Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Where are you Thomas Roche?

In the last blog, we saw that Johanna Brown and Thomas Roche/Roach were married at St. Patrick’s Church in Janesville, Wisconsin in December 1857.  Johanna was sixteen when she
1870 U.S. Census - (click to enlarge)
married.  Thomas, born about 1838 according to census records, was near 20.  One daughter, Emma, was born while they lived in Wisconsin and was baptized December 20, 18591.  We also saw that they moved to Chicago by June 1860, when the U.S. Census2 was taken, and were living with a sister of Johanna, Mary Brown Gray and her family at 258 Wolcott in the north section of Chicago.  The 1870 U.S. Census3 shows Thomas, Johanna and two children, James and George (George David), living in the 9th Ward west of the Chicago River.  (More information about James and George will be given in a future post.)  William Roach was also living with Thomas and Johanna in the 1870 U.S. Census.  William is identified elsewhere with Thomas and is believed to be a close relative.

Chicago addresses - (click to enlarge)
Very few records give Thomas’ occupation.  Most sources show him as a laborer.   The 1860 U.S. Census identifies him as a “waiter.”   He was shown in the 1870s Chicago City Directories as either a teamster, or a porter for the Ft. Wayne & Cr Railroad.  Whatever Thomas’s occupation, the Roach family moved very frequently – nearly every year.  Whether they moved to be near work, or because of fluctuating family fortunes, they always lived near or at the same address as other family members; most often the Brown family; but, at times, with William Roche/Roach.  See the list of addresses below and a map, right, identifying the location by year4.

As we learned in the last blog, Johanna died May 29, 18725 leaving Thomas to care for his two young sons.  She was buried in Calvary Cemetery along with four children.  (Refer to the last post, I Remember Mama, for more information about Johanna’s death.) 
Chicago - Calvary Cemetery Records - Lot N17
(click to enlarge)
From the cemetery records (see left), we know that Thomas died in March 1875 and was buried in Calvary Cemetery with his family6.  His death was not indexed in the list of Chicago Burial Permits7.  Besides his date of burial, nothing was known about his
Chicago Coroner's Report - March 9, 1875
(click to enlarge)
death until a last ditch effort uncovered a news article in the March 9th issue of the Chicago Tribune8.  (See news article below left)  Thomas Roche died suddenly at his home at 115 North Jefferson St.; but it was not until two days later that the coroner was called to make a report9.  (See coroner’s report right and footnotes.)  Both the newspaper and the Coroner’s report give the cause of death as “inflammation of the
Chicago Tribune - March 9, 1875
(click to enlarge)
brain.”  Today, we would associate that term with meningitis or encephalitis; however, in the 1870s, in a less sophisticated environment, it was used as a “catch-all” phrase when no other cause of death was apparent.  Since his death was sudden, the more likely cause was a heart attack or stroke.  Witnesses at the Coroner’s Inquest were Annie Roach of the same address, and William Roach of 592 South Morgan St., probably the same William who was living with Thomas and Johanna in 1870.     

Family history says that Thomas came from the same area as his wife, Johanna, in County Limerick.  Because so many names, surnames as well as first names, are the same, it is difficult to uncover a baptismal record for an individual without the names of both parents and, at least, one sibling.  Since William Roach was associated with Thomas at various times, speculation is that William10 is a brother, or at the very minimum, a close cousin.  Because “Annie” was a witness on the coroner’s report, could she also be a sibling of Thomas? 

A search in County Limerick did indeed uncover a January 1838 baptism for Thomas Roche in Patrickswell and Ballybrown church records11, the same parish where Johanna and all of the Browne siblings were baptized, as well as a July 1850 baptism for Anna.  The parents for both baptisms were David and Maria Roche.  No record was found for William; but, as we recall from the Browne family, not all baptisms were recorded.  (See previous post on Instant Gratification.)  However, William’s death certificate gave his father’s name as “Patrick,” and no other baptism was found in Limerick with this criteria.

The Roche/Roach surname is common throughout Ireland with Wexford and Cork recording the highest numbers.  County Wexford did not turn up any promising records; however, there are several possibilities in Cork, all within the parishes of either Glanworth and Ballindangan or Castletownroche12.  The only William with an April baptismal record is in the parish of Glanworth and Ballindangan.  There are a total of six children in this family including William, baptized April 1848, Thomas, baptized August 1838, and Honora13, baptized August 1858.  Additionally, Buckley and Prendivill families are listed in this parish.  (Recall that families with these surnames are buried in the same plot in Calvary Cemetery as Johanna and Thomas Roche/Roach.  See an image of the cemetery card above.)  However, the parents are listed as David Roche and Joanna Hanly
Catholic Parishes in parts of Counties Limerick and Cork
Green = Patrickswell and Ballybrown;
Purple = Glanworth and Ballindangan;
Blue = Castletownroche
Map from National Library Ireland
(click to enlarge) 
– not Patrick as indicated on William’s death record.  Another family in Glanworth and Ballindangan also show baptisms for Thomas (December 1839) and Joanna (1841).  The parents are listed as Patrick Roche and Ellen Keeffe.  No record for William was found with this family. 

The parish of Castletownroche did have additional records for William where the father was listed as “Patrick.”  One record was for William, son of Patrick and Bridget Roche, baptized in July 1847.  Another record for William, baptized January 1847, gave the name of the parents as Patrick Roche and Elizabeth Connor.  The baptismal sponsor for another child in this family was Ellen Hannigan.  Recall from the last blog that a witness at the wedding of Johanna and Thomas in 1855 was Jacobus Hannigan. No records were located in Castletownroche for Thomas.  Could William in Castletownroche actually be a cousin of Thomas in Glanworth and Ballindangan?  Or, although they are living in different townlands, could Patrick Roche have married a second time to Elizabeth Connor after the death of his first wife, Ellen Keefe14?  

