Monday, August 11, 2014

Patrick Barrett and Catherine Reynolds

Patrick Barrett and Catherine Reynolds were my third great-grandparents.  They were the parents of Albert Patrick Barrett, whom I recently profiled on this blog.

Patrick Barrett was born in 1841 or 1842 in Mount Savage, Maryland.  He would remain in Mount Savage his entire life, working on the railroad and raising his own family there.  He was the the eldest son of Anthony Barrett and Ellen Lavelle, and the second of their eight children.  His parents, Anthony and Ellen, were both immigrants from Ireland who settled in Mount Savage in the 1830s due to its abundance of mining opportunities and large Irish immigrant community.  

A modern day view of Mount Savage (source)

Catherine Reynolds was born about 1841 in Maryland, likely in Mount Savage.  She was the daughter of Francis Reynolds and Catherine O'Toole.  Her parents were both Irish immigrants and her father, too, worked in the mines in Mount Savage.

Industry in Mount Savage

In the mid-1800s, men in Mount Savage were primarily employed as miners, metal workers and railroad employees.  The Mount Savage Historical Society's website provides a glimpse of what the town was like at the time that the Barrett and Reynolds families were living there.

The region developed agriculturally at first and the farm community was practically self-sufficient. Iron ore and coal discoveries, however, along with the proximity of transport routes dictated Mt. Savage’s future. As English and Scotch entrepreneurs passed through the area, they saw not only the beauty of the area, but also that these beautiful mountains were invaluable in mineral wealth.

Soon the English, under the leadership of Benjamin Howell, established the Maryland and New York Iron and Coal Company. In 1839 beginning with the construction of two iron furnaces. Production was begun and eventually a railroad was built which connected Mt. Savage to Cumberland and distant domestic markets through tidewater ports. To supply the blast furnaces of the iron works, coal mines also were opened in the Mt. Savage area. In 1844, the first solid-track iron railroad rail produced in the United States was rolled here. Before that, all iron rails were imported from England.

The Iron Works Company brought hundreds of primarily Irish workers here in the 1830’s and 40’s and built twenty-two three-story houses along Old Row to accommodate the families. Other ethnic groups were also well represented as the town and industries grew. 

In 1853, Mt Savage was the heart of the area railroad operation. Here were located the locomotive repair shops, roundhouse and shops for building and rebuilding railroad cars and engines. Besides the industrial output of the shops, hundreds of young men were trained in a variety of trades related to the railroad industry. Most of the railway and maintenance crews lived in town.

Illustration of a railroad brakeman (source)

Rather than working in the mines like his father and his brothers, Patrick took a job with the railroad.  The 1870 census tells us that he was employed as a brakeman at that time.  The B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore provides this information about the job of brakeman:

One of the most dangerous jobs on the early railroads was that of brakeman. It was not a job for the faint of heart. It required strength and coordination, not to mention courage. The brakeman had to climb to the roof of the railcar and turn the wheel that engaged the brakes on each car. The air brake was invented in 1869, but not widely used because it was deemed too expensive. It was not until the 1880’s when railroads finally began widespread use of air brakes that the job became less hazardous. (source)
In 1880, the census indicates that Patrick was a conductor, so he'd advanced in his career in the past decade.  A conductor would have been in charge of his train, managing other crew members and making sure it ran on time.

The Marriage of Patrick Barrett and Catherine Reynolds

Patrick and Catherine were married on March 11, 1866 at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Mount Savage.

Marriage registration for Patrick Barrett and Catherine Reynolds

The witnesses to their wedding were John Lavelle, John Sheridan and Mary Reynolds.  The service was officiated by Rev. Richard Brown.  Mary Reynolds was likely Catherine's elder sister, one of her six siblings.  John Lavelle would have been Patrick's maternal uncle or cousin.  I'm not sure what relation John Sheridan had to the bride and groom.  He may have been a family member or just a friend.  Richard Brown, who officiated at Patrick and Catherine's wedding, was an influential religious leader in Mount Savage.  He oversaw the building of St. Patrick's Church in the 1860s. The church still stands today.

