#11 Mary Charlotte Cobine

Mary Charlotte Cobine

b. 11/1882 New York City

d. 2/17/1921 San Francisco, CA

 When I started my family research, years ago I felt very alone on my fathers.  The only surname I knew was my father’s surname and his mother’s maiden name.  Thanks dad.  Unfortunately, not many relatives on that side of my family are still alive.  First time I saw the surname Cobine was on my great Uncle Paul’s birth certificate, mother’s name, Mary Cobine, born NYC.  So the hunt began. I found only one Cobine family living in Oakland, California (across the bay from San Francisco, where my grandfather was born).  The 1900 US Fed Census reflected Mary Charlotte Cobine age 19, living with her father John Cobine, mother Catherine Cobine and younger sister Anne Cobine 13 years.  Both girls were born in New York City.  This was the first record I found of the Cobine family in California, I did, however, find much on John Cobine living in Oakland & San Francisco from 1875 forward.  It may be possible that John moved out from New York before the family to establish his business or perhaps he was back and forth, but never mind this is about his eldest daughter Mary.

 Unfortunately, I have found no records of this Cobine family in New York City, all California records indicate that both girls, Mary and Ann were born in New York City so the story of Mary begins in Oakland, California at 19years of age.

 Mary and Ann are mentioned often in the Oakland Society pages attending many events, weddings, teas etc.  There is on event in particular that stands out because this is where I believe your Mary Cobine meets her husband Mr. Martin Fennell of San Francisco.

The Summer of 1901 the Cobine ladies, mother and daughters were “summering” in Napa California at Wegner Villa. August 1901 a ball was given by the guest of Wegner Villa, ferns, palms and Chinese lanterns were displayed.  The music and food were wonderful and a grand time was had by all.  Among the guest, Mr.& Mrs. J Cobine (Catherine), Miss Mary Cobine, Miss Ann Cobine and Miss Annie Fennell and Martin Fennell.  It is clear to me that the summer of 1901 my great grandparents met.  There are many other Society Events documented in the Oakland Tribune and Mary Cobine and Martin Fennell are both in attendance, also Martin’s sister Anne seems to be tagging alone at most as well.

 This was an ideal match, the son of a San Francisco Police Officer and the daughter of a San Francisco Saloon owner.  Both tittering on just the right side of the law and the left side of, well, let’s just say, “not the law”. 

 On November 13 1905 a Marriage license was issued in Oakland, CA for Mary C. Cobine age 24yrs and Martin Murray Fennell age 32.  The formal service took place earlier that week at St. John’s Church in Berkeley, CA.

 Martin & Mary moved to San Francisco and had four children – Marion, Martin Murray Jr., Paul and Edwin.  Martin was in a construction business with his brother James and they bought a house on Parnassus Street and sent their children to St. Agnes Elementary, as good Catholics do.

 The 1906 earthquake hit and no damage was done to the house on Parnassus and the Fennell Brothers Construction did very well, after the dust settled and people were ready to rebuild. 

In 1910 Mary’s mother Catherine and sister moved in with them and in 1912, Catherine passed away and Ann married a gentlemen from Kansas, Howard Anderson and moved to Wichita, Kansas to live out her life.

 Mary died suddenly and too soon for both husband Martin and her very young children, the eldest twelve years and youngest 3 years.  On February 17, 1921 Mary died of some sort of heart failure.  Martin never got over the loss of his wife and did not deal with his grief well at all, leaving the children for days alone or with family members.  His business with his brother ended do to “difference”, which was probably his never ending grief and eventually, they lost the house.  The family that purchased the house allowed the children to remain in the lower floor, however Martin moved out and lived with his widowed sister Maggie.  Martin Jr.(my grandfather) had to quit school in the 7th grade and start working to make money for the family. 

I have attached Mary’s obituary because there is a bit of a mystery with the name Marnell, who are they and what relationship do they have with Mary?  OK, anyone can answer this.

SF Chronicle (1869 to current files)

ProQuest Historical Newspapers


June 28, 1921 (pg 6)


FENNELL – In this city , June 27, 1921 Mary C , beloved wife of Martin M Fennell, loving mother of Marion, Martin Jr., Paul and Edwin Joseph Fennell, and sister of Mrs. Howard P Anderson and John, Michael, James Marnell, a native of New York City. (New York paper please copy)

Friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend the funeral tomorrow (Wednesday June 28th, 1921 at 8:30 o’clock a. m. from her late residence 56 Parnassus Ave , thence to St. Agnes Church, where a requiem mass will be offered for the repose of her soul, commencing at 11 o’clock.  Intermit to Holy Cross Cemetery.



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