Irish in Hingham: Hannah and her Brothers

From the 1880s through about 1920, Irish immigration to America was led by women. Fleeing poverty and lack of opportunity in their native land, they came alone or with a friend or cousin. They took jobs as domestic servants or mill workers, managing to send a bit of money home, which enabled other family members to follow. In Hingham, we see this unique immigration pattern played out in the life of Hannah Ferris. Whether or not she paid her brothers’ passage, she and her husband, Henry Trowbridge took them in when they came.

Hannah Ferris Trowbridge (1856-1934)

Hannah (Ferris) Trowbridge and Henry Trowbridge, circa 1885

She came, Hannah Ferris, a young woman, out of the impoverished west of Ireland early in the 1880s. She came, first, to the industrial town in central Massachusetts where she found work as a servant. In the summer of 1884, she came to Hingham, the bride of Henry Trowbridge, farmer, butcher, shop owner, and Civil War vet. He was more than a dozen years her senior, a recent widower, with no children.

How Henry and Hannah met is unknown. There were a number of Irish families in town. Henry’s cousin had a live-in Irish servant as did his several of his neighbors. Did one of them introduce the couple? Someone had to because she lived in Worcester, he lived in Hingham, and because more than miles separated them. She was a domestic servant; he was a business owner. She was Catholic; he held a pew in the Old Ship.

Raymond Trowbridge (1896-1962), son of Henry and Hannah, as a child. Raymond was a WWI and WWII Navy vet. His father was a Civil War Naval Vet.

They married in the Catholic church in Worcester in July 1884 and returned to Hingham where she moved into his house on the corner of Union and Pleasant streets. They had five children. Three of them died young. Their first born, Isabel, died of croup at “2 years, 2 months, 2 days.” Frances died of meningitis at 15 months, and they lost Henry Jr. to tuberculosis at 14. The Catholic cemetery was still new when they buried their young ones.

Henry was more than busy with work, farming, and family, but in 1982, he undertook a new project. He built three new houses on his Pleasant/Union Street property:  a new one for his family and two others that came in handy when his relatives needed them and when Hannah’s brothers started coming to town.

* * * *

Hannah Ferris was the second of twelve children born in a small cottage in rural Killarney. Eight of her siblings immigrated into Massachusetts. Her younger sister Kate went to Worcester where she married, died and was buried in an unmarked grave with her six-month old son. Her seven brothers started their new lives in Boston or Worcester and have stories of their own, several marred by tragedy. The brothers were all in Hingham at some time, and many of their names are inked into St. Paul’s Church records as Godfather to one of Hannah’s children. Of the seven brothers, Morgan, Robert and Daniel lived in Hingham.

Morgan Ferris, my great-grandfather (1859-1938)

The Morgan Ferris family, School Street, 1921. Front, from left: Morgan Ferris, Oliver Tower, Oliver Ferris, Annie Tower, Annie (Tower) Ferris. Back, from left: Kathryn Ferris, Marjorie Ferris, Oliver Ferris, Amy (Litchfield) Ferris, Richard Ferris, Gordon Ferris.

Morgan Ferris came to Boston in about 1884 when he was in his twenties and soon followed Hannah to Hingham. He was a skilled carpenter and set up a business. Over the years, he built many houses on the South Shore. In 1892, he married Annie Tower, daughter of Oliver and Anne Tower of School Street. A minister of the First Baptist Church performed the ceremony in her family home; the record shows she was 19 and he was 29. (He was actually 33.)  They bought a house on School Street at the intersection of Spring Street and had three children, Oliver, Kathyrn, and Gordon. All three children attended Hingham schools, married, and stayed in town. Oliver married Amy Litchfield, Katheryn, Bob McKenzie, and Gordon, Evelyn Staples. They, in turn, had children; many of them made Hingham their home.

Morgan died in 1938 at age 78. There are a few stories that came down the years; most are about his story-telling prowess and his big belly laugh. One is about his love of sports, another says that when he died, the rosary beads he brought with him from Ireland were found in his bureau drawer.

