Just One of Those MANY Brick Walls

Anyone researching their family history will have at least one “brick wall”, most will have more than one, like me.  I am sure I will be blogging in the future about those which I’m dealing with, but today I will start with one of my great-great-great grandfathers, on my maternal side.

My “brick wall” with this gentleman is that I have no idea who he might be.  My great-great-great grandmother, according to the records I have found, was Margaret McCabe.  She was born about 1835 in Ireland to Patrick McCabe and Ann Reilly.  I haven’t yet established where in Ireland they were from, but I suspect it might have been Co. Cavan.  I believe I found the passenger list indicating the arrival of Margaret and two siblings, on 21 Aug 1851 (today is their “anniversary”!!!)  The record indicates the three children were from Ireland and were “going to father”.  There is no indication they were traveling with their mother, and if they were traveling with a relative, it was probably with one (or more) who had a different last name.  Margaret’s traveling companions were her younger sister and brother, Catherine and James and their ages at the time correspond to the birth succession of the records I’ve found for Margaret’s known siblings.

Their father, Patrick, appears to have died not long after arriving in the U.S. I found two death records for Patrick McCabes in Newark in the early 1850s, but the information provided on death records at that time were scant, so I have no way of knowing whether either of these two were my Patrick McCabe.  I do know he had passed away by July of 1860 based on the U.S. census record of that year.

By the time of the 1860 U.S. Census, Margaret was already married, and living with she and her husband Christopher Lynagh and child, (also named Margaret), were her mother, Ann and a younger sister, Ellen, who was born after the family’s arrival in the U.S. (in November of 1853).  My great-great grandmother Margaret, was aged 4 at the time of this census, not much younger than her aunt, Ellen.  This was probably not uncommon at the time, when women were having babies over a twenty to thirty year period, often well into their 40s.

I located a marriage record for Margaret McCabe and Christopher Lynagh who were married in St. Patrick’s in Newark on May 24, 1860, so they hadn’t been married long when the 1860 census was enumerated.  This got me thinking, then, about their 4 year old daughter, Margaret.

I figured that either Margaret or Christopher had been married before.  This was also very common – a spouse would die young and particularly if there was a child, the surviving spouse would remarry not long after.  I had no idea, though, whose child Margaret was.  I couldn’t find a marriage record indicating that either Margaret or Christopher had been married before but I did come across a birth record for a Margaret “Ledo” online which recorded her baptism at St. James Church in Newark, NJ.  She was born Feb 18, 1856 and baptized the next day.  Her mother was listed as Margaret M., her father as James “Ledo”.  I put this on my list for further research for the next time I visited Seton Hall Archives.

At the Archives, I quickly found the actual baptism record in the parish register for St. James – it indicated that Margaret (the child) was born “illegitimate” to Margaret and a James whose last name is illegible (I do note that any transcriber of this record could possibly take the name as “Ledo”).  The record itself did not even establish the infant Margaret with a last name – she’s listed simply as “Margaret”.  The godmother was Anna McCabe. That answered the question, then, of whose child Margaret was, but added the question of who the mysterious James was.  To this day, I still have no clue who Margaret’s father was. I tried obtaining a birth record from the State Archives but they couldn’t find anything. On all the census records I find for Margaret (up until her marriage to my great-great grandfather, Michael McCann) she is listed as Margaret Lynagh, so Christopher did give her his name (I doubt she was legally adopted) and on her marriage record she lists her parents as Christopher  and Margaret, so I suppose in her eyes, Christopher was her father.

Below is a scanned image of the copy I printed from actual baptism record, from St. James Church Parish Register, Microfilm 1378069, Seton Hall Archives, Seton Hall Library, S. Orange, New Jersey.

margaret lynagh mccann baptism 1856 cropped_001

Many years ago, before I’d begun researching my family history on such a serious basis, I’d bought one of those Family Tree books that you fill in.  My uncle was able to help me with a lot, including providing the names of my 3x great-grandparents, Christopher and Margaret.  He told me that my grandmother (his mother) could recall Christopher showing up at their house on occasion, to see how everyone was doing (she was born in 1915, he died in 1919).  She always referred to Christopher as “that man”, as in “that man is here again” if she happened to go to the door.  As for Margaret McCabe, she died in 1879 so my grandmother and her siblings never knew her.  So despite not being Margaret’s father, Christopher still considered her family to be his family, remaining in contact even after his wife (Margaret’s birth mother) had died many years earlier, and after remarrying to a woman named Anna Connell, who also pre-deceased him.  Christopher owned at least two burial plots in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery and some of his first wife’s family and descendants were interred in these plots.

