Those Darn Friths –

The George Richard Frith Family

In an earlier series of posts, I talked about Henrietta “Nettie” Ella (Frith) McLean and the fact that she married her first cousin George E. McLean (1867-1915). I’ve also covered much of the McLean line and in that process, I wrote about George’s mother, Susan Wynn (Frith) McLean (1839-1915). Now I need to do a quick clean up on the rest of Frith line before moving on to the Browns and Brimlows.

For those who need a reminder of who’s who, here’s a link to the MacLean, Frith, and Brimlow Pedigree Chart. Today we’re going to take a look at the family of person #6 on this chart, George Richard Frith. The next post will be about the family of William Frith and Frances Brown.

George FrithGeorge Richard Frith was born 7 Jan 1848 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Kings, New York.1,2 He was the second son, and sixth known child of William Frith and Frances Brown. His parents were both deceased prior to his seventh birthday and until the age of eleven, he and his siblings were taken care of by Ellen Winn. Her exact relationship to the family is not yet known; however, she traveled to New York with William and Frances and is buried in the Brown/Frith family plot in Cypress Hills Cemetery. It is not known where George and his siblings lived after Ellen’s death.

12Around 1868, George married Henrietta F. Brimlow, born 7 Sep 1847, daughter of George Brimlow and Elizabeth E. Weeks. Henrietta and George’s first known child was born and died in early January of 1870. The baby appears on the interment record at Cypress Hills Cemetery as “Inft of G&H Frith, no age, interred 8 Jan 1870.”3 With no name and no death record for an infant found, it is probable that this child was a stillborn. Six more children would follow, but only two would live to maturity. Two of their children, Ruth and Matthew, died within 10 days of each other in August of 1882 and were buried in Sec 6, South ½ of Lot 596 of Cypress Hills.4,5

Hen Frith d. 1884Henrietta F. (Brimlow) Frith died on 26 Dec 1884 from pneumonia and asthma.6 She was pregnant at the time and the child was stillborn. They were buried together in George’s family plot. George filed an application for and was granted Letters of Administration on his wife’s estate, in which he named their surviving children as: Nettie E. about 10 years of age, Ada M. about 8, and Cornelia about 2.7 More research would be required to find out what her estate consisted of. Daughter Cornelia died 14 Mar 1886 and was interred with her mother.8

George worked as a grainer and painter throughout his life as did his brother-in-law Peter B. McLean, and it is likely they worked together at times. George and younger daughter Ada moved to North Hempstead to be near Peter B. and Susan and were enumerated there in 1892.9 Daughter Nettie remained in Brooklyn, living with maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Weeks) Brimlow. After Peter B. McLean’s death, both George and his sister Susan moved in with their married children George E. and Nettie (Frith) McLean and are enumerated there on the 1900 census.10

George Richard Frith died of cirrhosis of the liver on 15 Mar 1903 in Roslyn, Nassau, New York, and was interred on 18 Mar 1903 with his wife in Cypress Hills Cemetery.11 While my initial inclination was to say he drank, it is probable that his liver issues came from spending his life working with lead-based paints.

George and Henrietta’s children were:
Infant Frith (Jan 1870)
Ruth E. Frith (1873-15 Aug 1882)
Nettie Ella Frith McLean (2 Mar 1875-21 Dec 1963) m. George E. McLean
Ada May Frith Penny (Apr 1878 – 27 Mar 1943) m. Andrew “Jack” Penny
Matthew Frith (1880 – Aug 1882)
Cornelia Maria Frith (26 Mar 1883 – 14 Mar 1886)
Stillborn Frith (26 Dec 1884)



1. Death Certificate, County of Nassau-State of New York, Registration #3270, George Richard Frith, Date of Death 15 March 1903, Age 54 y 2 mo 8 d., Father William Frith, mother Frances Brown. Cit. Date: 14 May 2014.
2. 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, p. 265B, dwelling 1202, family 2135, George Frith, age 2; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 12 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll M432 522. Cit. Date: 12 May 2014.
3. Cypress Hills Cemetery (Brooklyn, Queens, New York), Plot Records, Sec 2, Lot 161. Plot record states infant child of G & H Frith – no age. Cit. Date: 13 Aug 2010.
4. Kings County, New York, death certificate no. 10652 (15 Aug 1882), Ruth Frith; FHL microfilm 1,323,775. Cit. Date: 3 Aug
5. Cypress Hills Cemetery (Brooklyn, Queens, New York), Plot Records, Matthew Frith, interred 25 Aug 1882, Child. Sec 6, Lot 596, South 1/2. Cit. Date: 3 Aug 2010.
6. Kings County, New York, death certificate no. 13911 (26 Dec 1884), Henrietta F. Frith; FHL microfilm 1,323,798. Cit. Date: 2 Aug 2010.
7. New York, Kings County, Probate Administration Records; Author: New York. Surrogate’s Court (Kings County); Probate Place: Kings, New York, Henrietta F. Frith, 29 Dec 1884.
8. “New York Death Records,” database(accessed 27 Oct 2015), Cornelia M. Frith, 14 Mar 1886, Brooklyn, Kings, burial Cypress Hills.
9. New York, population schedule, No. Hempstead, Queens, 2 E.D., p. 2, line 16, George Frith; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 14 May 2014). Cit. Date: 14 May 2014.
10. 1900 U.S. census, population schedule, No. Hempstead, Nassau, New York, enumeration district (ED) 711, p. 4B, dwelling 77, family 82, McLean, George E.; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 11 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 1079. Cit. Date: 11 May 2014.
11. Death Certificate, County of Nassau-State of New York, Registration #3270, George Richard Frith, Date of Death 15 March 1903, Age 54 y 2 mo 8 d., Father William Frith, mother Frances Brown. Cit. Date: 14 May 2014.

