The year was 1900 and the residents of the Mott Haven community in North New York City were preparing for the 12th Census of the US. The area was quite different than it is today.
Now, over 110 years later, what did neighbors know about their family connections? The answer to the question is obscure because of the years, but researching documents of the era can provide some insight in how close together extended families lived, even if they did not know each other.
This has become evident in recent days as I have searched for the descendents of George Oder Quin. George was the Parish clerk for the Church of Ireland in Ballymackey in County Tipperary. His daughter, Mary Ann, married Michael Hannigan of Ballinvana, County Limerick in 1864. Michael’s brother, Patrick, was his best man. If other family members were at the ceremony, we don’t know.
Research indicates that shortly after getting married, the three of them (Mary, Michael and Patrick) headed to Liverpool to begin the long journey on the ship John Clarke across the Atlantic Ocean for New York City and a new life. Mary delivered their only son while on the ship in late June and upon arriving in early August, they made their way to North New York City and Westchester County. Both Patrick and Michael are listed in the 1870 US Census for living in Westchester County. Michael is also listed in the second enumeration of the 1870 US Census for New York City (Manhattan).
Patrick settled in the Morrisana area and began to raise his family which remained in that area until the mid-1920 when his son retired from the FDNY and moved to Massachusetts. Michael moved to Manhattan to raise his only son. And a third brother, John, who arrived in the 1870s be work as a grocer in Manhattan. Michael eventually moved his family to Staten Island.
But Mary (Michael’s wife) had six siblings and five of them left the green homeland of Ireland for New York City at different times.
Which brings me back to the 1900 US Census. Patrick’s widow was living on 3rd Avenue in the Mott Haven area for the enumeration. And a short distance away lived the family of Mary’s sister, Eliza Quin Jackson on Willis Avenue. Just a couple of block over and several blocks down the street, but did they know each other. They might have attended the same church, St. Jerome’s Roman Catholic Church on Alexander Avenue was a common parish for the Irish immigrants.
The more research which gets done, the more questions that can be asked. The records show where the families live, but did they know each other and did they settle in the region because of family members. We will never know.