On a hot, Texas, summer day in August of 1874, Elizabeth Jane (Livingston) and her husband Francis Marion Thompson welcomed to the world their first daughter, Mary Katherine. The joy they must have felt, after already having four sons, can only be imagined. While not much is known about Mary Katherine, there are documents that make up the details and short story of her life.Some time before the age of six, Mary Katherine and her family moved to Sebastian County, Arkansas where she was raised on a farm. While her older brothers worked with their father on the farm, we can assume that the younger children were taught at home by their mother. At the age of 21 she married John C. Gann, three years her junior, who was born and raised in Greenwood, Arkansas. Together they had three children, Emma Evelyn, Louise Dell, and Clarence C., and spent the rest of their lives in Arkansas. After 25 years of marriage, and at the age of 47, Mary Katherine sadly passed away from appendicitis on November 18, 1921. She was laid to rest in the Liberty Cemetery in Sebastian County, Arkansas.
There have been rumors and speculation concerning the heritage of Mary Katherine’s nationality. Many have said that she was half Cherokee Indian and when I look at her picture I can see that she might have been.
In my opinion it’s very important that as we do our family history, we should try to feel a connection to our ancestors. It could be significant dates, life experiences, or perhaps just resembling their appearance. There are a couple of things about Mary Katherine that make me feel a connection to her.
1. She shares the same birthday as my oldest son Ryan (August 2). I love it when I see a connection through dates.
2. When my third son Brett was 11 he had a very bad experience where his appendix had burst and we feared for his life. When I found Mary Katherine’s death record and it said she died from appendicitis, I was overcome with great sadness. If she had lived in a time of modern medicine she most likely would have lived.
Mary Katherine Thompson is my second great grandmother from my father’s maternal line. I’m grateful for her and for the details I have learned as I have researched her life.