Robert Ferris (1868-1957)

In November 1892, twenty-three-year-old Robert Ferris married Irish-born Margaret McCarthy, a laundress, in Boston. At the time, he was living in Hingham with Henry and Hannah and, more than likely, working on building their new houses. He was a carpenter like several of the brothers, but he wanted something else and became a Boston police officer. He and his family moved closer to the city, and he returned the Union Street house to Hannah in a legal transaction. He began his career patrolling the South Boston waterfront. The only picture I have of him accompanies an article in The Boston Globe in 1901 which recognizes him for saving a nine-year old boy from drowning.  He and Margaret had three children and lived relatively long lives.

Daniel Ferris (b. 1874)

Daniel and Gertrude Ferris’ children, Frances and John, c. 1902.

In 1898, Daniel was a U.S. Marine stationed in Boston, but his home was with Henry and Hannah. In 1899, he married their next-door neighbor, Gertrude Stephenson, daughter of Ezra and Clara of Pleasant Street. Daniel was 23 and she was 20. According to the Hingham Journal, the marriage “took place at St. Paul’s parsonage” on a Wednesday night. After their marriage, the couple lived with her family. Their daughter Francis was born in 1900 and son John in 1901.  Things did not go well, however. Daniel was arrested for theft, court martialed and discharged from the service. Soon after, he left Hingham. Gertrude took a job as shoemaker and lived with her parents before eventually moving to Bank Street.

Daniel disappeared from the record until  September 12, 1918, when he completed a WWI draft registration card. On that day, he was a logger living in a camp in Washington state. In addition to the birthdate, we know he is “our” Daniel Ferris, because he reported his nearest relative to be Robert Ferris, Police Headquarters, Boston, Mass.

Daniel’s problems and subsequent move may have hit Hannah hard – he was her youngest. brother When she was 18, she had walked to a civil registration office in Ireland to report his birth: “Informant, Hannah Ferris, present at birth.”

* * * *

Hannah’s life was full and her door, it seems, was always open. She kept in touch with her brothers and their children. She was Godmother to many and responded when they needed help. When her brother Eugene’s wife died of a fall at their home in Malden, her body was brought to Hingham and buried in Hannah and Henry’s plot in St. Paul’s cemetery.

Henry died in 1930 at 87, “one of the oldest GAR men in the state.”  When Hannah died four years later at 78, she left a detailed will. To her son Raymond she left $1,000, to her daughter Mabel went her house worth $4,100, and to St. Vincent DePaul, a Catholic charity committed to serving the poor and suffering, her entire savings of $3,269.93.

Hannah, Henry and four of their five children are buried in St. Paul’s Cemetery. Morgan and his family are buried in the Hingham Centre Cemetery.

The Trowbridge Ferris graves. Four of Henry and Hannah’s five children and Hannah’s sister-in-law, Emma, are buried here. Henry and Hannah’s names are on the other side.

 

Notes

  1. There are a number of good sources on the subject of Irish female immigration. “The Irish BridgetIrish Immigrant Women in Domestic Service in America, 1840-1930 written by Margaret Lynch-Brennan, is a good one. N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2009.
  2. The National Women’s History Museum website says: “Strong female networks sustained the immigration flow of Irish women, even during times of economic depression … Irish women were the only immigrant group to establish immigration chains … Whereas other ethnic groups sent their sons to America, Ireland sent its daughters.” Raising a glass to Irish women, March14, 2017,
  3. On dates, names and ages: Hannah and Morgan consistently shaved four or five years off their ages on official documents. Their other siblings were only marginally more accurate. Daniel alternately used Donald as his first name.
  4. On quotations in this post: “2 years, 2 months, 2 days”: Isabel Trowbridge death notice, Hingham Journal, Nov. 13, 1887; “took place at St. Paul’s parsonage”: Hingham Journal, June 1899; “one of the oldest GAR men in the state”: Henry Trowbridge obituary, Daily Boston Globe, May 7, 1930.
  5. Eugene’s wife, Emma Ferris, 64, died in a fall from the second-story piazza of her Malden home. “She was cleaning rugs when the railing broke.” The Boston Globe, Sept. 1, 1923.

