My Great Grandmother Agnes Viola Elizabeth Maud Mara Died 43 Years Ago Today

My 48th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge.

My 48th ancestor is my great grandmother Agnes Viola Elizabeth Maud Mara (1893-1971), who went by the name Viola. I have mentioned Viola in posts about her father, mother, brother, and mystery half-brother, but I have never actually profiled my great grandmother. Since today marks the 43rd anniversary of her death, I thought it appropriate to introduce Great Grandmother Viola.

Viola Mara
My mom has had this photo on display in her home.

I am named after my great grandmother; my parents gave me Viola’s middle name Elizabeth as my own middle name. Thankfully, Mom did not name me after any of her grandmother’s other names — Viola, Agnes, or Maud. Viola Elizabeth is the only name by which Mom knew her grandmother. She was surprised when I uncovered that long list of legal names when I found Viola’s birth certificate a number of years ago.

Birth & Childhood

Viola was born 21 February 1893 in Guelph, Wellington County, Ontario, Canada. Her parents were Thomas Mara (b. 1858) and Anna Sophia Allen (b. 1871). She and her younger brother William James Mara (1894-1952) immigrated with their mother to the United States (Michigan) sometime around 1898. I have not yet found a border crossing record or a naturalization record for Viola, her mother, or her brother. I do not think her father Thomas came with the family.

From what I can tell about her mother’s shady past, Viola and William must have had a difficult upbringing and unstable home. I have not found the family on the 1900 or 1910 U.S. Census; it is like their mother Anna Sophia was living off the radar. Viola does not surface until the 1920 U.S. Census, when she was 27, married, and a mother.

Viola Mara's birth certificate
Viola’s birth certificate, courtesy of

Marriage & Children

Viola married my great grandfather James Bruce Hayes (1888-1970) on 02 January 1912 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. She was 18, he was 23. Viola and Bruce had nine children together, eight of whom reached adulthood. My grandmother Elsie Charlotte Hayes (1926-1992) was the seventh child. Bruce and Viola spent their marriage living in Royal Oak and Southfield, Michigan (both in Oakland County).

After Bruce divorced Viola, she moved out to Santa Fe Springs (Los Angeles County), California to live with her oldest son Bill and care for his children, and to be near my grandmother and Grandma’s older sister Cassie. I am told that I met Viola as a baby (I was not quite 2 years old when she died), but I do not have any memory of her or any photos with her.

Viola Mara, late in life
Viola, much later in life.

Death & Burial

My great grandmother Viola died on 06 December 1971, in Los Angeles County, California. It may have been in Santa Fe Springs, where she lived with her oldest son Bill (near my grandmother Elsie), but none of the records I have specify more than the county.

She is buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier (Los Angeles County), California.

Leave a Comment, Question, or Suggestion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top