A Christmas Request, Answered a Century Later

This is a Christmas story with just a tiny genealogy twist. At least, it involves family.

Mary McGahan was buried in Mount St. Mary Cemetery in Flushing, Queens, New York 37 years ago. Sadly, her name was never added to the tombstone, apparently because her family could not afford the stonecutter’s fee.

By a strange twist of fate, a stranger who never knew Mary or her family found a poignant letter to Santa in the fireplace of his Hell’s Kitchen apartment 17 years ago. It had been written by Mary nearly a century earlier, when she lived as a child in the same apartment, and became the impetus for an article in The New York Times a year ago about serendipity and Christmas.

The story that follows will restore or increase your Christmas spirit. You can read it in an article by Corey Kilgannon in the New York Times at https://goo.gl/XzXeIE.

My thanks to newsletter reader Barbara Sontz for telling me about the article.


Great Christmas season story. Easy to get involved in a story like this of someone you never knew.


Wonderful news item. Does show that there still some folks out in the world who care about others and when able will right a wrong or bring to a concllusion corrective action
their own.


Heartwarming! Thank you for sharing.


This story touched me. It’s a little bit of what we do when we are able to connect long lost family members to each other, rather than leaving them ‘hang’ out there alone on the family tree. Like finding the birth family for your grandmother 100 years after she found out she was “taken in” by another family when her parents died when she was 3 years old.


That was beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it.


What a wonderful story about a kind and caring man! Thank you!


A touching story – but I have one question. In the linked article, Mary is referred to to as ‘Ms McGahan’. As she was married to George, presumably around the time of WW1, why is she not described as ‘Mrs McGahan’?


Tear jerker, but I loved it! Peace on Earth to EVERYONE!


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