Thomas Martin Dowd Family (1881-1894)

The 1880 US census lists Thomas M. Dowd as a twenty-two (should be twenty-three) year old factory worker in the household of his father Thomas Dowd:


1880 US Census - Orange, New Jersey (June 13th 1870)

Name relationship Age Occupation Birthplace
Thomas Dowd head 46 Contractor Ireland
Ann Dowd wife 45 Keeps House Ireland
Katherine Dowd daughter 26 Music Teacher New Jersey
John Dowd son 25 VP Seton Hall college New Jersey
Thomas Dowd son 22 works in factory New Jersey
Edward Dowd son 20 hatter New Jersey
Henry Dowd son 17 student New Jersey
John Martin brother-in-law 65 Carriage maker Ireland

*ages reported by the family are not always accurate (i.e. Thomas Dowd was fifty-three, not forty-six)

Thomas M. had lived in Orange since he was six years old and like his brothers and sisters, had attended St. John's school. From school Thomas probably went directly to work in one of Orange's many factories. Although hatting was the major industry in Orange, the city also had tanneries, shoemaking and glass staining factories.

At the age of twenty-four, Thomas married Sarah Loretta McCloskey on April 27th 1881. The marriage certificate shows that Henry Dowd was the best man, and Sarah's sister Tess was the maid of honor. They were married at St. John's church with Father John F. Dowd "performing the interesting ceremony" as reported in the Orange Newspaper:

Orange Journal April 30 1881, page 2:
Three marriages were solemnized at St. John's church on Wednesday. Mr. James Riordan, sexton of St. John's church and a well known member of the dramatic circle of the Young Men's Catholic Literary Union, was united to Miss Louise Weisbacher, the Rev. Carroll performing the ceremony. Mr. Callan McCarthy and Miss Mary Duffy were married at an eatly hour in the evening, the Rev. Father O'Donnell officiating. Mr. Thomas Dowd and Miss Sarah McCloskey, daughter of Mrs. Mary McCloskey, of Wallace Street, were also united in marriage in the early part of the evening, the Rev. John Dowd, brother of the groom, performing the interesting ceremony. All the contracting parties are all well-known among the large portion of the community, and the three weddings were witnessed by a large number of friends of the happy couple.


Sarah McCloskey was also twenty-four. She was born in Draperstown, County Derry, Ireland in September 1856 - the youngest of ten children of Charles McCloskey and Mary Duffy. In about 1865 she came to America with her widowed mother, brothers and sisters. They settled in Orange purchasing a home at #9 Wallace Street. The McCloskeys would have been acquainted with the Dowds at St. John's school and church.

Sarah's older sister Elizabeth was the wife of Felix Murphy, a successful New York politician and owner of a prosperous undertaking business in the city. No doubt through Sarah's introduction, Thomas .Dowd was brought in to learn the undertaking trade. Thomas and Sarah moved to New York City to an apartment at #49 Madison, across the street from the Murphy's funeral parlor. Augustus Murphy, Felix Murphy's son, became a close friend to Thomas and Sarah and would later be the godfather of their son Charles Augustus Dowd. Thomas and Sarah's first child, Edward J. Dowd was born in New York City in February 1882. [to include information on the mortician business in the 1880s]

They moved back to Orange in 1883 where Thomas struck out on his own business with a partner, Thomas Brennan. They appear to have started at Center Street, but later opened a fifty by twenty foot parlor at #26 Day Street. They rented this space for the first few years and in December 1891 purchased a property across he street at #19 Day Street. Dowd and Brennan undertakers became one of the more established funeral directors and morticians in the city of Orange. A unique feature of Dowd and Brennan was said to be a fine horse drawn hearse - so nice that it was sometimes borrowed by undertakers in New York City (perhaps by Augustus Murphy back on Madison). The book, Leading Businessmen of Orange, published in 1886, features Dowd and Brennan, Undertakers. The book lists embalming as a specialty of their business. Dowd and Brennan were ahead of their time as one of the few businesses advertising a modern device - the telephone - for placing orders. The book also describes Mr. Dowd and Mr. Brennan as competent, reliable and two "well-known and highly esteemed gentlemen". Among their customers was Thomas Dowd's mother Ann in 1885, mother-in-law Mary McCloskey in 1891, brother Rev. John Dowd in 1892, and father Thomas in 1895.

Thomas and Sarah lived in Orange possibly above the funeral parlor on Day Street and at least for one year (1894) with Henry Dowd at #136 Day Street. Between1883 and 1894 Sarah McCloskey Dowd had another seven children:

The naming of their children is an indication of the people that were important to Thomas and Sarah. Edward Joseph and John Francis were named after Thomas' brothers. Marie was christened "Mary Teresa", probably named for Sarah's mother Mary and sister Teresa. Charles Augustus was named for Sarah's father Charles and their friend Augustus Murphy. Annie Dowd was named after Thomas' mother and William Dowd may have been named after Sarah's brother, William McCloskey.

Thomas Dowd was said to have been "good with children" and very close to his sons and daughters. He was also very good with his hands and built a beautiful doll house for his little daughter Marie. The children attended St. John's parish school in Orange until 1894 when Columbus Hall, the modern parochial school building, was constructed on Chapel and White Street, the site of the original St. John's chapel. The new St. John's school contained three floors of nineteen classrooms, assembly hall, and theater with stage.

Probably under Thomas' example and encouragement, music was also a part of the Dowd home. In the morning before school the Dowd children took tap dancing classes and at least John and Thomas played the guitar/mandolin. John and Marie were talented enough that as teenagers they appeared together in regular shows given to the parish at Columbus Hall; Marie performing popular dances while John played the guitar. [Peter Dowd has an original program flyer announcing the performance]

Sarah's first five children would grow to adulthood but she lost her three youngest. Little Annie Dowd born in January 1891 died only three months later on April 27th of "eclampsia". In December of 1895 both of Sarah's baby sons died of Diptheria. One year old Francis died first on the 10th of December followed by two year old William nine days later. Marie Dowd was very fond of Francis and years later remembered him as an especially sweet baby. All three babies were buried in the Dowd family plot at Holy Seplechure church.

 



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