The Two Minnies

My paternal grandmother, Mary Head Poole died in 1944. I was born in 1942 so I don't actually remember her, but photos show that we did indeed meet.

For a long time, we knew nothing about her other than her maiden name. Eventually, thanks to US Census records, we learned about her life after meeting my grandfather but still knew nothing about her family. Then, while collecting information about my grandfather I examined the 1892 New York State Census. The NY censuses had very limited information. This one told me that William Poole, a 29 year old carpenter was living in the 10th election district of the 24th ward in Brooklyn, NY on February 16, 1892. A notation at the top of the page, apparently applying to the entire listing, gives the address as 73 Schenectady Avenue.

Then, I noticed something interesting. On the same page, immediately above William's entry, is a listing for the family of Charles Head, a 60 year-old painter from England. His wife Elizabeth is the same age and was born in Ireland. They have two daughters aged 25 and 16. Oddly, both daughters are listed with the same name, “Minnie”. This is, of course, is a common nickname for Mary. My conjecture is that William and one of the two girls fell in love and married a few years later.

But which girl? William's wife Mary shows in the 1900 US Census as being 24 years old. If correct, that would make it the younger girl. Mary's information in the census from 1900 through 1940 is consistent with this assumption. According to her obituary notice, she was 68 at the time of her death in 1944, which is also consistent.

But there's a glitch! The 1900 US Census shows Charles Head, whose wife appears to have passed away, still living with his daughter Minnie, who is now listed as 26 years old. So either of the two 1900 entries for Mary/Minnie Head could reasonably be the younger daughter or the older daughter, who is taking some years off her age. With the information we have at this point, we can only guess.

Here's a summary of what my grandmother, Mary Head Poole told the census takers about her age during her life.
Census YearReported Age
1900 US Census24
1905 New York State Census29
1910 US Census34
1915 New York State Census49
1920 US Census44
1925 New York State Census49
1930 US Census54
1940 US Census64

Either the 1915 census is an error or all the rest were reported incorrectly. For now, I'm continuing to assume that my grandmother was the younger of the two sisters, but it could eventually turn out otherwise.