Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Children of Dr. William Brown

Dr. William Brown of Mendon and Pembroke, New York, had five children.  He had four daughters with his first wife, Bridget Palmer, and one son with his second wife, Sarah Loomis.  His youngest daughter, Amelia Brown, was my fourth great-grandmother.  I've been researching the lives of William's other children, in hopes that this will shed some light on the family and eventually provide proof of the connection to Joseph Brown and Elizabeth Gary, William Brown's presumed parents.

Elizabeth Brown 

Elizabeth was the eldest child of William Brown and Bridget Palmer.  She was born in 1812 in Mendon, New York, and grew nearly to adulthood there.  She was sixteen when her mother died, in 1828, and her father moved to Pembroke and remarried.  At that time, Elizabeth must have been heavily involved in running the household and caring for her younger sisters.  In 1832, at the age of twenty, Elizabeth married John W. King, a native of Homer, New York and a recent graduate of Fairfield Medical School.  After marrying in Mendon, Elizabeth and John moved together to Grand Blanc, Michigan, where John began a career as a noted physician and surgeon.  The book "History of Northern Michigan" by Perry F. Powers says that, "Dr. John W. King was an abolitionist, and before the Civil War became a terrible reality did all in his power to create a sentiment for the freeing of the Negro. He was prominent in the many-sided life of the community and was the kindly friend and doctor of hundreds of families." Together, John and Elizabeth had six daughters and two sons:
  • Elizabeth L. King (b. 1838 in Grand Blanc, MI; d. 1876 in Tawas City, MI; m. Herbert Schram; children: Leola Schram, Arthur Schram)
  • Laura Susan King (b. 1840 in Grand Blanc, MI; d. 1902 in Los Angeles, CA; m. John Montgomery; children: Jay R. Montgomery)
  • Sophia King (b. 1842 in Grand Blanc, MI; d. 1919 in Manistee, MI; m. Edwin E. Benedict; children: Elbert Benedict, Glen Ellis Benedict)
  • John King (b. abt 1846 in Grand Blanc, MI)
  • Martha King (b. abt 1848 in Grand Blanc, MI)
  • Sarah Amelia King (b. abt 1850 in Grand Blanc, MI; d. 1889 in Manistee, MI; m. Henry S. Hilton; children: Blanche L. Hilton)
  • Alice King (b. 1852 in Grand Blanc, MI)
  • James Asabel King (b. abt 1857; d. 1923 in Manistee, MI; m. Minnie Billington)
Elizabeth died in 1883 in Manistee, Michigan.


Mercy Brown

Mercy was the second daughter of William and Bridget Brown, and the only one of William's children who would spend her adult life in Mendon.  She was born in 1815.  In 1835, at the age of twenty, she married Loton Samuel Hodge.  He was older than her, about 35 at the time of the marriage, and an established farmer in Mendon.  They raised seven children in Mendon and provided a support system for Mercy's father and stepmother as they grew old.
  • Maria Hodge (b. 1837 in Mendon, NY; d. 1917; m. William Dailey)
  • Israel Hodge (b. 1840 in Mendon, NY; d. 1840 in Mendon, NY)
  • Nelson Hodge (b. 1842 in Mendon, NY; d. 1862 in the Civil War, Battle of Bolivar Heights, West Virginia)
  • George Palmer Hodge (b. 1845 in Mendon, NY; d. 1916 in Grand Ledge, MI; m. Adelaide Kinyon; children: Nelson Hodge, Eugene Hodge, Charles Loton Hodge)
  • Amelia Hodge (b. 1847 in Mendon, NY; d. unknown; m. Charles E. Peachey; children: Elmer Peachey)
  • Ella Hodge (b. 1850 in Mendon, NY; d. 1927 in Shortsville, NY; m. Frank Peer; children: Bert Hodge Peer, Estella Peer, Ralph J. Peer)
  • William Hodge (b. 1854 in Mendon, NY; d. 1926; m. Mary Parmelee; children: Addison Parmelee Hodge)
Mercy died in 1879.  She is buried in Mendon Cemetery, in the same plot as her mother, father, husband and several of her children.

