Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Patrick Murray and Ellen McCusker: From County Down to Massachusetts

The location of Ballintlieve, on the Western edge of Ballyculter in County Down

Patrick Murray and Ellen McCusker were my third great-grandparents. Their son, John Bernard Murray, was my second great-grandfather.

Patrick Murray was born in Ballintlieve, near Ballyculter in County Down, Ireland.  It is now Northern Ireland.  He was the son of Patrick Murray, Sr. and Rose Smythe.  His birth date may have been July 12, 1787, but this isn't proven.

Ellen McCusker was born between 1800 and 1802 in Banbridge, County Down. She was likely the daughter of Laughlin McCusker. Her full name may have been Eleanor, but she is listed as Ellen on most paperwork.

Patrick and Ellen were married in Banbridge in 1823, when Ellen was about 23 years old and Patrick possibly about 36. They settled in Banbridge and had children there. I reviewed paperwork my grandmother had copied from the Dromore, County Down Register of Baptisms and Marriages 1823-1845 and turned up the names of eight children born to Patrick and Ellen.

Patrick Murray (b. 1823)
Bernard Murray (b. 1825)
John Bernard Murray (b. 1834)
Eleanor Murray (b. 1836)
Michael Murray (b. 1838)
Margaret Anne Murray (b. 1840)
Elizabeth Jane Murray (b. 1844)
Matthew Murray (b. 1846)

There are some confusing things here. Firstly, the 9-year gap between the second and third children is extremely unusual, especially when the other children were born at two-year intervals, for the most part. There are a couple of possible explanations. There may have been other children born during that gap whose baptismal records were lost, or who died prior to baptism. I see some mentions in other family trees of a child named Catherine Murray born in 1832, so it's entirely likely I just haven't found all the records for the Murray children. It's also possible that there was more than one couple with the names Patrick and Ellen/Eleanor Murray in Dromore Parish and we're confusing the records from two families.

Another thing that raises an eyebrow is the multiple births well into Ellen's forties and Patrick's late fifties. If Ellen was truly born in 1800-1802, then her youngest child was born when she was either 44 or 46 and her husband around age 59. While this is not impossible, it's unusual.

Patrick and Ellen immigrated from County Down, Ireland to Boston, Massachusetts.  I am not sure if they came with some or all of their children, or if they came later.  I have not been able to find details of their move.

This family is a perfect example of how writing a genealogy blog helps you dig deeper into your research.  When I started writing this post, I assumed I had a lot more information about Patrick and Ellen than I actually do.  The narrative about them has been passed down in my family, but it turns out there is little documentation to support the stories that have circulated about my third great-grandparents.  When you actually have to write down the story of an ancestor, with facts and sources, the holes in your research suddenly loom large. Here are the things I cannot currently prove about Patrick and Ellen:

  • Dates of birth
  • Date of immigration to the USA
  • Place of arrival in the USA
  • Census records placing them in Boston (or Charlestown)
  • Death records

Those are some pretty big missing pieces of the puzzle.

I found death records for a Patrick Murray in San Francisco in 1884.  It's possible that Patrick followed his son John Bernard Murray west, but this death date makes him 97 years old at the time of his passing.  That's impressive by today's standards, and nearly unheard of at that time.  I'm not convinced this is the correct Patrick.

I've also found death records for an Ellen Murray in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1875.  I believe this may be the correct person for several reasons. The Ellen who died in 1875 was about seventy-six years old and was married to Patrick Murray.  This is the correct age and spouse for my Ellen.  Also, we know that some of the Murray children settled in Charlestown, so it would make sense that their parents lived there, too.  In a newspaper article detailing Ellen's death, her husband Patrick is said to be seventy-six years of age, and a former tailor who had moved to Charlestown from "the old country" just four years prior to his wife's death.  Our Patrick was a tailor and an immigrant, so that is correct.  The article places Patrick's year of birth around 1799, while I'd heard that Patrick was born in 1787. However, 1799 makes so much more sense for a number of reasons, including his age at the time of his marriage and the births of his children, so I think it's possible we've had his birth date wrong.

