Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Glenna Marie (Rabideau) Murphy: 52 Ancestors #68

Glenna (Rabideau) Murphy, date unknown
When I started this blog five years ago, my very first "52 Ancestors" subject was my maternal grandfather, William George Murphy. After 67 of these "52 Ancestors" posts, including both of my paternal grandparents, I still haven't written about William's wife, Glenna Marie Rabideau (though I did post her Ahnentafel and five-generation pedigree chart). Herewith an account of my fourth and final grandparent. (In the interest of brevity, I have used only her maiden name and my grandfather's surname in the post title, reflecting my lineage; she was married four times so her full name would be Glenna Marie (Rabideau) (Thibeault) (Murphy) (Costanza) Anderson.)

Birth certificate for Glenna Marie Rabideau, 22 May 1899
Glenna was born 22 May 1899 in the tiny town of Milan, Coos County, New Hampshire, the second of three daughters of Peter Louis Rabideau and Eva M. Woodward.1 I know almost nothing about her childhood. She was attending school in 19102 and, according to the 1940 census, completed one year of high school.3

1910 U.S. census, Milan, Coos Co., N.H., Peter L. Rabideau household
At the age of 18, Glenna married John W. Thibeault (a laborer, born in Nova Scotia) on 22 Oct 1917 in Berlin, New Hampshire.4 In February 1919, their son Wilfred was born. The marriage did not last long; Glenna divorced John for "extreme cruelty" (probably the only available grounds for divorce at the time).5 Young Wilfred went to live with Glenna's parents.

Church marriage certificate for John Thibeault
and Glenna Mary [sic] Rabideau
     Marriage of William G. Murphy and
Glenna Rabideau Thibeault

After the divorce, Glenna married William George Murphy, my grandfather.6 William was a house painter, born on Prince Edward Island, who immigrated to the US about 1914, and was naturalized in 1918 after serving briefly in the Army during World War I. Glenna and William's first child, Kathleen, was born in Berlin in 1921; and after they moved to Lewiston, Maine, their second daughter, Theresa, was born there in 1923.

Child of John Wilfred Thibeault and Glenna Rabideau:
  1. Wilfred Ernest (1919-2002), married Elizabeth "Babe" Perry/Poirier
Children of William George Murphy and Glenna Rabideau:
  1. Kathleen Marie (1921-1993), married Roger Kirk (my parents)
  2. Theresa Mae (1923-2002), married (1) William Olson (annulled); (2) Cayetano "Kaye" Nera (divorced)
William G. and Glenna (Rabideau) Murphy with daughters Theresa (left) and Kathleen, ca 1923; probably Milan, N.H.

Photos of the family in a rural setting7 seem to indicate that they visited Glenna's family back in Milan at least occasionally. Other than that I know very little of their early family life except that they moved frequently from one Lewiston apartment or tenement to another; I know of at least five different addresses between 1923 and 1930.8

Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal, 16 Nov 1925
Along the way, they apparently moved briefly to Texas around December 1925, but soon returned to Lewiston, probably in May 1926. The reason for this move is unknown, but may be related to a November 1925 incident in which Glenna was overcome by gas from an unlit water heater gas jet. While the article in the Monday evening newspaper reported that she "had not been in good health for a week previous" and had "fainted,"9 the morning paper that same day had suggested that she was "despondent over family troubles" and had attempted suicide.10 Perhaps this incident triggered Bill to decide a change of scenery was called for.

Photos dated March 1926 in Port Isabel, Texas, show not only Glenna and Bill and the two girls, but also Glenna's son Wilfred Thibeault, her mother Eva Rabideau, and her half-brother Ernest Taylor (Eva's son) with his wife and children.11 Two months later, a Bethel local news item in the Lewiston paper revealed that "Mr. and Mrs. P.L. Rabideau [Glenna's parents], who have been in Texas since last fall have returned and are with their daughter, Mrs. Howard Tyler."12 From the timing it would appear that the Rabideaus may have accompanied the Murphy family to Texas after the November gas incident and remained there until, probably, Bill and Glenna decided to return to Lewiston – either because her health had improved, or perhaps just because Glenna hated living in Texas.13

