Scholefield Family Tree

The last bits of information that I need about the Fitzgerald family are children’s dates of birth. Mary Ellen Crampton/Moore Fitzgerald was a sister of Clara, so this project (by my own definition) will require no further information. What I already know about the children from the censuses:

Henry A Fitzgerald b cal 1875
Matilda M Fitzgerald b cal 1878
Anna E Fitzgerald b cal 1879

Due to the fact that the family moved to San Francisco, California, after the death of husband and father Henry S. Fitzgerald, I will begin my search in the California Death Records available at Rootsweb.

Boys are usually the easiest because their names don’t change upon marriage. And this holds true in this case. “Harry Armour Fitzgerald” appears in the death records of San Francisco. His birth date is reported as 29 May 1877.1 For me, the middle name is a clear indication that this is the guy I want. Even if the birth year might have been reported incorrectly (since in 1880 he was reported as born abt 1875), this is pretty close!

Luckily the California Death Records include the surnames of parents. A search for all people whose certificates recorded “Fitzgerald” as their father and who were born in Arizona returns a record for a “Tillie M. Menteer.”2 She was possibly originally a Matilda “Tillie” Fitzgerald. The certificate reports her mother’s maiden name as “Moore” — a match to our Mary Ellen who seemed to have adopted her step-father’s surname as her own. The only problem is that the record reports her birth as 19 Mar 1886 — a full eight years too late. But, again, knowing the likelihood of errors in reported birth dates on death certificates, I did not throw out this result.

Instead, I tried to verify the last name “Menteer” as possibly belonging to a woman who was born in either 1886 or, as I suspect, 1878. A census search for women living in San Francisco who were born in either year in Arizona returned no Menteers — only a “Tillie Swasey.” By 1920, this woman is divorced, so she could be our girl as she still could have married Menteer later.

Okay, now back to Google. A search for the words — tillie swasey fitzgerald — turns up a index record for a marriage license which ran in the San Francisco Call.

blockquoteSwasey, W.N. (24)… marr. lic. in —- to Fitzgerald, Tillie M. (19) …SF1897-110373

A Google search for — swasey fitzgerald — returns the following result from Google Books:

blockquoteWilliam Norris”, b. in S. F., Cal., Dec. 20, 1872; m. in S. F., April 3, 1897, Natheal M. Fitzgerald, b. in Arizona, March 19, 1878, dau. of Henry S. of Liverpool, Eng., and Mary E. Fitzgerald of Cal.4

Based upon this find, I am fairly certain that Matilda (Tillie, Matheal) married first a William Swasey and later a Menteer. The month and day of birth match in both the death record and Swasey Genealogy, and since it doesn’t appear that Tillie ever had children, who knows who the informant was on her death certificate.

Now that I have been feeling successful for two of the children, I will tell you now that all of my hopes have been dashed when trying to research the last daughter, Anna.

You might remember (Ok, probably not, so I’ll remind you) that Mary Fitzgerald had a grandson named John or Jack Spiro. So I began with him — yes, even though he is outside of my project definitions. (Matilda was married to Swasey during this time, so the child was likely Anna’s.) Jack’s California death birth reports him as having a mother whose maiden name was McVeigh.5 His death record reports his mother’s name as Fitzgerald.6 How could it be both?

Either way, there are no identifiable death records for an Anna Spiro or an Anna Fitzgerald about the time of John’s birth.

A quick review of our normal resources for news articles ( and don’t return an obit for John or Anna Spiro. Nothing obvious pops on google with searches for a combination of the words: john, newburn, spiro, anna, fitzgerald.

However, when we go back to the San Francisco Call database and check the Fitzgeralds, we find:

blockquoteFitzgerald, Mary E…. married in 1886 to McVeigh, John N. …1886M-9437

Could it be that Mary DID remarry after her husband’s early death in 1880 — and Anna was using the surname of her new father at the time of the birth of her child John? Thereby explaining how John’s records read McVeigh and then later Fitzgerald. It would seem that there was some sort of falling out between Mary and her second husband because by 1910 she has gone back to using the surname of her first husband.

Well, as you can see, the search for Anna only raised more questions.

Research Plan:

  • Search for Mary Ellen McVeigh in the 1900 Census.

1. “California Death Index, 1940-1997,” database, ( : accessed 19 Jan 2009), entry for Harry Armour Fitzgerald (15 Feb 1947); citing State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics.
2. Ibid., entry for Tillie M Menteer (30 Mar 1953); citing State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics.
3. Jim W. Faulkinbury, CGRS, The San Francisco Call Database ( : accessed 19 Jan 2009); entry for W.N. Swasey to Tillie M. Fitzgerald, 1897.
4. Benjamin Franklin Swasey, Genealogy of the Swasey Family (Cleveland, Ohio: Privately Printed, 1910), 460-461; digital images, Google Book Search ( : accessed 19 Jan 2009).
5. “California Birth Index, 1905-1995,” database, Ancesty.comĀ (http://www.ancestry,com : accessed 19 Jan 2009), entry for John N Spiro (14 Jul 1907); citing State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics.
6. “California Death Index, 1940-1997,” entry for Jack Newburn Spiro (12 May 1980).
7. Faulkinbury, The San Francisco Call Database; entry for John N. McVeigh to Mary E. Fitzgerald, 1886.