Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Family Birth: Mary Klein, Unwed Mother

My 3rd great-aunt was born today in 1858. She was the first daughter of Peter & Barbara Steimer Klein, who had arrived in America three years earlier. By the time she was 20, she had lived in the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of McKeesport, Versailles, and Lower St. Clair.

Mary never married and died at the age of 57 of an intestinal obstruction due to ovarian cancer. For the last 10 years of her life, she lived with her brother Andrew and his wife Magdalena Koenig Klein. I can only imagine that she was a loving aunt to her young nephew Walter.

Genealogy and Pittsburgh Headstone of Mary Klein
Hier Ruht In Gott (Here Rests in God) Mary Klein, 1858-1915
In the 1880 census, Mary wasn't living with her family. She didn't get married because she was with them again in 1900 and still used the Klein surname. Was she a servant in someone else's household? Though I can't be sure, I believe I found Mary in Mifflin Township. A Mary Klein with German parents who was the same age of 22 was among the list of patients at the Pittsburgh City Home Hospital and Insane Asylum.

Mary was single, her occupation was a domestic, and her "sickness" was birth confinement. I'm assuming that the children of unwed mothers were taken away for adoption. It's somewhat stunning to think I could have cousins out there who descended from Mary Klein's child. She most likely thought about her child for the rest of her life, wondering if he or she was happy and healthy. Now I will also wonder about that child.

Note: The headstone photo above was taken in St. Peter's Cemetery in the Mt. Oliver area of Pittsburgh and used with permission from Roseanne Kocinski-Fowler, Find A Grave contributor.

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