Strangely enough, Christopher Lynagh had a brother James.  I continue to wonder, could his brother possibly have been the father of Margaret?  In my years of research (and with the Lynaghs being one of the first families I started with), I’ve come across Lynagh spelled many different ways.  In the 1850 census, when Christopher was still a child and living with his family in Orange, NJ, it was spelled Liner.  In 1860, it was Sander.  In 1870 it was Linse and in subsequent years, Lince and Lena.  My guess is that the spelling was open to interpretation by the enumerator, so perhaps whoever was taking down the baptism information just tried to spell it as best they could.  In any case, this is just supposition.  I have no evidence that James was Margaret’s father, but it could be that Christopher perhaps felt obligated to Margaret and her family.  James married Catherine Newman a little over a month after Margaret’s birth (his second marriage) and died fairly young in 1866.  Although he had two sons, one by each wife, I have not found and descendants of either of them.  It’s possible I’ll never find out more, even with the addition of DNA testing.  I haven’t come across any strong matches to any Lynaghs anywhere, but it’s likely that some of those fairly strong matches that my kit, and the other kits I manage for family members, are descendants of my unknown great-great-great grandfather.

What the circumstances were of my great-great grandmother’s conception will always remain a mystery.  Many of us tend to think illegitimate births were rare back in the “old days” but they were quite common.  People had the same feelings then as they do now and many times there was a child born just a few months after a marriage.  Perhaps she was involved with someone and thought they’d be married.  Perhaps it was forced – rape was quite common back in those days also.  And the shame that any predicament which brought about an unplanned pregnancy to an unmarried female was great.  I imagine the four years that my great-great-great grandmother raised her daughter were probably not easy ones and perhaps a story was made up to ease the scrutiny – who knows?  And whether or not Christopher Lynagh knew of the true circumstances, again I’ll never know.  But in any case, I still consider him a part of my family.


DNA Matches….Confirmations and Even More Questions!

DNA testing has come a long way in recent years and can be an integral tool in family history research.  With patience and determination, one can gradually piece together at least some of one’s family tree.

I am not exaggerating with the patience part.  Going into the whole DNA testing thing (I did the basic autosomal test) I at first thought “Wow, this will answer a lot of my questions and probably solve some of my mysteries!”.  And while the results and resulting matches did confirm a few relationships that I had discovered via the “paper trail”, they also brought about many new questions and mysteries.

My ethnicity results were not far off from what I’d figured and been told over the years – 49% Ireland; 35% Great Britain; 7% Scandinavia; 4% Europe East; 3% Italy/Greece; 2% Iberian Peninsula and less than 1% Europe West.  I’d known of the Irish, obviously – this comes from both my mom’s side and my dad’s side.  Great Britain also – I have Scottish ancestry on both sides also and, very likely, some English.  At first I thought the Scandinavian might have come from Viking influence in Ireland and Scotland (and maybe it does) but then I found the possibility that one of my ancestors on my dad’s Dutch line may have come from Denmark.  This has not been confirmed as of yet.  The other influences are small percentages and may go back hundreds of years, so I don’t know that I’ll ever discover where those bits of ethnicity come from, as far as one individual is concerned.  It makes sense, though, that these ethnicity results indicate what they do based on both my research and paper trail, and on what information has been handed down through the family.  But when it comes to dealing with the list of many DNA matches provided by the service I used, things become just a little more complicated.

