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 Elizabeth “Aunt Lizzie” <I>McArthur</I> Marks

Elizabeth “Aunt Lizzie” McArthur Marks

Death 6 Mar 1949
Burial Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot Fairmount 217
Memorial ID 61649170 · View Source
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Aunt Lizzie was known to her nieces and nephews as a spinster who never married or had children. No one could remember when she died or what happened to her. My research shed light on her life and her death; both filled with tragedy and sadness.

Born October 27, 1869 (Philadelphia birth registration).

February 5, 1886: Admitted as Elizabeth B McArthur by profession to the Hebron Church, 25th and Thompson Streets. Also admitted on the same day was Maggie, or Margaret, McArthur; Martha's sister. She attended Sunday School there.

On November 13, 1887, she married Bushrod W. J. Redheffer in Camden, NJ

The Hebron Church records list her husband as "Bushrod W. J. Redheffer."

September 1, 1888: The couple had a boy John McArthur Redheffer. He was named after her father. This boy later dropped his last name because of his father's criminal conviction. Parents: Bushrod W. J. and Elizabeth B. Redheffer. Born September 1, 1888 baptized December 23, 1888. Source: Hebron Memorial Presbyterian Church Register of Baptisms. Physical location of this record: Presbyterian Historical Society, 425 Lombard St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19147.

Her husband's family had a long history of criminal business activities. As early as 1883, his father Amos A. Redheffer (a.k.a. Aimon Redheffer) was arrested as a fraudulent merchant. Aimon had a brother who was an attorney who often bailed him out of trouble. The Redheffer Family's notoriety went back to Bushrod's great grandfather Charles Redheffer, a merchant from Germantown who in 1812 defrauded Philadelphia investors with his "perpetual motion machine." The McArthur family apparently didn't know about this when she married into the Redheffer family.

Jan. 1, 1895 - Even though she was still married to Bushrod, she married Mark Marks, an oysterhouse waiter, in Camden, NJ.

April 6, 1895: She divorced Bushrod W J Redheffer in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court No. 4.

June 19, 1895 - Bushrod married Caroline J. Biddle, age 18, in Camden, NJ.

In 1897, Bushrod and his father were convicted in federal court for mail fraud. The father Amos fled to Chicago where he was rearrested. Bushrod served a year in Eastern Penetentiary and, lucky for him, won a pardon from the U.S. Attorney General in 1911. Once released, he faded in obscurity.

December 1899: Mark Marks and Elizabeth B Marks had a girl Charlotte.

1900 census: living at 1527 N 27th St. with her 2nd husband Mark Marks, a conductor, her son John "Marks" and their dau. Charlotte Marks. 2 children; both living. 4 years married.

March 1903: Charlotte died of penumonia.

About 1908: Mark Marks suffering Hodgkins Disease.

1910 census: Elizabeth is a "widow" working as a dept. store saleswoman and living with her son John Marks, private family chauffer, at 1232 W Oxford St. Children: 1 living, 1 died. 25 years present marriage (1885?). Her husband mark is "single" living with his mother and brother at 1702 North Stillman St. Mark is a oyster house waiter.

March 16, 1911: Mark Marks died of Hodgkin's Disease (3 years) and pulmonary tubercolosis (1 year).

April 11, 1911: Elizabeth's father John McArthur died.

January 1920 Census: Elizabeth B. Marks, 50, widow, as the head of the household at 1234 15th St. (renting) living with her son John McArthur, 30. He dropped his last name and was using his middle name. Her occupation: "demonstrator" of furnishings. He was a demonstrator of automobiles. She had several lodgers living with her.

About 1925, Lizzie's son John MacArthur Redheffer (who dropped his last name and went by McArthur) was married to a Mary G. and the couple had a son David. Her nephew William MacLachlan (1904 - 1999) remembered that Lizzie "moved in with us on Columbia Avenue (1629 N. 29th St.). Her husband had been dead."

The 1930 census lists Elizabeth Marks, no occupation, living with her sister Martha MacLachlan at 1642 N 29th St. with her brother-in-law William MacLachlan, 60, his son William MacLachlan, 25, the son's wife Ethel Maclachlan and their child Virginia MacLachlan. Elizabeth's son was a lodger at 2403 Howard St. with Mary and Edward Murphy, an oil refinery worker. Living with two other lodgers, Edward McNally, a hosiery mill fitter; and Edward Liddy, garage tire repairer.