Brick Wall… What Brick Wall?

Hunting the Family of Margaret Swasey (1806-1854)

Margaret Swasey b. abt 1806 in Massachusetts is the proven wife of Peter Charles McLean based on census records and being named in her daughter Sarah Amelia’s death records. Margaret was our brick wall for many years. We knew that Margaret had married Peter circa 1829/30 based on the age of their first child Charles Edward born 1830/31. Peter C. McLean was found on the 1830 Federal Census in Ward 7 New York as a male 20-29 with a female 20-29 presumed to be Margaret prior to the birth of Charles. Everything I knew about Margaret was posted on 24 Jun 2014.

With the release of the wills and probate on Ancestry, I did a routine search for the name of Swasey in New York prior to 1860. Margaret Swasey McLean died in 1854 so I was hoping to find a father who had named her or her children in a will.

In an application for Letters of Administration on the Estate of Nathaniel K. Swasey (deceased 28 Jul 1845; filing dated 22 Aug 1845) Sarah Swasey (signed Sarah Swasy) named herself as the mother of Nathaniel and states she and the following siblings of Nathaniel survive:
Stephen Swasey of Albany
Margaret wife of Peter C. McLean
Rebecca wife of David Bruce Jr
Sarah Swasey
Each of the children (and husbands) signed documents giving their rights up to Sarah.1
[Click on the image for full size]
Sarah Swasey
Based on the information found in that will and probate file, I researched each of the named children, spouses, and mother Sarah to reach the following conclusions:

Margaret Swasey McLean’s mother was:
SARAH “SALLIE” LEIGH
Born 26 Apr 1784 Essex, Massachusetts
Died Sep 1854 Brooklyn, Kings, New York
Interred 11 Sep 1854 Cypress Hills Cemetery

Her father was:
SAMUEL SWASEY
Born 23 Feb 1781 Essex. Massachusetts
Died aft 1825 New York
Interred Unknown

Her are the facts:
1803 – 23 Feb 1803 Sarah “Sallie” Leigh and Samuel Swasey marry in Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts.2 There are multiple records for their marriage on 14 Jul 1803, but the record from the New England Genealogical Society is the one with the earlier date and is consistent with the recorded birth of their first child Stephen in Dec 1803. Examination of the original record is now on my To-Do list.
1810 – Samuel is found (Sam Swasy) on the 1810 Federal Census in Albany, New York.3 [Daughters Sarah E. b. abt 1811 and Rebecca b. abt 1814 both claim Albany as their birth county on later NY State Census records.]
1813 – Samuel appears in The Albany Argus, 2 July, page 1, column 3 as a partner in business as a morocco dresser (a specialized process for kid (goat) leather). [Son Stephen Swasey is also listed a morocco dresser on later census records. Son Nathaniel is a leather dealer in a city directory.]
1814 – Samuel offers $20 reward for a runaway indentured apprentice, Albany Argus, 7 Jan, p4.
1815 – Samuel’s property is sold by the Sheriff at auction in Albany – Albany Gazette, 20 Feb, p4.
1817 – Samuel Swasey appears in the New York City list of letters – National Advocate for the Country, 3 Jan, p2.
1820 – Samuel Swasey appears in the list of letters in New York City – New York Columbian, 1 May, p4. [Samuel was not found on the 1820 census, but if he was living in a boarding house or with someone else he would not appear as this census only listed the heads of households.]
1822 – Mrs. Sarah Swasey appears in the list of letters – Albany Argus 4 Oct 1822 p3.
1823-24 – Samuel Swasey appears in the New York City Directory as a morocco dresser at 38 Spruce.4
1825 – Samuel Swasey appears in the city directory as a morocco dresser at 4 Ferry. [This is the last record I found for Samuel.]
1829 – Sarah Swasey first appears in the city directory running a boarding house in New York City.
1830 – Sarah Swasey is found on the 1830 Federal Census in New York Ward 45 – the city directory of the same year indicates she is running a boarding house.6 This is the same ward that daughter Margaret McLean is living in.
1834 – Daughter Rebecca Swasey married David Bruce Jr. in New York City.7
1840 – Samuel Swasey (age 20-29) along with an older woman (40-50) is found in Ward 7 – this is the same Ward as Peter McLean. The age is appropriate for Sarah.
1848 – Rebecca Swasey Bruce gives birth to daughter Sarah Leigh Bruce.8
1850 – Sarah Swasey is found on the 1850 Federal Census in Williamsburg (Brooklyn), Kings, New York with Rebecca Bruce and her family.9
1854 – 11 Sep – Sarah was interred in the Bruce family plot at Cypress Hills. I have not yet found a death notice or certificate for her. 10

When I received the plot list for the Bruce family plot in Cypress Hills it noted that Nathaniel Swasey (age 28) was interred in this plot along with Samuel Swasey (age 29) and John Bruce (age 42) on 28 Apr 1848. No death dates were shown, but we know that Nathaniel died in 1845, so these 3 individuals were obviously reinterred from elsewhere. We also know this Samuel must be a son, as the father Samuel b.1781 would have been about 44 when last found in 1825.

