It took a while, but I was able to obtain a copy of Mary’s certificate of death from the Georgia Department of Public Health. My grandfather, Lish Askew, is indeed documented as the spouse of Mary, who’s maiden name is likely Hayes, and he was also the informant for her death. His signature is recorded on the document.
With the information from her death certificate and the 1930 and 1940 censuses, I can now give form to the woman whose existence was thinner than air.
From the death certificate, Mary is documented as a Colored female, still married to my grandfather, Lish Askew. On the 1940 census, Mary informed the enumerator that she was widowed. At this time, my grandfather was with Lady Beatrice Ingram, who was likely pregnant with my aunt Vivian at the time of enumeration. So, I’m sure, in her mind and heart, Lish Askew was dead to her. However, my grandfather, as the informant, reported that he was the spouse of the deceased. This makes me wonder about the true marital status of not only him and Lady Beatrice, but my grandmother, Leola Goode, as well. After all, by the time of Mary’s death, Lady Beatrice Ingram was dead, and my grandmother had already had two children with my grandfather, and a third was in the very early first trimester. Did my grandmother know about this?
Mary’s actual date of birth is documented as D.K. (Don’t Know) even though her age is recorded as 47 years. Mary may not have known her actual date of birth. My grandfather was married to her for 14 years. There’s no way he would have not known. When getting to know someone at the start of a new relationship, isn’t that one of the first questions you ask? The 1930 census has Mary’s age at 36 years, which would give her a birth year of 1894. Is this the age that Mary reported to the enumerator, or is this something that the enumerator assumed? The 1940 census notes Mary as the informant and her age is recorded as 40 years. With simple math, this puts Mary’s year of birth at 1900. From Mary’s own account, I estimate that she was born in either 1900 or 1901.
Moving farther down the death certificate, Mary was born in Walton County, Georgia. She worked as a Sweeper with Fulton Bag & Cotton Mill. She was the daughter of John Hayes, also of Walton County, Georgia, and an unknow mother. I can only come up with two reasons why the mother of Mary Hayes is documented as D.K. on her death certificate. The first reason: my grandfather, as the informant, did not know anything about Mary’s mother. The second reason: Mary did not know anything about her mother because her father never shared any information with her. Considering what I believe to be a rather volatile relationship, I’m more inclined to lean toward the first reason. Going by the 1930 census, Mary knew that her mother was born in Georgia and it was reported to the enumerator as such.
Mary Hayes died on 11 March 1948 after a 12-hour hospital stay in Dwelle Infirmary from hypertension and heart disease that she suffered with for one year. Her remains were turned over to Pollard Funeral Home and she was interred at Washington Park, now known as Washington Memorial Gardens on 14 March 1948.
Even after giving form to Mary Hayes Askew, there are still questions where the answers can be assumed/guessed or simply go unanswered.
- If John Hayes was her father, why is she not on any census records as the daughter of him and his wife Lizzie Stone? My guess is that Mary was born to another woman while John was still married to Lizzie.
- Who are the people listed on the death notice in the Atlanta Constitution from 13 March 1948? Relatives, I assume. Perhaps, cousins?
- How did my grandfather become the informant for her death certificate? Was he listed as Mary’s next of kin? Was he the one that notified her relatives? Did he attend her funeral?
- Who was Mary’s mother? Did Mary go by the last name of Hayes before she married?
- Where was Mary in 1910?
- There was a Mary Hayes that was an inmate at the Atlanta Stockade in 1920. Could she be the same Mary?