The 1940 census: "Aunt Lizzie" continuing to live with her sister Martha MacLachlan's family, now at 1449 N. 29th Street. She was described as a good-looking woman and a very nice person. Everyone liked her. "She had hair you could sit on when she let it down, I'll never forget that" said her niece Virginia. She was hard of hearing and used to sit by the radio and listen to it. Her niece Dolores used to listen to the opera with her on Saturdays and remembers that she had one bad eye. She was very sweet and "used to add a little life to the house." She was shy and afraid of lightening. She pulled her weight with the housework.

In 1940, her son John MacArthur was living at 6607 W. Hortter St. in was manager of pumps living with his wife and son. By 1942, he working for the Wayne Pump Co. and living at 6218 Wayne Ave. in Philadelphia. He died February 1943. His aunt Helen Walton provided information for his death certificate.

October 1, 1946 letter from niece Frances MacLachlan to Lizzie's sister Helen Walton, "Dad took up a box of food Sunday, the usual habit, and much to his surprise Aunt Lizzie had her whole head clipped short to scalp and said it looked as if her head was a number of red-spots. What do you think a bad case of malnutrition setting in? She told had if it wasn't for the box each week she would starve. She bothers me terribly and yet I am helpless to know what to do."

November 12, 1947 letter from Frances MacLachlan to Helen Walton, "The Nursing Home where Aunt Lizzie is located seems to be a large old Mansion House on the corner of Manyunk + Roxborough Ave; can be reached directly through Bus 2 at Broad + Erie. Subway takes you to the door. [My father] had went up yesterday. He feels it is a much better set-up than Mrs. Taylor's. He also starting the place. Mrs. Wagner seemed very agreeable; told him visiting hours are anytime at all. Please call when you can. Aunt Lizzie is on the second floor with 2 other ladies in her room that are very much alive. They try to help her in her blindness but he says he notices at times she seemed very arrogant with them. He lectured her and asked her to be reasonable. She does need clothes very badly. Somehow along the line she lost her entire wardrobe. If that is the case we have to get some clothes there hurriedly. So, instead of meeting you as we planned and things seems to be pleasanter than I thought, I believe I will use the afternoon and get a few things from town. She really needs nighties - underclothing and the works. She mentioned the food was much better and the lady was a beautiful pianist. This sounds much better and if so I hope she cooperates or she will [not] keep her. Dad explained he came when he found out her where-abouts. He said he left her a white handkerchief and some fruit that was all he had. I will be interested if you have any suggestions. Come over anytime. Love Frances."

On November 9, 1948, she was removed from wherever she was staying at the time and admitted to the Philadelphia State Hospital -- also known as "Byberry." It was a hospital for the insane. The younger nieces and nephews don't recall being told about this.

The year that Lizzie was admitted to Byberry, 1948, author Albert Deutsch published the book "The Shame of the States" and described the horrid conditions he observed;

"As I passed through some of Byberry's wards, I was reminded of the pictures of the Nazi concentration camps. I entered a building swarming with naked humans herded like cattle and treated with less concern, pervaded by a fetid odor so heavy, so nauseating, that the stench seemed to have almost a physical existence of its own."

So, after four months, Aunt Lizzie died at Byberry. Lizzie's sister Helen Walton was the informant on Lizzie's death certificate. By the late 1940s, Helen was a widow, living alone and most likely starting to develop her own senile condition that grew as the years went on. This may have been why she did not take in her sister Lizzie.

Lizzie's death certificate listed the cause of death as heart disease and senile psychosis. Cemetery interment record states that she died of arteriosclerotic cv.d.

Lizzie is buried at Northwood Cemetery in Philadelphia with her sister Mary Jane and her brother-in-law Frank Devlin. This is why her sister Mary Jane's headstone is shown on this memorial. Lizzie's name was not added to the headstone.

Sadly, she outlived her brother Joseph McArthur who died in 1935. Otherwise, he could have had her buried in the Hillside Cemetery lot that he purchased in 1899. Aunt Lizzie's daughter Charlotte is buried there. But Lizzie was not afforded the final dignity of being buried in the same lot with her little daughter. In March 2011, I discovered the separate cemeteries where Lizzie and Charlotte are buried and visited their graves.

Family Members


  • Created by: Researcher
  • Added: 
  • Find A Grave Memorial 61649170
  • Hans de Zeeuw
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Elizabeth “Aunt Lizzie” McArthur Marks (27 Oct 1869–6 Mar 1949), Find A Grave Memorial no. 61649170, citing Northwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Researcher (contributor 46902961) .