The Hodge graves in Mendon Cemetery (photo courtesy of Cheri Branca)


Maria Brown

Maria was born in 1817 in Mendon, New York.  She was the third daughter of William Brown and Bridget Palmer. In about 1840, around the age of twenty-two, Maria married John Walker Davock and settled in Buffalo, New York.  John died in 1853, at the young age of 42, leaving Maria a widow in her thirties.  She did not remarry.  Before his death, John and Maria had four children together:
  • Ella Davock (b. 1842 in Buffalo, NY; d. 1925; she did not marry)
  • William B. Davock (b. 1847 in Buffalo, NY)
  • Harlow Palmer Davock (b. 1848 in Buffalo, NY; d. 1910 in New Hampshire; m. Sarah Whiting; children: Clarence Whiting Davock, Harlow Noble Davock, Henry Davock)
  • Harriet "Hattie" Davock (b. 1852 in Buffalo, NY; d. 1926 in Buffalo, NY; she did not marry)
Maria died in 1901.  She outlived her three sisters by many years.

Maria Brown Davock's grave in Buffalo, New York (courtesy Jay Boone)


Amelia Brown

Amelia was the youngest of William's children with Bridget Palmer.  My fourth great-grandmother was born in 1823 in Mendon, New York.  Her mother died when she was five, so Amelia was primarily raised by her stepmother, Sarah Loomis.  In 1843, at the age of twenty, Amelia married John Gustavus Bellangee, Jr.  He was the son of John Gustavus Bellangee, Sr. and Mary Ann Trout of New Jersey.  They moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where their four children were born.
  • Mary Elizabeth Bellangee (b. 1844 in Milwaukee, WI; d. 1929 in Los Angeles, CA; m. George William Dickson; children: Mary Dickson, Elizabeth Davock Dickson, Anne Amelia Dickson, George William Dickson, Jr., Wilfred Bellangee Dickson)
  • Anne Amelia Bellangee (b. 1846 in Milwaukee, WI; d. 1932 in Milan, Ohio)
  • William Palmer Bellangee (b. 1846 in Milwaukee, WI; d. 1882 in Ohio; he did not marry)
  • John Gustavus Bellangee III (b. 1857 in Milwaukee, WI; d. 1936 in Los Angeles, CA; m. Marie Holmes Klingner; children: John Gustavus Bellangee IV, Catharine Bellangee; Helena Bellangee)

Amelia's husband, John Bellangee is often described in records as a mason, but he was actually an architect and land developer who was responsible for the construction of a number of buildings in downtown Milwaukee during the city's early years.  He was also the defendant in a court case that went to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The court ruled in John Bellangee's favor in the landmark fraudulent conveyance suit, Crocker vs. Bellangee, but the Bellangee family endured years of litigation and appeals before that decision.

The Ballengee children excelled in artistic pursuits.  Two of the children, Anne and William, became music teachers.  My third great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth, loved poetry and literature, and she later encouraged this interest in her grandson, George Rutherfurd.  Sometime between 1860 and 1870, John and Amelia moved from Milwaukee to Ohio.  Amelia died there in 1876 at the age of 47. Her body was taken to Buffalo, New York, and buried in the family plot at Forest Lawn Cemetery, near her sister Maria.  When John Bellangee died in 1889, he was buried beside Amelia.

Amelia Brown Bellangee's grave in Buffalo, New York (courtesy Jay Boone)


Loomis Palmer Brown

Loomis was born in 1831 in Pembroke, New York.  He was the only child of Dr. William Brown and his second wife, Sarah Loomis.  He seems to have gone mainly by the name Palmer, although records vary.  In about 1857, Loomis married a woman named Mary.  In the 1860 census, he is listed as a farmer in Pembroke, New York.  He and Mary had two children at that time.  Sometime between 1864 and 1870, Loomis and Mary moved to Flint, Michigan, where they had another child.  I lose track of Loomis after this time, and have not been able to find any further records for him and his family.  The children of Loomis and Mary were as follows:
  • Albert Brown (b. 1858 in Pembroke, NY)
  • Alma Brown (b. 1864 in Pembroke, NY)
  • Hattie Brown (b. 1870 in Flint, MI)




Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Dr. William Brown & Bridget Palmer Brown of Mendon, New York

Fields near Mendon, New York (photo: Andy Arthur)


Last year, I wrote about the breakthrough I'd made on my Brown ancestors.  After many years of searching, I had finally proven the parents of my fourth great-grandmother, Amelia Brown.  Her parents were Dr. William Brown and Bridget Palmer of Mendon, New York.  I'd also determined that William's parents were Joseph Brown, a Revolutionary War veteran, and Elizabeth Gary.