Front: Wilfred Thibeault, Phyllis, Earl, and Wendell Taylor, Theresa and Kathleen Murphy; rear: Aunt Erma and Uncle Ernest Taylor, Eva (Woodward) Rabideau, Glenna Murphy – Texas, ca. Mar 1926
After their return to Maine, Bill turned to painting automobiles instead of houses, working for local automobile dealers Lewiston Motors and Wade & Dunton, for the remainder of his career.14 By 1930 they had stopped moving every year or so, finally settling permanently in a tenement at 124 Middle Street.15 Probably Glenna didn't work outside the home when her children were young. It's hard to know for sure because the family was apparently overlooked in the 1930 census. But by 1940 her children were in their late teens and she was working in a local shoe factory,16 and according to a letter she wrote to the editor of the local newspaper that year, had been doing so since at least 1938, when she was working nine-hour days for 10 cents an hour.17 Thanks to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, by the time she wrote that letter, that had become eight-hour days at an incredible 35 cents an hour!18

1940 U.S. census, Lewiston, Androscoggin Co., Maine, William G. Murphy household

On 16 October 1946, Bill died in the VA hospital in Togus, Maine,19 leaving Glenna a widow. With one daughter married and the other in Boston in the Womens Army Corps, she must have felt cast adrift. Barely four months later, the newspaper listed marriage intentions between Glenna and Erick H. Lundin of Woburn, Mass., at 36 about a dozen years her junior (her purported age of 45 notwithstanding – she was nearly 48).20 I have found no evidence that a marriage ever took place, and indeed, two months later intentions were filed between Glenna and Paul Costanza of Everett, Mass. (he was even younger than Lundin, only 32, and now Glenna was "only" 44);21 that marriage did in fact take place, on April 18,22 and the Costanzas presumably moved to Everett, because the marriage was registered there as well.23 I've found no further record of Paul Costanza but assume they were soon divorced, because the next sign of Glenna is an entry in the Massachusetts marriage index for Glenna M (Rabideau) Costanza marrying in Boston in 1949, to one William Anderson.24

Assuming that the William Anderson with wife Glenna (or Glenn, a form that she often used), listed in the 1950-55 Boston directories living in Roxbury, is "my" Glenna's husband (Glenna isn't all that common a name), he was first a chauffeur, then a truck driver, and thereafter no occupation listed.25 But in 1956 he abruptly disappeared from the directory: he had deserted Glenna.26

Glenna's health began to deteriorate. In 1960 she had a stroke and entered a nursing home in Dorchester,27 where she would spend the remainder of her life. It was a great sorrow to my mother that finances and her own family obligations (she had three children, and in a couple of years would have another) prevented her from giving her mother a home or bringing her to live nearby.28 I only recall meeting my grandmother once, probably early in 1963, when my parents drove to Dorchester with me and one of my brothers to visit "Grammie" at the nursing home. I remember a frail woman, unsteady on her feet, who seemed happy to see her daughter and to meet two of her grandchildren.

On the morning of Saturday, April 27, 1968,29 nursing home staff called my mother to tell her that Glenna had had a heart attack. She was by then resting comfortably, but they felt my mother should come to Dorchester immediately. My parents hurriedly departed for the two and a half hour drive to Dorchester, leaving me to babysit my younger brothers. But when they arrived at the nursing home, they found that my grandmother had just died. It seems that, upon being told that her daughter had been informed of the heart attack and was on her way to see her, Glenna decided to get up and make her bed in preparation for the visit – triggering another, this time fatal, heart attack. This, my mother said, was all too typical for her mother, who wouldn't have dreamed of welcoming visitors with the bed unmade.30

Two years previously, Glenna had arranged to leave her body to Harvard Medical School for medical research and education purposes.31 (She had asked her doctor – probably the nursing home physician – to look into the procedure for her; when he procrastinated, she simply wrote to Harvard herself and got the necessary papers for my mother to sign.32 Whether, or how, the doctor reacted to his patient's probably unexpected initiative is not recorded.) Her wishes were carried out, and on 21 Jun 1969 her remains were interred by the Medical School in Pine Hill Cemetery in Tewksbury, Mass.33

 (This post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow's 2018 "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge.)

