Patrick Dowd Family and Peter Dowd in Princeton

Like Thomas, older brother Patrick Dowd prospered in Princeton. He arrived there with his wife Mary and two daughters sometime after 1850. Their two sons born in Ireland must have died along the way, either in Cavan, at sea or in New York. In March 1855 Patrick purchased property on Nassau street for $700 [$14,000]. The same year, his son Peter was born. Four years later in 1859, he purchased a nine acre farm in Princeton for $1,128 [$22,560]. Patrick and Mary ran the farm while their two teenage daughters, Delia and Mary, found work as maids in some of the nicer homes in Princeton. In the 1850s female domestic workers averaged between $4.00 [$80] and $7.00 [$140] per week, an unheard of figure even for men back in Ireland.

In 1863 Patrick's daughter Delia Dowd married Ignatz Hoff, a young carriage-maker in Princeton. Ignatz was born in Strassburg, Alsace Lorraine, the son of Frederick Hoff, and had immigrated to America in 1853 at the age of fifteen. Ignatz was a well-loved member of the Dowd family and became an esteemed part of the Princeton business community. Soon after his marriage he quit his carriage-making business to work at the gas works and was probably acquainted with Thomas Dowd there. Perhaps it was Thomas who introduced Ignatz to the job. Like Thomas, Ignatz rose through the ranks, and eventually became the superintendent of the Princeton Gas Works. Ignatz and Delia had eight children and lived in Princeton at #49 Witherspoon. Their son Joseph S. Hoff would later become an aide to Governor Woodrow Wilson, president of the New Jersey State Civil Service Commission, President of Mercer County Democratic Committee and a three term mayor of Princeton from 1929 to 1936.

In 1867 Patrick Dowd's second daughter Mary married Martin Gaffney, a fellow Irish immigrant. They moved to Lawrenceville where Martin was station master of the railroad there. They had five children.

An entirely unexpected marriage occurred in the Dowd family around 1869 when old father Peter Dowd married a young Irish widow, Mrs. Ellen Golden. Peter had worked hard in America and had purchased two homes in Princeton. His first home, a lot just 35 feet by 125 feet with small house at #89 John Street, was purchased in January 1851 for $65.00 [$1,300]. The second, a larger property on McClane Street, was purchased by him in 1864 for $900 [$18,000] (Peter was the highest bidder for the property at an estate sale). An active and independent senior, Peter continued working as a laborer into his eighties. He was also a devout member of St. Paul's parish. The 1870 census lists Peter as an eighty year old laborer with his forty year old wife Ellen Dowd and Ellen's two young children from her first marriage. Peter died two years later on November 13th, 1872 directing the following division of his estate in his will:

In the name of God Amen. I, Peter Dowd of Princeton in the County of Mercer, and state of New Jersey, being of sound memory and understanding, for which blessing I thank God do make and publish my last will and testament in manner following, that is to say:

  • All funeral expenses be paid
  • To my wife, Ellen Dowd, the house on the west side of John St.
  • To my daughter Mary Dowd, 1 dollar
  • To my son Patrick Dowd, 1 dollar
  • To my son Michael Dowd, 1 dollar
  • To my daughter Ann Cearny [sic], 1 dollar
  • To my son Thomas, 1 dollar
  • To the church of St Paul in Princeton, 400 dollars out of the sale of the house and lot on McClane Street
  • To my grandson Peter, son of Patrick Dowd, all remaining from the sale of the house and lot on McClane St.
  • To my wife, Ellen all my personal property
  • Rev. Richard Moran, St. Paul's church, as my executor

The will had been written nine months before Peter's death and implies that he favored his young wife, church and grandson over his own children. The inclusion of a gift of one dollar to each child was done to prohibit them from contesting the will, hinting that he expected his children to oppose his last wishes. Perhaps Peter's children resented their father's second marriage and the inevitable loss of his property to the new wife. This theory is supported by the will of Ann Martin Dowd many years later, in which she leaves her property to her husband stipulating that if he remarry, the property should go directly to her children - not to the new wife. Ann was probably thinking back on Peter Dowd's second marriage and was trying to protect her children's inheritance from a similar fate.

The property on John Street left to Ellen Golden Dowd was very small and not of much consequence anyway - hardly enough to cover the cost of her funeral. Ellen died many years later on December 24, 1896. In her will she left one dollar each to her sons John Golden and Philip Golden. To her daughter Mary Ann Golden, Ellen left her double house and lot at #86 and #88 John Street. Finally, the proceeds from the sale of the house at #89 John Street (Peter Dowd's old house) were to be used for her funeral expenses.

The more substantial property was on McClane Street and was sold on January 29, 1873 for $1,000 [$20,000]. As directed in Peter's will, a generous gift of $400.00 [$8,000] was paid to St. Paul's church. Funeral expenses were paid including Peter's plot and large headstone at St. Paul's cemetery. The remaining amount, probably $500.00 [$10,000] was paid to seventeen year old Peter Dowd. Young Peter's granddaughter Margaret McCrohan recounted years later that young Peter had a special relationship with his grandfather, often helping him and keeping him company, which may explain why old Peter left this one grandson (his only namesake) the greatest share of his estate.

Young Peter was married in 1875 to Margaret Campbell, a local Princeton girl. Peter and Margaret lived on Nassau street in a nice home next to Princeton University and opposite the Catholic church. Peter worked as a groundskeeper at the University. He was a very kind, likeable man and was as comfortable, respectful and gracious amongst a group of African-American or immigrant Irish laborers as he was with a group of college professors and sophisticates of Princeton. Peter and Margaret had several children but only three daughters survived to adulthood. Mary, his oldest daughter never married. She was always sickly, but lived to the age of eighty-two. The other two daughters, Angie and Grace were said to have been very beautiful, attracting the attention of the local Princeton students. Both married university students, Angie to a Mr.Mcausland and Grace to a Mr. McCrohan. Both husbands left their wives however and the girls, along with Grace's three young children, moved back in with Peter and Margaret.



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