Scope and Content Notes:
Mary Carson O’Hara (1824-1915) enjoyed wealth and prominence inherited from her grandfather, James O’Hara, and from her Philadelphian grandmother, Mary Carson. Mary traced her O’Hara ancestry back to Tiege O’Hara, the last Lord of Leyney, Ireland. She studied at Edgeworth Seminary in Braddock’s Field, now Braddock, Pennsylvania, and later in Staten Island at the renowned Mrs. McLeod’s School. By the time she married William M. Darlington, she was a highly educated woman, well read not only in English, but Italian, German, French and Spanish. Mary and William had four children, three of whom survived into adulthood. The family resided at Guyasuta, an estate near contemporary Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania, that Mary had inherited from her father, Richard O’Hara. James O’Hara purchased the property from the United States government and named it after the famous Seneca leader, Guyasuta (c.1725–c.1794), from whom the Continental Army had purchased the land.
Mary was passionate about regional history, and wrote
Fort Pitt and Letters From the Frontier, and
The History of Henry Bouquet and the Western Frontiers, 1747-1746, among other works. She also compiled a list of officers of the British and Revolutionary armies buried at the First Presbyterian and Trinity Churches in Pittsburgh. After the death of her husband in 1889, Mary continued expanding the collection of books and manuscripts about western Pennsylvania history. Materials in this series relate to Mary's research and writing, personal correspondence and legal and financial papers that document her vast real estate holdings. Mary compiled and collected historical documents, including Indian treaties; she also maintained records of materials loaned from the family library. Her writings, both epic and non-fiction, represented here, include a brief history of carpets, and her English language adaptation of the German
Story of Nibelungen. Two copies of her lengthy manuscript
The Exiles of Erin on Ireland and its noble families, are accompanied by an index listing section titles and corresponding page numbers, and a list of secondary sources that Mary used to write the work. A twenty-nine page manuscript written by Mary documents the history of the O'Hara family.
This series also contains two letters from acquaintances, William Roseburg, an investment banker from Pittsburgh, and William R. Mercer of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. A photographic print produced by Mr. Jarrett shows silhouettes of Mary as a small child with her elderly grandmother, Mary Carson O’Hara. Also present is a list of the many mortgages paid to Mary, and a list of bonds she held from companies such as the Aspinwall Delafield Company, the Pittsburgh Railway Company, the McKeesport Railway Company, the Connersville Railway Company, the Youngstown Railway Company, and the West Penn Railway Company.