One final thought about Annie Roach listed as a witness in the Coroner’s Report.  We have learned in looking for a place of origin in Ireland for Thomas Roche/Roach that Annie is an alternative name for Hannah.  Could “Annie” actually be Hannah Kelly Brown, the matriarch of our Brown family15?    Another mystery to ponder!

In the next blog, we will look at the children of Thomas and Johanna, James and George David. 

1.        Marriage and Baptism records from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Janesville, Rock County, Wisconsin. 

2.        Year: 1860; Census Place: Chicago Ward 8, Cook, Illinois; Roll: M653_168; Page: 114; Family History Library Film: 803168

3.       Year: 1870; Census Place: Chicago Ward 9, Cook, Illinois; Roll: M593_204; Page: 33B; Family History Library Film: 545703

4.       Addresses were obtained from the 1860 U.S. Census, 1860 to 1875 Chicago City Directories available on, and death records for Johanna, (Indexes to deaths in the city of Chicago during the years 1871 to 1933, FHL film 1295973 [Burial Permits]), and Thomas Roach, (1875 Coroner’s Report).  At times, more than one Thomas Roach is shown in the directories.  Entries for other family members, including William Roach, were used to determine the address for Thomas and his family.

5.       Report of Death, Vital Statistics Department, County Clerk’s Office, State of Illinois, Cook County, Registration Number A-143-29, May 27, 1872, Johanna Roach

6.       Thomas and his family are buried in Calvary Cemetery in Lot N17, Block 6, Section U.  The plot was purchased by Thomas May 31, 1872, the day Johanna was buried, and consists of three graves measuring eight foot by ten foot in total.  At least fifteen burials are shown in the plot- eight adults and seven children.  Until 1899, only Thomas, Johanna, and six children are shown in the three graves.  Staff at the cemetery indicate that it was quite common for multiple individuals to be buried in the same grave.  From cemetery records, death records and obituaries, we can identify the other individuals buried with Thomas and Johanna.  Thomas’ close relative, William Roach, and William’s wife, Mary Ann, are buried in the plot.  Mary Ann’s maiden name was Downey.  The other individuals in the plot are relatives of Mary Ann Downey Roach.

7.       Op. Cit.  Indexes to deaths in the city of Chicago . . .

8.       Chicago Tribune, The City, General News, March 9, 1875, p 8, column 1, paragraph 4.

9.       Illinois Regional Archives Depository System, Northeastern Illinois University, Coroner’s Inquest Record Index, 1872-1911, Thomas Roach, Volume 1, page 588, date filed 8 Mar 1875, date of death 6 Mar 1875.  The final report did not indicate why there was a delay in contacting the Coroner’s office.  The news article suggests the occupants of the house tried to suppress the incident and that Thomas was deceased for two days before a coroner’s report was made – a rather distressing thought.  A conversation with Paul at the Northeastern IRAD office suggests that not too much trust should be placed in the news article.  The purpose of any article in the newspaper was to sell newspapers and the circumstances could have been exaggerated.  Perhaps a simpler explanation can be found.  If Thomas was alone at the time of his death, whoever found Thomas may have thought he was sleeping.  Not wanting to disturb him, the doctor was not summoned immediately.  Once the doctor finally arrived, which could have taken some period of time, the doctor could not sign a death certificate since he had not attended Thomas before his death.  There was probably a further delay for someone from the coroner’s office to arrive, especially since there was no sign of foul play.  Two days may not have been unusual in these circumstances.    

10.   William’s year of birth is given on various records as anywhere between 1840 and 1850.  His death certificate identifies his birth about 1849.  The 1870 U.S. Census shows his birth year as 1845; 1880 shows 1840.  The 1900 U.S.  Census shows his birth as April 1850 and his immigration as 1860; 1910 shows his birth as 1850 and immigration as 1865.  The 1920 U.S. Census show a birth year of 1845. 

11.   Irish Catholic baptismal records are available through the National Library at:  The records for Patrickswell and Ballybrown are under the parish of “Lurriga.”  Records for all parishes can be obtained by clicking on the appropriate county on the map shown on the website and selecting the appropriate parish to view a microfilm of that parish on line.  Indexes with links to images of parish records are available at no cost at:  

12.   The parishes of Glanworth and Ballindangan and Castletownroche are located adjacent to each other in the north east corner of County Cork.     

13.   Wight, Judith Eccles, A Rose by any Other Name: a guide to Irish Christian names, available online at  Ann, Anna, Annie are alternative names for Hannah/Honora, Johanna, and Nancy.  Using a birth year of 1858, if this is the correct person, Annie would have been seventeen at the death of Thomas in 1875.

14.   Dates of baptisms make it a possibility that Patrick did remarry.  Ellen Keefe and Patrick Roche have baptisms recorded for four children: Timothy (September 1836), Margaret (May 1838), Thomas (December 1839), and Joanna (1841).  Patrick Roche and Elizabeth Connor were married in October 1842 and had four children:  Richard (May 1843), Ellen (April 1845), William (January 1847), and David (June 1849).