 

The Daly Family of Hingham

Historian John Richardson (1934-2011) was an avid collector of all things Hingham– its places, its buildings, its people. Among his collection in the Historical Society’s archives are 64 binders of material, gathered from families, purchased at estate sales, or sometimes rescued from homes or buildings facing demolition, that chronicle the lives of a disparate group of Hingham individuals and families.

Two binders are devoted to Daniel Daly (1825-1911), one of the town’s earliest Irish immigrants, and his descendants. They tell a story that takes the family from newcomers just prior to the Civil War to well respected members of the Hingham community by century’s end.

Portrait of John Daly, early 1900s(?), John P. Richardson Collection, Hingham Historical Commission / Hingham Historical Society

Daniel Daly was born in County Armagh, Ireland and arrived in Hingham in 1855, soon after marrying Nancy Crowe (1835-1905) from the County of Tipperary. Daniel began as a gardener, hiring himself out to local families. After serving in the Civil War he started working as a gardener and florist with prominent Hingham families, such as Charles B. Barnes.

Photo of Daniel Daly and 2 others on Estate of Charles B. Barnes, early 1900s, John P. Richardson Collection, Hingham Historical Commission / Hingham Historical Society

With the money he earned, he bought a house at 19 Green Street where he and Nancy raised their family. The Dalys had two children who survived to adulthood and who both attended Hingham schools: Daniel (1857-1900), who later moved to St. Louis and became a police officer, and Edmund (1866-1930), who started out working in retail stores in Boston and later became a businessman ins own right as a partner in the Hingham Bicycle Company and later as the sole owner of Edmund Daly & Co., Hatters and Furnishers, which had a store in West Hingham.

The interior of Edmund Daly and Co. store in West Hingham, 1910s(?), Edmund Daly (center), others unidentified. John P. Richardson Collection, Hingham Historical Commission / Hingham Historical Society

The Daly Family materials include this floor  sample from Daly & Co.:

Sample hat(?) floor sample from Edmund Daly & Co. c. 1910 from John P. Richardson Collection, Hingham Historical Commission / Hingham Historical Society

Because he was a well respected businessman, members of the local community urged him to run for public office, including for a seat in the state legislature in the early 1900s.

Political Poster supporting Edmund Daly for State Representative, Unknown, prior to 1910, John P. Richardson Collection, Hingham Historical Commission / Hingham Historical Society

Though he did not win this election for state office, Edmund served on many town boards, including the Playground Commission. Meanwhile, he inherited the family house on Green Street after his father’s death in 1911.

Edmund Daly standing in the backyard of his home at 19 Green Street, 1920s? John P. Richardson Collection, Hingham Historical Commission / Hingham Historical Society

His community standing and political connections allowed him to be appointed as Hingham Postmaster by President Wilson in 1917, a job he held until 1930 when he suffered a fatal heart attack walking to work from his home. The town was shocked and saddened in hearing the news.

Edmund Daly married Margaret E. Daly (1864-1952). They had one daughter, Annabel Daly (1900-1993) who also attended the Hingham schools. The Richardson Daly binders even include one of her primary school class photos.

Class photo in front of Primary School Building in Hingham, unknown date (circa 1912), Annabel Daly second from left in first row. John Richardson Collection, Hingham Historical Society

She then attended Hingham High School where she graduated in 1918. In her adult life, she kept a scrapbook of her early years and her father’s career, through which most of her family’s history was saved.

Page from Annabel Daly’s Scrapbook, June 1918. John P. Richardson Collection, Hingham Historical Commission / Hingham Historical Society

She not only kept items of a personal nature but chronicled important events in town as well. Among her materials is media coverage of the destruction of the original Hingham High School by fire in 1927.

Page from scrapbook of Annabel Daly, Oct. 1927. John P. Richardson Collection, Hingham Historical Commission / Hingham Historical Society

Annabelle Daly continued to live in the Green Street house until her death at age 92. She did not marry and had no children. She was buried in the family plot at the St. Paul’s Cemetery. Her collection was obtained by John Richardson, who organized the Daly family materials into binders. These Daly binders and other family materials collected by John Richardson will soon be greatly more accessible at the new Hingham Heritage Museum.