The Samuel and Sarah (Leigh) Swasey family (based on the above information) is up on Ancestry and FamilySearch now. Seeing all the Bruce names now explains where some of the names used by both Peter Charles and Peter Byron McLean came from. They had a ton of Bruce cousins and the family was very well off.

There is much more research to do in proving the line back, but at least I know where to look now. And all because of this one document. Happiness is surveying a pile of rubble that was once a brick wall.



1. Letters of Administration for Nathaniel K. Swasey named mother Sarah Swasey, sister Margert McLean, Rebecca Bruce, Sarah Swasey, and bother Stephen Swasey of Albany; digital images (accessed 12 Sep 2015).
2. Marriage Record, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston: vol 0943, p64. The New England Historic Genealogical Society. 23 Feb 1803 Samuel Swasey – son of Stephen Swasey & Abigail Knapp to Sarah Leigh father Benjamin Leigh. Cit. Date: 12 Sep 2015.
3. 1810 U.S. census, Albany, Albany, New York, p. 62, Sam Swasy; digital images (accessed 12 Sep 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M252, roll 26.
4. City Directory, Swasey, Samuel, morocco dresser, New York: p.472; digital images accessed 12 Sep 2015.
5. 1830 U.S. census, New York Ward 4, New York, New York, p. 216, line 13, Sarah Swasey; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 12 Sep 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M19, roll 96. Cit. Date: 12 Sep 2015.
6. City Directory, , Swasey, Sarah, boarding-house 209 William, New York: p.572; digital imagesaccessed 12 Sep 2015. Cit. Date: 12 Sep 2015.
7. U.S., Newspaper Extractions from the Northeast, 1704-1930, New York Evening Post.
8. Burial Record, Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, Lot 226, Sec 2, Owner David Bruce Sr. Interment #187370 Sarah Leigh Bruce 1 Nov 1924.
9. 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Williamsburgh, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, p. 307B, dwelling 1631, family 2772, Sarah Swazey in home of David Bruce; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 12 Sep 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll M432 522. Cit. Date: 12 Sep 2015.
10. Burial Record, Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, Lot 226, Sec 2, Owner David Bruce Sr. Interment #5249 Sarah Swasey 11 Sep 1854.

The Family Story

Susan Wynn McLean

I need to preface this with the reminder that every family has stories – whether these tales have any basis is truth is often a matter of perspective. The following came from what I was told when growing up and later conversations with extended family members during my research.

I only knew my grandaunt Sue for a short time. We both lived in Reno in the mid-1970s, and I visited with her several times. She was a very sweet lady who reminded me a lot of my grandmother Margaret. Most of the family stories I heard about Susie began with “Poor Sue.” I think her siblings felt Susie had had a pretty rough road in life.

The “Poor Sue” seems to begin with the death of her husband John Kelley. By all accounts, she loved him very much and his sudden death was shattering. Susie was pregnant at the time and she and her infant daughter (also named Nettie) moved back in with her mother. John Kelley’s son John Stewart Kelley was born in his grandmother’s home three months later. Her mother Nettie fired the maid and Susie picked up her duties to pay her way. It’s my understanding that Nettie never missed an opportunity to let her daughter know how “lucky” she was to have a place to go.

I’ve heard that when Susie married Edmund Griffin, Nettie told her that she didn’t like him or want him in her house. What is also clear in listening to the family stories is that Edmund and his mother-in-law Nettie butted heads frequently and the dislike and lack of respect was mutual. [Read more…]

Hard as Nails – Part 2

Henrietta “Nettie” Ella (Frith) MacLean Abell (1875-1963)

On the 1920 census, we find Nettie with a full house. Nettie, sons Edward 13, and Welling 11, daughter Susie 22, and her two children Nettie and John Stewart, Margaret and husband Harry Walker, as well as Ada and husband John (Jack) K. Stillwell.1 It’s my understanding that Nettie charged the married couples the going rate on rent. Margaret and Ada moved out within a year. My uncle Craig said his father Harry couldn’t wait to get out of his mother-in-laws house and they relocated to Philadelphia. Susie married Edmund Griffin in about 1922 and moved out also.
2a
In the early 1920s, Nettie married Alfred Abell. Alfred was born 26 May 1870 in West Hoboken, Hudson, New Jersey,2 and worked as a foreman for the coal company. He was the son of Thomas and Rachel (Unknown) Abell and (based on census records) had been previously married to Georganna Streit in about 1903. I don’t know if they were divorced or if she died. They had no children. By 1940, Alfred had relocated to Greene County, New York, but both he and Nettie still list themselves as married. Alfred died there 14 Jun 1962.3 I have not yet found out if they ever divorced. If anyone wants to hunt the records, everything would have happened in Nassau County and most likely in Mineola or North Hempstead.
9b9c
The interesting part of this relationship is that none of the grandchildren knew they were married. My mother Shirlee and her brother Craig thought Alfred was the handyman because when they visited; they ate at the dining room table and Alfred took his meals in the kitchen. I also heard him referred to as “the butler” because he sometimes served the food before retreating to the kitchen. Nettie also did not speak to him during these times. My mother never heard Nettie refer to herself as Abell, and recalls that when she wrote to her grandmother, she addressed her letters to Mrs. Nettie MacLean.
1010b
My mother spent many summers on Long Island with her grandmother and cousins in the 1930s and ’40s. She and Craig both spoke of their grandmother frequently. According to them, Nettie definitely ran things in the family and when she spoke, they all listened and did as they were told. As my mother got older, she became more open about her grandmother, referring to Nettie as “warm when it suited her” but “hard as nails” underneath. She took in her grandchildren, but they were expected to work for their room and board. She was known to meddle and manipulate her children when it suited her, and was not above naming a child (her son Welling Seeley MacLean) after a wealthy childless relative in hopes he would leave his namesake something.
15a
Nettie lived with her son Edward and his family until her death on 21 Dec 1963 in Mineola on Long Island. She was buried in the Roslyn Cemetery and shares a tombstone with first husband George. The two spellings of the last name make it very clear to me that Nettie was a woman who lived life on her own terms and did things her own way.HPIM0739



