What’s a mom to do?

Mary Huff was my great grandaunt, my great grandmother Nellie Huff’s sister. Mary was born in 1892 while her father was stationed in San Francisco at the Presidio. Being an Army brat, she then lived in Kansas for a time at Fort Riley (cavalry headquarters of the US Army,) before finally settling down in Brooklyn, NY. 

According to the 1920 US Census, Mary is listed as Mary Kennedy, but living at her mother’s home, along with her younger brother, William. However, Mary was married. So why wasn’t she living with her husband?

This bothered me for some time. It made me think that it may actually not be the right family.

Mary Huff 1920 US Census

Compounding the issue was that her last name, Kennedy, is crossed out. Was it a mistake? I kept searching for her and found a picture on-line of Mary Huff Becvar and her husabnd Frank Becvar. According to the family tree it was attached to on ancestry.com, everything seemed to match. Except it didn’t have Mary being married to anyone named Kennedy.

Frank Becvar on left and Mary Huff Becvar on right. Frank’s sister is in the middle

Then I found a 1940 US Census with Frank Becvar, Mary Becvar, and Mary Huff living under the same roof. Mary and Frank had been living there since at least 1935. This Mary Becvar was born in California around the right time as my Mary Huff/Kennedy, so this had to be my Mary Huff. But what happened to her her Kennedy husband, if there was one at all?

With too much doubut I had to call my mother. She said yes, Mary Huff was married to Frank Becvar and they used to come visit. My mother remembered them well. So that was it. Story over. Not quite. I hadn’t talked to my great aunt Ruth in a while so I called her next. She’s 92 years old and Mary (Huff) Becvar’s niece. She’d be able to give me a little more information. My Aunt Ruth said that Mary was married to a Frank Kennedy prior to her marriage to Frank Becvar. In fact, she couldn’t even guarantee that she was ever legally married to Frank Becvar. Whoa! Story is, Mary Huff was married to Frank Kennedy and had two sons with him. However, Frank hit her. A lot. So much so, that the last time he hit her she ended up in the hospital and never went back to him. Or her kids. Ever. She moved in her mother and brother. Met Frank Becvar and the rest is history. 

I spoke to my mother about this and we couldn’t understand how a mother could leave her children with a man like that. If she was so scared of him, imagine how her kids felt. Wouldn’t a mother die trying to protect her children? I know my mom would. And my wife for sure as hell would. 

It was a difficult story to wrap my head around. I’m glad Mary left the abusive relationship, but I can’t help but think about those two boys she left. I hoped to God that my aunt was ‘misremembering’ the story, but she has an incredible memory. She’s never wrong.

Just another story that was nearly never told again. Glad I was able to poke around enough and get some answers, but I have to try and find out what happened to those two boys. Somehow, some way.


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