Skip to main content

Mary McCulloch

Workers of the Week: Mary McCulloch and John Wise

By Collections blog

Worker of the Week is a weekly blogpost series which will highlight one of the workers at H.M. Gretna our volunteers have researched for The Miracle Workers Project. This is an exciting project that aims to centralise all of the 30,000 people who worked at Gretna during World War One. If you want to find out more, or if you’d like to get involved in the project, please email This week, Marilyn tells us about her research into a very interesting couple who both worked at the factory.

On 26th June 1918 Mary Josephine Wilson McCulloch ,spinster, 26, married John Stanley Wise , electrical engineer, 29, at St Michael’s Church, Bowness -on-Solway to the West of Carlisle. The marriage certificate indicates that John was living at ‘Turnmuir’, Dornock, son of Charles John Wise , Gentleman and Mary the daughter of George Wilson McCulloch, deceased, Railway Inspector.  

John and Mary on their wedding day.

Both Mary and John worked at HM Factory Gretna. Mary appears in the photograph of the Welfare Department,( 3rd from left on back row), featured in the Mossband Farewell Magazine and is also listed under “Supervisors” with an address of Airey Hill, Bowness on Solway.  

On 23rd August 1919, they had a daughter , Mary Doreen Hallifax Wise , born at 11pm according to the  birth registration for the Parish of Dornock. A second daughter was born on 20th August 1923, Elizabeth Barbara Beryl Wise , also registered at Dornock with an address given as 86, The Rand, Eastriggs. John is still working as an Electrical Engineer even though  H M Factory Gretna was in the process of being closed down and auctioned off.  

This is the story of an interesting couple who it seems parted company around 1940.  

We know that our Mary Wise and her daughters, Mary Doreen and Elizabeth Barbara now aged 10 and 8  were still living in Eastriggs in 1929 when their father, John sailed alone from Greenock to New York under “ Tourist, 3rd class, Cash, New York” – more of John later. He does indicate that his last place of residence is Eastriggs.  

In 1935, a US incoming passenger list Liverpool to Boston includes Mary Josephine as a housewife and the 2 girls as scholars. They are travelling to their husband/father at 38, Elm Street, Worcester, Massachusetts and their contact in the UK is “ Airey Hill”. This listing describes mother and daughters beautifully. Mary Josephine Wilson Wise  aged 43 is 5’6”, of fresh complexion with grey hair and blue eyes. She has a scar on her right thumb and a scar on her upper lip and is described as a housewife. Mary Doreen Hallifax, 16, is 5’8” also has a fresh complexion, brown hair and hazel eyes and has a scar on her right leg and a birthmark on her head. Elizabeth Barbara Beryl , the younger daughter, 12, is 4’7”, with a pale complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. Both girls are scholars. 

It seems that Mary and John separated and ultimately divorced around 1940, no concrete evidence of divorce can be found but John remarried.  

We have to assume that Mary returned to the UK. The electoral register  of 1947 lists her for Tadworth, Sutton, Surrey and she maintained her married name of Wise. The 1969 electoral register shows her still in Tadworth, Sutton. We know that her daughter Mary Doreen Hallifax was also living in Sutton at the time. Sadly Mary Josephine Wilson Wise died on 22nd January 1976 at Kingswood Court,( nursing home) Brighton Road, Tadworth, Sutton, Surrey , aged 84 just 3 months after the death of her younger daughter Elizabeth who died in Montreal, Canada aged 52 and is buried in Curetien Mont Royal, Outrement, Montreal ( 

John Stanley Wise was the second child of Charles John Wise  and Mary Anne Dare Rodgers . His mother came from Henry Street Workington ( 1871 census) and his father was born in Liscard, Cheshire ( 1901 census) 

John’s father, Charles Wise

The Wise family clearly moved around quite a lot during the early years of their marriage indicated by the fact that Annie L the eldest child was born in West Kirby, Cheshire, John and his younger brother of 2 years were born in Canada and sisters Dorothy Inglis and Elaenor Annie were born in Chestnut Hill,  Keswick. 

We learn from John’s US Draft card of 1942 that he was born on 29th April 1889 at Moosomin, Saskatchewan, Canada. At aged 2  when his parents were 38, the 1891 Canadian census shows father Charles as a farmer as are most of the entries on the page and all from England or Scotland. 

The 1942 draft registration card, filled in by John Wise.

This sojourn in Canada must have made John’s father quite a lot of money as by 1901 the family was back in England, living on desirable Chestnut Hill, Keswick, and on John’s fathers own means at age 47. Confusingly the 1911 census still lists Charles as a farmer but we know that by the time of his son’s marriage to Mary McCulloch he is a “ Gentleman”. John does not appear on 1911 census but in 1908 there is a manifest for permanent residence of Maine, US.  

We have to assume that John returned to the UK around 1916 to take up  War work as an electrical engineer at HM Factory Gretna where he met welfare supervisor Mary McCulloch whom he married at Bowness on Solway in June 1918. We know that he was still working as an electrical engineer at Eastriggs in 1923 but had moved from ‘Turnmuir’ , Dornock to 86 , The Rand , Eastriggs with his wife and two daughters.  

The powerhouse switchboard at HM Factory Gretna.

