Saturday, 14 March 2015

Mary Green (1812-1907) - Not Irish (52 Ancestors #11) Theme: "Luck of the Irish"

Let's get this straight at the outset: Mary Green was not, as far as I know, Irish. I can't find any Irish ancestors in my family tree. Nor were any of my ancestors particularly lucky. I do, however, have several ancestors with the last name "Green" and writing about one of them is as close as I can come to this week's St Patrick's Day theme.

Mary Green was my 3rd great grandmother. Her life was long and varied, and although opportunity may have knocked at her door, it never seemed to be accompanied by much luck.

Mary was born to Ezekiel Green and (possibly) Esther Ann Whitacre on 04 September 1812 in Muncy Twp, Lycoming Co, Pennsylvania.

1830 US census of Plumcreek, Armstrong County, PA listing families of Ezekiel Green (one of the teen-aged daughters likely Mary Green) and Christian Hoover Sr. (the male between 20 and 30 most likely Mary's husband-to-be Christian)
When she was 20, she married Christian Hoover at her father's home in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. From the census record a couple of years earlier (shown above), it can be seen that the families were close neighbours. Mary and Christian would have 11 children between 1835 and 1849, including my 2nd great grandmother Barbara Hoover. As in the case of Barbara, my knowledge of Mary Green came through the research conducted by Alice Hoyt Veen as part of her professional genealogist accreditation; for all of her work in uncovering this branch of my tree I remain deeply appreciative.

After about 20 years in Plum Creek, Mary and Christian sold their property there on 17 May 1854 and started a very itinerant life of moving from place to place. Most likely there was a desire for more land that was opening up in newly formed states. Their migration to Kansas coincided with the anti-slavery movement to prevent that newly-formed state from becoming a "slave" state and there is certainly some evidence that the family were staunch abolitionists. Whatever their motivation may have been, their moves took them to Illinois in about 1854; possibly to Decatur County, Iowa in 1855; Emporia, Kansas Territory in 1858; Henry County, Illinois in 1860; What Cheer, Keokuk County, Iowa in 1865 and finally to Burlingame, Osage County, Kansas in 1877.

It isn't clear whether Mary supported Christian's decision to enlist in the American Civil War. They would both pay a huge price for this decision. He enlisted  in Unit C 11th Illinois Cavalry on 30 November 1861. He was 54 years old but shaved a full 10 years off his age when he first enlisted. There is some evidence that he had strong feelings against slavery and this may have served as his motivation. While participating in the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, he contracted rheumatism, chronic diarrhoea and piles which caused him excruciating pain for the rest of his life. He received a Certificate of Discharge dated 30 June 1862 as unfit for duty but didn't apply for his invalid pension until twenty years later when he was confined to bed and almost completely disabled by his illness. In his pension application, we learn that Christian was a physician of the eclectic school and was his own doctor throughout his illness. Census records also list him as a doctor and a physician. Wife Mary was one of several witnesses who swore affidavits in support of his pension; in hers, she swore that she and Christian had been married for 53 years and that she had nursed him throughout his lengthy illness which had afflicted him since his discharge.

Affidavit of Mary Green Hoover in support of her husband's pension application;
her original signature is highlighted in pink

Between 1885 and 1892, Mary herself is listed as physician for the births of 22 babies and for two deaths. She had been a midwife as early as 1860. There is no evidence that either she or Christian had any formal medical training but at that time there was no requirement for attendance at medical school. People could learn from others or from books or simply hang out a shingle. Mary and Christian were both listed in "Kansas Physicians and Midwives Registered with the Kansas Board of Health, 1887-1900."

The couple celebrated 50 years of marriage on Wednesday 15 August 1883. The Burlingame Herald newspaper report said that the occasion was celebrated by a quiet family reunion and the couple received many useful and valuable presents including gold pieces in denominations of $1 to $5 in honour of their golden wedding. "The Herald hopes Uncle Christy and his wife will live very many years yet."