15.   The news article about the death of Thomas states there was a “family” that occupied the house where Thomas was found.  According to Judith Eccles Wight (see footnote #13 above) Annie can be an alternative name for Hannah.  An Irish dialect often does not pronounce an “H” at the beginning of a word.  We saw this in the 1850 U.S. Census when Hannah/Honora Brown was enumerated in Vermont with her children.  The name in that record was written an “Annora.”  Records for Honora Kelly Brown have been found using several variations of the name - Honora, Hannah, Johanna, Nora and Annora.  Could the family living at the house have been our Hannah, the matriarch of our Brown family, along with James and George, the children of Thomas?  Perhaps the coroner heard “Annie” when her name was given and just assumed her surname was “Roach” when the children called her Grandma? 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I Remember Mama

Baptismal record Johanna Brown, September 21, 1841, Patrickswell Church, Limerick, Ireland 
The next child of Timothy and Honora Kelly Brown is another daughter, Johanna, baptized September 21, 1841 in Patrickswell, Limerick, Ireland1.  Like her other siblings, she made the trip from Ireland to Boston in January 1849 and lived in Boston and Vermont with the family.  (See previous blog posts for The Voyage on the John Murray, Boston, and Vermont.)  Again, as I did with other family members, I used the David Brown letter2 to guide my research for Johanna. (See image below) The first document I found was
David Brown Letter
(click to enlarge)
the 1860 US census for Johanna and her husband, Thomas, in Chicago with three other siblings – Mary Gray, James Brown and Thomas Brown.  Like most surnames, records associated with this family are shown with multiple spellings, most often Roche or Roach.  While the preferred Irish spelling is the Norman version Roche, meaning “rock,” records in both Ireland and American refer to the same family using a number of different spellings.  To make it easier for future researchers to locate the same record cited in this blog, I will give the spelling of the name as it appears in the specific record.   

As I was doing my research, I found a group of descendants of Johanna who are also researching Johanna’s life – or rather they found me!  They have been doing research for years and have uncovered many wonderful stories about Johanna and her family.  So, while this blog is about Johanna and Thomas, it is also about Johanna’s descendants who cherish her memory.

Like her older sister, Mary Gray, Johanna’s own story begins with the 1860 US census in Chicago, Illinois3.  (See image below.)  She is listed with her husband, Thomas Roach, not Michael as identified
1860 US Census, Chicago, IL
(click to enlarge)
in the David Brown letter, and a one year old daughter, Emma, who was born in Wisconsin.  Obviously, Johanna lived in Wisconsin between living in Vermont and Chicago, but just where in Wisconsin?  Immigrant families often stayed together when they arrived in America.  To see if there were any clues, we look back to other known relations in Chicago, specifically, the family of John and Ellen Kelly Brown, brother and sister of our own Timothy and Hannah Kelly Brown, who were living at the same address as Hannah Brown and her family in Chicago in 1870.  (See blog post on Chicago.)  A list of burials in Calvary Cemetery was shown in that blog post.  Included in the cemetery list was Ellen Brown, the widow of John Brown4, Mary O’Brien, a daughter of John and Ellen Brown (baptized June 15, 1828 in Patrickswell), and Nellie Ryan, a daughter of Mary Brown and her husband, Michael O’Brien.  The death record for Nellie O’Brien Ryan shows her date of birth as April 13, 1859 and place of birth as Janesville, Rock County, Wisconsin5.   Could this be the connection we needed to place Johanna Brown Roach in Wisconsin?

A call to the Catholic Church in Janesville, St. Patrick’s, uncovered a baptismal record for Emma Roche, daughter of Johanna and Thomas, on December 20, 1859.  Further research produced the
Marriage record of Thomas Roche and Johanna Brown
St Patrick's Church, Janesville, WI
(click to enlarge)
marriage record for Johanna Brown and Thomas Roche on December 22, 1857. During this time frame, the birth of a first child usually took place about a year after the marriage of a couple.  Was Emma the first child, or was there an additional child, or perhaps a miscarriage, before Emma?  No additional baptisms were identified at St. Patrick’s for children of Johanna and Thomas.  Since baptisms usually occur shortly after the birth of a child, the assumption is that Emma was conceived sometime around March 1859.  However, the 1860 US census, taken in June 1860, shows Emma as one year old making her birth approximately June 1858 to June 1859. The records for St. Patrick’s also show a baptismal record for Nellie O’Brien, daughter of Mary Brown and Michael O’Brien on December 19, 1859, just a day before Emma’s baptism6.  We know from Nellie’s death record that she was born in April 1859, some eight months before she was baptized.  Could the same thing have happened with Emma?

St. Patrick’s, one of the oldest Catholic churches in Wisconsin,  was originally organized as St. Cuthbert’s in the mid 1840s specifically
St. Patrick's, Janesville, WI about 1864
to serve the Irish population7.  Services in the early years were held by traveling clergy in the homes of parishioners.  Even after a permanent building was erected, there was not always a resident priest. The baptisms of Emma and Nellie could have been delayed until a priest was in the vicinity.  Based on that information, Emma was probably born some months before her baptism.  There may have been another child born to Johanna and Thomas while they were living in Wisconsin but it cannot be definitively determined.   

It appears that at least part of the family lived for awhile in Rock County, Wisconsin.   What was the attraction to this area?  Rock County is located in the southeastern portion of Wisconsin and shares a border with Illinois being close to Milwaukee, but more importantly within a short train ride of Chicago.  Transportation to the area was plentiful with connections in Janesville to three freight and passenger railroad lines.  A history of Rock County Wisconsin8 states, “The principal attractions of Wisconsin were the excellency and cheapness of its lands, its valuable mines of lead, its extensive forests of pine, and the unlimited water-power of its numerous streams [used for flour and lumber mills]”.  Railroads were also being constructed during the 1850s providing additional employment opportunities.  Other reports stated that the landscape looked like Ireland with a similar climate affording even more incentive to stay in the area9.  Furthermore, the Wisconsin Commission of Emigration actively encouraged European immigrants to settle in Wisconsin during the early 1850s.  Pamphlets were distributed to many parts of Europe including Ireland, and eastern port cities such as Boston, New York, Montreal and Quebec.  Advertisements were placed in numerous newspapers extolling the virtues of the area10.   The Irish would have been well acquainted with the advantages to be found in Wisconsin.

