Monday, August 4, 2014

Albert Patrick Barrett

Albert Patrick Barrett

Albert Patrick Barrett was my second great-grandfather, the husband of my second great-grandmother, Nellie Barrett.

Albert was born on February 19, 1870 in Mount Savage, Maryland.  His paternal grandparents, Anthony Barrett and Ellen Lavelle, were Irish immigrants who settled in Mount Savage in the 1830s.  Albert's given name may have been Alloysus, as he is identified on the 1880 census, but he appears to have only gone by the more conventional Albert.

Sometime between 1880 and 1893, Albert moved to Illinois.  It seems that he made this move alone.  His parents and siblings remained in Maryland.  In Illinois, he met Helen Cecilia "Nellie" O'Hare, who had been born and raised in Williamson County.  They married in Belleville, Illinois on October 18, 1893.  Their first child, my great-grandmother Julia Ellen Barrett, was born a year later.

Albert's father, Patrick Barrett, had worked on the railroad in Maryland, and there's some possibility that Albert may have followed the railroad west to Illinois.  However, in 1900, 25-year old Albert was working as a coal miner.

Here is some information about coal mining in the Belleville, Illinois area:

An immense deposit (400,000 acres) of bituminous coal was found in St. Clair County. By 1874, some farmers had become coal miners. One hundred shaft mines were in operation in and around Belleville. The coal brought the steam railroad to town, which allowed for the transport of many tons of coal to be shipped daily from Belleville to St. Louis. Later, Belleville would have the first electric trolley in the state. (Wikipedia)

The 1900 census tells us that Albert and Nellie were living in nearby O'Fallon, Illinois with their daughters Julia and Magdalene in 1900.  Also living with them was Nellie's widowed father, Michael "Mike" O'Hare.  Just a few short months later, a new baby would join the household.  Albert's eldest son, Stephen James Barrett, was born on August 27, 1900.

In total, Albert and Nellie had five children:

Julia Ellen Barrett (1894-1941)
Martha Magdalene Barrett (1897-1970)
Stephen James Barrett (1900-1949)
Charles William Barrett  (1903-1975)
Bernard Theodore Barrett (1906-1990)

In late 1906, Albert moved his family to Bakerton, Pennsylvania. His sister, Ellen Barrett Evans, had been widowed there and Albert moved his family to assist her. Albert and his sister Ellen were close.  He had named his daughter Julia Ellen in her honor. Ellen had been married to William Evans, and together they had six children. William died suddenly of typhoid fever on September 22, 1906, at the age of 34.  When her husband died, Ellen's children were still very small.  Madeline, their youngest, was born the year of her father's death. William and Ellen had run an inn together, and after William’s death, Ellen struggled to keep the business afloat and make ends meet. Her brother, Albert, came to assist.  Between Albert and Ellen's families, there were eleven young mouths to feed.

The Barrett family lived in Bakerton, a small, gritty coal mining town in Cambria County, for the next four years.  Albert is listed on the 1910 census as the proprietor of a public house, so it appears that he had some success in helping his sister Ellen keep the business alive.  Unfortunately, Albert's health deteriorated during his years in Pennsylvania. He may have been drinking before the move, but apparently this tendency grew steadily worse between 1906 and 1910. Whether this was simply Albert's predisposition, or perhaps exacerbated by the stress of running a business and the convenience of a bar in his workplace, we cannot know.

Albert died on May 6, 1910 in Carroll, Pennsylvania.  The cause of death listed on his death certificate is acute alcoholism, with a contributing factor of meningitis. He'd been suffering from meningitis for four days prior to his death at age 40.  His wife Nellie and their five children all survived him.

After Albert's death, Nellie moved her family to Los Angeles, California.  Her health had also suffered during the years in Pennsylvania.  Nellie had severe asthma, and doctors suggested a warm, dry climate free of coal dust might improve her condition. 

Albert's sister Ellen managed to eke out a living without her brother.  She took in lodgers to pay the bills.  In 1920, according to the census, she had four steel mill workers living under her roof, along with the younger four of her six children. She did not remarry.

Albert lived a short life filled with hard labor and tough circumstances, but his line continues with his many descendants.

1 comment:

  1. I know that at least one of the sons was also an alcoholic. My great-aunt Magdalene was very fond of Lucky Lager beer, although I don't think it rose to the level of alcoholism. As children we certainly noticed the boxes of empties on her back porch.