Oliver Perry and Mary Emily Howsmon Hay

Mary Emily ("Mollie") Howsmon

Oliver Perry ("O.P.") Hay

Parents: Elizabeth Gregory and Joseph Howsmon

Parents: Margaret Crawford and Robert Lyle Hay

Born: April 20, 1849, McLean County, near Lexington, IL

Born: May 22, 1846, Saluda, Indiana

Married: June 30, 1870 to Oliver Perry Hay (marriage certificate)

Married: June 30, 1870 to Mary Emily Howsmon, Eureka, IL (marriage certificate)

Passport: 1904 passport, 5'6" tall

Died: January 28, 1931, Washington, D.C. -- cardiac fibulation (death certificate, obituary)

Died: November 2, 1930, Washington, D.C. -- coronary thrombosis (death certificate, obituary)

Interred: Rock Creek Cemetery, Wash (tombstone)

Interred: Rock Creek Cemetery, Wash., D.C. (tombstone)

Occupation: teacher (before marriage)

Occupation: college professor, museum curator, paleontologist -- considered by colleagues to be one of the "founders of American Paleontology" (publications)

Genome: Hay genome

"Mary Emily Howsmon was the sixth of nine children of her parents, and was born and grew up on a farm about a mile west of Lexington, McLean County, Illinois. After the return of her brothers, Jehiel and William, from the Civil War [both chaplains and Union soldiers], the family moved to Eureka, Woodford County and several of the children, including Mary Emily, entered Eureka College. [Unusual, since at this time, most women did not go to school past age 14, so attending college was most unusual, and Eureka was only the 3rd college in the country to admit women on the same basis as men.] There she met the young man she later married. She was a handsome woman and retained much of her beauty to the end of her life. She was a capable and resourceful wife and housekeeper and a patient, devoted mother. Her faculties and her interest in current affairs stayed with her to the end of her life. Her health was remarkably good and her death came suddenly and peacefully, less than three months after that of her husband's." -- William Perry Hay (1871-1947). In 1858 Mary's brother Isaac shimmied up a tree to listen to two politicians debate: Lincoln and Douglas! It was for senator, and Douglas, the better orator, won! William Perry Hay's recollections of his mother.

"At the age of ten [actually 6], Oliver Perry Hay was taken by his parents to Bureau County, IL where he attended public school [Boyds Grove]. He grew up on the farm, but at the age of 18 or 19, determined to get an education and enter the ministry, he entered Eureka College, graduating in 1870 [a class of only 3 !]. On the evening of his graduation he married Mary Emily. After preaching but a single sermon, his strong love of nature overcame his earlier ambitions, and he decided on the sciences as a career. He was a professor of Natural Sciences, then biology and geology, over the next 25 years, studied at Yale one year, and received an M.D. degree from Indiana Medical College [unconfirmed] and a Ph.D. from the University of Indiana in 1884 [actually, 1887]. His interest in paleontology and belief in evolution forced him to leave academics: the Field Museum in Chicago, the American Museum in NY, and [over 25 years] at the Carnegie Institution in DC. While he retired in 1926, he continued to work on his private research, publishing over 200 articles and books in 1878-1930. His hobby was the study of language -- German, French, Greek, Latin, Russian -- and he was learning Italian during the last three years of his life. His business associates considered him friendly, kind, helpful, but also stubborn once an opinion was formed." -- William Perry Hay (1871-1947).

Mary Emily Howsmon Hay
Census data: 1850, 1860, Civil War, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930

Daughter Fannie's diary of the family life, 1929-1931. William Perry Hay's "Howsmon Genealogy" book. 1906-1926 Photo Gallery. Family 1906-1918 photo album.

Oliver Perry Hay
Census data: 1850, 1860, Civil War, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930

William Perry Hay's "Hay Genealogy" book. William Perry Hay's 1941 notes. Oliver Perry Hay's biographical notes, 1920 Who's Who, and published books/articles



Date of Birth, Place

Date of Death, Place

Married - date and to whom

# children

1. William Perry

12/5/1871 Eureka, IL

2/25/1947 Bradenton, FL

(1) 12/29/1902 Annie Aletha McKnew
(2) 7/12/1938 Mary E. H. Bayley


2. Mary Lucille "Mamie"

8/28/1873 Eureka, IL

3/13/1955 St. Petersburg, FL

6/20/1900 John D. Minnick


3. Frances Steele "Fannie"

1/21/1876 Oskaloosa, IA

5/21/1962 Washington, D. C.

(never married) (1898 photo)


4. Robert Howsmon

11/16/1882 Irvington, IN

5/9/1952 Washington, D.C.

12/15/1909 Alma Bischoff



William Perry Hay (1871-1947)

the avid genealogist who spent over half a century
scouring courthouse records and cemeteries, and
contacting other genealogists and countless relatives
to compile his Howsmon and Hay books.
All who follow are indebted.