However, health issues were plaguing both Mary and Christian. They were suffering financially from his inability to work and attempted to get special increases in the pension claim.  One affidavit from 23 January 1893 indicated that the $17/month pension was insufficient to keep them in medicine and incidental expenses. He was affiliated with the veterans group G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) and local members rallied to provide some aid.

Christian's illness eventually got the best of him and depression set in. On 15 December 1897 he ended his life by shooting himself in the head with a 32-calibre pistol.

After the death of her husband, Mary was left destitute. She was also blind. She applied for her widow's pension in 1897 for Christian's service in the Civil War, but her application was at first declined because he had committed suicide. Because of her blindness, her signature was now replaced with an "X" on her affidavit. Twelve citizens of Burlingame supported her claim by a joint affidavit in which they swear that they believed that Christian had been "suffering from such intense pain, that he became insane and shot himself which was the cause of his death."  She did finally receive a widow's pension of $8/month commencing in June of 1898.

She was living with daughter Hannah and son-in-law Maurice Kelleher  at the time of the 1900 US census. At that time, she was 87 years old and her birth date was given as September of 1812 in Pennsylvania. By 1904 she was living with her son Samuel A Hoover in Missouri. He was her only surviving child by that time.

Mary Green Hoover died 10 October 1907 in Warrensburg, Johnson County, Missouri. Her obituary appeared in the Burlingame Enterprise a week later:
"Mrs Christian Hoover Dead
The death of Mrs. Christian Hoover occurred at Warrensburg, Mo, last Thursday night, at the home of her son, Prof. Samuel Hoover, with whom she had lived for the past six years.
Mrs. Hoover had reached the venerable age of ninety-five years and one month. For more than ten years the old lady had been almost blind, but aside from this affliction enjoyed excellent health, and was only ill for two days prior to her death. She had been a member of the Christian church for many years and was a lady known and beloved by many people in Burlingame.
Mary Green was born in Armstrong County, Pa., September 4, 1812. She was married to Christian Hoover on August 15, 1833. In 1856 they came west to Illinois, in '58 to Kansas, returning to Illinois two years later. In 1877 they again came to Kansas and remained. Mr. Hoover, or "Uncle Christy," as he was familiarly known, died about ten years ago. The deceased was the mother of eleven children, of whom but one survives. Mrs. Maurice Kelleher of this city, who died about four years ago, was a daughter. The son, Prof. Samuel Hoover, is a teacher in the Missouri Agricultural College, teaching chemistry, botany and practical farming. Funeral services were held at Warrensburg and the remains brought here for interment, accompanied by the son. Short funeral services were held at the grave, Saturday, conducted by Rev. Flanagin." 

The life of Mary Green does not appear to have been an easy one. She had lived to 95 years of age, but ending her life blind and in poverty, having an invalid husband who ultimately committed suicide and being predeceased by all but one of her eleven children does not sound like a lucky life. She was buried (probably in the same grave) with her husband in Burlingame, Kansas.

Christian Hoover's headstone
Burlingame, Kansas
Photo provided courtesy Jean Pinick


  • Jennings, Arlene V, "Mary (Green) Hoover, Physician of Armstrong County", Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine Vol 45 (2007), pages 6-17
  • Veen, Alice Hoyt, of Prairie Roots Research, Genealogy Report dated December 17, 2009
  • American Civil War Pension Application for Christian Hoover and Widow's Pension Application by wife Mary (Green) Hoover 
  • 1830, 1850, 1880, 1900  United States Federal Censuses
  • Kansas Historical Society website:


  1. Another interesting one, Joanne. I hope she had a better life at some points. I take hope from the fact that many called him Uncle Christy which suggests some affection.

  2. Another interesting one, Joanne. I hope she had a better life at some points. I take hope from the fact that many called him Uncle Christy which suggests some affection.

  3. Just fascinating. As I mentioned in reply to your comment at Ancestors in Aprons, my great-grandfather and his brother were both Eclectic Physicians, and they are the only ones I knew of until now. They did go to college--one in Philadelphia and one in Cincinnati.