Mary (Arthur) McElroy

Mary (Arthur) McElroy (1841 - 1917)

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Mary "Molly" McElroy formerly Arthur
Born in Greenwich, Washington, New York, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married 13 Jun 1861 in Albany, Albany, New Yorkmap
Died in Albany, New York, United Statesmap
Profile manager: Amy Utting private message [send private message]
Profile last modified 9 Nov 2018 | Created 3 Jan 2011
This page has been accessed 2,418 times.



Early Life

Mary Arthur was born on July 5, 1841 in Greenwich, New York, as the last of nine children born to William Arthur and Malvina Stone. Her mother, Malvina, was born in Vermont and of primarily English and Welsh descent. Her father, William, was born in Cullybackey, a village in County Antrim in what is now called Northern Ireland; he graduated from university in Belfast and emigrated to Canada. William and Malvina met while William was teaching at a school in Dunham, a city in Quebec located just over the border from Malvina's native Vermont.[1]

Mary and her brother George were the only two of William and Malvina's children to have been born in New York; Mary's eldest sibling, her sister Regina, was born in Dunham, while the rest of her siblings were born in northern Vermont.

Education and academics were important to her father due to his being a teacher, and so Mary was educated at the Emma Willard School. Here, Mary was taught history, geography, science, and French.[2]

Marriage and Family

At age 19, Mary married John Edward McElroy on June 13, 1861 in Albany, New York. John worked as an insurance salesman and was the head of the Albany Insurance company; they lived together in Albany,[3][4][5] where they raised four children: May (b. 1862), William (b. 1864), Jessie (b. 1867), and Charles (b. 1873).[2]

The White House Hostess

Mary was 39 when then-President James Garfield was assassinated and her brother Chester, Garfield's Vice-President, succeeded him as the 21st President of the United States. As Chester's wife Ellen had passed not two years earlier, and so the position as First Lady was left vacant upon is presidency; Chester loved his wife, and could not bear to give Mary the official title of First Lady, however he asked Mary to fill the role in an unofficial capacity and she was thus referred to as the "White House hostess"[6] while still performing all of the duties of a traditional First Lady.

At the time of Chester's presidency, Mary was living in Albany with her husband and her young family. Because she had her own family located elsewhere, Mary lived in Washington, D.C. only during the winter social season and in this position she proved to be a popular and competent hostess.[7]

Death and Legacy

Mary passed away on January 8, 1917 in Albany and buried at Albany Rural Cemetery.[8]


  1. Reeves, Thomas C. (Autumn 1970). "The Mystery of Chester Alan Arthur's Birthplace". Vermont History. 38 (4): 300.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The National First Ladies Library
  3. "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 29 August 2017), Mary Mc Elroy in household of John E Mc Elroy, Albany, Albany, New York, United States; citing enumeration district ED 13, sheet 353C, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0805; FHL microfilm 1,254,805.
  4. "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 November 2018), Mary A Mcelroy in household of John E Mcelroy, Albany city Ward 14, Albany, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 49, sheet 2B, family 32, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,005.
  5. "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 November 2018), Mary A Mc Elroy in household of John E Mc Elroy, Albany Ward 14, Albany, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 67, sheet 4B, family 90, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 921; FHL microfilm 1,374,934.
  6. "Mary Arthur McElroy, White House hostess for President Chester Arthur". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  7. America's First Ladies: Mary Arthur McElroy
  8. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 06 November 2018), memorial page for Mary Arthur McElroy (5 Jul 1841–8 Jan 1917), Find A Grave Memorial no. 41273577, citing Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, Albany County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Ryan Kordziel (contributor 47087275) .


Thank you to Robert Weaver for creating this profile for Mary Arthur McElroy. Thank you to Maggie N. for contributing to the data and image for Mary & to Amy Utting for categorising Mary, writing her biography, and adding her sources.

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Mary by comparing test results with other carriers of her mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Mary:

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Mary is 18 degrees from Mags Gaulden, 17 degrees from Dennis Wilson and 16 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.