I’ve confirmed relationships with DNA testing on my maternal grandmother’s father’s side (Irish) and on my maternal grandfather’s mother’s side (Scottish) as well as on my paternal grandfather’s father’s side (Irish) and my paternal grandmother’s mother’s side (Dutch, Irish and possibly Scottish).  These matches that have confirmed some of my paper trail have been few and far between in comparison to the numbers of matches I have in my “pool”.  Many of my matches are estimated at 4-6th cousins and while this doesn’t sound like such a huge difference in generations, (as opposed to 5-8th cousins, of which I also have many matches), it can be very difficult for matches to find an established common ancestor at this level.  Not many people (at least amateur family historians like me) have information on family members further back than three or four generations.  For example, on my maternal grandmother’s father’s side, I can go back to my 3rd great-grandparents on most lines (McCann, McCabe, Dever – likely from Donegal and/or Derry, Ireland, settling in Newark, New Jersey) with the exception of my McDevitt line – likely from Donegal and/or Derry, Ireland and also settling in Newark), where I’ve gone back to my 4th great-grandparents.  I have confirmed a few DNA matches on this line.  On my maternal grandmother’s mother’s side, I pretty much can go back as far as my 4th great-grandparents on most lines (Templeton – settling in New Jersey, possibly in New York before that, and Scotland before that, O’Reilly – from Cavan, Ireland, settling in Albany, New York and Newark, New Jersey, McKenna – from Cavan, Ireland, also settling in Albany and Newark, Babcock – New York, New Jersey, Anthony – from Dublin, Ireland, later settling in Newark, New Jersey).  On this line I have confirmed DNA matches on my O’Reilly/McKenna line.  Then, on my maternal grandfather’s mother’s side I can trace back to my 4th (and very likely, 5th) great-grandparents, all of the Scottish line.  (MacIntosh, Cameron, Scott, Gray, Neilson, Brown and likely, Fisher – most from Glasgow, Scotland with descendants settling for the most part in New Jersey), with confirmed matches here, as well.  My maternal grandfather’s father’s side is one of my annoying “brick walls” – the Hudson line.  I can go back as far as what I believe to be my 3rd great-grandparents on my grandfather’s father’s father’s line and the only names I have been able to find are Hudson and Coates.  While my great-great grandfather, William Hudson’s marriage and death certificate name his mother as Mary (Coutes on his marriage record and Coates on his death certificate), his father is named as William A. on his marriage record, and Samuel on his death certificate.  In any case, I can’t find any marriage record for a Samuel Hudson to a Mary Coutes/Coates or a William Hudson to the same, nor can I find any possible family in the census records. Supposedly they were both born in New Jersey – no luck with birth or death records for either.  I’ve also tried locating a birth record for my great-great grandfather but no luck there.  (He was born likely between 1858 and 1862 in New Jersey).  Such a mystery!!  I probably have quite a few DNA matches in my “pool” for this line, but because I don’t have much more information on these people, I can’t make any connections.  My maternal grandfather’s father’s mother’s line has been just a bit easier to trace, especially considering  that is an Irish line (Finley/Finnelly, Cruise, Colgan/Coghlan – all from Co. Offaly, formerly Co. Kings, settling in the Staten Island area, as well as Rensselaer, New York area and later, Newark, New Jersey).  I have been able to go back as far as my 4th great-grandparents on that line.  Unfortunately I have not been able to locate any  confirmed DNA matches on the Finley/Cruise/Colgan line, either.

On my paternal grandfather’s side, also an Irish line, I’ve gone back only as far as my great-great grandparents on both his father’s side (Hamilton, Hayes – County Down, Ireland, settling in Orange, New Jersey) and his mother’s side (Conroy, Higgins, also settling in Orange, New Jersey).  I have confirmed at least one match on the Hamilton line and a potential one on the Higgins.  My paternal grandmother’s line also contains another “brick wall” of mine, the Perry line (her father’s line) – I can get no further along than my great-grandfather, William, born in New York (likely Brooklyn) about 1848.  Her mother’s line is the line I have had probably the most luck with, providing that the information I’ve been able to find is correct.  Because it goes back so far, it becomes difficult to locate records that can confirm some of the information that I’ve come across.  Her mother’s father’s line is the Blue/Blaw line which apparently is of Dutch origin (and before that possibly Danish)  and also includes some Irish and/or Scottish (Hullihen, Donaldson, Lane, that settled in Pennsylvania), as well as lines where I’ve not been able to trace back to a country of origin, except as for settling in Pennsylvania (Freeze, Huling). I have confirmed a couple of DNA matches for this line, also.  My paternal grandmother’s mother’s mother’s line (Hampton, Russell, possibly Riddle/Riddel) all seem to have settled in the Monmouth County, New Jersey area but I have not been able to determine a country of origin for any line here, either.

