Moynahan Surnames

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Nurse Bernice "Birdie" Phillips (1899-1980)

Bernice Phillips was born on the 14th of December 1899 in Essex, Ontario to Frank W. and Mary (Hamilton) Phillips. Her father Frank was born in Michigan and her mother Mary was born in Edinburgh, Scotland (she came over in 1886). Bernice's parents were married on the 11th of June 1895.

The Family tree for Bernice "Birdie" Phillips
Bernice's father Frank was a conductor on the railroad, later a plastering contractor and he died suddenly (August 12, 1914) after a short illness with a brain tumor.

Weeks later (September 19, 1914), Bernice's oldest brother Harold Frederick (aged 16 years at the time) died from a "pistol shot in the head" (see below).

Bernice, now the eldest surviving child, lived with her mother Mary (Hamilton) Phillips (1875-1947) and her three sisters:
  • Beatrice Ellen (born 15 March 1902, Essex, Ontario). She later married (1922) bank clerk Lorne McCallum and they lived in Stratford, Ontario in 1980.
  • Grace Lorraine (born 01 September 1904, Essex, Ontario). Grace never married and worked as a private secretary. She died in 1989 in Royal Oak, Oakland, Michigan.
  • Margaret Ruth (born 31 September 1912, Essex, Ontario) Maragaret was also a nurse and she married Henry Graves. They lived in Urbana, Illinois and her mother Mary (Hamilton) Phillips died there on April 2, 1947. She was brought back to Windsor and is buried in the Windsor Grove Cemetery.
The Phillips family lived in the Windsor area (233 Bruce Ave and then 812 Dougall) and are found in the 1901, 1911, and 1921 Canadian censuses in Essex north - Windsor.

In the1921 census, Bernice's mother Mary (1875-1947) is a "keeper" and takes in lodgers. Her widowed mother Helen (Caldwell) (Hamilton) Shuel (b 1841 Ireland) is also living there with the four daughters. Bernice is listed as a "nurse" on the 1921 census and here is what I found when I researched that more.

Hotel Dieu Nursing College

Bernice "Birdie" Phillips graduated from the Hotel Dieu School of Nursing along with nineteen other young women in official ceremonies held at St Alphonsus June 15, 1922

Source: Hotel Dieu's 50th Anniversary Book
Source: Hotel Dieu's 50th Anniversary Book

Hotel Dieu, Windsor, Ont., Canada (1923) Source: Mike Skreptak Collection; Red Binder; Public Domain; Valentine & Sons United Publishing Co. Limited; Postcard
History of Hotel Dieu and the Nurses

For more information on nursing in this time period, here are some great links:

 What Happened To Bernice "Birdie" Phillips 
Between 1940-1980?

All I ever knew about Bernice before I started this research was that she married my great uncle Gerald Moynahan (1908-1961) and that she was a nurse, possibly in WW II where she might have met Gerald who served with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (R.C.A.M.C) in WWI.

I also knew that she was buried near the rest of my ancestors in Windsor's Assumption cemetery but there was no headstone. She is not listed on the Windsor Public Library's Obituary database (even though her obituary did appear in the Windsor Star on August 7, 1980) 

My first break came to me when good folks at Assumption cemetery told me where Bernice was buried (Bernice and Gerald are in St Ann Section, Row 28, site 6, there is no memorial listed.). Then the good folks told me that the date on file was August 8, 1980.

Now I had a starting point. I searched the Windsor Star and found:

Source: Windsor Star: 7 Aug 1980

From this obituary, I was able to build Bernice's family tree. 

But WHERE did "Birdie" go? 

Her mother is found on the 1940 census in Detroit, Michigan with Bernice's sisters Grace and Margaret (Beatrice had married) but Bernice was not there?

Could it be that, with the outbreak of World War II in 1939, she joined with other civilian nurses who went out in droves to enlist?

And WHEN did "Birdie" marry Gerald? 

I know that when "Birdie's" mother Mary (Hamilton) Phillips died in 1947, Bernice was single.

Source: Windsor Star: 3 Apr, 1947
And I know that by 1949, Bernice is listed as Mrs. Bernice Moynahan in the 1949 Windsor City Directory

So the marriage occurred some time between 1947 and 1949. Bernice was a Baptist and Gerald was a Roman Catholic. It could be that the marriage was a civil one? I did check the Niagara Falls Honeymoon registers

Using the same directories, we located Bernice as follows:
  • 1922-1927: Phillips, Bernice; Nurse; 812 Dougall Ave.
  • 1928-1935: Phillips, Bernice; Nurse at Metro General; 812 Dougall Ave.
  • 1937-1940: Phillips, Bernice; Nurse at Metro General; 926 Dougall Ave.
  • 1941-1942: Phillips, Bernice; Nurse at Metro General; 1164 Ouellette Ave.
  • 1943-1948: Phillips, Bernice; Nurse at Bendix- Eclipse; 1164 Ouellette Ave.
539 Campbell Ave. & 462 Elliott

448 Norfolk, Windsor, Ontario

714 Elliott, Windsor, Ontario

714 Elliott, Windsor, Ontario

714 Elliott, Windsor, Ontario

714 Elliott, Windsor, Ontario

So far, there is no evidence of Bernice Phillips having enlisted in the nurses for WWII, and I have not yet located a marriage record for Gerald and Bernice Moynahan, but I do know that even after Gerald's death in 1961, Bernice continued to nurse until she entered Villa Maria Home For the Aged (Windsor, Ontario) where she died in 1981.

In 1968, Bernice "Birdie" (Phillips) Moynahan was 69 years old and still working as a nurse (see below).

1968 Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980

I have managed to learn a great deal about Bernice and her Phillips family. I only wish that I had a photograph of her to share here on this page that I have created to honour her. Pehaps one day, I will locate one.

I hope so.

The Border Cities Star.  May 11, 1927 (Page 23 of 36)


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