  1. New Hampshire, Milan, birth certification for Glenna Marie Rabideau, 22 May 1899 (issued 21 Jul 1961); Kirk-Murphy Family Collection, privately held by the author.
  2. 1910 U.S. census, Coos County, New Hampshire, Milan, ED 67, sheet 3A, dwelling 33, family 34, Peter L. Rabideau household; digital images, ProQuest, HeritageQuest Online (access through participating libraries : accessed 9 Dec 2010).
  3. 1940 U.S. census, Androscoggin County, Maine, Lewiston, ED 1-35, sheet 3B, household 73, William G. Murphy household; digital images, ( : accessed 2 Apr 2012).
  4. St. Kieran Church (Berlin, New Hampshire), certificate of marriage for Glenna Mary [sic] Rabideau and John Thibeault, 22 Oct 1917 (issued 14 May 1968); Kirk-Murphy Family Collection, privately held by the author.
  5. “New Hampshire, Marriage and Divorce Records, 1659–1947,” database and digital images, ( : accessed 22 Jun 2013), John W. Thibault-Glenna M. Thibault divorce, 1922.
  6. "New Hampshire, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1636-1947," digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Oct 2015) Coos > Berlin > Marriages 1918-1926 vol 3 > image 293 of 542; William G. Murphy-Glenna Rabideau Thibeault marriage, 21 Oct 1922, p. 261.
  7. Photo of William G. and Glenna (Rabideau) Murphy with daughters Theresa and Kathleen, ca 1923, probably Milan, N.H; Kirk-Murphy Family Collection, privately held by the author.
  8. Directory of Androscoggin County, Maine, Including the Cities of Auburn and Lewiston [and surrounding towns], 1924-1928; p. 578 (1924), 13 Greene, p. 476 (1926), 270 Main, p. 422 (1928), 17 Webster; database and images, "Maine City Directories," Ancestry ( : accessed 13 Apr 2012). Also, Manning's Lewiston and Auburn (Maine) Directory, 1930: p. 240, 124 Middle; database and images, "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989," Ancestry ( : accessed 13 Apr 2012). Also, "Attempts Death by Gas," Lewiston (Maine) Daily Sun, 16 Nov 1925, p. 16, col. 4, states "her home 29 Newman Street."
  9. "Lewiston Woman Overcome by Gas," Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal, 16 Nov 1925, p. 14, col. 2.
  10. "Attempts Death by Gas," Lewiston (Maine) Daily Sun, 16 Nov 1925, p. 16, col. 4.
  11. Photo of Ernest Taylor family, Eva Rabideau, and Glenna Murphy with her children Wilfred (Thibeault), Kathleen, and Theresa; Kirk-Murphy Family Collection, privately held by the author. The Taylors probably were just there for a visit. Ernest was a chiropractor practicing in South Carolina around this time; I've seen no evidence that he ever lived or practiced in Texas.
  12. "Bethel," Lewiston (Maine) Daily Sun, 19 May 1926, p. 3, col. 4, paragraph 6.
  13. Kathleen (Murphy) Kirk (Mechanic Falls, Maine), conversations with the author, date unknown; Kathleen recalled that they lived for a short time in Texas, and that her mother hated it there.
  14. Directory of Androscoggin County, Maine, 1926, p. 426, works at 20 Park St (address of Lewiston Motors Inc.). Also, William G. Murphy, life insurance application to Mutual Trust Life Insurance Co., 1935, giving occupation as auto painter and employer as Wade & Dunton; Kirk-Murphy Family Collection, privately held by the author.
  15. William G. Murphy, life insurance application, 1935, stating residence at 124 Middle Street for 6 years.
  16. 1940 U.S. census, Androscoggin County, Maine, Lewiston, ED 1-35, sheet 3B, household 73, William G. Murphy household.
  17. Glenna Murphy, in "Letters to the Editor," Lewiston (Maine) Daily Sun, 1 Nov 1940, p. 4, col. 7.
  18. That was actually above the minimum wage for the time of 30 cents per hour (equivalent to $5.06 in 2015 dollars) according to the interactive chart at "Minimum wage since 1938," CNN Business ( : accessed 12 Jan 2019).
