I think I may have actually figured out who her parents were and where she came from. Here’s my method:
I started researching Thomas Aspery a couple weeks ago, from the list I made of possible relatives (see previous post). He had the same uncommon last name, was born in England, same generation as Catherine, and lived in Sharon, PA. They must have been related!
First, I ordered a couple obituaries for Thomas. This one lists a father named John Aspery and a sister, Phoebe Talbot of Youngstown.
Luckily, Phoebe Talbot was not a very common name combination, so it was pretty easy to find her death certificate on familysearch.org.
The father is listed as Henry Aspery, not John as Thomas’ obituary said. Both records are secondary though… maybe the father’s name was “John Henry?” Another possible issue is Phoebe’s birth year of 1861, making her 22 years younger than brother Thomas. Either way, the mother’s name is extra helpful: Sarah Perchase.
I began searching England census records for a Sarah, married to either a John or Henry, with children Thomas and Phoebe (and maybe my Catherine!). One census record was particularly promising.
Thomas’ age is only slightly off from his obituary, but Phoebe’s is about 8 years off her death certificate age and if this is my Catherine, her age is off by 9 years compared to the 1900 US census.
I found Phoebe in 4 more census records, all of which were consistent with the birth year of about 1853 (within 2 years), so it’s likely the informant on her death certificate just didn’t know exactly.
At this point, I decided that the Thomas and Phoebe in the US is the same Thomas and Phoebe in England, and that they were children of (John) Henry Aspery and Sarah Perchase. But that still left the question, is this “my” Catherine?
I was at the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg pulling some death certificates and found they have a microfilm of Mercer County death records for 1898-1906. Catherine died sometime between 1900 and 1906, so I started looking and here’s what I found:
Of course I was on the microfilm machine that doesn’t make copies, so here is a cell phone photo of the image. That’s my Catherine Aspery-Murphy and her parents were Henry and Sarah! She died 21 January 1902 at 52 years old (or 56, or 59 depending on who you’re asking!) With all this I now know lots about Catherine, her parents, siblings, and birthplace. I may be inferring too much, but I think it all makes perfect sense. 🙂
For more information on Catherine Aspery-Murphy: “The Original Catherine”