My great-great grandparents, William Joseph Myles and Mary Murden Myles and their descendants were parishioners from 1850 through the 1910s. They always lived within a few blocks of Old St Pat’s and throughout the entire 1860s lived at 273 Mott Street. This building abuts the graveyard next to the church. Following a family narrative from my genealogy file.
The William Joseph Myles Family
William J. Myles was born on June 4, 1820 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland. His father’s name is not known, but there is some evidence that his mother’s name was Maria. The family attended Saint Mary’s Church in the Irishtown part of Clonmel, where a reference is found about his baptism date in the parish register. There is no date on his early family life.
In 1837 we find William J. Myles as bound apprentice to Vincent Figgins, Jnr. of 17 West St., Smithfield, London. William J. started his apprenticeship on July 4th, 1837 and finished it seven years later, in 1844. There is no information about the years between 1844 and 1850, however it is known that he married Mary J. Murden of County Galway circa 1847 and they had a child, Annie, 1848 while in Ireland.
William J. Myles, his wife, Mary J., and child Annie, age 2, are first found in the United States in the Federal Census of 1850. The home address is not given in this census. However, they shared an apartment with another family – Peter Hackett, his wife Ann, and their one year old son, Edward. Mr. Hackett was also a printer. At this time William J. was employed as a compositor by the Irish American, a weekly newspaper which was founded in 1849 and cost $2.50 a year. It was a paper for Irish-Americans and contained news about Ireland as well as about Irishmen in New York City. At the same time, William J. joined New York Typographical Union No. 6 when he was thirty years old and remained a member for forty-three years. Thus the young family began a totally new life in New York City about 1849-1850.
Soon thereafter, in 1851, a son was born, aptly named William J. Myles, Jr. He was the only one of seven children to marry and have a family, the remainder died without issue. Next was born Maria Myles in 1853, and she died in 1856 at the age of three years. Agnes J. Myles was born in 1855 and died in 1856. On August 2, 1860 another female child was born, and as was the custom of the times, she was also named Agnes, and later became Sister Fidelis of the Sisters of Good Shepherd. She was a member of the Order for thirty years and died at the age of sixty in Albany, New York, and is buried in Stages Cemetery in Menands, New York.
John Myles was born in 1863 and died in 1893 at the age of thirty years. Nothing is known about him except that he worked in a paint factory.
The last child to be born was Francis V. Myles and he died of croup at the age of five years.
Mary J. Myles, the wife of William J. Myles, Sr. must have been a remarkable woman. This is what is known about her. She was born in Galway, Ireland, and in some manner met and married William J. in Ireland in 1847. The following year she had their first child, Annie. William J. had finished a seven year apprenticeship a few years earlier and was a competent printer. The young couple left Ireland forever in 1849, perhaps because of the potato famine, and began an arduous month long journey to America by sailing ship for a cost of $15.00. Arriving at the Port of New York, they settled in Greenwich Village, sharing an apartment with another family. Perhaps the birth of William J. Myles, Jr. In 1851 stimulated them to seek their own apartment at 33 Prince Street. They were there in 1857 after having two more children, Maria and Agnes, both of whom died in 1856. They then moved to 237 Mott Street in 1860, where Agnes(Sister Fidelis), John, and Francis V. Myles were born. Subsequently the family moved to 26 Prince Street.. This was their last move. Sometime between 1860-1870 contracted Rheumatoid Arthritis – a terrible disease. This is a chronic progressive condition in which every joint I the body is ultimately destroyed, resulting in no motion. Mary J. Myles must have been a pathetic sight when the census taker of that year added the word “Rheumatism” to his remarks. It was the only remark he made in his entire report – and after walking up five flights of stairs in August in New York City.
Mary J. Myles died in 1884 of “Rheumatism and Female Debility” at 26 Prince Street. Her attending physician, Dr. Lahey, sitting across the table from her son, William J. Jr., filled out the death certificate completely. Mary J. Myles had such severe arthritis that she was confined to the fifth story apartment for eight years and to her bed for four years. Living at home that year was Agnes ( Sister Fidelis). John Myles was living at 3011/2 Elizabeth Street, and William J. Jr. Lived at 185 Elizabeth Street. Only Agnes was at home all those years to take care for her mother. Agnes remained in the apartment for six years taking care of her father before she joined the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 1891 and moved to the Convent in Albany. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd was organized in 1887, thus Agnes was among the founding members of the Order. She died on January 23, 1921 and was interred in St Agnes cemetery in Menands, New York, a city about ten miles north of Albany. A curious thing is that there is no headstone marking her grave. One possibility is that she died in January, was not interred until the spring, and someone forgot to place the headstone.
About 1873, William J. Myles, Jr. was married to Margaret Vance and thereafter they produced eight children, all of whom grew to adulthood, and in turn married and had children of their own. This was our parents generation. Unfortunately, William J. Myles, Jr., also a printer, died in 1900 at the age of forty-nine, leaving his wife with five children under twenty years of age. Margaret Vance Myles died in Memorial Hospital in New York City on February 7, 1917. Her last residence was 1894 W 8th Street, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. She lived long enough to see all of her children married, and many of them with families.