So, what do we really know about Patrick Murray and Ellen McCusker?  We know they were from County Down, Ireland, that they married and had children there and then the family moved to America.  I'll have to continue to search for more information about them.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Murray Family

Six of the Murray siblings with their mother, Kate Daly Murray

My grandmother left me this wonderful photo of the Murray family.  She and I looked at it together many times before she died, but she was never sure who all of the people in the photo were. The Murrays were my grandfather's family, and my grandmother never knew most of them.

She was certain about two of the people pictured, and I have other photos of them that confirm their identities. Catherine "Kate" Daly Murray is at far right, in the black dress.  The woman above her is her daughter, Julia Murray.  This photo must have been taken prior to 1904, when Julia died at age 23. The rest of the people in the photo are assumed to also be Kate Murray's children.

The woman in front, in the white dress, is Gertrude Murray, according to a note I found on the back of a small reprint of the photo. Her eyes and smile look similar to another photo that I have of Gertrude at an older age, so I think this is accurate.  That would make the woman in the back row Frances Murray.  There were four Murray sisters, and my great-grandmother Genevieve is not pictured, so this makes identification of the women a little easier.

There were four Murray brothers, and there are three men in this photo.  I don't know for certain which man is which, unfortunately.  The brothers were John Aloysius, William, Frederick and Frank. A note found on a photo reprint claims that the man at front left may be John Aloysius, but doesn't mention the others.

Although I wish I knew exactly who was who, it's still great to have this photo of some of the Murray siblings and their mother.  They were always described to me as a happy, lively family with a lot of Irish wit and spirit.  That certainly comes through in this picture.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Catherine Daly

Catherine "Kate" Daly was my second great-grandmother.

Kate was born in 1850 in Massachusetts, the daughter of John Daly and Mary Carey.  Her parents were Irish immigrants. Of Kate's early years we know almost nothing.  What we do know is mostly family lore backed up by a few magazine clippings and old letters.  Kate was born in Blackstone, Massachusetts.  Blackstone is in Worcester County, near the border of Rhode Island.  It's a small town today, and would have been tiny and very rural in the mid-1800s.  A railroad was built in 1849 to connect Blackstone to Southbridge.  Kate's father, John Daly, likely worked on this railroad and others in Massachusetts. Census and birth/death/marriage records indicate that the family also lived in Lawrence, Massachusetts, which is near the border of New Hampshire and nowhere near Blackstone.  One of Kate's sisters was born in Virginia.  Kate's parents appear to have spent their twilight years in Waltham, Massachusetts.  If Kate's father worked for the railroad, he likely moved often in the course of his work, which would explain the numerous locations the family called home.

Kate moved from Massachusetts to San Francisco, California, sometime prior to 1878.  I do not know if any of her family members accompanied her.  It seems unusual that a woman would make this long journey alone, but I've found no records of her travel or her residence in San Francisco prior to her marriage to John Bernard Murray in 1878.

Kate married John Bernard Murray in Oakland, California.  She was seventeen years his junior. Upon her marriage, Kate became a stepmother to John's nine children from his first marriage.  They were all still living at home, so Kate had quite a job right from the start.  She had John soon added more children to the family.  They had eight children together over the course of their marriage.

John Aloysius Murray (b. 1878)
William Murray (b. 1879)
Julia A. Murray (b. 1881)
Frederick C. Murray (b. 1882)
Gertrude Agnes Murray (b. 1884)
Frances Mary Murray (b. 1885)
Frank Joseph Murray (b. 1886)
Genevieve Frances Murray (b. 1888)
Ambrose Murray (b. 1891)

Catherine Daly Murray with her daughter Julia

Their youngest child, Ambrose, died of typhoid fever at one year of age.  This was the only one of Kate and John's children to die in infancy, and the loss must have been horrific for the Murray family. Twelve years later, in 1904, their daughter Julia died of consumption at age 23.  Her death was devastating to the Murray family.