So, while there are many surnames and lines I can work with and expect DNA matches for, I’ve really only confirmed a handful of “new” relatives in comparison to the numbers of matches I have.  This is a bit daunting – so many people, but so little pertinent information.  While results from DNA testing can provide ample matches, again, it’s not much use unless one has at least some information to base a search for a common ancestor on.  And even then, one may be limited on how far back they can go based on any number of factors – incorrect information; family secrets (an adoption, say, or an out-of-wedlock birth); females marrying and losing track of that particular family surname; limited availability for certain records and family histories; surnames changing or evolving over time, for example.  The further I try to go back, the more difficult it becomes to find verifiable information.  But I have found that even when I get to a point where I figure there is nothing else I’ll be able to discover, something new pops up.  With more and more people taking these DNA tests, more and more matches are added to my “pool” and I would think the closer the match, the more likely to be successful in locating a common ancestor.  I recently connected with two people who match not only my kit results but those of my siblings, maternal uncle and daughter.  So, to me, that’s a fairly strong match. These two matches do not appear to be related to each other, so it doesn’t look like I’m working with the same lines for these people.  With my maternal uncle being linked to both matches it seems that both matches are on my mother’s side, probably going back at least four generations – the question is, who are the common ancestors?  I wouldn’t even know what lines to pursue though I believe to have limited them to either my Hudson and related lines, or my Templeton and related lines.  Both of these lines appear to have been in the U.S. for generations and there is so much I don’t know about either line.  And so, we continue to try to determine where our link is.

I don’t regret doing the DNA test, though, no matter how frustrating it may be at times not being able to expand the tree more, or confirm relationships, or correct discrepancies…..I have found it to be a worth-while tool in my research and I do believe, as they say…..”Time will tell!”

Some Ancestors and the Civil War

When I was younger, my maternal grandmother’s sister, my Aunt Marie, told me that her great-grandfather (my great-great-great grandfather), Michael McCann, joined the Union Army to fight in the Civil War very soon after he arrived from Ireland.  Once I started doing my research, I was able to confirm this information.  Aunt Marie was a fountain of knowledge and, in hindsight,  I wish I’d asked her so much more!

Although Aunt Marie made it sound like he got off the boat and immediately joined the Army, Michael had actually been in America for probably close to 15 years.  He was born about 1824 in Ireland and came to America in the late 1840s.  He enlisted on the 6 of January in 1864, into Co. A of the 8th Regiment, New Jersey Infantry, as a recruit, and was mustered in on the 11 of January.  Based on various military records I found for him, he also served in Co.’s B and F, via transfers.  Thanks to information available online, I found that during his service period, the 8th Regiment fought mainly in Virginia – places such as Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Mechanicsville, Cold Harbor, Atley’s Station, Petersburg, Deep Bottom, Hatcher’s Run and Farmville.  Michael was discharged on the 3 of May, 1865 at the U.S. Army General Hospital in Newark, New Jersey and mustered out on the 19 of August that same year.  Michael died on the 7 of March, 1882 and was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, East Orange, NJ.  Luckily, there is a government-issued headstone at the site of his grave, and I was lucky enough to stumble across it, purely by chance, a few years ago.  It’s barely legible anymore but on the day that I found it, the sun was shining in just a way that I could make out the writing.

Michael McCann d 1882 full

Another of my great-great-great grandfathers, again on my maternal grandmother’s side, John B. Templeton, also joined the Union Army.  Unlike the immigrant, Michael McCann, John was born in America, about 1830 – his family seems to have been settled here for some time, probably originally from Scotland.  John enlisted, and seems, also mustered in, on the 29 of May 1861, into Co. G of the 3rd Regiment, New Jersey Infantry, at Trenton, N.J. He was mustered out on the 23 of June, 1864, also in Trenton, N.J. and later resided in both the Soldiers’ Home in Kearny, N.J. and the Home for Disabled Soldiers, in Newark, N.J.  As per the U.S. Census of Union Veterans & Widows of the Civil War, 1890, John was residing at the Soldiers’ Home in Kearny and his disability incurred is listed as a gun shot to the left leg.  John died the 15 of May, 1895 and his grave in Fairmount Cemetery, Newark, N.J. is also marked with a government-issued headstone, though it is now in pieces.