Although Wisconsin had been their home for at least a few years, sometime between December 1859 and June 1860, Thomas and Johanna moved to Chicago.  We do not know why they left Wisconsin.  Perhaps jobs were not as plentiful in 1860; at least not the type of jobs that appealed to the family.  We do know that at least part of the family, including Johanna’s mother, Hannah Kelly Brown and sister, Mary Brown Gray, were located in Chicago in 1860.  Johanna and Thomas lived at various addresses within close proximity to the rest of the family during the 1860s.  (See the previous blog on Chicago.)   On October 7, 1871, the day before the Great Chicago Fire, Johanna and her family were living at 63 W. Jackson Street on the west side of the Chicago River.  A fire broke out that day that destroyed a four block area including the home of Johanna and Thomas.  They fled to the home of Johanna’s mother, Hannah Kelly Brown on the east side of the river.  Hannah’s home at 219 E. Jackson Street was also destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire on October 8.  It was in the first area on the east side of the river to burn when the fire jumped the river.  All of the family was displaced although they did stay in Chicago. (See previous blogs on F I R E ! and Aftermath

Johanna Brown Roach died in Chicago on May 27, 187211; just seven months after the fire.  It is not known if the fire was a
Report of Death, Chicago, IL
(click to enlarge)
contributing factor in her death; but, many Chicago residents died months, and even years after the fire as a result of smoke inhalation and injuries received at the time of the fire.  The Vital Statistics Department in Chicago shows her cause of death as “Pending.”  (See image left.)   Memories of the family give her cause of death as typhoid and/or childbirth. 

Because of the fire, additional records were kept by the Chicago Relief and Aid Society.  In 1874, a report was produced giving details of aid provided to residents and deaths reported during 1872.  The report contains tables showing the number and causes
Deaths during April, May, and June 1872
for persons 20 to 40
(click to enlarge)
of deaths by age group.  The table for persons aged twenty to forty for May 1872, the month Johanna died, identifies one female who died of heart disease and one female who died of phthisis (tuberculosis).  Since Johanna died at the end of May, her death could have been reported in June when two females died of phthisis12.  The David Brown letter states that, “. . . Johanna Brown was sick at the time [of the fire]” which could indicate one the conditions identified above – childbirth, typhoid, or tuberculosis. If she was ill with any of those conditions, the fire would certainly have been detrimental to her health.    

Johanna was buried May 31, 1872 in Calvary Cemetery in Evanston, Illinois, located about ten miles north of downtown
Calvary Cemetery record for Roche burials
(click to enlarge)
Chicago.  The lot was purchased by Thomas on the same day Johanna was buried13.   A record of the burial is shown left.  Note that four children of Thomas Roche were also buried the same day in the same lot.  Johanna and Thomas did have additional children.  The 1870 US census14 for Thomas and Johanna Roach shows two sons, James (1863) and David (1865), who survived to adulthood.  Emma is clearly missing from the 1870 census; and, in fact, is not listed with the family in the 1865 Illinois State census15.  Emma likely died between 1860 and 1865 and could be counted as one of the children; but, was she actually re-interred in1872 when her mother died?  If Johanna was pregnant at the time of her death, and the child did not survive, that could also account for one of the four children.  Who were the other children and did they all die at the same time?  Using the census records as a guide, the children would have been born and died between 1860 and 1865, and/or 1865 to 1870.  Despite extensive searches, the names of the other children have not been identified16. George Roach, the younger son, remembers children being moved from another cemetery and reburied with their mother when Johanna died.  This was clearly a traumatic event for a small boy of six or seven years old and would have been ingrained in his memory.    
The Chicago City Cemetery was established by 1843.  It was situated along the water front of Lake Michigan, where Lincoln Park is now located17, and included a section for Catholic burials and a Potters Field for Chicago’s indigent.  (See current map of the
area right.)  Lots were sold to individuals until 1859 when it was
Current Chicago lake front
from Google Maps
determined that the cemetery posed a health threat to the people living in the vicinity and, indeed, to the rest of the city.  The land, located below the water table, was not well suited for a cemetery.  There was a “miasma” rising from the cemetery and it was feared the city’s water supply would be contaminated from bacteria leaking from the graves into the lake which was the source of Chicago’s drinking water.  The city proposed closing the cemetery and moving the burials to other locations – at the cost of the individual.  Although burials continued officially until 1866, some graves were removed starting in 1859.  The City Cemetery was the only cemetery in Chicago where mass disinternments took place18.  This is the probable place of the original burial of the Roach children – likely in the Potter’s Field.

The question remains about who moved the children and who covered the cost of the removal and reburial?  The Roach family, as were most Irish families in Chicago at the time, were poor and the cost of having someone else move the children may have been more than they could manage financially.  Did the family disinter and rebury the children themselves?  Also, since most markers in the cemetery were destroyed when the Great Chicago Fire raged through the cemetery in October 1871, could the graves have even been located?  There is another alternative.  An article in the Chicago Tribune, from September 18, 1872, some three months after Johanna’s death, states that there were over 10,000 persons still buried in the Potter’s Field.  The city wanted to clear the area.  As a result, “ . . . the city, . . . , very generously agrees to allow the former owner a lot, equal in size to the one vacated, in any cemetery the owner may specify; and, in addition, proposed to liquidate all expenses incurred in exhuming and transporting the remains to their new resting places.”  Even though this was published after Johanna’s death, was the same, or similar, offer made earlier to the Roach family19?

The next blog post will present additional information about Johanna’s husband, Thomas.

Information contained in this blog post was provided by the descendants of Johanna and Thomas.  Special thanks to KC, Eileen, Leslie, Greg, Kerry, and many others.


1.       Baptisms, Patrickswell Catholic Parish Registers, Lurriga, 21 Sep 1841, microfilm 02409-05, National Library of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

2.       Brown, David, Kewanee, IL.,  11 May 1943.  Letter to Esther _______, Columbus, OH, page 6.

3.       "United States Census, 1860", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2017), Johannah Roach in entry for Thos Roach, 1860.

