When I started working on Edward and Anna Rodgers' daughter Mary, she was mostly just legend. It went: "She was married to a Patrick Kelly and a Dudley Anderson, she was on stage, we had a picture of her with Lillian Russell." Well I haven't found any picture at all of her, but there is enough information to fill out the rest of the story.
First, her birth record is transcribed online: Mary was born February 23, 1866, in Kilieel Parish, County Down, Ireland, the daughter of Edward Rodgers and Ann Cunningham.1 Next, Mary was recorded as five years old when she arrived in New York from Liverpool with her mother Ann and her brother William on April 15, 1872.2 And she is fourteen, attending school, and living in her parents household in Newburgh, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, in 1880.3
After that the trail gets a little harder to follow. Let's start with her first marriage, to Patrick Kelly.
I couldn't find a record of the marriage itself but Patrick and Mary Kelly's son--also named Patrick--was born December 4, 1885, at 1784 Harvard. The father's name on the birth record was Patrick Kelly who was age 25. Both parents were living at that address.4 The 1885 through 1887 Cleveland City Directories list that address on Harvard as the home of Mary Rodgers' parents. A comment at the Miko Family Tree at ancestry.com says this about Mary Rodgers' first husband:
Mary's first husband was Pat Kelly who was a minor league baseball player. They had one child. Pat died tragically from being hit in the head by a thrown baseball.5
I have no reason to doubt that information. On the other hand, Mary's first husband could be the Patrick Kelly age 22, on the 1880 Census of Cleveland who was working as a stage hand.6 This man apparently died in December 18877 and his death notice says he was "aged 30 years for many years connected with the opera house . . . The theatrical mechanics' assn. and friends will meet at the Opera House, at 1 p. m. to attend the funeral."8
Unfortunately this was six months after Mary's second marriage. There was another record for a Patrick Kelly who died in Cleveland in March 1887,7 but his father was said to be named Michael and the stage hand's father was named James.9
It's possible that both records are for the same man and that the theatrical association couldn't get together until December for the funeral, which was held at St. John's Cathedral, a little grand for a stagehand. But there was more than one Patrick Kelly in Cleveland at the time--surprise, surprise--and they could have died the same year.
The Miko Family tree next adds:
Upon his death, Mary follows her acting passion which takes her to NYC where she meets Dudley Anderson. They marry, have a child, Edward (my grandfather) and leave him with Pat Kelly's mother and pursue their Vaudville passion/money.5
Which brings us to Mary's second marriage. There is a marriage record for Mary Kelly, age 21, and Dudley Anderson, 21, on the 28th of June, 1887, in Oil City, Venango County, Pennsylvania. The occupation of both: "Performer in show." Perhaps they were appearing at the Opera House in Franklin, PA, eight miles down the road.
Franklin, Pennsylvania, Opera House
They took a bit of "artistic license" with the information on the application. Mary's father was listed as P.H. Kelly and her mother was Mrs. E. Rodgers. "Date of death of former husband: none. Date of divorce of woman at any time: None."10 Of course this last part would have been true if her first husband was alive and well and living in Cleveland.
It could only have been love that made them skimp on the details however, since their son Edward Anderson wasn't born until August 16, 1888, again at the Rodgers' home on Harvard.4He and Mary's first son, Patrick Kelly were living with Mary's parents in 1900.11
1887 Marriage Record, Mary Rodgers and Dudley Anderson
The Miko Family Tree concludes by saying that Mary and Dudley Anderson pursued their career
by moving to Butte, Montana where Dudly ends up having an affair with another performer and running off to Chicago to start a new life. He left Mary without funds where she eventually dies of Scarlet fever.5
Agreeing with this, in August 2012 a descendant of Mary's sister Catherine told me that he had always heard Mary died and was buried in Butte, Montana.
That's where the trail ends, for Mary at least. Our family always said that Mary died in 1898, but the Miko Family Tree says that Mary (Rodgers) Anderson died in Montana in 1890, citing Index Number 14-0012 from the Montana Office of Vital Statistics as found in the Montana Death Index, 1907-2007, at ancestry.com. That date makes more sense to me. By 1898 Mary (Rodgers) Anderson probably would have had another child or two. I inquired with the City/County Clerk in Butte who had no record of Mary's death. It occurred before the time when records were required. The clerk referred me to a local genealogy society for further research, which I haven't contacted yet.
Oh, what about Mary Rodgers and Lillian Russell? Stage companies toured back then, so Mary and Lillian could have joined up almost anywhere, but there are a few online references to Miss Russell's appearances in Cleveland. This one in article about the Lyceum Theater, which opened in 1883 as the Park Theater, says that:
"Its stars included Sarah Bernhardt and Lillian Russell, and the Cohan family."12
Picture of Franklin, PA, Opera House comes from a .pdf file from the town website: www.franklinpa.gov/General_PDFs/part4.pdf.
1. Ireland, Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881, at familysearch.org.
3. 1880 United States Census, Newburgh, Cuyahoga, Ohio, Series T9, Roll 1009, Page 259B
4. Ohio, County Births, 1856-1909, images at familysearch.org.
5. Miko Family Tree at ancestry.com .The owner and maintainer of the tree is a great-grandson of Mary Rodgers.
6. 1880 Census, 1st Ward of Cleveland, Series T9, Roll 1004, Page 2, at 78 Canal St.
7. Ohio Deaths and Burials, 1854-1997, at familysearch.org.
8. Cleveland Necrology File, at http://dxsrv4.cpl.org/.
9. 1870 Census, 1st Ward of Cleveland, Series M593, Roll 1188, Page 190.
10. Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885 - 1950, images at familysearch.org
11. 1900 Federal Census, Ohio, Cuyahoga Co., 26th Ward of Cleveland, Series T623, Roll 1257, page 177
12. LYCEUM THEATER - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, at http://ech.case.edu/cgi/article.pl?id=LT2