Catherine Daly Murray with one of her children

In 1906, Kate died at the age of 55, just a month and a half after the great San Francisco earthquake and fire.  The cause of death listed on her death certificate is pulmonary tuberculosis.  Tuberculosis also claimed the lives of her daughter Julia and son John Aloysius.  She is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Oakland, near her husband and three of her children.  Her obituary reads as follows:

MURRAY-- In this city, May 24, 1906, Catherine J., beloved wife of John Murray and mother of John A., William, Gertrude, Frederick, Frances, Frank, Genevieve and the late Julia and Ambrose Murray, a native of Blackstone, Mass., aged 55 years.  Friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend the funeral at 9 o'clock a. m. Monday morning from St. Francis de Sales Church.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

John Bernard Murray: San Francisco Tailor

My second great-grandfather, John Bernard Murray

I recently wrote about the life of my great-grandmother, Genevieve Murray Smith.  To continue the story of the Murray family, I am turning my attention to Genevieve's parents, John Bernard Murray and Catherine Daly.

John Bernard Murray was born in November 1838 in Banbridge, County Down, Ireland.  His parents were Patrick Murray and Ellen McCusker.  John was the second of his parents' eight children.

Banbridge, County Down

Banbridge is located in what is now Northern Ireland.
The town grew up around the site where the main road from Belfast to Dublin crossed the River Bann over an Old Bridge which was situated where the present bridge now stands. The town owes its success to flax and the linen industry, becoming the principal linen producing district in Ireland by 1772 with a total of 26 bleachgreens along the Bann. By 1820 the town was the centre of the 'Linen Homelands' and its prominence grew when it became a staging post on the mail coach route between Dublin and Belfast. [Wikipedia]
When John was growing up in County Down, it had not yet been severed from the south of Ireland. The Murray family were Catholics in a part of Ireland that had seen much English and Scottish immigration, and Catholics were newly outnumbered by a Protestant ruling class.  While we cannot know the exact reasons that the Murray emigrated to America, it was likely the same as most Irish Catholics fleeing their country: poverty, lack of opportunity, and political oppression.

In 1844, when John was 11 years old, his entire family emigrated to America.  This was very fortunate timing.  In 1845, just one year later, the Irish potato crops failed, ushering in a seven year famine that caused the starvation of over a million people.  As Catholics, the Murrays would have been particularly at risk, and it's good timing that they emigrated when they did.

The Murrays settled in Boston, Massachusetts, and set to work making a living and assimilating into a new culture. They lived in the Charlestown neighborhood, just north of the city, which was a heavily Irish immigrant neighborhood, and being among people like them may have made their transition to American life a little more smooth.  In 1854, at the age of 20, John Bernard Murray married 18-year old Mary Ann Lyons.  She was almost certainly the daughter of Irish immigrants, and was born in Charlestown in 1836. After the birth of their first child, John and Mary headed west and settled in San Francisco.  Together, they had eight children.

Catherine "Kate" Murray (b. 1857)
Mary Murray (b. 1859)
Thomas F. Murray (b. 1862)
John Jervis Murray (b. 1864)
Hannah Murray (b. 1865)
Margaret Murray (b. 1868)
Theresa Murray (b. 1869)
Henry Patrick Murray (b. 1871)

John worked as a tailor.  As a child in Banbridge, a town at the forefront of the Irish linen industry, he would certainly have learned to sew and been familiar with tailoring.  In San Francisco, he established his own business and worked hard to support his large family.

In about 1871, Mary Lyons Murray died while giving birth to her eighth child, Henry. She was thirty-five. This left John a widower with many children, several of whom were still young.  Certainly, the older girls, Kate and Mary, would have then raised their younger siblings so that John could continue to run his business, but it must have been a difficult time for the Murray family.

