Sunday, December 1, 2013

Amos & Bertha Harryman

December 10th marks 110 years since the death of Bertha (Mailhouse) Harryman.
Bertha M. Mailhouse was born on January 28, 1875 in Baltimore City, the daughter of Joseph Julius Mailhouse and Amalie Michaelas.  Both of her parents were born in Germany and came separately to the U.S., marrying in Baltimore in 1853.  Not long after Bertha was born, the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Joseph Mailhouse worked as a dry goods merchant.
The family stayed in D.C. into the 1890s, when they returned to Baltimore.  Bertha began to study vocal music with Miss Carrie Rosenheim, a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

Amos Bernard Harryman was born in Reisterstown on November 20, 1871, the son of Amos A. Harryman and Ann Harding.  Amos' father, a merchant, died when he was just five years old, and so the 1880 census finds Amos living with his widowed mother and three older siblings.
As a young man, Amos appears in Baltimore City directories working as a clerk, a photographer, and an actor.

Amos Harryman and Bertha Mailhouse were married in Camden, New Jersey on January 17, 1896.  For some reason, their marriage announcement didn't appear in the Baltimore Sun until nearly a year and a half later, and even stranger still, it gave both the date and place incorrectly.
By this time, Bertha was becoming well-known in the city for her singing.  For two years, she was the lead soprano at the Eutaw Place Synagogue.  When she converted to Catholicism (probably around the same time she and Amos were married), Bertha continued to sing in the Cathedral choir.  She was the soloist at many special services, including the Feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Mary, the Feast of the Trinity, and the Feast of the Holy Rosary.

In the 1900 census, Amos and Bertha were living with Bertha's mother and sisters at 1403 Madison Avenue in Baltimore City.  Amos was now working as a treasurer at a Ford's Theater on West Fayette Street.
In March of 1900, John Philip Sousa's band was in Baltimore for a farewell concert before departing for France.  Bertha was called to fill in for the soloist, who had fallen ill.  She performed the song "The Holy City" with "marked success", according to the Baltimore Sun.  In the summer, Amos and Bertha traveled to Ocean City, where she held recitals at the Atlantic Hotel.  As reported in the Sun:
On December 23, 1900, Bertha gave birth to the couple's only child, Amos Ford Harryman, who sadly lived just nine days.  Little Amos is interred in the Reisterstown Cemetery near his parents and grandparents, sharing a marker with his mother.

Even though Bertha had converted, she still honored her Jewish roots, sometimes filling in at the Har Sinai Synagogue for singers who were sick.  In September of 1901, Bertha sang solos at the Eutaw Place Synagogue for services on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

In early 1902, Bertha was diagnosed with breast cancer, and underwent a mastectomy in the spring that year.  Despite her condition, she kept up her performance schedule, singing at the Cathedral's Pentecost service on May 18th, at the memorial service for the Catholic Benevolent Legion on May 30th, and for the Maryland Pharmaceutical Association on June 26th.

In November, she sang with Harry Smith and the Waters' City Park Band for two charity concerts held at Ford's Opera House, with the proceeds donated to a fund supplying fuel to poor families.

Bertha's health did catch up to her about a month later, and for a time she had to stop singing with the Cathedral choir due to serious illness.  By early January of 1903, her physician expected her to be able to resume her place as soloist soon.  Certainly Bertha was better by March, when she sang at the Cathedral's jubilee mass honoring Pope Leo XIII.

It was not to last however; Bertha's cancer seems to have returned by August of 1903, when she again had surgery.  She was able to continue singing for a time, but by November, her health had deteriorated to the point that she was confined to the house.

Bertha Harryman passed away on December 10, 1903, at the age of 28.  Funeral services were held at the Cathedral where she had so often sung.
Amos Harryman would marry again a few years later, to widow Emma Wagner Emerick.  The two traveled to Jamaica for the wedding, before returning and "officially" marrying in Delaware.  Judging from census records, it doesn't seem as though the couple had any children.

Amos lived to 1949, passing away 2 days after his 78th birthday.

Sources: (census records & city directories)

  • Year: 1880; Place: Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: 124; Page: 74B-75C.
  • Year: 1880; Place: District 3, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: 495; Page: 548D.
  • Year: 1900; Place: Ward 15, Baltimore City, Maryland; Roll: 614; Page: 14B.
Baltimore Sun
  • "Married." Date: 9 June 1897; Page: 4.
  • "Personal." Date: 15 April 1899; Page: 7.
  • "At The Cathedral." Date: 16 October 1899; Page: 7.
  • "Sousa's Farewell." Date: 27 March 1900; Page: 7.
  • "Special Music At The Cathedral." Date: 11 June 1900; Page: 12.
  • "Ocean City Election." Date: 8 August 1900; Page: 8.
  • "Feast Of The Holy Rosary." Date: 8 October 1900; Page: 7.
  • "This Is Hebrew New Year." Date: 13 September 1901; Page: 7.
  • "Solemn Hebrew Fast." Date: 21 September 1901; Page: 7.
  • "Pentecost At Cathedral." Date: 17 May 1902; Page: 7.
  • "Catholic Legion Memorial." Date: 31 May 1902; Page: 12.
  • "State Of Maryland." Date: 28 June 1902; Page: 10.
  • "Charity Concert At Ford's Tonight." Date: 9 November 1902; Page: 10.
  • "Concert For Charity." Date: 10 November 1902; Page: 12.
  • "Mrs. Harryman Recovering." Date: 4 January 1903; Page: 14.
  • "In Honor Of Pope Leo." Date: 9 March 1903; Page: 7.
  • "Mrs. Amos B. Harryman." Date: 11 December 1903; Page: 7. (marriage record)

Maryland Archives (marriage & death records)

Cemetery photos © AgateGS

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