John B Templeton Fairmount 2

John’s brother, Isaac F. Templeton, born about 1832, also served in the Union Army, enlisting on the 1 or 18 of September, 1862 (two different records list two different dates), into Co. E of the 25th Regiment, New Jersey Infantry.  There is a bit of a mystery to Isaac’s service, as I found mention of his deserting in January of 1863 in Virginia and later returning to his company on the 15 May 1863.  He left Norfolk, VA for trial as a deserter on the 4 of June, 1863 and apparently his final record is “unknown”.  This would have led to his execution should he have been found guilty, but I know this was not the case, as he died in Newark, N.J. on the 8 of September, 1886.  His widow, Catherine, was able to apply for his pension in 1890 and he was given a government-issued headstone to mark his grave.  He is also buried in Fairmount Cemetery in Newark, but upon asking for his grave location at the cemetery, I was told there is not a headstone.  So either that was lost to time, or it’s placement never came to fruition, though I have a copy of the Interment Control Form.

In looking into this mystery regarding Isaac and his desertion I came across a letter written by President Abraham Lincoln from “The Life of Abraham Lincoln” by Ida M. Tarbell, page 168

“War Department

Washington D.C.

June 25, 1863

General Peck, Suffolk, Va.,

Colonel Derrom, of the Twenty-fifth New Jersey Volunteers, now mustered out, says there is a man in your hands under conviction for desertion, who formerly belonged to the above named regiment, and whose name is Templeton, Isaac F. Templeton, I believe.  The colonel and others appeal to me for him.  Please telegraph to me what is the condition of the case, and if he has not been executed send me the record of the trial and conviction.

A. Lincoln”

So, I have no clue if President Lincoln’s intervention played a part in this, or if Isaac was simply just found “not guilty”.  I hope to one day find out more information on this matter.

Yet another of my ancestors on my maternal grandmother’s side, Patrick O’Reilly, also joined the Union Army.  Patrick was born in Ireland around 1840 and was a brother to my great-great-great grandmother, Mary O’Reilly.  He and his family arrived sometime in the late 1840s/early 1850s and settled in Albany, N.Y.   Patrick enlisted on the 31 of July, 1862 in Albany and was mustered in on the 18 of August that same year, as a private, in Co. G of the 7th Regiment, New York, Heavy Artillery.  (The 7th Regiment was formerly known as the 113th Infantry but on the 19 of December, 1862 its designation of regiment was changed to the 7th Artillery, apparently.)  Not much is known of Patrick other than what I found posted on the Find-A-Grave website: that he was promoted to the rank of Corporal on the 2 of May, 1864, and that he died in December of that same year of disease, while a Prisoner of War, in Salisbury Prison, Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina.   It seems he was captured on the 25 of August, 1864 at Ream’s Station, Virginia.  He is buried in Salisbury National Cemetery, in an “unknown” burial trench.  I also found an application for his pension with his mother, Catherine, as the applicant, dated the 28 of April, 1865.

Moving on to my father’s paternal side, my great-grandfather William Hamilton’s two older brothers, Robert and John, both born in Ireland, joined the Union Army.  I’ve written a previous blog about Robert, who enlisted in 1861 as a Corporal (having previous service in the Excelsior Brigade) in Orange, New Jersey, but serving in Co. E of the 71st Regiment of New York.  He was mustered out on the 18 of April, 1863, at Washington, D.C.  According to the pension files applied for by his widow, Alicia, Robert also served in Co. B of the 34th Regiment, N.J. Infantry and in Co.’s B and A of the 2nd Regiment, N.J. Cavalry.

John Hamilton, born 1842, enlisted on the 15 of May 1861 in Orange, New Jersey as a Private in Co. E of the 71st Regiment of New York, as well.  He was mustered in on the 21 of July, 1861 and mustered out on the 26 of February, 1862 at Camp Clear Creek, Virginia.  He was discharged due to disability and died a short time later, on 7 of May, 1862.  He was interred in St. John’s Cemetery, Orange, N.J., and it’s recorded that a government-issued headstone was provided for him, though I don’t know if this still exists.  I’ve been to St. John’s Cemetery only once and had no luck finding a headstone for him.

I am sure I will come across a few more ancestors who served in the Civil War and it’s always a learning experience for me trying to find out new information.

Robert Hamilton, my 2nd great-uncle

Since I spent a little bit of time on my maternal side with my first post, I’ll move along to my paternal side for this one.  My dad’s paternal line is the Hamilton line.  They came over from Ireland in the mid-1850s and I have yet to discover where in Ireland they were from.

