Mary & family
Mary was the youngest child in her family, a full 16 years younger than her older brother James. The photo at right shows all the siblings when Mary was an infant: The teenage James and Julia, as well as Alice, who was 6 years older than her baby sister. Despite the age gap, the two youngest girls were close for their entire lives.
Mary was 16 when she started keeping the diary in 1941. After high school, she went on to attend Rochester Business Institute to learn secretarial skills, then worked in the office of a Christian missionary company before serving as a missionary herself in Pakistan and India. She had four children and six grandchildren, and passed away two days before her 90th birthday in December 2014.
Alice was a lifelong school teacher noted for her quick sense of humor (as evidenced by her expression in the photo above), love of gingham, and constant wanderlust. Although she lived in the same house her entire life (aside, perhaps, from a couple years as a baby), she traveled the country and the world during the summers and her retirement. She was early in her teaching career at the time Mary began keeping this diary.
Mary's father, Elias R. Cady, was born in Pennsylvania but moved a few miles north to New York as a young man. Elias was a farmer for most of his life, and also spent time working as an oil driller. The Cadys were fairly prominent in New England and New York, including Elias' cousin, the women's rights activist and abolitionist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Mary's mother, Grace (Johnston) Cady, at times worked in a general store the family operated. Although her parents were from Pennsylvania, Grace was born in New York, where her dad, J.K. Johnston, pursued work in the oil industry.
More family: Jay Johnston, Mary's cousin, slightly older than her. Aunt Dean. Uncle Dud (probably Stanley Johnston, Mary's mother's brother). Granddad (J.K. Johnston, Mary's mother's mother). Grandma. Ruth Johnston. Rhea Johnston. Aunt Julia Whipple, who was actually Mary's great aunt. Julia was the the sister of Mary's father's father. Elias Cady's mom died when he was only 9, so Julia Whipple helped raise him.
Richburg Central School
Most of the people mentioned in Mary's diary are her classmates and neighbors. Families like the Wilcoxes and the Wightmans had children her age who attended school with her, but they also lived close by, meaning that Mary probably grew up playing with some of these kids even before they were old enough to attend school.
In the class photo above, Mary is the girl second to the right in the bottom row, the one giving some serious side-eye to Robert Mason, who seems to have been a bit of a class clown.
Linford, who was in the library club with Mary, is to her left. Gerald is on the other end of that bottom row.
I believe Lucile, Mary's best friend, was a grade below her, so she's not pictured here. Her boyfriend, Wayne, graduated from Bolivar Central School in 1940 and was apparently in college at the time of the diary -- either at the Practical Bible Training School in Johnson City or at the Buffalo Bible Institute. I believe Leigh, Mary's love interest, also went to Bolivar, but I haven't verified this yet.
Mitchell Jordan, one of the two boys vying for Marie's affections, was in the class of 1942 at Bolivar Central School. Michell was in orchestra and choir all four years of high school. "To all outward appearances Mitchell seems very quiet but he has shown us there is a glint of merriment within," his senior yearbook said. "His ambition is to become an electrician and radio expert."
I'm currently working on getting more information and photos of Mary's classmates and hope to update this page with more about them! Stay tuned.
Mary's church friends include Mary Low, Harriet, Helen, and Lucile Wightman. More coming soon.