Well friends, I still don’t have a clue who Mary Cox is.
I finally broke down and got a subscription to ancestry.com to assist me in my search. I found out there are an awful lot of women named Mary Cox and even quite a few named Mary Ann Cox. There seems to be only one record of a Mary Cox born on May 25, 1955 and it is from the Massachusetts Death index. I know that my Mary was born in Clark County, Alabama, not only because her death certificate says so, but her social security number identifies it as her birth place. Still, I cannot locate any other corresponding records.
Since we last spoke something has been nagging at me about Mary’s identification. I feel like Mr. Leonavicius is an important figure but I can’t find any other mentions of him. Let’s pick the thread back up…
I start searching for Mr. L and soon discover his immigration records which give me his age and a better timeline to search in. It also alerts me to a shortened version of his name. I begin searching for references to him in the newspaper archives again with this new knowledge and soon find out that Mr. L was a bit of chess wiz in his youth. Something isn’t adding up for me. How does a chess wiz extraordinaire turn neglectful landlord? Not simply, I imagine. Now I start to think Algeras was to Mary more than a friend, more than a landlord and perhaps he was truly devastated by her death. That might account for the something. I’ve seen the devastating toll that losing a loved one to murder can take on a person and I have to wonder about that.
To my dismay, I find that Mr. L has passed away. I cannot find an obituary for him but I do come across an interpretation of one on ancestry.com. It states his spouse is “Mary.” Is this the Mary I’ve been searching for? Were they married? I have a stab of pain at what I think might confirm my new theory. But why would he report himself as Mary’s friend? I cannot get any more information and there doesn’t seem to be any other obituaries.
Now that I know Mary’s mother’s name is Della Mae Cox (I know the death certificate lists it as her father’s name but let be realistic, it’s Mom) I run a few searches for Mary Cox connected to a Della Mae. Nothing. I turn to my newspaper search engine and start in on Della Mae Cox and to my surprise there are quite a few results! Not surprisingly, they are all women. I narrow my search to Mary’s home town in Alabama and find one article. It’s a listing of all Infirmary Patients that week (in 1953) with a section at the bottom of the page for “Colored patients.” I can feel my face form an uncomfortable grimace. I wonder how Della Mae would have been treated as a patient, if she’d have been afraid going into the hospital. Though I’m aware that the Southern States were still segregated in the 1950s, it is grossly unsettling to see it in paragraphs of a newspaper. Though a blatantly racist and unnecessary deliniation in context, this bit of information is helpful. Mary’s death certificate identifies her as “black.” So one might conclude that this Della, who was hospitalized in the county Mary was born in just two years before her birth, was Mary’s mother.
A Della Mae Cox gave birth to a baby girl that day in 1953 in Clark County, Alabama. And if this is the Della Mae I’ve been searching for, could that mean Mary Ann has a sister?
I keep hitting dead ends here and just now, as I’m about to throw in the towel, I find a single entry in the 1940 US census of a Mr. Cox (who’s first name is spelled incorrectly by the computer) and Della Cox. They live on a farm in rural Alabama. Finding this new name opens up another search which has brought me to a Cox family tree. One that is in large part private, but that has a Mr. Cox as a parent, and private parent (which I assume is Della), a number of siblings, one of which is a Mary Ann Cox. One other sibling’s name is public and find out that she has just passed away this year. After what seems like hours of searching, I find her obituary. It tells me everything. Mary has two living siblings and her mother is also still with us.
I am flooded with a range of emotions that I cannot even begin to describe. The two most prominent are love and relief. My initial fears, upon reading Mary’s name some months ago, that she could be a missing person, her family not knowing what happened to her, are quieted. I still have so many questions, like “Did they ever find out who killed Mary? Could it be the same person…”. I can’t go there right now, but I take great comfort in knowing what I know now, which is still not much.
So, of course, I looked up Mary’s sister. I called her, left a message and asked her to give me a call.
You now know as much as I do. We wait anxiously for a return call…
Thank you for following along on this journey. I hope beyond hope that answers are just a phone call away. Stay tuned.