Robert Hamilton and his wife, Ellen (nee Hayes) were my great-great grandparents. Though I am directly descended from their son, William Francis Hamilton, today I’m going to write about their oldest son, Robert.

Robert Jr. was born about 1838 in Ireland and arrived in America definitely before 1860.  I don’t know that the entire Hamilton family that emigrated came over together, as I do find that three of Robert and Ellen’s children arrived in 1855 so I would assume at least some of the family was in America prior to that.  In the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, (enumerated on the 20th of August), Robert Jr. lived with his parents and siblings in the Second Ward of Orange.  His occupation was listed as a hatter.

I found a record in the U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 that shows Robert enlisted on 10 May 1861 in Orange, New Jersey (state served: New York).  The record also shows that he enlisted in Co. E, NY 71st Infantry Regiment on 21 Jun 1861, rank at enlistment: Corporal.  He was mustered out on 18 Apr 1863 in Washington, D.C.  After those two years of service he was, I assume, drafted in 1863, and served for the state of New Jersey, because I came across draft registration information in the  U.S. Civil War Draft Registration Record (1863-1865, NJ, 4th, Vol 3 of 3), enumerated in June of 1863, with Robert living in Orange, occupation, a hatter.  It is noted in this record that he had former military service (2 years) in the Excelsior Brigade.   Pension records, upon application of his widow, Alicia O’Rourke, indicated he served in Co. B, 34t NJ Infantry, as well as Co.’s A & B, 2nd NJ Cav.

From the Acts of the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey, session of 1869, Chapter CCCV, in “An Act to Incorporate Saint Vincent’s Orphan Asylum”, a Robert Hamilton is listed among the group of men, which included the “Right Reverend James Roosevelt Bayley, D.D., Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Newark”, that made up this body.  While this could be a different Robert Hamilton, I feel that it was my 2nd great-uncle, as listed among this group is also a Martin Redington.  Martin Redington was one of the witnesses of the marriage of Robert and Alicia O’Rourke in 1871.  He was also from Ireland, and also lived in the Second Ward of Orange.   I don’t know that the concept of incorporating St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum ever came to fruition because I can’t find any other mention of it ever existing.

By 1870, Robert’s father had died and based on the U.S. Federal Census of that year, (enumerated on the 6th of July), Robert lived at home, still in the Second Ward of Orange, with his mother and his surviving siblings.  A few months earlier, based on a snippet that appeared in the Trenton State Gazette (Trenton, New Jersey, Wednesday, April 27, 1870 Vol. XXIV, Issue 100), Robert was appointed the Marshal of the Town of Orange, and his occupation is listed as such for this census record.  On January 1, 1871, Robert married Alicia O’Rourke in St. John’s Church in Orange, witnessed by Martin Redington and Mary Deegan and on January 9 of the following year, Robert and Alicia welcomed their first – and only – child, a daughter, Mary Ellen.

Robert appeared to be a busy and enterprising fellow and when I obtained a copy of his wife Alicia’s obituary (she died February 20th, 1920 in Orange, New Jersey), the write-up was entitled “Mrs. Robert Hamilton Dies; Was Widow of First Orange Marshal”.  So, not only was Robert appointed the Marshal of Orange, but he was the first!  I found several newspaper write-ups of “Marshal Hamilton” going about his police business.  In Dec 1871 he and Officer Conroy arrested a man in Newark, and brought him to Orange after a woman in Orange went to the Overseer of the Poor, looking for aid for herself and her children.  This man was father to one of the children and once the Overseer made a complaint against this man, he was found and arrested.  The article noted that the man and woman were to be married the following week – I wonder if that was ordered??  I also found the following, taken from a website that archives old newspapers.  It is from the Centinel of Freedom (Newark, NJ), Tuesday, August 9, 1870, Vol. LXXIV:

MArshal Robert hamilton breech of promise

Less than two years after his appointment as Marshal, Robert died on November 28, 1872 at about the age of 34 – still relatively a young man, even for those days.  He was buried on December 1, 1872 in St. John’s Cemetery in Orange, New Jersey.  I have a copy of his will, probated December 18, 1872, copy of text posted below.  Little else is known of him, a short life but, apparently, an accomplished life.  I hope to one day find out more about this “First Marshal” of Orange.