John Bernard Murray as an older man

In 1878, John married his second wife, Catherine "Kate" Daly.   Kate was 28 at the time of their marriage, 17 years younger than 45-year old John. This was Kate's first marriage, and she was taking on a lot, marrying a widower with eight children.  They soon added to the brood, and would have nine children together over the course of their marriage.

John Aloysius Murray (b. 1878)
William Murray (b. 1879)
Julia A. Murray (b. 1881)
Frederick C. Murray (b. 1882)
Gertrude Agnes Murray (b. 1884)
Frances Mary Murray (b. 1885)
Frank Joseph Murray (b. 1886)
Genevieve Frances Murray (b. 1888)
Ambrose Murray (b. 1891)

Their youngest child, Ambrose, born when John was 57 and Kate was 40, died at just a year of age, stricken by typhoid fever.  This tragedy was followed in short order by several more.  In 1904, their daughter Julia died of consumption at age 23.  Julia was a beautiful and lively young woman, much beloved by her parents and siblings.  Her death was devastating to the Murray family.  In 1906, Kate died at the age of 55, just a month and a half after the great San Francisco earthquake and fire destroyed the city.

Sometime between 1878 and 1884, the Murray family had moved from San Francisco to Oakland, where John had established a new tailor shop.  This move spared them from the fire that followed the earthquake in San Francisco, but they would have experienced the quake and seen the great plumes of smoke rising above the city across the bay.

The great San Francisco fire, started by the 1906 earthquake

John died in Oakland on June 20, 1916, at the age of 82.  On his death certificate, the cause is listed as "congestion of lungs."  With seventeen children, most of whom survived to adulthood, John left behind many descendants.  He is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Oakland, near his wife and three of his children.  His death notice, published in the Oakland newspaper, reads as follows:

MURRAY-- In this city, June 20, John B. Murray, a native of County Down, Ireland, Member of Division No. 2, A.O.H. and Tailor's Union, No. 200.
Friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend the funeral tomorrow (Thursday), at 9 o'clock a.m. from the parlors of Freeman & Co., Eighth and Brush streets, thence to St. Augustine's Church, Dana and Alcatraz, where a requiem high mass will be celebrated for the repose of his soul, commencing at 9:30 o'clock, a.m.  Interment private at St. Mary's Cemetery.
Officers and members Division No. 2, A.O.H., are respectfully invited to attend the funeral of our late brother John. B. Murray, from the parlors of Freeman & Cox, Eighth and Brush streets, tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 9 o'clock.
By order
J. C. Walch, President
D. M. Murphy, Rec. Secretary

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Siblings of John T. Griffin

An illustration of New York City as it appeared in the mid-to-late 1800s, when my Griffin ancestors lived there.

Having established the parentage of my second great-grandfather, John T. Griffin, I was curious to know more about his siblings.

In the 1850 US Census, Thomas and Eliza Griffin are shown living in New York City Ward 11 (now the Lower East Side) with eight children.

Charles M. Griffin (22)
Joseph W. Griffin (20)
Henry H. Griffin (18)
Elizabeth Griffin (17)
Sarah J. Griffin (12)
John T. Griffin (10)
Susan Griffin (8)
Charles J. Griffin (5)

It is unusual that two of their children, the oldest and the youngest, appear to be named Charles. However, both are listed as children of Thomas and Eliza in the census, and there's no indication that one of them might be a nephew or a step-child.

Five years later, in the 1855 New York Census, Thomas and Eliza are shown living in Brooklyn with the following children:

John (16)
Susan (13)
Charles (10)

The older five children are no longer in the household in 1855.  Charles M., Joseph, Henry and Elizabeth were all in their twenties and presumably living with families of their own at that point. Sarah, at age 17, had also likely married and moved from her parents' home at the time of the census.