4.       John Brown was listed in Griffith’s Valuation published for the Fanningstown area in 1851.  He probably died between 1851 and 1856 when his holding was taken over by another tenant.  (See previous blog for Putting them on the Fanningstown Map.)  No record of arrival in America of John’s family has been found.

5.        "Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994," database, FamilySearch ( : 17 May 2016), Nellie A Ryan, 21 Jul 1942; citing Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States, source reference , record number , Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm .

6.       Records from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Janesville, Rock County, Wisconsin.  Emma Roche, baptized 20 Dec 1859, parents are Thomas Roche and Johanna Brown; sponsors are Julienne Curtis and Hanna Brown; record is too fragile to copy.  Marriage record for Thomas Roche and Johanna Brown on 22 Dec 1857; witnesses are Jacob Flannigan (Hannigan/Harrigan) and Edward McGurk.  They were the last couple married in the church in 1857.  Elleanor O’Brien, baptized 19 Dec 1859, parents are Michael O’Brien and Mary Brown; sponsors are Jacob Brown and Marie Relly (could be Kelly). The above information was obtained from Lori, an employee of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in November 2017.  Lori did say there was a visiting priest in mid-December 1859 and many baptisms were performed at that time.

7.       Uncaphon, Wendy, Guide to Rock County Wisconsin Churches, Cemeteries, Schools and Towns, Rock County Genealogical Society Inc, Janesville, Wisconsin, 2008.  Accessed October 2017 at the Allen County Public Library, Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

8.       The History of Rock County, Wisconsin, Western Historical Company, Chicago, IL, 1879, page 58.  Available online at Internet Library

9.       Plevak, Margaret, Irish put heart into new homeland,  Walworth County Today, Gazette, CSI Walworth County Sunday, available online at:

10.   Turning Points in Wisconsin History, 19th Century Immigration, Wisconsin Historical Society, available online at:

11.   Report of Death, Vital Statistics Department, County Clerk’s Office, State of Illinois, Cook County, Registration Number A-143-29, May 27, 1872, Johanna Roach

12.   Chicago Relief and Aid Society, Report of the Chicago Relief and Aid Society of Disbursements of Contributions for the Suffers by the Chicago Fire, Riverside, Cambridge, H. O. Houghton and Company, 1874, page 245.  Available online at Google Books at:

13.   Copy of Burial Card from Calvary Cemetery in possession of the descendants of Thomas and Johanna Roche/Roach.

14.   US Census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Chicago Ward 9, Cook, Illinois; Roll: M593_204; Page: 33B; Family History Library Film: 545703

15.   Illinois State Archives; Springfield, Illinois; Illinois State Census, 1865; Archive Collection Number: 103.010; Roll Number: 2172; Line: 35.  The census shows two males under ten years of age, and one male and one female aged twenty to thirty.

16.   Research done as crowd sourcing with descendents searching various Chicago records including Catholic baptisms in Chicago for 1860 to 1872, and cemetery records.

17.   Current map of Chicago showing the location of the Lincoln Park area and Calvary Cemetery in Evanston.  Map from Google Maps.

18.   Bannos, Pamela, Hidden Truths:  The Chicago City Cemetery & Lincoln Park.  Ms Bannon has done extensive research about the old Chicago City Cemetery where Lincoln Park is now located.  She has scoured old newspapers, and state archives for information about the cemetery from its beginning through to current times.  Many images are included in the website.  

19.   Ibid.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Butcher, Baker . . . . . . . .

David Brown Letter
(click to enlarge)
Mary, the subject of this post, is the oldest daughter of Timothy and Hannah Kelly Brown.  Very little information about her was given in the David Brown letter1;   however, that information was received from Nellie Brown and Sarah Brown Taylor, people who would have either known her, or known about her from their parents who were siblings of Mary2.   Using this information, I have been able to piece together sketches of Mary’s life.  Of all the Browne immigrants, I still feel as if I know the least about her.

Mary was baptized May 21, 1837 at Patrickswell Roman Catholic Church in Patrickswell, County Limerick, Ireland3.  She was about eleven when she left Ireland with the rest of her family and arrived in Boston on January 29, 1849.  (See Arriving in America, The Voyage on the John Murray, and Boston.)  Mary is included with the family in the 1850 US Census4 in Vermont where they lived for a short time before moving to Chicago.  (See Vermont)  Once in Chicago, (See Chicago, F I R E !, and Aftermath), although still located close to her family, Mary begins her own story.

The 1860 US Census does not specify relationships for individuals in the same household; however, from our previous research, we know the members of Mary’s immediate family.   She is enumerated in Chicago, Ward 8, with three of her siblings, Johanna
1860 US Census
(click to enlarge)
(married to Thomas Roach), James and Thomas.  (See 1860 Census right.)  The David Brown letter, states that Mary was married to Henry Gray.  A Henry Gray, baker, born in New York about 1838, is shown at the same address.  Catherine Gray, presumably a daughter of Mary and Henry, born about August 1859 in Illinois, is also listed in the household5.  I have not been able to find records for Mary between 1850, when she was in Vermont, and 1860; nor, have I been able to locate a marriage record for Mary and Henry in either Illinois or Wisconsin where she may have previously lived6

Although still a common name, Henry Gray is more easily
1858 Chicago showing Washington St
identified in the Chicago City Directories because he gave a specific occupation - baker7.  The 1861-2 directory shows his home address as 154 Washington; 84 Dearborn in 1862-3; 81 Dearborn in 1863-4; 276 Wells in 1865, and the 1866 directory shows him living on Franklin at the northwest corner of Jackson with the rest of the Brown family.  The 1862-3 directory shows his employer as CL Woodman located at 195-7 Illinois, just around the corner from his home on Dearborn in the North section of town.  By 1866, he is working for SW Hull & Co. at 96 S Desplaines.

