Monday, July 29, 2013

Matrilineal Monday ~ Aunt Lukie, Part 1

My great-grandfather, Lowell Copeland was married twice. He married Ethel May Greeley (see her photo here) on January 1, 1900, in Winnetka, Illinois. I shared their marriage record on one of my very early blog posts. My grandfather, Lowell Townsend Copeland, was born on December 21, 1900. Two sisters followed: Elizabeth (Betty) in 1903 and Ruth in 1907.

My grandparents married on September 5, 1931. His mother, Ethel, died on October 3, 1931, at the age of 55.

Ethel's younger sister, Ruth Lyman Greeley, was born July 14, 1878, in Chicago, Illinois. She was known in the family as Aunt Lukie. Not only is she my 2nd great aunt, but she is my step-great-grandmother. (So for those in my mother's generation, she is great aunt and step-grandmother.)

By the 1910 U.S. Census, Ruth L. Greeley was living in Boston, at 15 Pinckney Street, with her mother's youngest sister, Ruth Lyman Wells (1862 - 1943) and an Irish servant.

1910 U.S. Federal Census, Boston Ward 11, Suffolk, Massachusetts; Roll: T624_618; Page: 5A;
Enumeration District: 1413. Record for Ruth L. Wells and Ruth L. Greeley.

Ruth Lyman Wells was 48 years old and born in Massachusetts. Ruth Lyman Greeley was 32 years old and born in Illinois. Under occupation, both show "Own Income."


In 1920, Aunt Ruth Wells and Niece Ruth Greeley were still living together on Beacon Hill, now at 5 Lime Street.

1920 U.S. Federal Census, Boston Ward 8, Suffolk, Massachusetts; Roll: T625_742; Page: 10A;
Enumeration District: 228. Record for Ruth Wells and Ruth Greely.
This time, Aunt Ruth Wells is recorded as 57 years old, but Niece Ruth Greeley is 49, where it should have been 41. I don't know who Dorothy Hill, age 17 is; there are several Dorothy Hills in Massachusetts birth records in 1902 and 1903.

I haven't found Aunt Lukie in the 1930 Census (I did find great aunt Ruth Wells in Brookline) but in May 1931, I find Ruth Greeley on a passenger list with Lowell, Ethel and their youngest daughter, Ruth Lyman Copeland. See the arrows noting my relatives on the record below. On line 15, Ruth Lyman Greely indicates her address is 161 Devonshire Street in Boston, but since that is in the financial district, it's not likely to be her home, but perhaps an attorney's address.

"New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957." Database.
Record for Lowell Copeland, Ethel Copeland, Ruth Lyman Copeland, Ruth Lyman Greely,
arrived Port of New York, June 18, 1931 on the S.S. Adriatic.

As the story goes, after my great-grandmother Ethel died in 1931, Aunt Lukie moved in with my great-grandfather to "keep house" for him. It is unclear as to whether she persuaded him to marry her or the other way around, and they married on June 15, 1933, in Princeton, New Jersey. My great-grandfather Lowell Copeland died on December 24, 1935, about two and a half years later.

In 1940, I found her living in San Diego, California, with a widowed sister-in-law, Anna Lowell Greeley, age 78, as lodgers in the household of George Harold Moore, wife Leah and daughter Helene Andre.

1940 U.S. Federal Census, San Diego, San Diego, California; Roll: T627_450; Enumeration District: 62-139A; Page: 9A; Lines 26-27: Record for Anna Lowell Greeley and Ruth L. Copeland.
I don't know why they were in California in 1940, but at some point, Aunt Lukie returned to live in Massachusetts near other Greeley relatives.

She died at the age of 97 on November 21, 1975, in Framingham, Massachusetts. Since I grew up not far from there, I likely met her, but don't remember.

I will share some Aunt Lukie stories in Aunt Lukie - Part 2.


  1. My mother Sally Whitcomb Keen (Sarah Lowell Whitcomb) says that our great-grandfather married Aunt Lukie, who kept house for him, to avoid the scandal of having a woman under his roof after her sister died. I am often struck by how Victorian the mores of these people of the 1930s were, though of course in Victorian England it was illegal to marry your deceased wife's sister! (Until the law was repealed in 1907.)

    1. Yes, I have heard that story. See Aunt Lukie - Part 2 for this and other stories. Thanks for reading and commenting!