Martha McKague is home after 90 years

Distant cousin brings her remains to McElhattan

From staff reports

McELHATTAN — Martha Helen “Mattie” McKague has come home.

She was born in Pennsylvania in 1858 and moved with her parents to Wayne Township at the age of 2.

She died in the Oregon State Hospital, a residential facility in Salem, Oregon, for the treatment of people with mental illness, on Sept. 16, 1927.

Through the efforts of Martha’s distant cousin, Bob Schadt, Martha is now back with family, buried in Wayne Township near her parents.

Her father, Thomas McKague (sometimes spelled McKeague and McKeage), was born in Ireland in 1819. Her mother, Catharine Stabley, was born in Pennsylvania in 1826. They were married about 1847. Their children (all born in Pennsylvania) included: Jane E. (born about 1848), Robert (in 1850), John C. (in 1851), Martha (about 1858), Robert Nathan (in 1861) and Joseph (about 1863).

At the time of the 1850 census (before Martha was born) Martha’s parents and oldest siblings were living in Wayne Township. Her father was a farmer whose property was one of the most valuable farms in the community. During the 1860 census, Martha was 2 years old, living with her parents and older siblings in Wayne Township. Her father continued his work as a farmer. Living nearby was the Throne family, including James Ross Throne who would later become Martha’s second husband. In the census of 1870, Martha was 12, attending school, and living with her parents and siblings John, Robert and Joseph. It is believed sister Jane married W.B. Miller and was living next door. The 1880 census lists Martha as 22, living with her parents and brothers Robert and John.

On Sept. 18, 1887, in Lock Haven, at the age of 29, Martha married Robert D. McClure, a carpenter, who was born about 1858 in Pennsylvania. Martha’s father died in 1892. Her husband, Robert, died on Sept. 12, 1895 at the age of 37. Her mother died in 1897. All died in Pennsylvania.

In 1904 Martha was living in Portland, Ore. In April of that year, she married her former neighbor from Pennsylvania, James Ross Throne. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1847 and was farming in Glendale, in southern Oregon. James had been married previously and had at least five children from his first marriage which ended in divorce. Martha never had children.

During the 1910 and1920 censuses, Martha and James were living in Cow Creek, Douglas County, in southern Oregon, where James owned a truck farm. Martha’s brother Robert Nathan McKague died in Pennsylvania on Oct. 30, 1910.

Martha’s husband James died of a stroke in Douglas County on Nov. 9, 1925. Six days later, on Nov. 15, 1925, Martha was admitted to the Oregon State Hospital, a residential facility in Salem, Oregon for the treatment of people with mental illness. She was said to have had senile psychosis. After being a patient at the institution for almost two years, Martha died there on Sept. 16, 1927. The cause of death related to Martha having broken her hip from falling out of bed nine months earlier.

Several of her step-children survived her. Brother John, a farmer, died of senile arteriosclerosis on March 3, 1933 in Pennsylvania.

Martha’s cremated remains were never taken after her death and were available at the Oregon State Hospital to be claimed by anyone related. A book by David Maisel and a short documentary film by Ondi Timoner and Robert James, both entitled “Library of Dust,” provide more information.

Robert Russell Schadt, a distant cousin of Martha, petitioned the hospital for Martha’s remains. The petition was granted, and Martha’s remains were sent to him. On Dec. 6, 2017, Robert, with the help of Edward Summerson, interred Martha’s remains at the foot of the Thomas and Catherine McKague obelisk in Union-Throne Cemetery, McElhattan.