Hay's Spring Amphipod - endangered
William Perry Hay, an American zoologist known for work on crayfish and reptiles, had an amphipod named after him: Hay's Spring amphipod (Stygobromus hayi); Kingdom: Animalia; Class: Malacostraca; Order: Amphipoda; Family: Crangonyctidae. It is found in just five sites in Rock Creek Park, and is on the endangered list. (endangered list, DITC education, 5-year Review, fact sheet, 2013 article, and p.205 of 1940 Hubricht and Macklin paper)

June 1, 2011 "Jeopardy" gameshow
In 1891/1892 Oliver Perry Hay resigned his post as professor of science (biology and geology) at Butler University in Indianapolis, due to disagreement with the directors of the college. The former professor of science had resigned in 1879 when the college directors removed all non-church members of the faculty (source); in 1891 Oliver Perry Hay resigned due to differences over the teaching of evolution. He had been hired because he was perceived as the most religious choice, but to the directors' surprise, turned out to be as radical an evolutionist as the other choices. Despite his listing in the 1893 Indianapolis directory, he was listed in the 1891 Indiana Academy of Science directory as living in Chicago (while son William Perry Hay was still in Irvington, Indiana); Oliver Perry moved to Chicago in 1891/1892 with his family joining him there in 1892/1893. In Chicago Oliver Perry originally taught high school for a year, before securing a fellowship at the (new) University of Chicago in 1893 (article #1, #2), and then the position of curator of the (new) Field Museum. The move to Chicago marked a shift from academia into private paleontology research for Oliver Perry, who was referred to as the "father of American Paleontology" by the New York ANHM (American Natural History Museum), where he worked in 1900-1908. In 2011, he was one of the "answers" on the gameshow "Jeopardy" -- the category was "Hay Is...."; the answer was "...the last name of Oliver Perry, one of these scientists, known for his history of the vertebrates of the Pleistocene"; the question, which the contestant answered correctly, was "what is a paleontologist", clearly known from the pleistocene clue and not from personal knowledge of his work 100 years later (entire game).

Circa 1923 picture -- The Hays
standing: Jack, Alma, John Minnick, Fannie, Robert, Connie, Annie. seated: Mamie Minnick, Oliver, Mary Frances Minnick, Mary Emily, William. front: Perry, Don.

2011 picture of 1211 Harvard St, Washington, DC, where Oliver Perry and Mary Emily lived for 20 years until their deaths in 1930 and 1931
The whole family would have undoubtedly visited the 1893 Chicago World Fair, just a couple miles from their home, which opened less than a year after their move from Indianapolis. William Perry Hay had graduated from Butler University in 1891 (age 19); Mary and Frances attended the University of Chicago in its first years 1893-1898; Robert attended business school in New York circa 1904. (See 1900 census for directory listings for Indianapolis, Chicago, New York and Washington, DC -- the family lived in Chicago 1892-1896, Washington, DC 1898-1900, New York 1900-1908, and Washington, DC 1908-1931.) Note that Mary's husband John Minnick also attended both Butler University and the University of Chicago (as well as Columbia and George Washington -- see obit).

In 1904, Oliver Perry and Mary Emily went to Berne, Switzerland where Oliver Perry Hay was a delegate at the Sixth International Congress of Zoology -- they sailed of course, and traveled home from Antwerp, Belgium -- a passenger list was found for them for only the return voyage (outbound lists not kept) on the Steamship Finland departing Antwerp, Belgium on October 1st and landing October 11th in New York -- two of our three ancestors to land at Ellis Island! (The third ancestor to go through Ellis Island was Charles Bischoff in 1900 for a visit to Germany; also not an immigrant!) (1904 passport; only one for Oliver Perry Hay as wives traveled on their husband's passport.) At that time they were living at 170 West 89th Street, Manhattan, NY (2011 picture). (However, Oliver Perry Hay is listed in the 1901/02 directory at 207 W 84th; the 1904/1905 directory at 137 W 84th; and the 1907/1908 directory at 186 W 80th!).

The greater part of Oliver Perry's research life was spent in Washington, DC (1908-1930) where he was affiliated with the Carnegie Institution. This private, nonprofit organization is engaged in basic research and advanced education in biology, astronomy, and the earth sciences. Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1902, incorporated by Act of Congress in 1904, it had an initial endowment of $10 million, and its purpose was "to encourage, in the broadest and most liberal manner, investigation, research, and discovery, and the application of knowledge to the improvement of mankind." It is regarded as a pioneering research organization. Oliver Perry Hay was associated with the Carnegie Institution from 1908 until his death in 1930.

Oliver Perry Hay was a member of the intellectually-elite Cosmos Club (as was son William Perry), mentioned in his 1920 Who's Who entry. His 1929-30 Washington DC Who's Who entry mentions he retired in 1926 and his office was at the U. S. National Museum. Dictionary of American Biography.

Various newspaper clippings: 1880 lecture, 1893 fellowship, lizard ejecting blood from eyes, 1895 lecture, 1895 lecture, 1896 lecture, 1902 fossil in opal, 1902 auk, 1902 auk, 1906 reptiles, 1906 reptiles, 1908 reptiles, 1910 fossil turtles, 1910 horses, 1911 lecture, 1911 lecture, 1915 banquet, 1928 toad.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, women could not teach and be married; Frances ("Fannie", "Fran") chose her profession, declining several offers of marriage. The Minnicks adopted Mary Frances, reputedly the daughter of friends. Mary Frances, a diabetic, died at a young age, after her marriage and birth of a daughter.

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