Footnotes
1. 1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Roslyn, No. Hempstead, Nassau, New York, dwelling 187, family 152, MacLean, Nettie; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 12 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T625. Cit. Date: 12 May 2014.
2. database(accessed 3 Jul 2014), Alfred Abell, 26 May 1870, W. Hoboken, Hudson, New Jersey, Thomas and Rachel Abell; Ancestry.com. New Jersey, Births and Christenings Index, 1660-1931. Cit. Date: 3 Jul 2014.
3. database(accessed 3 Jul 2014), Alfred Abell, 14 Jun 1962, Catskill, Greene County, NY State Death Cert. #1962/46790; The New York State Death Index, 1957-1963.

Hard as Nails

Henrietta “Nettie” Ella (Frith) MacLean Abell

This will be one of the more difficult pieces to write because I’m not sure there will be much “balance” in it. I’ve heard a lot about Nettie over the years and to be honest – most of it was not complimentary. Craig Walker referred to his grandmother as a “mean old broad” and admitted to being afraid of her as a child and avoiding her as an adult. He told me that Nettie could hold a grudge forever and had an opinion about everyone and everything. My mother Shirlee agreed with Craig’s assessment. My grandmother Margaret, who never had an unkind word about anyone, referred to her mother as “difficult.”

43160e59-0fb9-497e-acd1-3901a6f60083
Henrietta “Nettie” Ella Frith was born in 2 Mar 1875 in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. She was the third child of George Richard Frith (1849-1903) and Henrietta F. Brimlow (1847-1884). While they were recording births in Brooklyn as early as 1866, I have not yet found a record for Nettie.

There has been some discussion about whether her name was Henrietta or simply Nettie. Nettie is the diminutive form of the name and most of her documentation is in that name. My belief that her birth name was Henrietta is based on two specific records. The 1 Jun 1875 New York State Census1 enumerates the Frith family in Brooklyn as:
George age 25,
Henrietta 25,
Ruth 2,
Henry 4 months.
It is probable that the census worker used the Henr. abbreviation in his notebook and simply wrote Henry instead of Henrietta when filling out the master sheet.

32848_B094052-00713The second item is the 1 Jun 1915 New York State Census when she is enumerated as Henrietta.2 This would have been her first official record after her husband died and she gave her full name. However, Nettie most likely chose to use the diminutive and it’s the name her family used for her.

Nettie’s mother died in 1884 when Nettie was only nine. She told her granddaughters that she had a vivid memory of her mother lying in the casket with a stillborn infant in her arms. My mother and her cousins were unnerved by this story at a very young age.

Nettie married her first cousin George Edward McLean on 12 July 1893.3 The news article about their secret marriage being discovered due to her fit of jealousy is revealing in its own way. Very early on, Nettie appears to be a woman who went after the things she wanted. She moves from Brooklyn to North Hempstead, Long Island (then Queens County) after her marriage to George.

Their first child was a stillborn boy born 19 May 1894.4 He was interred in the McLean family plot. Their next three children were daughters: Susan (Susie) Wynn born 20 Mar 1897,5 Margaret Frith born 22 Apr 1899,6 and Ada Mae born 25 Aug 1901.7 There is a five-year-gap and then the two boys appeared: Edward Frith born 29 Aug 1906,8 and Welling Seeley born 1908.9 The family was enumerated there together on 16 Apr 1910.10 Life appeared to be good as they own their home and have a servant to help in the kitchen. Margaret could not recall a time growing up when her mother did not have some type of domestic help.

George passed away 25 Mar 1915,11 and his mother Susan Winn (Frith) McLean (Nettie’s aunt) passed on 21 May 1915.12 Nettie was now on her own with five children. Oldest daughter Susie married John T. Kelley the following year. John Kelley, born 18 Jul 1888 in Brooklyn 13 was a fireman on the Long Island Railway and not approved of by Nettie. He died 28 Oct 191814 of the Spanish Influenza (I’m awaiting the death certificate for confirmation of this family story) and was buried in the McLean family plot in Roslyn Cemetery.
6b
Sometime between 1915 and 1920, Nettie chose to change the spelling of her last name to MacLean. The family story was that Nettie was sure the “Mac” spelling denoted the Scottish and the “Mc” spelling was for the Irish. According to my sources, Nettie appeared to feel the Irish were less than desirable and wanted to make sure that everyone knew they were Scottish. This was a common misconception that was making the rounds in the early 20th century, but those of us who do genealogy know that spelling means nothing. This is the only branch of the family that made the switch in spelling. It was a source of confusion in the research for some time.

