Katie Fox 303 Butler St. at Peoria. (her aunt and uncle's address-Peter and Rosa Smith Hill).

From the Peoria Illinois City Directories I  found:
1895-a Miss Kate Fox listed as "cook H.G. Hirt, r. 222 First ave."
1896-a Miss Catherine Fox listed as "domestic at 208 Randolph".
1897-a Miss Katie Fox listed as a "domestic at 419 Fredonia ave."

Again, in 1897 in William's pension papers "Kattie", age twenty-three was referred to as William's only living child.

William Fox, Katie's father, died in May of 1898 in Peoria, Illinois. From papers received from the Soldier's Home records:

23 May 1898-letter sent to Mr. E.L.Higgins: "Dear Sir: A card was received from you asking the cause and date of the death of my father, William Fox.  Heart failure was the cause, and date Monday evening at 5:30 May 16, 1898. Yours truly, Katie M. Fox, 303 Butler St., Peoria, IL."

18 June 1898-note in papers from the Soldier's Home on William: "Died on furlough at Peoria May 16, 1898.  All papers sent Katie M. Fox-4757 Kenwood Ave Chicago".
So, did Katie live in Peoria or Chicago?

There are a few more references to a Katherine Fox in Peoria over the next few years.  Are these Katie?

In the 1900 Peoria, Peoria County IL Census at 430 Main listed a Katherine Fox, age 25, working as a servant in the household of Thomas Goodman.
The last possible listings I have found of Katie are in the 1910 and 1911 Peoria Illinois City Directories where a Miss Katherine Fox is listed as a domestic at 807 Jackson.

The problem is Katie or Katherine Fox is a fairly common name.  Did she remain in Peoria, or did she live in Chicago?  Did she ever marry?  With all of her family (parents and siblings) dead by the time she was twenty-four, what became of Katie?  After the reference to living at her aunt and uncle's address in 1897, she was never located in records at that address or with any of the family after that.  I checked the Illinois Death and Stillborn Records 1916-1947 and did not find her listed.  Did she die before 1916?  Or did she live past 1947?  Katie's siblings who died before her mother had died were buried in the Kickapoo Cemetery, as was her mother.  What became of Katie's sister Rosa and her brother William?

So many questions left unanswered about this family.  I always find it strange when I find that families do not take in children of their families who are orphaned.  Of course, there are always many good reasons why it is not possible, but I still am surprised.  Katie's mother had twelve siblings who lived after she had died.  Could no one have taken in these three children?  I would love to know the story!!!

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