Friday, September 23, 2011

Mary McEnnery Erhard (1884-1963)

Teacher, Superintendent, and Author
Born May 4, 1884, Hoboken, New Jersey
Died July 8, 1963, Swansea, Massachusetts

Mary McEnnery was born on May 4, 1884, in Hoboken, New Jersey. Daughter of an immigrant, she came by her Irish surname honestly. In about 1906, she married William Joselin Erhard, who at some point in his career served as priest-in-charge of the Emmanuel Memorial Mission (Episcopal) in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. His ministry also carried the young family to Nebraska and Brownsville, Texas. By 1930, Mary McEnnery Erhard was  back home in Hoboken with her mother, Ida McEnnery, and her three orphaned children. At the time, both Mary and her mother were teachers. In fact, Mary McEnnery Erhard spent twelve years teaching in the New York Public School System. Also in 1930, Mary became superintendent of the Episcopal Church Charity Foundation Home, otherwise known as "The Cottages," in Sayville, Long Island. A small orphanage, "The Cottages" was in operation between 1924 and 1943. Mary McEnnery Erhard served as superintendent from 1930 to 1935, when she left suddenly and mysteriously. Author Jack Whitehouse speculates that she was fired, perhaps through the efforts and ambitions of another employee.

Mary McEnnery Erhard wrote one story for Weird Tales, "Tangled Skeins," printed in the July 1927 issue of the magazine. She also wrote a story called "Lost Bride of Erin" for Catholic World (Mar. 1928). I can only guess that her tale is set in the land of her father's birth. Much of her writing concerned church history and church doctrine.

Mary lived in Swansea, Massachusetts, from the 1940s onward. For all or most of that period, she was a resident of the Eliza Gray Case Home, a retirement home for Episcopal ministers and their wives. She died on July 8, 1963, in Swansea.

Mary McEnnery Erhard's Story in Weird Tales
"Tangled Skeins" (July 1927)

Further Reading
Sayville Orphans Home: The Cottages of Saint Ann's by Jack Whitehouse (2010)

Weird Tales, July 1927, with cover art by Curtis C. Senf.
Thanks to Randal Everts for locating the obituary of Mary McEnnery Erhard.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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