Not long after that post, my local genealogical society hosted a meeting about using the DAR's records.  I did some digging in the DAR database and discovered that they've deemed the records used to connect Joseph Brown with his children are not adequate.  I decided I would compile records that would meet the DAR's standards, but have since plunged into a data black hole.  There is much circumstantial evidence for this lineage, but insubstantial documentation.  As a result, I've been spending a lot of time digging for any little tidbit about the Brown family that would confirm their relationships.  I reached out to a genealogist in Rochester, New York, who has been incredibly helpful in searching local archives for information that might not be digitized.  Thank you, Bob!  I've also been working on the indirect Brown lines, hoping there will be clues in those families.  After all, that's how I found William Brown and Bridget Palmer, by researching the descendants of their other children.  For now, I'd like to share what I've learned about the Brown family in Mendon, and hope that I'll soon be able to provide additional proof linking William to his parents.

William Brown was born March 24, 1780 in Connecticut.  I believe he was born in Killingly, Connecticut, where his parents were living in 1775, when Joseph Brown volunteered to fight for the rebel colonists.  He was the fourth of ten children born to Joseph and Elizabeth, and the first to survive infancy.  According to the book "Migrations to Mendon 1791-1821" by Diane Hamm, William moved from Connecticut to Mendon, New York in 1809.  He was 29 years old.  I haven't found a marriage date and location for William Brown and Bridget Palmer, but my guess is that they were married in Mendon sometime between 1809 and 1811.  Their first child was born in Mendon in 1812.

Bridget Palmer was born about 1793 in Connecticut.  I have not yet been able to determine her parents or exact place of birth.  She was young when she met and married William Brown.  She was just eighteen when their first child was born.  The children of William Brown and Bridget Palmer were as follows:

  • Elizabeth Brown (b. 1812 in Mendon, NY; d. 1883 in Manistee, MI; m. John W. King)
  • Mercy Brown (b. 1815 in Mendon, NY; d. 1879 in Mendon, NY; m. Loton Samuel Hodge)
  • Maria Brown (b. 1817 in Mendon, NY; d. 1901 in Buffalo, NY; m. John Walker Davock)
  • Amelia Brown (b. 1823 in Mendon, NY; d. 1876 in Cincinnati, OH; m. John Gustavus Bellangee)

During the years when his daughters were born, William Brown was the town doctor in Mendon.  He and Bridget lived in East Mendon, in the Eleven Thousand Acre Tract, with their children and seem to have been involved in local affairs.  In 1813, William Brown served as the Commissioner of the First School Fund in Mendon.

Bridget Palmer died in 1828 at the young age of 35.  My fourth great-grandmother, Amelia, was just five years old when she lost her mother. William was 48 years old when his wife died.  At this time, he gave up his career as a doctor and moved to nearby Pembroke, New York with his daughters.  He set himself up as a farmer in Pembroke, and a year later he married Sarah R. Loomis.  She was the daughter of Jacob Loomis and Selina Holmes of Salem, Connecticut.  Sarah appears to have been 42 at the time of their marriage, and bore William a son at the age of 44.

Loomis Palmer Brown was born in Pembroke in 1831.  Loomis was much younger than his half-siblings.  His eldest sister, Elizabeth, was nineteen at the time of his birth.  My fourth great-grandmother, Amelia, was eight.  The fact that Loomis bore the names of both his father's wives is very interesting.  Purely speculating, but this indicates to me that William must have deeply grieved the loss of his first wife, Bridget.  I also wonder if Sarah had known Bridget.  She might have been honoring a friend by giving her son Bridget's name.

William Brown died in Mendon on May 2, 1868, at the home of his daughter, Mercy Brown Hodge.  He was 88 years old.  He is buried in Mendon Cemetery in a plot with his first wife, Bridget Palmer.  It is not known when Sarah died.  She was still living at the time of the 1860 census, but I can find no record of her after that.  I suspect she may have died before William, which is why Mercy was tending to her father in his infirmity.

A death notice for William Brown was published in the Buffalo Courier Journal on May 7, 1868.  It read: "Died at East Mendon, NY at residence of son-in-law Loton Hodges, esq, Dr. William Brown, age 88 yr, 1 month and 7 days, father of Mrs. Maria Davock of this city."



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.