Stay tuned for Part II –



Footnotes:
1. Brooklyn, Kings, Ward 16, E.D. 1, p. 41, line 42, George Frith; digital images, Ancestry(accessed 14 May 2014). Cit. Date: 14 May 2014.
2. New York, population schedule, No. Hempstead, Nassau, New York, p. 17, dwelling 47, line 36, McLean, Henrietta; digital images, Ancestry(accessed 12 May 2014). Cit. Date: 12 May 2014.
3. Marriage Record, Certificate of Marriage Brooklyn #3969, 12 Sep 1893, George Edward McLean and Nettie Ella Frith, witnesses: Norman and Cordelia Edith Roscoe. FHL Film #1,523,044. Cit. Date: 26 Apr 2014.
4. Roslyn Cemetery (Letter from Dominick Tarantino, Manager, Roslyn Cemetery, Roslyn, NY dated 24 Mar 08. List of people in McLean plot #61, Section Old Chart, with Name, Date of Internment and Age (if known)), Cit. Date: 10 Apr 2008.
5. State of California, “Death Index, 1940-1997,” database(accessed 10 May 2014), State of California, “Death Index, 1940-1997,” database(accessed 10 May 2014), Susan Wynn Griffin, SSN 545421305, b. 20 Mar 1897 NY, d15 Sep 1993, Santa Clara, mother maiden Frith, Father surname MacLean. Cit. Date: 10 May 2014. Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
6. New York Department of Health, birth certificate (1899), Margaret McLean; New York State Dept of Health, Albany. Cit. Date: 19 Jun 2008.
7. Ancestry.com, Social Security Death Index, 1935-Current, Number: 103-14-4866; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: Before 1951.
8. Ancestry.com, Social Security Death Index, 1935-Current, Edward F. MacLean, 091-03-1366, b. 29 Aug 1906, d. 29 Feb 1988. Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
9. Roslyn Cemetery (Letter from Dominick Tarantino, Manager, Roslyn Cemetery, Roslyn, NY dated 24 Mar 08. List of people in McLean plot #61, Section Old Chart, with Name, Date of Internment and Age (if known)), Cit. Date: 10 Apr 2008.
10. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule, No. Hempstead, Nassau, New York, enumeration district (ED) 1123, p. 2A, dwelling 22, family 22, Mclean, George E.; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 12 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T624, roll T624 995. Cit. Date: 12 May 2014.
11. Roslyn Cemetery (Letter from Dominick Tarantino, Manager, Roslyn Cemetery, Roslyn, NY dated 24 Mar 08. List of people in McLean plot #61, Section Old Chart, with Name, Date of Internment and Age (if known)), Age 47 years 6 mo 15 days. Cit. Date: 10 Apr 2008.
12. New York death certificate 84 (1915), Susan Wynn MacLean, died 21 May 1915, Port Washington, Nassau, New York.
13. “World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.Ancestry.com : accessed 9 May 2014), John Kelley, July 18, 1888, Electric Railway Conductor; U.S., World War I Draft Registration Crds, 1917-1918.
14. Roslyn Cemetery (Letter from Dominick Tarantino, Manager, Roslyn Cemetery, Roslyn, NY dated 24 Mar 08. List of people in McLean plot #61, Section Old Chart, with Name, Date of Internment and Age (if known)), Age 30. Cit. Date: 10 Apr 2008.

Union Cemetery in Brooklyn 1851-1897

Unburying Your Dead

One of the more frustrating aspects of genealogy is attempting to locate a death date and burial location for your ancestor. We know they’re dead, and we know that death occurred between 1870 and 1880 since we have census information on the individual in 1870 and a widowed spouse in 1880. But death records were not common in the 19th century. Finding a cemetery list naming your ancestor is just as exciting as finding a maiden name for your fourth great grandmother. We’re all hopeful that there’s a tombstone to provide us the full dates of births and death, and maybe even what damn county or shire in England, Scotland, or Ireland they came from. But in this family, cemetery information and tombstones have been scarce.

Now, imagine you’re lucky enough to discover which cemetery your ancestor is in, only to learn they aren’t there because that cemetery no longer exists. And, not only does it no longer exist, the records are missing.

Case in point, Union Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Union Cemetery was founded in 1851 on 10 acres in the Eastern District of Brooklyn. In brief, the cemetery was founded by two churches – one from New York City and one from Brooklyn. The New York church sold its share to the Brooklyn church in 1875. Then in 1897, the Brooklyn church decided to sell the land after the burial site was full. Over 30,000 burials had occurred on the site, and all those bodies needed to be relocated. Families were given the choice of arranging for relocation or letting the contractor hired by the church relocate the bodies. All bodies not claimed by a family were relocated to a ten-acre plot within Cedar Grove Cemetery in Flushing. This task was accomplished within a sixty-day period from December 1897 through January 1898. According to newspaper articles, single boxes was to be used to hold the contents of each grave, and the remains were then reinterred at Cedar Grove in corresponding order along with associated monuments. The burial occurred in numbered plots matching the order of removal.

But that’s where the recorded trail takes a giant dump. [Read more…]

Peter Charles McLean’s children

The children of Peter Charles and Margaret (Swasey) McLean:

1. Charles Edward McLean was born in 1830 in New York City, New York. He’s first found by name on the 1850 census with his parents in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Kings, New York.1 The 1855 New York Census provided his birth county.2 He is on his own in the 1860 census.3 Charles went with his sister-in-law Susan W. (Frith) McLean to bring his younger brother Peter B. home from Philadelphia in 1862.

