Monday, February 20, 2012

My Grandmother was a cougar

My grandmother was a cougar. Jennifer and Christopher - she would be your great, great grandmother on the Irish side. After my grandfather died, when grandmother (Ma'am) was in her forties, she married a man twenty years younger -  his name was Bertie and I never knew how, where or what the circumstances of the marriage were. Researching the family on, I came across a census document and found the answer to how they must have met. The census report lists the Killeens (my family), including grandmother, my grandfather and their children and on the next farm, a family named Kilby and among the people living there is one Bertrand Massey, a servant, who would become my step grandfather. Grandmother didn't travel far to find a second husband! Talk about blooming where she was planted.

I realize this document is far too big for the page, but you can't read it at all when reduced to fit this space. Fifth line down on the census is Massey, Albert birth date 1886 and under column six, "Domestic", born in England and under column 17, his occupation is listed as "Servant". Seventh line down is Lucy Killeen, my grandmother, wife of the head of household, born in 1866 and the whole family are lumped together as farmers.

Ma'am's kids, my uncles and aunts hated Bertie and tongues must have wagged as he was younger than most of her children and he was a servant.

I remember him as a shadowy figure sitting quietly next to her, holding her hand. Her other hand was always occupied with the rosary. The clickety, clickety click of those beads traveling through her fingers is a sound I'll always associate with her.  She prayed for everybody and everything including the horses she had money on in races all across the U.S. and Canada, but that's another story.

Years later after my grandmother was dead and Bertie had left the family home, we found out that he was gay. My father handled all the families legal matters and when Bertie was arrested for lewd behavior he called my Dad to get him out of jail. Woe is the man who must call on his step-son to get him out of the hoosegow. We never heard anything more about him or from him again. Maybe I'll find out more from the records.


  1. Wow-- you are the winner!!!! That's the best Sepia Saturday story ever.
    You should think about sending it to sepia saturday the next time the theme is cougars...or just anytime.
    I love it. It has everything romance, crime, gayness,family ire,intrigue, etc, etc.

  2. Being of the same vintage I think we appreciate each others family tales because we have a grasp of the time frame. I'm hoping my grand nieces and nephews will catch an interest in their relatives so I'm trying to get the juiciest stories on here for them. Thanks to you for turning me on to where I'm finding so many interesting tidbits.