The next time the Griffin family appears in a census record, in 1880, Thomas and Eliza have moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania.  Their youngest son, Charles J., is still living with them at age 33.

Having established the names and ages of these children, I was curious to know more about them. While I'm still researching this family, here's what I've learned this far.

Charles M. Griffin was born about 1828.  He is shown with his family in the 1850 US Census, but I cannot find any other record of him before or after that time.  In the census, he is 22 years old and his occupation is ship's carpenter.  This is the same job that his younger brothers, Henry and John, would take up a few years later.

Joseph W. Griffin was born on 29 October 1830 in Scranton, Pennsylvania and lived there with his family until his teenage years, when they moved to New York City.  He married Hannah M. Allen in New York City in 1852, and they settled immediately afterward in Scranton.  Hannah was a grandniece of the Revolutionary War hero Colonel Ethan Allen.  Together, they had six children: George Gordon Griffin (1853-1924) who became a doctor and lived in Washington, Emblem "Blema" Griffin (1857-1928) who married Samuel Snyder and lived in Portland, Oregon, John T. Griffin (1861-1941) who married Edith and lived in Seattle, Washington, Mary J. Griffin (1864-1925) who married Walter Sullivan and lived in Washington, D.C., Carrie B. Griffin (1870-1903) who married Ora Edward Carey and John Allen Griffin (died in infancy).  Joseph and Hannah lived at 1156 Academy Street in Scranton.  Joseph worked as a gate keeper, according to the 1860 and 1870 US Census.  This occupation can have a variety of meanings, but it most likely meant that Joseph controlled purchasing for a local company.  Hannah died in 1908.  Joseph died of prostate cancer at the age of 83, in 1914.  He is buried next to his wife in Chinchilla, Pennsylvania.

Henry H. Griffin was born about 1832 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  He was a teenager when his family moved to New York City.  In 1856 he married Mary Powell in New York City.  Together they had three children: Sylvanus Griffin (1857-1909) who married Cornelia Freer, Ira Griffin (1864-1920) who married Catherine Tucker, and Spencer Griffin (b. 1870) who married Elizabeth.  Like his brothers Charles M. Griffin and John T. Griffin, Henry Griffin worked as a ship's carpenter, according to the 1880 census.

Elizabeth Griffin was born about 1833 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  She was living with her parents and siblings in New York City in 1850, per the US Census, but after that she disappears from records. She likely married soon afterward and assumed a new surname, but I haven't been able to trace her yet.

Sarah J. Griffin was born about 1837 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She was raised in New York. Many online trees claim that Sarah married Henry Sommers in Scranton in 1855, but I think that may have been a different Sarah.  As of now, I don't know the fate of Sarah Griffin.  She was not listed in her parents' household in 1855, when she was about age 17, so she either married or died around that time.

John T. Griffin (1838-1933) was my second great-grandfather.  I've written quite a bit about his life, marriages and children in previous posts.  He was married three times, to Ellen Pearsall, Anne Dickson and Elizabeth Rice.  He fathered six children: Ella May Griffin (1862-1949), who married Hiram Palmer, Howard B. Griffin (1864-1918), who married Annie Dupuis, Clarence Griffin (1866-?), Milton A. Griffin (1876-?) who married Melitta Becker, Harry Pearsall Griffin (1879-?), who married Leah Bache, and George Roscoe Griffin (1895-1962) (name later changed to George Roscoe Oliver Rutherfurd) who married Julia Ellen Barrett.

Susan Griffin was born about 1842 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  She was still young when her parents moved to New York City.  She is seen in the 1850 and 1855 census records with her parents, and after that I can't find any trace of her.  Most likely, she married and her surname changed, but I haven't found the records yet.

Charles J. Griffin was born about 1847 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  He was quite young when his family moved to New York City, and he spent most or all of his childhood there.  Later, he moved with his parents back to Pennsylvania.  In the 1880 census, at age 33, he is single and living with his parents in Scranton.  His occupation is listed as carpenter.  Unfortunately, after this time I can find no record of Charles.

