By Holly Lynn
I have a funny story to tell. When I was in my twenties, I was invited to a friend’s house for a special party. She had a friend who was a fortuneteller, and my friend Hannah paid for everyone to have a private session with her. The first thing the fortuneteller told me was that I was loved by so many people. Then she mentioned a relative named Mary who wanted to talk about me. I listened but the only Mary I knew was alive. I thanked her for her time and then went home. At the time it was nothing more than a good story to talk about.
Then I heard the story of my great-grandmother Mary Comer.
I love to do research and when I was learning how to use the Ancestry database at the library, I did research on my family from Ireland. My great-grandmother, Mary Comer, was from County Mayo, Ireland. Her maiden name was Watson and when she was 4 years old, she emigrated with her family to the US. Then, when she was 14, she got married. Later on, she was a young widow. In short, it must have been one tough life.
It’s the part after that gets exciting! Through family stories, I discovered that she was a famous fortuneteller in Mayfield Heights. In fact, Harry Houdini visited her twice. She was famous for her method of communicating with the other world. She would have the client write a question on a piece of paper and then light it on fire. She threw the paper in the air and watched as the ashes came down. Then she would communicate with someone from the spirit world and would answer the question. Back in the day, she had a cult following. Clients would wait outside her door for her to open up in the morning. She would look out the window and go make a pot of coffee. Then she would open for business and answer their questions.
I’m not sure if my grandmother was a truly gifted spiritualist. Perhaps she was just a widow who figured out a way to make a living. Either way, I’m grateful for the strong women in my family who were clever enough – to make ends meet, to support their families, to live interesting and different lives. Thank you for paving the way. Even if it was an unconventional route.
If you are interested in learning about your family tree, the Genealogy Club meets on the third Saturday of each month at 10 am at the Ritter Public Library. You are welcome to join us.