Bread was an important component of everyone’s diet in the 1800s.  Because many houses were not equipped with ovens to bake bread, (certainly not tenement housing), bakeries provided a
Advertisement for CL Woodman
vital service to the community.  Located throughout the city, many of them were small, ethnic, family run businesses with few outside employees.  While Chicago had many of these small bakeries, there were also large industrial bakeries manufacturing not only bread, but also tinned crackers and biscuits.  Some of the larger operations, such as CL Woodman, SW Hull, and the Chicago Mechanical Bakery, employed one hundred people or more.  Often, room and board was included as part of the wages which may explain the proximity of the Gray’s home to Henry’s employer in the early 1860s8.  While there were abundant opportunities for work, it also came with long hours, often fourteen hours a day, and low pay9.

Labor shortages and inflation were experienced during the Civil War years, (1861 to 1865), for both individuals and businesses when so many men were away fighting.  Wages were cut making it more difficult for families to provide adequate housing and food for their families10.  About this time, many trades were forming unions demanding improvements in working conditions, hours, and wages.  Chicago bakers were part of this movement forming their union, the Chicago Journeymen Bakers’ Protective Union, in April 1864 with a large representation of about 150 members.  In June 1864, the Chicago bakers union authorized a strike asking for a reduction in hours and a twenty-five percent increase in wages11.  There is not a list of union members; however, Henry Gray was likely involved in the strike, which failed, and union activities.

The Gray family is absent from Chicago during the later 1860s.  The
1870 Census - LaSalle, IL
(click to enlarge)
1870 US Census12 shows a family in LaSalle, IL consisting of “W. H.” Gray, baker and confectioner, with a personal estate of $1,800, (1837 – NY), Mary, a store clerk, (1839 – VT), and five children: Catherine (1860 – IL); Calvin F (1862 – IL); Thos H (1865 – IL); Lyman J (1867 – NY); and Otis Jas (1869 – NY).  The earlier 1860 census shows that “Henry” was born in New York.  Is this the same family?  The two youngest children were born in New York.  Why would the family have gone there?

Using earlier census records to locate W. H. Gray, I found William H Gray, age 14 (1836 - NY), in the 185013 US Census for Seneca, Ontario County, New York.   Others listed at the same residence are Calvin S Gray, age 35, physician, Elanon M Gray, age 35, George F, age 9, and Edward P, age 1.  Baptismal records for all three children were found in the Dutch Reformed Church in Geneva, (Ontario County, New York).   William Henry was baptized on October 25, 1839; he was born earlier on October 6, 1836.  Calvin Gray and Eleanor M Thomas are listed as parents for all three children14.   The 1855 New York State Census15 shows W H Gray, age 19, (indexed as W N), as an employee of Hiram L Saydam.  The occupation of both men is shown as “baker.” Perhaps William Henry was an apprentice and learned his trade from Mr. Saydam.  This appears to be a likely candidate, but there is still the difference in names – William Henry vs. Henry.   

Probate records for Ontario County, New York provide additional details.  Calvin S Gray died intestate in October 186616.  Since there was no will, Calvin’s wife would have inherited one-third of the estate, and William Henry and his surviving siblings would have inherited the other two thirds of the estate.  Earlier in the year, April 1866, William Henry’s brother, George, died.  George’s will listed two brothers, Henry and Edward, as his heirs17.   The piece
Segment of will of Joshua Gray
(click to enlarge)
that ties this together is the will of Calvin’s father, Joshua Gray, from May 1869.  The will lists all of his children including, William A Gray, Lyman R Gray, Charles P Gray, Catharine Randall, Julia Hitchcock, Caroline Barnes, and Lucy Ann Gray.  The will also identifies two surviving sons of Calvin S Gray as Henry and Edward18.  William Henry would have had incentive to return to New York because he was the beneficiary of several family members who died in the late 1860s.  This could be the source of his personal estate shown in the 1870 census.

Two of the children of William Henry and Mary Gray, Catharine and Lyman, were probably named after William Henry’s siblings.  Lyman and Otis James were born in New York during a period when several close family members died.    Taking into consideration all of the above information, it appears that William Henry Gray and Henry Gray are the same person.  Although he was baptized as William Henry, he was known to the family as Henry and used that name during his earlier years in Chicago.  When he returned to Illinois about 1870, he went by the name of William Henry.

William Henry and his family must have returned to Illinois shortly after the death of his grandfather, Joshua Gray, in 1869.  While the 1870 census shows them in LaSalle, they probably did not stay there long since the Chicago City Directory for that year shows them again with the rest of the Brown family at 219 Jackson19.  This puts them in the heart of the 1871 fire that destroyed Chicago.  They, too, would have had a harrowing escape as did the rest of the family.  (See F I R E !)  By 1872, the City Directory shows the family headed by WH Gray, baker, living at 356 22nd which is located south of the burned area.

William H Gray is only shown in Chicago in two additional years; in 1876 at 207 S Jefferson, and, in 1877 at 11170 Wentworth Ave.  He is identified as a “baker” in each of these years.  This becomes very curious since Mary Gray is listed under her own name during 1873 to 1878 and again from 1885 to 1886 as the “widow” of William20.  I have not found a death record or burial permit for William Henry Gray during this time.  Since Mary and William Henry are shown in separate residences for some of the same years, would a more logical reason be that they were actually divorced?  Divorce was not very common during this time and carried many negative connotations, especially for the woman.  Perhaps it would have been more socially acceptable for Mary to be a widow rather than a divorcee, especially for an Irish woman who was raised a Catholic21.  Other than the 1870 census, which shows Mary as a store clerk, no information was shown in the city directories about how Mary earned a living.