There is clearly much more to learn about John Griffin's siblings.  The fate of most of them remains unknown to me.  I will continue to research this family and hope to uncover more information.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Happy Third Birthday!

(Photo by Debbie)

Know Their Stories is three years old today.  Happy blogoversary to me!  I'd like to say a special thank you to my friend Sierra at Up In the Tree for providing the initial inspiration to start writing.  This blog has given me the perfect forum to share my family's stories and connect with newfound cousins.  I've learned so much more about my ancestors in the last three years.  I look forward to writing many more stories about them!

The most popular posts on Know Their Stories in the past year:

Heritage Day: Helping Children Celebrate Their Ancestors

Major Breakthrough: How Searching for a Surname Solved Two Big Mysteries and Revealed an American Revolutionary

Immigrant Ancestor: William Dickson

Five Reasons to Write a Family History Blog

What I'm Working On Now:
  • My mother's cousin Mary surprised me recently with a large bag of photos and letters that I'd never seen. The photos are mainly of my grandmother's cousin, Gil Cook, who I've written about many times. There are letters between Gil and his mother, Magdalene Barrett Rutherfurd, and his grandmother, Nellie O'Hare Barrett.  I'm still reading and scanning, and look forward to sharing some of these treasures soon.
  • I've just started a series about my Murray ancestors, starting with my great-grandmother, Genevieve Murray Smith.  I'll be writing more about this line in the coming months.
  • I'm still writing about my struggle to make sense of my Griffin ancestors.  This has been a long journey with many breakthroughs, but many remaining questions.  I'm actually hoping to take a trip to Westchester County, New York, later this year to do some additional research.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Lineage of John T. Griffin

The harbor at Mamaroneck, New York, ancestral home of my Griffin ancestors. (photo by June Marie)

I've been working hard to prove the ancestors of my second great-grandfather, John T. Griffin.  As mentioned in previous posts, this family has always been something of a mystery, since John T. Griffin divorced my second great-grandmother, Annie Dickson, before the birth of their only child and then disappeared from their lives.

Earlier posts have detailed my search to determine John T. Griffin's place of death and the names of his parents and grandparents.  While I was fairly certain I'd located his parents in New York census records, attempts to verify his paternal grandparents ended in a confused muddle of conflicting documents.  Since I believe John's grandparents were from Westchester County, New York, I contacted the Westchester County Historical Society to see if they could help.  They quickly responded to my request and set to work copying any related Griffin materials for me.  I received a package in the mail shortly thereafter, so many thanks to the helpful librarians at the Westchester County Historical Society.  The good news is that WCHS did have multiple documents relating to my Griffin family.  The bad news is that they weren't quite the slam dunk that I'd hoped to find.  I do think I have strong circumstantial evidence for this family's lineage, but I'll continue looking for more concrete connections.

Here, I present the case for the ancestry of John T. Griffin.

John T. Griffin (1838 - 1933)
Place of birth: Scranton, Pennsylvania.  Source: 1920 US Census, 1930 US Census, Florida Death Records
Parents' names: Thomas Griffin and E.J. Carpenter. Source: Marriage record (Annie Dickson), marriage record (Elizabeth Rice), Florida Death Records.

There is some conflicting information about John's place of birth and his parents' place of birth.  The 1900 US Census lists John as having been born in New York and his parents in Pennsylvania.  His Florida death record says his place of birth was Pennsylvania, and his parents place of birth was Pennsylvania.  However, I know that John lived in New York as a young man.  He married his first wife, Ellen Pearsall, there in 1859 and was living in Brooklyn at the time of the 1865 New York State Census. So, I started my search for John's parents in New York, and found a match.

