Wednesday, 22 March 2017

What happened to our family from 1851? Generation Four - John Donoghue

The generations
One:    Patrick? Donoghue (b.c.1745) & an unknown wife – gggggrandparents
Two:    James Donoghue (b.c.1775) & Julia Boyle – ggggrandparents
Three:  Thomas Donoghue (b.1806) & Ellen Connor - gggrandparents
Four:    Julia Donoghue (b.1834) & John Carrington (b.1830)
            James Donoghue (b.1836)
            Catherine Donoghue (b.1839) & James Madden (b.1848?)
            John Donoghue (b.1841)
            Thomas O’Donoghue (b.1844) & Mary Sullivan (b.1845) - ggrandparents
            Ellen Donoghue (b.1847)
            Mary Ann Donoghue (b.1852) & William Rochester (b.c.1850)       

Family stories

Like every family ours has its stories.  Like all tales they evolve over time.  In an earlier blog I described the John Donoghue of Ballyduff who is said to have been shot by the British, possibly during the 1848 rebellion. 

Now we have another John, whose story is even more fascinating.  He is said to have ridden with Buffalo Bill. 

Trying to unravel these tales is not easy and one must take a few flyers to make progress. One can never be certain of the ‘facts’, so must interpret them.

Prior to America
John was born in Ballyduff in 1841 and baptised in the village church.  He might have had a few years of schooling at the National School before leaving for London with his family.
He turns up next in the UK 1861 census as a labourer living with his mother, brother, Thomas, and sister, Mary Ann.  They were in 28 Mary Street, Poplar, which I have described in earlier blogs.  This was in one of the poorest and roughest areas and full of Irish.
He stated that he was 17 which would have implied birth in 1844.  Over the years he got proportionately younger.  By 1871 he was 24 with birth in 1847 and in 1881, 33, born in 1848.  He either could not count or was trying to remain younger for his marriage prospects as he was still unmarried in 1881.
By 1871 the family, apart from Thomas, was living with the eldest sibling, Julia, in 3A Market Street, north of the East India Dock Road.  They were still there in 1881.  In 1871 there were fourteen people living in the house.  Market Street was at the west end of Cordelia Street which ran into Chrisp Street at its east end. Charles Booth’s notebooks (the man who prepared the poverty maps of 1889/1890) described it as a heavy drinking area where people came from the Isle of Dogs to do their shopping.
This implies a lot of pubs and in Appendix I have listed those in streets in which our family lived at some point, and in Chrisp Street.  They were all around in 1871-1900.  There were twelve in Chrisp Street, nine in Grundy Street and eight in Upper North Street.  No wonder the area was notorious for its drinking.
With regard to shopping, the departure of street-traders and costermongers to Chrisp Street from Poplar High Street from the late 1860s onwards started the trend that led to its reputation as one of the cheapest middle-class markets in the whole of London. This market place presence was sustained and enhanced by the building in 1951 of today’s trading area – Chrisp Street Market, with its iconic clock tower.  It was the first purpose-built pedestrian shopping area in the UK.
For the younger generation (you decide!), a costermonger bought fruit and vegetables (and other stuff) wholesale and sold them retail. Technically they were hawkers since only a minority had fixed stalls or standings. The rest cried out their wares as they walked the streets with barrows, donkey carts, or shallows (trays carried on the head).  They were at their peak in the Victorian period.
I find it interesting that both his father, Thomas a farrier, and John, are described in the census as labourers.  For our ancestors in the ship building and repair industries occupations are spelt out in more detail: hammerman, riveter, boilermaker etc.  But other skilled jobs such as a farrier or blacksmith are not.  It seems highly unlikely that Thomas and as you will see, John, would have done more basic tasks as from 1859, for the London Sewerage system, and 1860, for the London Underground Railway, the demand for horses and associated skills must have been phenomenal.
After 1881 I can find no record of John in England.  My Uncle Bernie told me that he remembers a sepia photo of him standing by a chair, and that he went to America.

