- What was her nickname?
- Where was she raised?
- By whom was she raised?
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Mary Ellen Vossler was born March 22, 1870, near Decatur, Illinois. She had one older brother, John, and five older half-brothers. Little is known about her father, George Vosseler. He was an immigrant from the German principality of Wuerttemberg.
Mary's mother was Elizabeth Childers, who was born about 1833, in Bristow Cove, Alabama, and was the widow of John Wilson. By 1875, Elizabeth and George were dead or missing. McFarlane family legend reports that Mary was then raised by a childless aunt and uncle in far southern Illinois.
Mary Ellen married Walter McFarlane on April 7, 1897, in Chicago. They had two daughters: Ruth Dorothy McFarlane and Margaret Elizabeth "Peggy" McFarlane. Mary lived as a typical Chicago housewife. As she grew older, she was crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. She was remembered as being loving and kind with her grandchildren during the years she cared for them. She died on October 23, 1935, in Chicago, and is buried in an unmarked grave in Ridgewood Cemetery in Des Plaines.
Family legend reports that Mary's nickname was "Molly". However it is more likely to be "Polly", a common nickname for Mary. If she was raised by German relatives, might she instead have been called Marie? She is nowhere to be found in the 1880 census under any of these names. I've searched for many years and never found her. If that elusive census record comes to light, it should solve all three questions and put the mystery of Mary Ellen to rest.