Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Mystery of Aunt Cathie

From the books, we know that Papa wasn't the only Fitzgerald in Adenville/Price.  According to the books he had a sister named Cathie or Aunt Cathie, as we come to know her.  It is in the character of Aunt Cathie that researchers find the best compilation of fact, fiction, family, and time.

There were in fact two Fitzgerald sisters living in Price when J.D. was a boy.  An Aunt Josephine or Josie as the newspaper referred to her, and Aunt Isabelle.

Aunt Josie was single.  She worked in the clerk in the County Records office.  Many years later when Gerald, the youngest child of  Thomas and Minnie Fitzgerald, was asked to explain who the character of Aunt Cathie was, he gave the name of Aunt Josie.

Then, when I came across John Dennis Fitzgerald's legal avidavit of characters, he listed Aunt Isabelle as the model for Aunt Cathie.

Aunt Cathie was married to Thomas Murphy of Pennsylvania.  They had moved west, hoping the dryer air would heal Thomas' consumption.  Thomas was the business partner in the Fitzgerald and Co. Saloon. He would eventually become proprietor.  For her part, Isabelle had a millinery shop of her own. (you can see a glimpse of the shop if you look at the picture of the boys in the buggy in the page Growing Up Fitzgerald).

By all accounts, Mr. and Mrs. Murphy were quite happy in Price. This seemed satisfactory to me until I spoke to Henry Farley, the Fitzgerald Family Historian.

After reading Papa Married a Mormon, Mr Farley pointed out one more "mystery" to muddy the waters- the photograph of Aunt Cathie in the center of the book is neither Aunt Josephine or Aunt Isabelle.  It is, of all people, Aunt Cathie Murphy - sister to Mr. Thomas Murphy, husband of Aunt Isabelle.

I'm sure it was a mix up of all the photos in the trunks, but it sure adds intrigue to the plot.  Below is a formal photograph of the Pennsylvania Fitzgerald women, including Aunt Josephine, Aunt Isabelle, and Grandma Isabelle Fitzgerald.


  1. OK. I feel really foolish now. When I was doing some research, I saw the picture of Aunt Isabelle that you have posted above and thought, "This is Aunt Cathy, only the picture in the book is her at a younger age." Guess I should leave the research up to the experts.;)

  2. I'm no expert. I'll take tenacious or fortunate. I had the same opinion before I found Henry Farley. I think the same mistake happened to John and his siblings. They were kids when they knew these relatives. Years later a photograph is similar and it looks like who you think, but oops it wasn't.

    Thanks for following the blog so much. I really enjoy your comments and excitement.