To America

A John O’Donoghue, born 1841, arrived in New York on 12 December 1881 on the Cunard Royal   I believe that this is our John as his birth date is right and he gave the full spelling with the O’ that his brother Thomas put back when he got married in 1865.
Mail Steamer Palmyra.

The Palmyra was built in 1865 and for a few years was on the Liverpool-Queenstown (Cobh/Cork)-New York run.  In 1880 she was used as a war transport for the Zulu Wars, but by 1881 was back on the New York trip.

In 1882 she hit the headlines in The Graphic with a daring rescue of the derelict barque Norton, towing her back into Falmouth.

John would have arrived at Castle Garden, today known as Castle Clinton National Monument, within The Battery, the 25 acre waterfront park at the tip of Manhattan. From 1855 to 1890, the Castle was America's first official immigration centre.

A John Donoghue took US nationality in 1887 in New York City.  His occupation was conductor.  As most road transport in NYC was horse-drawn, this gives a modicum of comfort that I have found the right man. Unfortunately the US census of 1890 was largely destroyed so I cannot check further.  I have been unable to find him in the 1900 one.

In 1890, even after electrification had already begun, twenty-two thousand horses and mules were still required simply for pulling streetcars in New York City and in Brooklyn. Ten years earlier, when New York and Brooklyn had no electric railways and 1,764,168 souls, they had a total equine population of 150,000 to 175,000.  It must have been chaos.  The health hazard from the manure was awful and became a crisis by 1894.

My Uncle Len said that John was Buffalo Bill’s mate and was in his roadshow.  I have also been told that he returned to England with the show when it was put on at Premierland, the venue in Whitechapel owned by his niece, my Aunt Ada’s husband anny Lyttlestone.

William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody and his Wild West Show

So, did John work with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show (WWS)?  And the answer is….I think he did.

In 2009 I contacted the Buffalo Bill Historical Center asking if they had any knowledge of John; they didn’t.  As I set out to write this blog I thought I would try again.  This time I struck lucky because their records have expanded enormously. 

They have a Donohue, a WWS Employee as a blacksmith on the Salary List from October 1894 to January 1895.  While a first name would be helpful, the fact that the person is a blacksmith makes it a strong possibility that this is John. 
There is another Donohue listed in the 1899 Route Book: William Donohue, WWS employee as four-horse driver in 1899-1900.  It is unlikely he was one of ours as William is not a recognised family name.
So the next question is did the Wild West Show come to London?  The WWS toured from 1883 to 1916 all around the world and when in England and Wales in 1902-3 went to every major town, covering 9,361 miles.  It was enormously popular.
The London tours were in May 9 – Oct.? 1887, May 7 – Oct. 12, 1892 (billboard left), Dec. 26, 1902 – April 4, 1903 and again in 1904.

The first tour was to be the top act at the American Exhibition and the performance was attended by Queen Victoria, an unheard of circumstance as entertainers were usually expected to go to her!  It was her Golden Jubilee year.
The scale of Cody’s undertaking amazed the press on both shores of the Atlantic. When the show’s company boarded the State of Nebraska steamship (see above) for London, its entourage included ‘83 saloon passengers, 38 steerage passengers, 97 Indians, 180 horses, 18 buffalo, 10 elk, 5 Texan steers, 4 donkeys, and 2 deer’. As the ship steamed across the ocean, Major John Burke (one of the show’s managers) and an advance party plastered London with posters and drummed up anticipation in the press.
During the Wild West’s run at the American Exhibition at Earls Court, Cody’s managers rarely missed a beat.  They organised twice-a-day performances that played to crowds that averaged around 30,000.  This meant that, since the grandstand could seat about 20,000, the show played to standing-room only crowds who thrilled to the performances based on ‘The Drama of Civilization’ and to the stage effects, which included sweeping painted backdrops of the American West illuminated by electricity.  By the time the American Exhibition closed in October 1887, well over a million people had witnessed Buffalo Bill’s performances.
What seems unlikely is that the show appeared at Premierland. 

