This week on #52ancestors I am writing about Mary “Stella May” Jones. She was the ninth child of Benjamin (1833-1896) and Mary Elizabeth Carrell (1840-1922) Jones, born on 22 June 1881. My great grandfather Arthur Wells Jones was her older brother. I am not sure exactly why or when she became “Stella May” but that is the name she went by most of her adult life.
The first time I found her in the census was in the 1885 New Jersey state census, where she is called May. I thought it might have been a misspelling of Mary. But in the 1895 NJ Census, she is also called May. In 1900, She is living with her mother and two sisters and is identified as Stella Mae. Marriage notices in local papers used this spelling as well:
Stella Mae and Oscar lived most often in Freehold in Monmouth County but seem to have come back to Pemberton regularly. Oscar appears to have worked with his father as a monument maker but also is listed in various Census and military draft records as a clerk, railroad worker and as a motor delivery man for the Courier-News.
They had a little girl in 1909 named Mae Ayres, who died shortly after birth and is buried in the Methodist Cemetery in Pemberton. They do not, however, appear to have been active in the Methodist Church.
According to her obituary and other newspaper articles I found, Stella Mae does not appear to have been robustly healthy towards the end of her life. She may have suffered from complications from an appendectomy. Estella Mae Ayres died on 18 December 1946 at Seaside Park, NJ at the home of her nephew Arthur Rue after a stroke. She is buried in Mount Holly Cemetery.
Names can evolve over a person’s lifetime. This can present a challenge when trying to determine if the record you are viewing is, in fact, the person you are researching. The trick, I think, is being open to the fact that your ancestor may have used different names in different contexts. My own mother could slide fluidly back and forth from Anne Tompkins Jones to Mrs. Barclay G. Jones to Annebo, depending on the circumstances.