He first married Sarah A. Burger (1838-1867) prior to 1865. He is found with wife Sarah and her parents John A. Burger (1809-1887) and Jane Eliza Fairweather (1817-1908) on the 1865 New York State Census in Brooklyn. Sarah died in August 1867 and was interred in Green-Wood Cemetery on 22 August.

On 2 Dec 1868 in Brooklyn, the 37 year-old Charles, married 20 year-old Isabella Marie Brown. According to the marriage record, Isabella was the daughter of Jacob M. and Margaret (Miller) Brown.4
1868 McLean - Copy - Copy
Charles, like the rest of his family, was a painter and grainer. He appears in many of the Brooklyn city directories from 1867-1889. He lived the remainder of his life in Brooklyn. He and Isabella had five children together, three of whom are known.
George F. McLean (1871- ?)
Harriet August McLean (1873-22 Oct 1945) m. William Wood (1869-?)
Cordelia Bruce McLean (5 Oct 1881-21 Jan 1969) m. John Watson Moore (1873-1940)
He died 25 Dec 1891 in Brooklyn.5 Charles was interred in Cypress Hills Cemetery.

Isabella Marie (Brown) McLean was born 19 July 1846 in Hackensack, Bergen, New Jersey. She had one sibling Freeman Poole Brown (1849-1925). Her mother died sometime after the 1850 census and while her father and brother were easily located, Isabella proved difficult. It is possible that she was sent to live with her mother’s family while young. After Charles’s death, Isabella moved to Huntsville, Madison, Alabama, with daughter Cordelia and her husband. She died there on 18 January 1922 and was interred in Maple Hill Cemetery. Her stone has her name as MACLEAN and it is probable that it was placed well after her death as it matches the stones of her daughter and son-in-law.

2. Peter Byron McLean (1832-1895) – previously discussed.

3. Washington McLean was born about 1836 in New York City and can be found with his parents and siblings on the 1850 and 1860 census.

In about 1862, he married Mary Elizabeth Brown. Mary was born about 1842 and is the daughter of David H. Brown (1818-1900). Washington worked as a painter and wallpaper hanger. He’s first found in the 1865 Brooklyn city directory7 at 236 Grand and remains at the address until the 1880s when he relocates to 285 Grand. 236 Grand is a 3-story brownstone and appears to be both business and home, but 285 is a single-story brick business. In 1890, his residence is listed as Port Washington in Queens, and that is where he passed away on 27 Nov 1891.8

Mary apparently continued to run the business with her son David for a short time as she appears in the 1892 and 1893 city directories.9 In 1898, she provided a deposition for her sister-in-law Susan W. (Frith) McLean in the matter of her widow’s pension. On the 1900 census, Mary stated she had a total of five children, three of whom were still living.10 (David, Margaret, and Ann). Mary died 11 Jun 1930 in Port Washington, Nassau, New York.

Washington and Mary had five children, four of whom are known. David Charles McLean (1863-1934) m. Adelaid B. Demarest (1863-1940); Margaret Rebecca McLean (1865-1945) did not marry; Anne F. McLean (abt 1872-aft1930) did not marry; John McLean (abt 1879-bef 1900) did not marry.

4. Nathaniel Bruce McLean was born 10 Aug 1838 in New York City and died 17 Aug 1860 in Williamsburg of nervous exhaustion. He was buried in Union Cemetery.11 His obituary appeared in the New York Tribune on 20 Aug 1860.12
NathlMcLean - Copy

McLEAN- At Williamsburgh, on Friday, August 17, Nathaniel Bruce McLean, aged 22 years, youngest son of P.C. McLean.”

5. Sarah Amelia McLean was born in 1842 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Kings, New York. She can be found there with her parents and sibling on multiple census records. According to the 1870 census record Sarah was a music teacher; she and her father resided with her older brother Peter B. and his family.13

On 23 Jan 1873, she married John Milton Page (1840-2 Mar 1931) in Brooklyn. John Milton Page was born in Maine, the son of Madison and Louisa (Small) Page.14 John served in the 40th NY Volunteers (Mozart Regiment) during the Civil War and was wounded at Bull Run.15
mclsarah1a - Copy
Sarah died in Brooklyn 24 Nov 191216 and was interred in Green-Wood Cemetery. Her obituary in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle was brief.17
Sarah BDE 24 Nov 1912 p72 c2
John eventually relocated to Rockville Center in Nassau County where he remained until his death on 2 Mar 1931. His obituary appeared in the New York Times on 3 Mar 1931.18
John NYT 3 Mar 1931
John PageHe and Sarah are both interred in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.19 I have requested photographs of her tombstone.

They had two known children: Margaret R. Page (abt 1874-2 Dec 1935) did not marry, and John Wallace Page (27 Sep 1879-Jan 1964) m. Josie Mary Baldwin (abt 1882-Dec 1952). They had 2 known children: John Wallace Page, Jr. and Marjorie Page.