The People's Arcade was built at the top of Backchurch Lane around 1906 on the site of a former fish market, and was a centre of immigrant life and activity.  When licensed in 1910, it had a seating capacity of 748.  In December 1911 it was renamed Premierland ('Pree-mier-land') and it incorporated a boxing ring, where many East End boxers began their careers, many of them Jewish (among them Ted 'Kid' Lewis at the opening match, and Jack 'Kid' Berg).

The dates do not work if the Wild West Show’s last visit to London or Great Britain was in 1904, unless there was something before the People’s Arcade.

What happened to John after the WWS?

It is, of course, possible that John stayed with the show longer than the employment record states.  By 1895 he will have been aged 54 and so, if his smithy skills were in short supply, he might have gone on longer. 

I have been unable to find him in either the 1900 US Census or the 1901 UK version.  This implies that he had died before 1900.

There are three deaths in the USA before 1900: John O’Donohoe in 1897 in Chattanooga, Tennessee; John Donohue, on 4 July, 1896 in Brooklyn, NYC; John Donohue on 20/4/1898 in Manhattan, NYC

In the UK, there is a John Donoghue who died in Poplar in 1898 but, having got the certificate, he is not our man.  I think Bernie or Len would have known if he had come back home.

So my current assumption is that John died in NYC in 1896 or 1898.  

As it takes 4-6 weeks to get a NYC death certificate and costs $15, I will put this job on the back burner until I have done some more research.


Pubs in our ancestors’ streets plus Chrisp Street from

The dates are when the establishment appeared in trade directories.  They may have remained open sometime beyond the last date below.

This web site has lots of pictures so if you want to have a gander go there…

Alexander, 25 Upper North Street: 1869-1934
Alma, 96 Grundy Street: 1869-1944
Anchor, 162 Chrisp Street, Bromley: 1861-1938
Builders Arms, 162 Grundy Street, Bromley: 1861-1991
Byrons Head, 17 Railway Street, Bromley: 1861-1921
Childe Harold, 17 Railway Street, Bromley: 1861-1901
160 Chrisp Street, Bromley: 1898-1921
City Of Canton, 4 Upper North Street: 1842-1938
Coach & Horses, 132 Chrisp Street, Bromley: 1869-1921
Coat & Badge, 10 Chrisp Street: 1869-1921
Duke of Clarence, 135 Grundy Street: 1834-1931
Duke of Edinburgh, 27 Grundy Street: 1869-1911
Early Bird, 50 Chrisp Street: 1876-1911
Elder Tree, 119 Chrisp Street, Bromley: 1837-1938
Enterprise, 69 Grundy Street: 1869-1991 – became Festival Inn
Grundy Arms, 83 Grundy Street: 1836-1933
Guy Earl of Warwick, 5 Chrisp Street: 1841-1944
Hind Arms, 61 Upper North Street: 1869-1915
Horn of Plenty Arms, 10 Market Street: 1864-1921
London Stores, 28 Chrisp Street: 1876-1921
Lord Raglan, 100 Chrisp Street, Bromley: 1869-1934
Mariner's Arms, 47 Grundy Street: 1869-1911
Nags Head, 70 Cotton Street: 1833-1938
Norfolk Hero, 92 Canton Street: 1865-1935
Old Red Lion, 81 Kerbey Street, Bromley: 1832-1934
Princess Mary, 67 Kerbey Street: 1881-1934
Princess of Wales, 144 & 146 Grundy Street, Bromley: 1881-1991
Prince of Wales, 61 Chrisp Street: 1869-1991 – became Callaghans
Prince of Wales, 155 Upper North Street: 1856-1944
Royal Charlie, 116 Chrisp Street, Bromley: 1871-1934
Sabbarton Arms, 99 Upper North Street: 1869-1901
Sir John Barleycorn, 39 Upper North Street: 1869-1921
South African Tavern, 46 Grundy Street: 1874-1991 – in 1993 name changed to The African Queen
Stanley Arms, 134 Kerbey Street, Bromley: 1882-1991
Sussex Arms, 71 Upper North Street: 1863-1944
47 Upper North Street: 1895-1934
Young Prince, 77 Chrisp Street, Bromley: 1859-1944


No comments:

Post a Comment