Mary E. "Mae" McArthur (1875 - 1959)

Mary E. "Mae" McArthur
(1875 - 1959)

Mary E. "Mae" McArthur was born 28 January 1875 in Gratiot County, Michigan, the fifth of seven children born to Daniel J. MacArthur, a Civil War veteran, and Martha Johnson.  Mary did not like her name, and preferred the nickname, Mae.  Her siblings were: Henry McArthur (1865 - 1944); Daniel Thomas McArthur (1867 - 1945); Catherine A. "Kate" McArthur (Mrs. James Downs) (1869 - 1956); George Clinton "Clint" McArthur (1871 - 1936); William E. "Will" McArthur (1880 - 1973); and Arlie Mae McArthur (Mrs. Frank Jacob Masten) (1884 - 1971).  Although Mae's father spelled his name "MacArthur," the spelling was shortened during Mae's generation to "McArthur."  The family joke was that being thrifty Scots, they dropped the "a" to save ink!

The family was living in Fulton Township, Gratiot County, Michigan when the 1880 Federal Census was taken.  Mae's father Daniel was a farmer.  By 1884, when little sister Arlie was born, they were living in Washington Township, Gratiot County, which was the family home until at least 1900.  Somehow, Mae met James L. York of Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan.  It is not certain how they met, living so far apart, but it very likely was because Mae's brother Daniel married James's cousin, Jennie Mae Ebler.  Mae and James married around 1893, probably in Oakland County, Michigan, which bordered James's home township.

On 12 April 1894, James and Mae's first child, Ernest L. York, was born in the village of Goodrich, Atlas Township.  Their daughter Hazel's birth followed on 30 October 1895, and their youngest, Howard Merkel York, was born 17 September 1898 in Goodrich.  Two months after Howard's birth, Mae's father-in-law, John H. York, passed away, so James worked the family farm for his mother.  He apparently rented the farm from her, and she and James and Mae's family all lived together in the farmhouse, according to the 1900 Federal Census.

On 14 February 1904, Mae's mother-in-law, Anna Crothers York, died.  Five weeks later, James filed for a divorce from Mae, which was granted June 3.  It appears that while he retained custody of the boys, Howard and Ernest, Mae had custody of their daughter Hazel.

The following year, Mae married the love of her life, Evan J. "Dick" Randell; they lived in Hadley Township, Lapeer County, Michigan, where Dick farmed.  In 1906, their son Clare M. Randell was born, and on 6 October 1908, another son, Wayne E. Randell, was born in Hadley Township.  The family continued to live in Hadley Township until sometime between 1920 and 1930, when they moved to St. Clair, St. Clair County, Michigan.  They bought a house at 1004 South Seventh Street in Ward 3 and Dick worked as a janitor for a salt works.  In 1933, Dick passed away, and was buried in the Ortonville Cemetery, Oakland County.

Sometime within the next 12 years, Mae married Jesse B. Richmond, who was probably a widower.  They lived in St. Clair for a while, then moved to Wheeler, Gratiot County.  She died 16 October 1959 at Wilcox Hospital in nearby Alma, and was buried three days later next to Dick in the Ortonville Cemetery.  Jesse lived to the ripe old age of 100, and died 16 February 1975 in St. Louis, Gratiot County.  He, too, was buried in Ortonville Cemetery, next to the grave of a woman who was probably his first wife.

Mae was a quiet, no-nonsense kind of person, and many of the younger generation had no idea she had been married and divorced from James York, as she never talked about it.  It wasn't until I had contact with some of her descendants and her sister's descendants that the whole story came together.

Children of Mary E. "Mae" McArthur and James L. York:

Ernest L. York was born 12 April 1894 in the Village of Goodrich, Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan.  On 10 September 1915, he married Esther Lucretia Scott in Flint, Genesee County, Michigan, where he was a factory worker.  They had two daughters, who may yet be living.  The last known information I have about Ernest was found in the 1930 Federal Census, when he and his family were renting a house at 406 West Wood Street in Ward 5 of Flint.  At that time, he was working in an auto factory.  It is known that Ernest and Esther divorced.  When and where he died is not known to me.  He is not listed in the Social Security Death Index, which begins in 1965, or in the Michigan Death Index of 1971 - 1996; it is likely he died in Michigan before 1965.

Hazel York was born 30 October 1895 in Michigan (probably in Atlas Township).  After her parents' divorce, she lived with her mother, step-father and two half-brothers in Hadley Township, Lapeer County, Michigan.  In her step-father's obituary in 1933, she is mentioned as living in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan.  She was likely already married to her husband, Earle Charles McIlveen.  They had a daughter, known to be living in 2003.  Hazel and Earle lived in Harbor Beach, Huron County, Michigan for many years.  She passed away in July 1967.

Howard Merkel York - see individual biography

Children of Mary E. "Mae" McArthur and Evan J. "Dick" Randell:

Clare M. Randell was born 1906 in Michigan, possibly in Lapeer or Oakland Counties.  He grew up in Hadley Township, Lapeer County, and in 1930 was living with his parents in St. Clair, St. Clair County.  At that time he had been a watchman on a passenger bus, but was currently unemployed, as many were during the Great Depression.  He later worked as a captain on a ship in the Great Lakes.  It is not known if he ever married, and I have not been able to find a death record for him, but it is known that he had passed away by 1999.

Wayne E. Randell was born 6 October 1908 in Hadley Township, where he grew up.  In 1930, he was living with his parents in St. Clair, where he worked as a shaper in the salt works where his father was also employed.  In 1931, he married his wife Margaret, who passed away 12 February 2001.  They had two children, who are living.  Wayne passed away on 21 November 1986 in Rogers City, Presque Isle County, Michigan, where he and Margaret had lived for many years.


More about my great-great-grandmother Mary E. "Mae" McArthur can be found in the AnceStories of her first husband, James L. York, and her son, Howard Merkel York.  You can also find more information about other Mac/McArthur relatives and all the individuals mentioned in this Ancestory on Miriam's Database.

Many thanks are due to my relatives Sharon Flood, Millie McArthur, Nancy Peugh, Connie Shade and the late Margaret Randell for the information found here.  All photos courtesy of Nancy Peugh; photo of Mary E. McArthur taken c. 1950 by Askar Studios, Port Huron, Michigan; photos of gravestones in Ortonville Cemetery taken by Nancy Peugh.

Miriam Robbins Midkiff
created: 26 Aug 2003
updated: 13 Jan 2006

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