Will of Robert Hamilton:

“Essex County, Robert Hamilton Dec’d, filed and proved December 18, 1872, Recorded in Book S of Wills for Essex County, on page 33, Geo. D. G. Moore, Surrogate

In the name of God, Amen.  I, Robert Hamilton, of the City of Orange in the County of Essex and State of New Jersey, being of sound mind, memory and understanding, do hereby make, publish and declare this to be my last will and testament in manner following to wit.

First, I order all my just debts and funeral expenses to be paid and satisfied as soon as conveniently can be after my decease.

Second, I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Alicia all my househould goods and furniture together with any monies belonging to me at the time of my decease.

Third, I give and bequeath unto my three brothers William F., Christopher J., and John C. all of my wearing apparel, to be divided among them equally, as my Executrix may direct.

Fourth, I give and devise unto my said wife, Alicia, my house and lot in New Street, in the City of Orange, to have and to hold the same for and during the natural life of my mother Ellen Hamilton, and to permit my mother to use and occupy the rooms now occupied by her, free from rent or incumbrance, during her natural life; in case my mother should remove from said rooms and reside in another house, then I order and direct the said rooms to be rented and the rent paid over to my said mother.

In case said house should be destroyed by fire, or otherwise, and the Insurance Company should neglect or refuse to rebuild, or repair the same, I order and direct that the said lands be sold by my Executrix hereinafter named, in such manner as she shall see fit, and the proceeds of such sale be divided as follows, viz the sum of Two Hundred Dollars be paid to my said mother, for her use forever, and that the sum of Eight Hundred Dollars be deposited by my Executrix in some good Savings Bank or Institution, in the County of Essex, in trust for my daughter Mary Ellen, to be paid to her, principal and interest, when she shall arrive at the age of Eighteen years.

Fifth, In the event of the marriage of my said wife, after my decease, whether said house shall remain standing, or not, I order and direct the said real Estate to be sold and the proceeds thereof to be divided as aforesaid between my said daughter and mother.

Sixth, In the event of the sale of my real Estate, in either of the cases above mentioned, for more than the amounts bequeathed to my mother and daughter, I hereby order and direct that the surplus over and above said amounts shall be had and received by my said wife to have and to hold the same to her, her heirs and assigns forever.

Seventh, Until the sale of said real Estate as aforesaid, I order and direct that my said wife shall receive the rents, issues and profits thereof, except the rooms to be occupied by my mother.

Eighth, In case my said daughter should die before arriving at the age of Eighteen years and the said sum of Eight Hundred Dollars shall have been deposited for her as aforesaid, then I order and direct that the same with all interest accrued thereon be divided equally between my said mother and wife, if both be living, and if either shall have deceased, the whole to be paid to the survivor.

Ninth, After the decease of my said mother I give and bequeath my said real Estate to my wife Alicia, if she remain unmarried, for and during her natural life, or as long as she shall remain single, to receive the rents, issues and profits thereof, to her own use and at her decease I give and devise the same to my said daughter, her heirs and assigns forever provided always that the same may be sold as above provided for in he Events mentioned.

Tenth, In case of the decease of my said daughter during the lifetime of her mother, and the death of my said wife before the said real Estate shall have been sold as above provided, then I give and devise the same to my sister Margaret A. and my brothers William F., James Christopher and John C. or the survivor or survivors of them, share and share alike, to have and to hold the same, to them their heirs and assigns forever.

Eleventh, In case the said real Estate shall be sold, as aforesaid, during the lifetime of my said Executrix, I hereby authorize and empower her to execute a good and sufficient deed or deeds of conveyance for the same.

Twelfth, I hereby nominate, constitute and appoint my said wife Alicia, as and to be the Executrix of this my last will and testament and guardian of my daughter during her minority.

In Witness, Whereof, I have hereto set my hand and seal this twenty-second day of October A.D. Eighteen hundred and seventy-two.  Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said Robert Hamilton as and to be his last will and testament in the presence of us who were present at the same time and subscribed our names as witnesses at his request..Geo P. Kingsley (signed) and Patrick Conroy (signed).  Document signed by Robert Hamilton.

