Tom and Margaret, Deaths in the Family

After ten years in business, the Dowds were prospering. Despite the hard work at the store, there was also time for fun. Pictures of smartly dressed Tom, Margaret, Marie, Al, Charlie and Myrtle, calling themselves "The Comet Club" at Coney Island, Atlantic Highlands, Spring Lake and Atlantic City reveal a very fun-loving, happy group. Sarah was supportive of the fun times and even appears herself in a picture at Spring Lake. A picture postcard survives of smiling Tom, Margaret, Al and Marie. The card was sent from Atlantic Highlands to Sarah with a postmark, June 2nd 1910.

On February 26th 1911, Thomas Dowd and Margaret Foley were married. Marie Dowd had by now become Margaret's closest friend, and stood as her maid-of-honor. Tom asked his older brother John to stand as best man. The following notice appeared in the paper:


Orange Advertiser Friday, 3 March 1911
A pretty but quiet wedding was solemnized Sunday afternoon in St. John's church by Father Reilly when Margaret J. Foley and Thomas A. Dowd were united in marriage. The bride wore a gown of light tan colored broadclothe traveling suite, trimmed with blue and a picture hat trimmed with large willow plumes. The brides maid was Miss Marie T. Dowd, sister of the bridegroom, wore a gown of brown broadclothe and one of the newest spring creation hats. The best man was John Dowd, brother of the bridegroom.

The wedding presents were both costly and numerous. After the ceremony the couple were escorted with a large number of friends to the Pennsylvania Railroad station, Newark where they left for Washington, D.C. Upon returning to the city Mr. And Mrs. Dowd will reside at 281 Watchung Avenue, where a reception will be given their friends.


Margaret Jenet Foley was born in December 19th 1889 in Oxford, New Jersey to Thomas Foley and Norah Cloughsey. The Foley and Cloughsey families were iron workers at the Oxford Furnace Iron Works. The works were scaled down in 1884 and many were left jobless. Margaret's grandfather David Cloughsey and other relatives moved to jobs further away at the iron works in Paterson, New Jersey. Meanwhile, Margaret's father Thomas continued working in the Oxford Furnace until at least January 1892. From here the Foleys probably went to either Paterson or Scranton, Pennsylvania. Research has still not uncovered what happened to Thomas and Norah, but at some point, Margaret Foley was left orphaned. There are stories of a brother who also survived but "went West". She may have returned to Oxford to live for a time with her father's mother Mary Duff, but she eventually moved to Paterson to live with her Cloughsey cousins.

The Cloughsey house on Main Street, Paterson was a house of women. Margaret's grandfather had died in 1900. Her Uncle Thomas Cloughsey, a "wanderer", was seldom home - even taking extended trips west to the hills of Colorado to pan for gold. In the house was Margaret's aunt Ellen, Margaret's cousins, the sisters Hannah, Katherine, Dora and their brother Tommy Jr. Hannah Cloughsey was the same age as Margaret. A very capable but domineering girl, Hannah took jobs as a nanny for wealthy Catholic families as far away as New York City. Not known for her patience, it was joked in the family that Hannah took care of babies "up until they could talk". Hannah never married, and went on to work like her sisters in Paterson's silk industry. She remained very loyal to her cousin Margaret and the rest of her family. It may have been through Hannah, or at least through the same agency, that Margaret found her job as a nanny for the Dillons of Orange. Margaret became very close to the Dillons, and was treated by them just like a member of the family. She would remain good friends with them all her life.

Margaret was a devout Catholic and upon moving to Orange, she became involved in St. John's parish church. It was probably here that she met Margaret Murphy, another lifelong friend. By coincidence, Margaret Murphy was the wife of Frank Murphy, cousin of the Dowds, son of Felix Murphy and Elizabeth McCloskey.

The newlyweds Thomas and Margaret returned from their Washington D.C. honeymoon and moved back in above the store at 281 Watchung. They started their family right away with the birth of the first of twelve children, a son born in March 1912. Early in 1913 a baby girl was born. By now Sarah's house and rooms above the store were becoming a very lively place. Sarah, Marie and Charlie lived in the main house while Tom, Margaret their two children, Eddie Dowd his wife and four children all lived in the rooms above the store. Following their marriage Eddie and Ella had lived in the neighboring house, renting a room from Aunt Eliza Dowd, and then for a couple of years lived with Eddie's spinster Aunts Kate and Tess at the old McCloskey home on Wallace Street By 1913 they were living back home at #281 Watchung.

A terrible accident occurred behind the store that summer resulting in Eddie Dowd's death. The Orange city directory lists his occupation in 1913 as an employee of Edison's but he may have also helped with work around the store. The Dowd stabled their horse Laddie in the barn behind the store. While working in the barn one day, Eddie "fell out of the hay loft" and was badly injured. His death certificate reports that he died three weeks later on July 8th of meningitis due to injuries sustained in the fall. The following notice appeared in the paper:

Death Ensues After Old Fall

Meningitis resulting from injuries sustained in a fall in the barn in the rear of his home at 281 Watchung Avenue, West Orange three weeks ago, caused the death of Edward J. Dowd, son of the late Thomas Dowd. Born in Orange about thirty-three years ago, Mr. Dowd had lived in that city and West Orange. He is survived by his wife and four children, his mother, Mrs. Sarah L. Dowd, one sister Miss Marie Dowd and three brothers John, Thomas and Charles Dowd all of West Orange. Funeral services will probably be held in St. John's Church, Orange Thursday morning when a high mass of requiem will be offered for the repose of his sole.

Ella and her four children stayed with Sarah over the next couple of years but eventually moved to Long Island New York to live with Ella's mother at 25th Street, Elmhurst, Queens. Ella worked here as a foreman in a shirt factory. Supporting the family may have been too much for her and sometime after 1920 the family split up. Her two sons John and Eddie Jr. stayed in Long Island with her relatives and her daughter Gertrude moved in with Marie Dowd Young's family in East Orange. Ella and her eldest child, Helen moved in with Charlie Dowd on High Street.

Another death occurred at #281 Watchung in the winter of 1913. Thomas and Margaret's nine month old baby daughter died of pneumonia (or ruptured appendix) on New Year's Eve 1913. The death devastated both parents and must have made the New Year celebration somber indeed. Margaret, a very sensitive person, was inconsolable and affected by the death for a long time after. The baby was buried at St. John's cemetery yard in Orange. Many years later Tom tried to have the baby's coffin exhumed and moved to a new grave next to Margaret's, but the cemetery records at St. John's were so poorly maintained and disorganized that, to Tom's frustration, the exact grave location and the coffin could not be found. As some consolation, Tom and Margaret had another child within a year of their daughter's death, a son born in November 1914.



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