Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mary Frances VanGilder

Mary Frances VanGilder
From a group photo

     Mary Frances "Fannie" VanGilder, my paternal great grand aunt, was born on November 19, 1866 in the Eastern District of Monongalia County, West Virginia. (Monongalia County Register of Births, Eastern District, page 99-100).  Her parents, John Oliphant VanGilder and Mary Louise Hill VanGilder, welcomed Fannie into a family of six children.  At the time of her birth, her father was employed as a chair maker and a farmer.  The family was living on the VanGilder farm just outside the Morgantown city limits.

     At the age of twenty one Fannie signed her brother George's autograph book.  Her verse gives the reader insight into a young woman who is educated and well read.

     I have found no work records for Fannie.  She continued to live in the VanGilder family home until her mother's death on January 24, 1908.  I imagine she assisted her mother with running the house.  Following her mother's death, Fannie lived with her married sister, Lena VanGilder Farrar, on the Stewart Town Road (now named Stewart Street), near VanGilder Street, just outside the Morgantown city limits. (1920 and 1930 West Virginia Census, 1929, 1931, 1937 Morgantown City Directory)

     One of the family photos that my paternal grandmother passed along to my father--and is actually labeled!!--shows five of the VanGilder sisters circa early 1930's. The label reads, "Your great aunts (VanGilder) all graduates of WVU.  The one on the right was the first woman to be admitted to the school."  The aunt on the right is Mary Frances VanGilder.  To date I have only found two VanGilder siblings records of enrollment at West Virginia University.  My paternal great grandfather, George Ethelbert VanGilder and Lida Edna VanGilder.

     According to Fannie's obituary, she was an active 30 year member of The Daughters of Rebekah.  This service oriented organization is a branch of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF).  Her father, John Oliphant VanGilder, was a member of the IOOF.

     Mary Francis died on April 4, 1937 at the age of seventy.  She is buried at Beverly Hills Memorial Park, Morgantown, West Virginia.  There is no memorial marker on her burial site.  Two of her sisters are also buried at Beverly Hills Memorial Park, Bettie Levada VanGilder Pell and Emma Leona VanGilder Williams.

Mary Francis VanGilder on Find A Grave

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© 2016, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

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