Essex County, ss. Patrick Conroy One of the witnesses to the annexed writing, purporting to be the last Will and Testament of Robert Hamilton the Testator therein named, deceased, being duly sworn on his oath says that he saw the said Testator sign and seal the said annexed writing, and heard him publish, pronounce and declare the same as said for his last Will and Testament That at the time of the doing thereof the said Testator was of sound disposing mind, memory and understanding, as far as this deposant knows, and as he verily believes that George P. Kingsley the other subscribing witness thereto was present at the same time with this deposant and together with him subscribed his name thereto as a witness in the presence of the Testator and of each other, at the request of the Testator and that said Testator died more than ten days ago.  Sworn December 18, 1872 before me, Geo. D.G. Moore, Surrogate, signed by Patrick Conroy.

Essex County, ss. Alicia Hamilton The Executrix in the annexed writing named being duly sworn on her oath doth say, the annexed writing contains the true last Will and Testament of Robert Hamilton, the Testator therein named, deceased, as far as she know and as she verily believes; that she will, as the Executrix thereof, well and truly perform the same, first by paying the debts of said deceased, and then the legacies therein specified, as far as the Goods, Chattels and Credits of said deceased will thereunto extend, and the law charge him; that she will make and exhibit into the Surrogate’s Office, of the County of Essex, a true and perfect Inventory of all and singular the said Goods, Chattels and Credits, as far as the same hav eor shall come to her possession or knowledge, or to the possession of any other person or persons to her use, to her knowledge And that she will well and truly account when thereunto lawfully required.  And that said Testator died on the 28th day of November last.  Sworn December 18, 1871 before me, Geo. D.G. Moore, Surrogate, signed by Alicia Hamilton.”



Where to Begin? How about church…

There are so many points I can choose to begin with and I’ve pondered for days how to start this blog.  I figured, finally, the best way is just to choose a random topic and BEGIN!  I’ll start with a little bit of information on my family and some of the parishes in Newark, New Jersey that they attended.  Many of my Irish ancestors settled in Newark after arriving from Ireland, and this is where much of my research is directed.  My maternal grandmother’s Irish lines include McCann, McDevitt, Dever, McCabe, O’Reilly and McKenna ancestors and most seemed to settle in the same neighborhoods – the 7th and 11th wards of Newark, some in the East ward (Ironbound section) – but were not limited to those areas, of course. So, some of the parishes they attended in these neighborhoods included St. John’s; St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral; St. Joseph’s; and St. James.  I have acquired some marriage and baptism records/information pertaining to my family (and their neighbors!), the majority of which are from these parishes.   Hopefully I can help some others also researching their families and these parishes.

St. John’s still stands along McCarter Highway and runs a Soup Kitchen.  I visited there a few years ago, for a Thanksgiving Mass and took a small tour of the premises. It is an old parish, the first Catholic parish established in Newark, in 1826.  I don’t believe it is an “active” parish in that there are no longer daily masses.  My great-great-great grandparents, Michael McCann and Sarah McDevitt, were married there on 29 Jun 1850.  Below is a picture of St. John’s that I took when I had the chance to visit.


My great-great-great grandparents, Augustine Anthony and Mary O’Reilly were married in St. Patrick’s on 12 Feb 1851.  This church is still standing and active and I’ve attended Mass there quite a few times.  It’s a lovely church, located in the “downtown” section of Newark.  I especially love the stained-glass windows, and the general old-time atmosphere that the church, to me, still has. Although the building that was once St. Joseph’s still stands, the parish itself closed some time ago.  For years it was a restaurant, and still may be.  It has been awhile since I’ve ventured that way and will, hopefully, one day take a ride and see what’s what!  My great-grandparents, yet another Michael McCann and Anna Templeton were married there on 12 Aug 1901.  St. James, the church that once stood on the corner of Jefferson and Lafayette Streets in the Ironbound (East Ward) section of Newark, has been gone for years and there now stands a parking garage on the grounds.  The church moved into the school building and I believe it may still be active.  My great-great grandmother, Margaret Lynagh (of the McCabe line) was baptized in that church on 19 Feb 1856 and she and my great-great grandfather, another Michael McCann, were married there on 22 Sep 1872.  Funnily enough, for years, I’ve worked right down the street from where the church building once stood and only found out that information once I started working on my family history.

These are just a few of the Newark parishes that were a part of my family’s history. As I venture further into my research, and into blogging, I hope to share more of what I find.