  19. "William G. Murphy," obituary and death notice, Lewiston (Maine) Daily Sun, 17 Oct 1946, p. 20, col. 3.
  20. "Marriage Intentions," Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal, 4 Feb 1947, p. 2, col. 8. Census and directory records indicate that Lundin was a painter. Perhaps he had been an acquaintance of Bill.
  21. "Marriage Intentions," Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal, 17 Apr 1947, p. 2, col. 4. Costanza worked in a box factory in 1940; there are no Everett directories available after 1940, so I don't know what he was doing in 1947, and have no clue how Glenna could have met him.
  22. "Maine Marriages, 1892-1996," database, Ancestry ( : accessed 16 Apr 2016); entries for Paul R Costanza-Glenna M Rabideau/Murphy, 18 Apr 1947, Maine.
  23. "Massachusetts, Marriage Index, 1901-1955 and 1966-1970," database and digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 16 Apr 2016); entries for Paul R Costanza and Glenna M (Rabideau) Murphy, 1947, Everett; citing vol. 51, p. 215.
  24. "Massachusetts, Marriage Index, 1901-1955 and 1966-1970" (accessed 1 Dec 2013); entries for William Anderson and Glenna M (Rabideau) Costanza, 1949, Boston; citing vol. 14, p. 55.
  25. Polk's Boston (Suffolk County, Mass.) City Directory, 1951-1957; entries for Anderson Wm or Wm S  (Glen[na]), p. 71 (1951), p. 270 (1952), p. 256 (1953), p. 238 (1954), p. 231 (1955); database and images, "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989," Ancestry ( : accessed 26 Apr 2012).
  26. Boston City Directory, 1956-1957; pp. 219-221 (1956), no entries for Anderson Wm or Wm S with wife Glen[na] or for Anderson Glen[na] Mrs.; p. 187 (1957), entry for Anderson Glen r 129 Lenox. This 1957 address is the same as that on Glenna's Social Security card.
  27. City of Boston Welfare Department, Roxbury, Mass., letter to Kathleen Kirk, Mechanic Falls, Maine, 16 May 1960, Kirk-Murphy Family Collection; privately held by the author.
  28. Kathleen (Murphy) Kirk (Mechanic Falls, Maine), conversations with the author, date unknown.
  29. Social Security Administration, "U.S. Social Security Death Index," database, MyHeritage ( : accessed 27 Feb 2016), entry for Glenna Anderson, Apr 1968. Also, Kathleen M. Kirk, letter to John E. Shea Fumeral Home, ca Feb 1969, stating exact date and place of death as Apr 27 [1968] at Hilltop Manor Nursing Home; personal draft copy of letter, Kirk-Murphy Family Collection, privately held by the author.
  30. Kathleen (Murphy) Kirk (Mechanic Falls, Maine), conversations with the author, 1968.
  31. Harvard Medical School, letters to Kathleen Kirk, 28 Mar 1966 and 21 Jan 1969, re donation of body and disposition of remains of Mrs. Glen M. Anderson; Kirk-Murphy Family Collection, privately held by the author.
  32. Glenna Anderson, letter to Kathleen Kirk, 21 Mar 1966; Kirk-Murphy Family Collection, privately held by the author.
  33. Farmer & Dee Funeral Service, letter to Kathleen Kirk, 9 Jun 1969; Kirk-Murphy Family Collection, privately held by the author. Pine Hill, which is used by several Boston-area medical schools for such interments, is closed to the public. Unfortunately I do not have a photo of her marker; I have entered a photo request at Find A Grave, but it's likely that such access is not allowed.

1 comment:

King of Rochester said...

You never obtained the marriage records for her second and third marriage? It is a direct ancestor; I would personally be obsessed with getting exact dates and learn as much as I can about the spouses, even if they are not direct ancestors. Mike