Mahoney Mystery

William Mahoney

William Mahoney was the first husband of Catherine Newmeier. Catherine went on to marry my 2nd great grandfather, August Kroening, after William’s death. I know very little about William and have found very few documents about his life even after many years of searching. Here’s what I do know:

William Mahoney and Catarina Newmeier marriage

William and Catherine were married 15 May 1879 in Unity, Marathon County, Wisconsin by a Justice of the Peace. According to the marriage record, William was born in Canada, he was a farmer, and his parents were Daniel and Margaret Mahoney.

The next record I have is an 1880 census for Unity, Wisconsin, where William is listed as age 28, a farmer, and born in Ireland (as were his parents). The only other member of his household was his wife “Kata” – presumably short for Catarina – who was 19 years old and in confinement. Their daughter Margaret Mahoney was born 13 June 1880.

William died sometime shortly after the birth of baby Margaret. Catherine married to August Kroening before June of 1882 when their first child, Louisa, was born. I have been unable to locate a marriage record for Catherine and August.

The final document in the paper trail was a recent find by my cousin Brenda. The Wisconsin Wills and Probate 1800 – 1987 collection on Ancestry has a probate file for William Mahoney filed in Clark County, Wisconsin in 1903. These papers were filed on behalf of William’s daughter Margaret and her husband, Henry Aschebrook, was listed as the administrator of the estate. The only thing left of William’s estate was a property in Clark County.

partial transcript of Henry Aschebrook interview

In the probate file, there is the transcript of an interview with Henry Aschebrook in his role as administrator. When questioned, Henry stated that he knew William Mahoney during his life and knew the wife of William to be Catherine (by then Kroening in 1903) and that Henry’s wife, Margaret, was the only child of William Mahoney. When asked how he could be certain that Margaret was the only child, Henry responded that he had asked William’s mother and brothers and they had confirmed the information. Later in the documents there is a paper that states that “the said William Mahoney was an inhabitant of the town of Unity in the said county of Clark residing at the said town of Unity. That in the month of July AD 1879 at the town of Unity in said Clark County, he died intestate…”

That’s it. That is all the information I have found on William Mahoney that is certainly about this person. In looking over the information as a whole, there are a few things that stand out and give possible clues to William’s life.

There are several interesting things about the information in the probate file. The first is that William Mahoney most certainly was alive after July 1879. He was enumerated on the 1880 census in Unity with his very pregnant wife. Also, Margaret Mahoney was born 13 June 1880. If William Mahoney died in July 1879, he could not be Margaret’s father unless Catherine had a very long pregnancy! The second is that assuming that William died in 1880, not 1879, Henry Aschebrook would have been 7 years old and not yet on his way to the US from Germany where he was born. Henry could not have known William personally as he was not in the US until 1882. Perhaps Henry did know William’s mother and brothers. If Henry did know William’s family members, it would have had to have been in the years near the time of his marriage to Margaret in 1899.

This file has 46 pages all dating from this final settlement period in 1902-1903. There are no papers from the time after William’s death in the 1880s. I did search the Clark County collection and there are no initial probate papers for William Mahoney. The information in the final settlement file is all that appears to exist on the matter.

William Mahoney death from Portage County, WI

There is an interesting death record for a William Mahoney in Portage County, Wisconsin for 25 July 1880. This William was 28 years old, a farmer, and from Ireland. He died of “consumption – throat primarily affected” and was buried in a Catholic Cemetery in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. There is no mention of marital status or parents on the record. This record seems to be a better fit with the information given in the census and the month of the year is the same as stated in the probate record. If this is the correct William Mahoney, why would he have died in Stevens Point and not in Unity where he was living at the time? Why would he not have been taken home for burial?

William’s place of birth is also in question. On his marriage record, it states that he was born in Canada. The 1880 census and the presumed death record state Ireland. My instinct is that the marriage record should hold the most weight on the matter. This is the one record in which he is most likely to have answered the questions himself. The census taker could have asked a neighbor or someone who would not have had direct knowledge of William’s birth place. Mahoney is a very Irish sounding surname and perhaps assumptions were made. If William died alone in Stevens Point, it is also possible that assumptions were made regarding his nativity. If his throat was primarily affected by his final illness, he may have been left unable to speak.

It is frustrating to be able to uncover so few details about William’s life. He is not directly related to me, but I would like to know more about him and his family. I would like to find out how he came to Wisconsin and how he ended up married to my 2x great grandmother.

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