1. 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Williamsburg, Kings, New York, p. 469B, dwelling 1508, family 2100, Peter McLean; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 10 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll M432 522. Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
2. 1855, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 14, Kings, New York, p. E.D. 2, dwelling 832, line 6, P.C. McLean; digital images, Ancestry(accessed 10 May 2014). Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
3. 1860 U.S. census, population schedule, Williamsburg, Broooklyn, Kings, New York, p. 679, dwelling 196, family 276, Chas E. McLean, age 29, Painter; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 10 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll M653 772. Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
4. Kings, New York, Marriage Records, 1952, Charles E. McLean-Isabella M. Brown, 2 Dec 1868; FHL microfilm 1,543,776. Cit. Date: 2 Aug 2010.
5. “New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1848,” database, New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1848 (accessed 8 Jun 2014), Charles McLean, age 61, died 25 Dec 1891, Kings, Cert #20929. Cit. Date: 8 Jun 2014.
6. “New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1848,” database, New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1848 (accessed 8 Jun 2014), Isabella McLean, age 70, died 3 Apr 1920, Kings, Cert.# 9408. Cit. Date: 8 Jun 2014.
7. City Directory, 1865 Brooklyn, New York : McLean, Washington, paints & paper, 236 Grand; digital images accessed 10 May 2014. Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
8. Newspapers, Abstract from the Long Islander, McLean, Washington, died 27 Nov 1891, Port Washington, LongIslandGenealogy.com. Cit. Date: 6 Jun 2014.
9. City Directory, 1893 Brooklyn, New York : McLean, Mary, paints & paper, 285 Grand; digital images accessed 10 May 2014. Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
10. 1900 U.S. census, population schedule, No. Hempstead, Nassau, New York, enumeration district (ED) 716, p. 6B, dwelling 105, family 117, Mary E. McLean; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 11 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 1079. Cit. Date: 11 May 2014.
11. Kings County, New York, death register August 1860 no. Page 111, Line 372 (17 Aug 1860), Nathaniel B. McLean; FHL microfilm 1,378,817. Cit. Date: 2 Aug 2010.
12. Newspapers, New York Tribune, Monday, 20 Aug 1860, p. 8. Cit. Date: 29 Apr 2014.
13. 1870 U.S. census, population schedule, Williamsburg, Ward 14 Brooklyn, Kings, New York, p. 180A, dwelling 281, family 582, Peter McLean; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 10 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll M593 955. Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
14. Kings, New York, Marriage Records, 119, John A. Page-Sarah A. McLean, 23 Jan 1893; FHL microfilm 1,543,909. Cit. Date: 2 Aug 2010.
15. “John M. Page Dead at 91.,” The New York Times, 3 Mar 1931, online archives (Ancestry : accessed 11 May 2014). Cit. Date: 11 May 2014.
16. “New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1848,” database, New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1848 (accessed 10 Jun 2014), Sarah Page, age 70, died 21 Nov 1912, Kings, Cert.#21579.
17. “Deaths – PAGE,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 24 Nov 1912, p. 72, col. 2; digital images(accessed 11 May 2014). Cit. Date: 11 May 2014.
18. “John M. Page Dead at 91.,” The New York Times, 3 Mar 1931, online archives (Ancestry : accessed 11 May 2014). Cit. Date: 11 May 2014.
19. John M. Page, Find A Grave Memorial# 27428513.

Peter Charles McLean (1805-1872)

Peter Charles McLean was born 28 Apr 18051 in Columbia County, New York.2 It is not yet positively known who his parents are, but I believe he might be the son of Peter and Mary McLean. More research in this area is required. His daughter-in-law Susan Winn (Frith) McLean referred to him in depositions as Charles, indicating that was his preferred name.

Circa 1929, he married Margaret Swasey who was born about 16 Jun 1806 in Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Samuel Swasey and Sarah (Sally) Leigh. Peter Charles (with a female of the appropriate age to be Margaret) was found on the 1830 census in Ward 7 of New York City,3 but I have been unable to locate him in 1840. Peter C. relocated to Williamsburg in 1842, and thereafter he and his family are found on the 1850, 1860, and 1870 federal census records as well as the 1855 New York State Census.4,5,6,7

Margaret passed away 11 Sep 1854 in Williamsburg and was probably interred in Union Cemetery. Her death notice appeared in the New York Daily Times.

“At Williamsburg, L.I., on Monday, Sept.11, MARGARET, wife of P.C. McLean, in the 49th year of her age.”8

Peter Charles was a house, sign, and fresco painter. Several of his sons followed him into that trade and either worked with him or opened their own businesses. The city directories for Brooklyn between 1860 and 1870 list both he and his sons with paint and wallpaper businesses located on Grand Avenue. He never remarried.

Peter Charles was nothing less than a stand-up guy. When his desperately ill son Peter B. came home from the war in early 1862, he moved in with his father. For almost three years, Peter Charles took care of his son and supported Peter B.’s family as he recovered. In about 1869, Peter Charles suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed and unable to care for himself. Peter B. took in his father and Peter Charles remained with his son until his death on 27 Feb 1872.

He was interred on 29 Feb 1872 in Union Cemetery.9 I have not yet found an obituary.

He and Margaret had five known children who will be discussed in the next post.
1. Charles E. McLean
2. Peter Byron McLean – previously discussed.
3. Washington McLean
4. Nathaniel Bruce McLean
5. Sarah Amelia McLean

*note – Union Cemetery was closed and the bodies relocated. I will cover this in a separate post.