In the 1850 US Census, I located a family that appears to include my second great-grandfather, John T. Griffin.  He is shown living in New York City with parents Thomas Griffin and Eliza J. Griffin. John is 10 years old at the time of this census, which is the correct age.  The census indicates that he and most of his siblings were born in Pennsylvania, while his parents and eldest brother are recorded as having been born in New York. One very interesting piece of information is that the eldest brother, Charles, is employed as a ship's carpenter.  This is the same career John would take up just a handful of years later.  It is recorded as his occupation in the 1865 New York Census and the 1900 US Census.  That he sailed boats on the Great Lakes was one of the few things Annie Dickson would tell her son about his father.  So, here we have a correlation of dates, location and occupation that indicates this is the correct family.

Thomas Griffin (1806 - ?)
Place of birth: New York. Source: (1850 US Census, 1855 New York State Census)

While the 1900 census and John Griffin's death certificate list Thomas' place of birth as Pennsylvania, that information was given by third parties (John's father-in-law and wife) after Thomas' death, so I favor the two census records where Thomas himself reported the information.  The 1855 Census specifically states that both Thomas and Eliza were born in Westchester County, New York. Interestingly, this census also lists Thomas' first name as "Thorn," which is repeated in the 1880 census and on the death certificate of his son Joseph.  This is clearly the same family, with the same children, but Thomas is sometimes listed as Thomas Griffin and sometimes as Thorn Griffin.

I moved my search to Westchester County, hoping to find records there that would connect Thomas to his parents.  I quickly located a couple living in Mamaroneck, Westchester County, who appeared to be candidates.  His potential mother's surname was Thorne, which would explain why Thomas also bore the name Thorn or Thorne.

Stephen Griffin (Abt 1780 - 1847)

Stephen Griffin and Jerusha Thorne were married in Chappaqua in 1800.  The will of Jerusha Thorne's father, written in 1821, mentions his grandson Thomas Griffin.  I was hoping that the Westchester County Historical Society's documents would concretely prove the assertion that Thomas was the son of Stephen and Jerusha.  They sent me the 1847 records of the Westchester County Surrogate Court regarding the will of Stephen Griffin.  The will itself leaves goods to Stephen's wife, Jerusha, along with his children, Abigail Griffin, Joseph Griffin and John C. Griffin.  While nothing appears to have been willed to Thomas, and he is never listed as a child of Stephen Griffin, in the will there is a mention from a court surrogate that, "This deponent served said citation on Thomas T. Griffin by delivering a copy of the same to him personally..."  While this isn't the slam dunk I was hoping to achieve, it does link Stephen Griffin and Thomas Griffin.  The Westchester County Historical Society also sent me a document listing Stephen and Jerusha's children with a note that this information comes without source citations.  Those children were Thomas, Abigail, Amy, Joseph, Hannah and John.  So, we have a lot of circumstantial evidence indicting that Stephen and Jerusha were the parents of Thomas.  I decided to go back another couple of generations to see if I could find any more information about the family that might nail down this lineage.

Joseph Griffin (1737 - 1807)

Joseph Griffin, father of Stephen and likely great-grandfather of John, is the descendant of a family that arrived in America in the early 1600s from England.

Joseph Griffin of Mamaroneck married Jane Cornell of Scarsdale in Westchester County and they had six sons, including Stephen.  Joseph's will mentions Stephen, so this connection seems solid.  While the 1790 and 1800 census listings don't include any names other than Joseph's, Stephen is presumably one of the five "free white males" under age 16 counted in the household in 1790 and one of the males between 16-26 listed in the 1800 census.

More Griffiths

According to a number of published genealogies, Joseph was the great-grandson of Edward Griffin, an Englishman who sailed to Virginia on the ship Abraham in 1635.  I will need to do the due diligence of checking each connection in this line, however.  In a brief review of the writings about this family, there seems to be a lot of debate about Edward's origins and his reasons for coming to America.  Nothing has been easy about tracing this Griffin line, and it looks like the challenges will continue.

Paperwork regarding the last will and testament of Stephen Griffin