Additional family members are living in Chicago with Mary in 188522.  Mary’s son, Lyman, a confectioner, now 18, is living at the same address as is Mary’s mother, Mrs. Hannah Brown, (See Aftermath.)  There is also a Clarence Gray, bartender, living in the household.  I have not heard of Clarence before.  Because he is in the same household with the same surname, he could be related to the family.  Could this be Calvin using a different name? 

I have not identified records for the other children of Mary and William Henry except for possible death records for Otis and Thomas Gray in 1882.  Otis Gray, age 8, died at the small pox hospital in Chicago on April 1, 1882.  Thomas Gray, age 14, boot black, died at the same hospital on April 5, 1882.  Based on birth years given in the 1870 census, Otis would have been about 13, and Thomas would have been about 17.  Incorrect ages for the children could have been given at the time of admittance; or, if the children were of slight build, estimated ages could have been incorrect.  No additional information, such as a cemetery, is given on the death records or in the burial permits; however, the children were admitted to the hospital on the same day23

Death Certificate Mrs. Mary Gray
(click to enlarge)
 Mary died of consumption on August 4, 1886, age 49, and is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Chicago.  She was living at 2723 Wentworth at the time with her son, Lyman, a candymaker.  Lyman, died March 15, 1889 at St. Luke’s Hospital of typhoid fever.  He is also buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery24.  
Death Certificate Lyman Gray
(click to enlarge)

There is another piece of information about a William Henry Gray that I can’t ignore.  I don’t know if this is the same William Henry Gray or not.  There is a marriage record for Wm H Gray and Mary E Robinson on February 19, 1879 in Wyocena, Columbia, Wisconsin25.  The parents of Wm H are C.S. Gray (Calvin S Gray?) and E.M. Gray (Eleanor M Thomas?).  A child, Henry, was born to them on February 21, 188026.  This same couple and child are shown in the 1880 US census record for Columbia County, Wisconsin27.  The occupation for William H is given as “baker.”    

In the next post, we will look at another of the immigrants from Ireland.

March 20, 2018
While searching records in the Chicago Catholic Church Records for another family, I ran across baptismal records for two children of William Henry Gray and Mary Brown.  The records are at Old St. Mary's on Wabash before the church was destroyed in the Chicago fire.  One baptism is for Simon Joseph and the other is for James.  Both baptisms took place on April 29, 1870 and show the parents as "Henry Gray (Episcopalian) & Mary Brown."  The records also give the date of birth and sponsors for each child.  Simon Joseph was born January 17, 1868.  Michael Brown and Mary Brown sponsored Simon Joseph.  James was born January 26, 1870.  His sponsors were James Brown and Anne (Mahoney) McDonough.28  The names of the children do not exactly match those given on the 1870 U.S. Census; however, Lymon and Otis are not Saints names and would not have been acceptable at a Catholic baptism. Otis James became James and Lymon J. is easily translated to Simon Joseph.  Since the census record shows that both boys were born in New York, we can determine that Mary and Henry Gray returned to Illinois sometime between January 26, 1870, the date Otis James was born, and April 29, 1870, the date both boys were baptized.  Also, they were likely in Chicago for the baptisms (January) before moving on to LaSalle, Illinois where they were enumerated in the census.

Baptism records Old St. Mary's, Chicago, Illinois, pages 229 and 230

1.       Brown, David, Kewanee, IL., 11 May 1943.  Letter to Esther ________, Columbus, OH.  The David Brown letter continues to be my “roadmap” to the Browne family of Fanningstown, County Limerick, Ireland.

2.       Nellie is the daughter (eighth child) of John and Ellen Burns Brown.   See More Brown Children for more information.  Sarah Brown Taylor is the daughter (sixth child) of Patrick and Ann Burns Brown.  See  " . . . and he leaves a large family to mourn his death"

3.       Baptisms, Patrickswell Catholic Parish Registers, Lurriga, 21 May 1837, microfilm 02409-05, page 63, National Library of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.

4.       United States Census, 1850, Family Search ( Brandon, Rutland, Vermont, United States; citing family 1636, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.:National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.)

5.       Year: 1860; Census Place: Chicago Ward 8, Cook, Illinois; Roll: M653_168; Page: 114; Family History Library Film: 803168.  Available online at  The census was taken in June, 1860.  Catherine’s age is given as 10 months, (10/12), making her birth about August, 1859.

6.       Note that Emma Roach, a daughter of Thomas and Johanna was born in Wisconsin.  It is possible that the family traveled from Vermont to Wisconsin before moving on to Chicago.  To date, I have not found marriage records for either couple, Thomas and Johanna Roach or Henry and Mary Gray, in Illinois or Wisconsin.

7.       City Directories for Chicago are located on both and Fold3.

8.       Jentz, John B. and Schneirov, Richard, Chicago in the Age of Capital; Class, Politics, and Democracy during the Civil War and Reconstruction, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield, 2012, page 45-46.  Besides making bread, many of the larger bakeries manufactured biscuits and crackers using “machinery for mixing the dough and an oven with a steam-powered system for circulating baked goods through the heating chamber. . . . well into the 1880s, Chicago bakers were still opposing the craft practice of having part of their wages paid in room and board supplied by their masters.”  

IMAGE of advertisement for CL Woodman is taken from, The Railroads of Chicago, A Comprehensive History, The Western News Company, Chicago, IL.  Available online at:

9.       Chicago Tribune, Bakers’ Union Strike, ProQuest Historical Newspapers, 5 Jun 1864, page 4.  In 1864, bakers who worked, “fourteen hours per diem commencing at five o’clock in the evening, received two dollars, and hands engaged for 12 hours, during the day, received one dollar and seventy-five cents.”  Using the inflation calculator on, two dollars in 1864 is equivalent to $32.31 today.  Remember, this was the pay for a fourteen hour day. 