St. Patrick's Church in Mount Savage

The Barrett Family

Together, Patrick and Catherine Barrett had eight children:
  1. John Barrett
  2. James Barrett
  3. Ellen Barrett
  4. Albert Patrick Barrett
  5. Anthony Barrett
  6. Mary Barrett
  7. Julia Barrett
  8. Catherine Barrett
John and James Barrett were twins, born on April 22, 1866, just a month after their parents' marriage, if you believe the dates provided by the church.  As you'll see below in regards to the birth dates of the other Barrett children, there may be some cause to question the dates noted in parish records.  James and John were baptized at St. Patrick's Church on April 25th.   The baptismal sponsors for  James were John Sheridan (likely the same who was a witness at the Barrett-Reynolds wedding) and Bridget Monihan.  The sponsors for John were Anthony Reily and Mary Barrett.

The baptism of James and John Barrett

Ellen Barrett was born on October 21, 1869, according to parish records, and baptized at St. Patrick's Church on October 24th.  Her baptismal sponsors were James Reynolds and Bridget Barrett.  Ellen married William H. Evans.  They ran an inn in the mining town of Bakerton, Pennsylvania, as detailed in my earlier post about Albert Patrick Barrett.

The baptism of Ellen Barrett

Albert Patrick Barrett, my second great grandfather, was born on February 19, 1870.  At least, that's what his death certificate tells us.  Obviously, he could not have been born just four months after the birth of his sister Ellen.  Census records clearly indicate that Ellen was older than Albert, and that Albert was older than his brother Anthony, born in 1870 or 1871.  The exact dates are uncertain, however.  These three siblings were very close in age, which may explain the close relationship they seemed to share.  My guess is that Ellen was born in 1869, Albert in 1870 and Anthony in 1871, but that their birth dates were recorded incorrectly at St. Patrick's Church.

Albert Patrick Barrett's death certificate

Anthony Barrett's baptismal record states that he was born on September 24, 1870.  Again, this date is confusing given the birth dates of his siblings Ellen and Albert.  Anthony married a woman named Ida and they had nine children between 1902 and 1918.  Like his grandfathers and his brother Albert, Anthony was a coal miner.

I know very little about the three youngest Barrett children, Mary, Julia and Catherine.  They were all born in Mount Savage; Mary in about 1873, Julia in about 1876 and Catherine in November 1878.

Catherine "Katie" Barrett is found living with her paternal aunt, Bridget Barrett Barnard on the 1900 census, in Cumberland, Maryland.  At that time, she was working as a clerk.  I have no marriage or death records for Katie or her sisters Mary and Julia at this time.

[update]: Since my initial post, I have been given more information about Mary Barrett from one of her descendants. Mary was born in 1873 in Mt. Savage. In 1896 she had a daughter, Margaret with William Taylor, to whom she was not married. William Taylor later married Mary's younger sister, Catherine Barrett. In about 1898, Mary wed Charles Albert Morrissey, who adopted Margaret. Together, they had six more children, Henry, Joseph, Charles, Beatrice, Bernard and Vincent. Charles had worked on the railroad in his younger years, but as a married man, he and his wife owned and operated a pub and billiard hall. Mary's oldest child, Margaret, survived all her siblings and became a well-known nurse in Allegany County, dedicated to serving the poor. Mary Barrett Morrissey died in 1944 in Cumberland, Maryland.

The Deaths of Catherine and Patrick Barrett

Catherine Reynolds Barrett died before the 1880 census was taken on June 19, 1880.  She was in her late 30s.  Her youngest child, also Catherine, would have been younger than age two at the time of her death.  Her husband, Patrick, is listed on the 1880 census as a widower, with all eight children still in his household.

Patrick Barrett died on February 3, 1903 in Mount Savage.  While he survived Catherine by more than two decades, it appears he did not remarry. 


  1. Erin,
    My Grandmother is Mary Barrett one of the daughters. I can fill you in on this side of the family if you are interested. Very great to find such a detailed story on my great grand parents. I would love to talk to you more about our family. We would be distant cousins! My email is

  2. Erin,
    My Grandmother is Mary Barrett one of the daughters. I can fill you in on this side of the family if you are interested. Very great to find such a detailed story on my great grand parents. I would love to talk to you more about our family. We would be distant cousins! My email is

  3. I am George A. Taylor,Jr, the 70-year old grandson of William and Katie (Barrett) Taylor. My father, George A. Taylor, born 2-12-1919, was their youngest child. He married Hazel Willetts of Midlothian in 1939, and they were happily married for over 66 years until his death in 2005. feel free to contact me at Thanks vety much for providing this info.