John clearly yearned for Stateside life. As mentioned earlier, he sailed alone tourist class , cash, to New York in 1929. It clearly states his last permanent residence as USA and his place of future residence USA. He was 39, an electrical engineer. His Contact address “ Newlands” Chestnut Hill, Keswick. The passenger listing for “ Doric” also tells us that he spoke Spanish and that his last address was Eastriggs, Dumfrieshire.  Mary and his daughters 10 and 6 were left behind. Curious that he gave his father’s address for contact.  

We know as described earlier that Mary and the girls joined John in Boston in 1935.  The 1940 census for New  York , Richmond District lists them as residents and John an Assistant Engineer, Commercial Bank, aged  51. This same year John’s father died in Boston, Massachusetts on 1st April 1940 aged 87. He was buried in Crosthwaite Churchyard , Keswick and the inscription is on the family memorial.  His mother died 10 years later in 1950.  

John’s US draft card gives an address in 1942 of 785 Pak Place, NYC , working at Chase National Bank and aged 52. It seems to be about this time that Mary and John parted company because on 1st January 1943 John married  Jessie “Jet” Reynolds in Reno, Nevada. This was her second marriage . She had been left a widow by the death of her husband Lester Clark Kellogg. The couple remained at 785, Park Place NYC. ( US Marriage license)  

Some of this mystery is solved by a letter in a public members tree on  

Extracted and interpreted from a letter dated 2nd February 1942 from John Stanley Wise- 

“The sister of John Stanley Wise (  Anne E ) married Harold Field Kellogg ,the brother of Lester Clark Kellogg ( husband of John’s second wife) and lived in New York in the 1940s. Apparently this is how John met Jessie “Jet” Reynolds. John worked at Chase National Bank, 18 Pine Street, Manhattan, NY. In this capacity , and as a friend, he became a financial advisor to Harry C Reynolds ( Jessie Jet’s father) in the late 1930s- early 1940s when Harry was trying to find investors for his new “ pine product” following the apparent financial collapse of Reynold Bros. Lumber Co. during the great depression in the mid 1930s”  

Marriage records for Boston show this as 1st June 1914. Harold Kellogg a 30 year old Architect and Ann Wise, 26.  

 The following year, Mary and John’s younger daughter Elizabeth married Harold Dean an Englishman from Birkenhead, an Office Manager according to the marriage record , on 9th December 1944 in Connecticut . Harold was 15 years Elizabeth’s senior,  was divorced from his first wife earlier that year ( public member tree). They must have moved to England because in 1957 there is a record of their sea passage emigrating to Canada via Halifax Nova Scotia from Southampton. Their UK address is given as The Pines, Hoppety, Tadworth, Surrey which sheds light on why Mary was listed on the electoral registers for that period as living in Tadworth. Following her divorce she and the girls must have moved to Surrey. Elizabeth and Harold were clearly going to make Canada their permanent home.  

They also have two sons, John born on 31st January 1946  and Ian born on 27th February 1952. (Dean)- Grandsons for Mary and John.   

Mary Doreen Hallifax, her older sister married John Hunter Pope , registered in Middlesex, in 1948. There is no record evident of any children from this marriage. Mary died on 26th December 1991 according to Probate records, her estate worth £23,127 , no one named . Her address was 7 Chapel Road, Tadworth , Surrey. This corroborates the theory that Mary and her daughters moved to Surrey following her divorce from John but does not explain why Surrey. 

The Wise family grave in Crosswaithe Churchyard, Keswick

In a manifest for crossing the US Canadian border in 1954 there is reference to John’s first time in the US – 1908. 

Sadly, John was widowed in 1957 by the death of Jessie nee Reynolds, nee Kellogg ( Public member tree)  

Within 2 years, now aged 69, he married for a third time on 12th February 1959. This time to Mildred Hester Temple, a teacher. Mildred was born in Folkestone , England to Richard Temple, 2nd Baronet who has his own Wikipedia page, was active in diplomacy and greatly honoured.  

This marriage did not last long – John died in New York City, in 1961, aged 71, still living at 785, Park Place.( an apartment block- Google maps) 

Mildred became naturalized in 1964 and moved to 56 Commonwealth Avenue Boston which coincidentally is the same Avenue that John’s sister Anne lived on when their father visited in 1940 and died. Mildred lived until 1980. Her obituary in The Boston Globe mentions John S Wise. 

The interweaving of the Wise and Kellogg families is fascinating. Clearly John’s sister Anne married Harold Kellogg and had a son Charles Dare Kellogg ( Dare being Eleanor’s mother’s middle name. )Anne’s name appears as Kellogg in the Penrith Advertiser 9th August  1938 in the report of the will of a Miss Eleanor Kate Wise – John’s Aunt- of the Bungalow . Chestnut Hill, Keswick.   

John’s sister Dorothy Inglis Wise married a clergyman ,  Laurence Charles Beril Newell ( photo in attached folder) from Wigton but married in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire. In 1972 marriage registrations for Westminster list a  Dorothy Mary  Newell marrying Charles Dare Kellogg in the registration district of Westminster. The jigsaw of Dare’s and Kellogg’s becomes very complex. 

Translate »