10.   Jentz,  op.cit., page 45-6.

11.   Chicago Tribune, Meeting of Union, ProQuest Historical Newspapers, 17 Apr 1864, page 4 and Meeting of Journeymen Bakers, * Jun 1864, page 4.

12.   1870 US Census, La Salle, La Salle, Illinois; Roll M593_243; Page 323A; Family History Library Film: 545742

13.   1850 US Census, Seneca, Ontario, New York; Roll M432_572; Page 477B; Image 407

14.   The Archives of the Reformed Church in America; New Brunswick, New Jersey; Geneva Church, Records, Consistory Minutes, 1831-1884, available on-line at  The date of baptism for Wm Henry is given as October 25, 1839.  His date of birth is listed as October 6, 1836.  George was baptized April 22, 1842.  No date of birth is shown.  Edmund was baptized August 31, 1849 and was born on July 28, 1849.  The same record set also shows the marriage of Calvin S Gray and Eleanor M Thomas on June 7, 1836.

15.   New York State Census, 1855, database with  images, FamilySearch  ( : 7 September 2016), W N Gray in household of Hiram L Saydam, E.D. 1, Seneca, Ontario, New York, United States; citing p. 36, line #3, family #285, county clerk offices, New York; FHL microfilm 590,803.

16.   Probate Records (Ontario County, New York), 1830-1883, New York. Calvin S Gray, Record of Letters, Volume U, Page 443, Surrogate’s Court, Ontario County), Ontario, New York.  Available on  Subsequent research has uncovered that Calvin’s first wife, Eleanor died in 1852.  (Find A Grave Memorial #117323364.)  Calvin had a second wife, Amy, who was included in the 1855 New York State Census.  They did have children.  The full probate file would provide additional information about the beneficiaries and the sums of money received.

17.   Probate Records (Ontario County, New York), 1830-1883, George T Gray, Record of Wills, Volume S, Page 562, Surrogate’s Court (Ontario County); Ontario, New York.  Available on

18.   Probate Records (Ontario County, New York), 1830-1883. Joshua Gray, Record of Wills, Volume W-X, Page 78-9, Surrogate’s Court (Ontario County); Ontario, New York.  Available on

19.   The 1870 US Census was taken in LaSalle, Illinois on June 1, 1870.  The exact date of the 1870 Chicago City Directory is not known.  It is assumed that the information was printed in the later part of 1870.

20.   In 1878 and 1886, Mary is shown as the widow of Henry.  Addresses given for Mary are:  1873 – 19 Elgin; 1874 – 580 26th; 1875 – 400 22d; 1877 – 39 Elgin; 1880 – 1019 N Halsted; 1885 – 175 S Jefferson;  1886 – 2723 Wentworth av.  Mary is not shown in the Chicago City Directories between 1878 and 1885.

21.   Divorces were few in the 1870s and most were obtained by men who had only to “prove” adultery on the part of the wife.  It could also be that they were “separated” or that the husband was “away on business for an extended period of time” – probably not likely in this case since William Henry Gray was a baker.  The women involved were often referred to as “grass widows.”

22.   The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago, 1885, Thomas Hutchinson, Company, Chicago: The Chicago Directory Company, page 569.

23.   "Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994," database, FamilySearch ( : 17 May 2016), Otus Gray, 01 Apr 1882; citing , Cook, Illinois, United States, source reference nr 4227, record number 47, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,031,440.

"Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994," database, FamilySearch ( : 17 May 2016), Thomas Gray, 05 Apr 1882; citing , Cook, Illinois, United States, source reference nr 4228, record number 48, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,031,440.   

Mt. Olivet and Calvary cemeteries do not have records of burials for these children.

24.   "Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994," database, FamilySearch ( : 17 May 2016), Mary Grey, 04 Aug 1886; citing Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States, source reference 88607, record number , Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,030,917.

"Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994," database, FamilySearch ( : 17 May 2016), Lyman Gray, 15 Mar 1889; citing , Cook, Illinois, United States, source reference cn 3567, record number 80, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,030,938.

Mary’s son, Lyman, purchased three graves at the time of Mary’s death.  The third burial is for Harry Clancy.  Harry died March 25, 1888 at three years old.  I do not know the connection to the Brown/Gray family.  The information was obtained during a phone call with the clerk at the Mr. Olivet cemetery.

25.   "Wisconsin, County Marriages, 1836-1911," database, FamilySearch ( : 3 June 2016), Wm. H. Grey and Mary E. Robinson, 19 Feb 1879; citing Wyocena, Columbia, Wisconsin, United States, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison; FHL microfilm 1,275,883.

26.   "Wisconsin Births and Christenings, 1826-1926," database, FamilySearch ( : 12 December 2014), Henry Bailey, 21 Feb 1880; citing Portage, Columbia, Wisconsin, reference ; FHL microfilm 1,302,854.

"Wisconsin Births and Christenings, 1826-1926," database, FamilySearch ( : 12 December 2014), Henry Bailey, 21 Feb 1880; citing Portage, Columbia, Wisconsin, reference P 367 No 01258; FHL microfilm 1,302,854.

"Wisconsin Births and Christenings, 1826-1926," database, FamilySearch ( : 12 December 2014), Henry Bailey, 21 Feb 1880; citing Portage, Columbia, Wisconsin, reference P 315 No 00960; FHL microfilm 1,302,854.

27.   Year: 1880; Census Place: Portage, Columbia, Wisconsin; Roll: 1420; Family History Film: 1255420; Page: 236A; Enumeration District: 034. Available online at

28. Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925.  St. Mary of the Assumption Parish (Chicago: Old, Wabash) page 229 and 230.  .  Database with images, Image 130 : 8 February 2017. Catholic Church parishes, Chicago Diocese, Chicago.