All of the people mentioned in the above narrative lived within a short distance from each other. Consider the year 1882. William J. Myles, Sr. lived at 26 Prince Street. This apartment was on the left side of the street between Elizabeth Street and Mott Street. William J. Myles, Jr., lived at 285 Elizabeth Street. This apartment is on the left side of the street between E. Houston Street and Bleeker Street. William J. Vance, father of Margaret Vance Myles, lived at 243 Elizabeth Street. His grocery store is on the left side of the street between Prince Street and E. Houston Street. All three families lived within one street of each other. In addition, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, built in 1811, was on the corner of Mott Street and Prince Street. Thus it was next door to William J. Myles, Jr., and one block from William J. Vance.
This narrative will conclude where it started, with William Joseph Myles, Sr. He was a strong and positive thinker and was accustomed to making his own decisions. In 1856 he applied for citizenship to the United States after residing in this country for more than five years. On October 9, 1860, after renouncing allegiance to the Queen of England and Ireland, he was accepted as a citizen of the United States by the Common Pleas Court of New York.
William J. Myles, Sr. worked as a compositor for 43 years at the Irish American. He was also a member of the New York Typographical Union No. 6 for forty-three years, paying $0.15 a week in dues toward retirement. On June 10, 1893, he resigned from The Irish American and on June 13, 1893 was admitted to the Union Printers Home in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There was nobody at home with him in the apartment in Greenwich Village. His daughter, Agnes, was in a convent in, Albany, New York. His son John would die five months later His other son, William J. Jr., lived a block away with eight children under the age of eighteen years.
William J. Myles, Sr. lived at the Union Printers Home in Colorado Springs, Colorado for thirteen years. His son, William J. Myles, died in 1900. William J. Myles, Sr. died on September 8, 1906 at the age of eight-six years.
Gender: Male Embarkation: Liverpool
Age: 30 Ship: Enterprise
Occupation: super cargo Passengers: 301
Residence: Unknown Compartment: Steerage
Native Country: Great Britain Destination: USA
Literacy: Unknown Arrival Date: 31 July 1848
Transit Type: Staying in the U.S
From Colorado Springs, Colorado newspaper, September 11, 1906
Oldest Resident of Printers Home Dies
W. J. Myles, aged 87 years, and for 13 years an inmate at the Union Printers home in this city, died Saturday night. He was the oldest man at the home, both in age and point of residence.
Myles was born in Ireland in 1820, coming to this country in 1849. He was formerly employed on various New York newspapers, and was a member of local No. 6, I.T.U.
From the Union Printers Home, July 7, 1976
According to our records, William J. Myles was admitted to the Union Printers Home 6-13-93, from New York Typographical Union No. 6. He was 73 years old and had been a member of the union for 43 years.
Mr. Myles was born in County of Tipperary, Ireland, June 4, 1820. William J. Myles Jr., American Grocer, New York, New York was the son and nearest relative.
Mr. Myles died September 8, 1906 of old age. Remains were claimed by New York No. 6 and thus he was shipped to New York.
Historical notes on Ireland 1845-1850
The Great Potato Famine
In 1841, the population of Ireland was over 8 million people. Over two-thirds of these people were dependent on agriculture for a livelihood. But the condition of the other third of the population wasn’t anything to be envious of! The survival of the vast impoverished population was dependent on the recurring fruitfulness of the potato and on that alone. The potato, unlike grain, is extremely perishable and can’t be stored.
The disaster, when it came, was much more sudden and complete than anyone would have imagined. There was a long and wet spell in July of 1845 of which is was not apparent that there was any damage done to the crops, then in August, there came word that Southern England had a strange disease that was attacking the potato crops there. It was potato blight. The crops along the eastern coast of the United States were affected by the potato blight in 1842. In September of 1845, the blight was observed in Waterford and Wexford and then spread rapidly from there. The situation in Ireland had reached its worst by February of 1847. Great gales of wind blew and the country was covered by thick, drifting snow. To try and escape starvation, people crowded into the surrounding countryside towns to try to escape the hunger.
A fever epidemic spread like wildfire throughout Ireland. It was called “famine fever” but, it was actually two different diseases, typhus and relapsing fever. Dysentery, dropsy and scurvy caused by malnutrition spread everywhere. People everywhere were seized by panic to get out of Ireland as soon as humanly possible. Emigration was limited to spring and summer because of freezing weather conditions.
In July and August of 1846, the great emigration from Ireland was well under way. Six thousand immigrants had sailed for Liverpool the previous January, to escape the terrible blight that was ravaging their homeland. There were notorious “coffin ships”; old and crowded, whose owners only wanted to profit from the poor escaping mass of human beings that would pay almost any amount to book passage. By June of 1847, a high proportion of emigrants had sailed to North America. More than 100,00 sailed to Canada in 1847( the most economical way to the United States at that time, was using this indirect route).
1847 was called “Black 47” and was by no means the end of the famine. Toward the end of 1847, there was a return of confidence because the blight has loosened its grip and wasn’t as bad as it had been in the previous spring. By 1851, the population of Ireland, had went from a population of 6 ½ million persons to 4 million persons.