1. Kings County, New York, death certificate no. 1916 (27 Feb 1872), Peter Charles McLean; FHL microfilm 1,324,745. Cit. Date: 2 Aug 2010.
2. 1855, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 14, Kings, New York, p. E.D. 2, dwelling 832, line 6, P.C. McLean; digital images, Ancestry(accessed 10 May 2014). Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
3. 1830 U.S. census, New York Ward 7, New York, New York, p. 79, line 22, McLean, Peter C.; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 10 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M19, roll 97. Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
4. 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Williamsburg, Kings, New York, p. 469B, dwelling 1508, family 2100, Peter McLean; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 10 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll M432 522. Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
5. 1860 U.S. census, population schedule, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Ward 13 Dist 1, Kings, New York, p. 653, dwelling 55, family 89, Peter C. McLean; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 10 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll M653 772. Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
6. 1870 U.S. census, population schedule, Williamsburg, Ward 14 Brooklyn, Kings, New York, p. 180A, dwelling 281, family 582, Peter McLean; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 10 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll M593 955. Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
7. 1855, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 14, Kings, New York, p. E.D. 2, dwelling 832, line 6, P.C. McLean; digital images, Ancestry(accessed 10 May 2014). Cit. Date: 10 May 2014.
8. Newspapers, New York Daily Times, 28 Sep 1854. Cit. Date: 2 May 2014.
9. Kings County, New York, death certificate no. 1916 (27 Feb 1872), Peter Charles McLean; FHL microfilm 1,324,745. Cit. Date: 2 Aug 2010.

As Strong as They Come

Susan Winn (Frith) McLean (1839-1915)

The Civil War pension file for Peter B. was often painful to read, but much of the personal material about his quality of life was found in his wife Susan’s widow’s pension application and the depositions written on her behalf. While reading about his condition and demise saddened me, more often than not, my mind turned to the question of what it must have been like for Susan.
Susan

Susan Wynn Frith was born 24 Jun 1839 in Kings County, New York. She was the second child of William and Frances (Brown) Frith who had arrived from England only two years earlier. Her mother died when Susan was thirteen and her father died the following year. Her grand aunt Ellen Winn took in Susan and her siblings. She was barely seventeen when she married Peter Byron McLean on 27 Aug 1856 in Brooklyn. Her first child, Franklin Byron McLean arrived on 6 Nov 1857. Son Washington and daughter Sarah R. followed.

In June of 1861, Susan might have thought life was pretty good. Her husband had a thriving business in Brooklyn, she and Peter owned their home, she had three children, and her siblings and in-laws lived nearby. But then Peter decided to go play soldier. He helped raise a company and by the beginning of winter, he’d gone marching off to war, leaving Susan to manage without him.

Eight short months later, Susan was married to a complete invalid who was delusional and, according to the doctors at the hospital, a man who “might become violent.” [Read more…]

Peter B. McLean, 1st Lt, Co H, 87th NY Inf – 4

The Civil War & its cost –
Part 4 – Peter B.’s Bitter End 1890-1895

By the end of 1890, Peter B. McLean was crippled by rheumatism and still struggling with the malarial fevers that had plagued him throughout his post war years. His pension made it possible for him to turn his business over to his sons, and I like to believe that life became a little easier for a short time. However, it appears that any relief and peace may have been short-lived.

Sister-in-law Ruth Reed stated, “Mr. McLean was totally disabled from labor last 5 years of his life. … I noticed evidence of insanity a year or two before he was sent to the Asylum. He used to think his children were all in hell and he was trying to get them out. He talked at random. I knew of no cause for this. He had no financial or family trouble or religious trouble to my knowledge. For 5 or so years before he died he used to say that his head bothered him and that he couldn’t sleep nights.”

According to his wife Susan, Peter B. came down with a case of “la grippe” in January 1893. Grippe was a common name in its time for influenza. She stated in her deposition that this bout of illness “left him very weak and nervous. Could not sleep and as a result his mind gave way… Every time he was sick it would seem to affect his head.”

From Daniel Harrison’s deposition: “For several years prior to his death, he lost so much sleep from pain that his mind became affected and a commission was appointed to inquire into his sanity.”

In June of 1893, a panel of doctors was assembled to examine Peter B., and they recommended his commitment to the asylum at Middletown, New York. The records of his examination are not part of his pension file as they were medical records that went to the hospital with him. He was committed to The Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital on 1 Jul 1893.
middletown2

Peter B. remained in the asylum for the rest of his life and died there 1 Oct 1895. His death certificate stated the primary cause was chronic melancholia and the secondary cause a pulmonary hemorrhage.

Only after his death is the reality of his final years brought to light. When his wife applied for a widow’s pension shortly after his death, the hospital was contacted for a statement about his death. The pension board was attempting to determine if his death was related to his military service. The following letter dated 4 Feb 1896 was received:

“Sir:-
Your communication under date of Jan. 31, 1896 regarding the late Peter B. McLean, has been received, and in reply I would state:
On admission to this hospital he was in a feeble physical condition, rapidly losing flesh; weighed on admission 144 lbs. and a month later 109 lbs.; was very restless, suspicious, careless in his habits, destructive and inclined to suicide, having the delusion that he was being persecuted by the devil, did not care to talk, would admit of no pain but manner very nervous. The remote cause of his sickness were supposed to be predisposition (nervous), and exciting physical disease. The physical disease referred to, was an attack of grip he had had in January 1892. In his history it was stated that “he was ill with typhoid fever in the army in 1862. After convalescence his mind was not right for six months.” It is probable that phthisis was developed before admission to this hospital.
Very truly yours,
C. Spencer Kinney”

According to my Merriam-Webster, phthsis is a wasting or consumptive condition such as pulmonary tuberculosis. This explains the secondary cause of death.

It was a painful and ugly ending for a good man.