Saturday, May 3, 2014

Mrs. Gunnell

Margaret Milburn Amidon was not the only family member to teach in the District’s public schools. Her older sister Mary Ann taught there, too, though she never became a celebrated figure like Mrs. Amidon. And unlike Margaret Amidon, Mary Ann only taught for a short span during the years when she was a widow.

Mary Ann was married in 1843 to Mr. Robert Hinton. The marriage was performed by Rev. Mr. Richard de Charms from Philadelphia, one of the leading lights among the Swedenborgians. About Mary Ann’s husband Hinton I know almost nothing save that he died in Nashville at the beginning of 1848. It would be nice to know what he was doing there. During their marriage Mary Ann gave birth to at least three children. Two of those died in infancy. The third, a girl called Violet, lived to the age of fifteen. (Violet Hinton’s obituary declared, strangely, that “though young, she was willing to die.” I presume this was a pious formula of the New Church.)

During the first part of the 1850s Mary Ann Hinton and her daughter Violet were living with the two Margarets in the Milburn house. This was the period when Mary Ann was a schoolteacher. Then in 1854 Mary Ann got married again, this time to an older man, a widower named Henry Gunnell. Mr. Gunnell came from Virginia and operated a wood and coal business across the street from the Milburns. He already had seven children from his previous marriage, and in fact was a grandfather. Nevertheless Henry and Mary Ann did have one child, their remarkable son Frankie Gunnell. Frankie will need to be the subject of a future post.

Mary Ann Gunnell died in 1870. She had survived an accident earlier in which she was run over by an omnibus car. The obituary does not say exactly what took her off, only that her death followed a painful illness of two weeks’ duration. She lies now in Congressional Cemetery. Violet Hinton is also buried there, but for some puzzling reason mother and daughter are not near one another.

After Mary Ann died Henry Gunnell married for the third time. All three of his wives were named Mary.

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