Life In Orange, New Jersey

Despite their taking steerage passage and not traveling together, the McCloskeys appear to have been a bit better situated than most Irish immigrants arriving in America. They seem to have landed in the new country with some cash, education, and connections. With these advantages, they leap-frogged the typical immigrant experience of city tenement dwelling and settled nicely into a large home on Wallace Street in Orange, New Jersey. The 1870 US Census records the family, recently arrived from Ireland:

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

Name Age Occupation real estate value personal value Birthplace
Mary McCloskey 47 Keeps House 2500
[$50,000]
100
[$2,000]
Ireland
Ellen McCloskey 23 Dress Maker

0

0 Ireland
Elizabeth McCloskey 22 At Home

0

0 Ireland
Catherine McCloskey 14 At School 0 0 Ireland
Teresa McCloskey 13 At School 0 0 Ireland
Sarah McCloskey 11 At School

0

0 Ireland
Charles McCloskey 21 Carpenter 0 0 Ireland
Joseph McCloskey 22 Bartender

0

0 Ireland
Peter McCloskey 19 apprentice
Sash and Blinds

0

0 Ireland
William McCloskey 17 apprentice
Sash and Blinds

0

0 Ireland
Felix Murphy 38 Undertaker 15,000
[$300,000]
500
[$10,000]
Ireland
Augustus Murphy 9

0

0 0 New York
Patrick Murphy 3

0

0 0 New York
Mary Murphy 2 0 0 0 New York

0

0 0 0 0 0
Patrick McLaney 32 Carpenter

0

0 Ireland
Mary A. McClaney 30 Keeps House 0 0 Ireland
Mary McClaney 6

0

0 0 New Jersey
Charles McClaney 1 0 0 0 New Jersey

*ages reported by the family are not always accurate (i.e. Sarah McCloskey was born in 1856, yet her age is recorded here as eleven)


Young Sarah McCloskey is listed here with her large family as an eleven year old [should be thirteen] Irish native. Like her sisters Catherine and Teresa, she was not regularly employed, but was attending school. Her brothers and sister Ellen were all employed however, and her mother kept the house.

Surprisingly, Felix Murphy was listed with his children in the McCloskey household during this census. His wealth is evident in the value of his real estate, approximately 300,000 in current dollars. Felix, a widower was born in Draperstown as well but had come to America as a child with his parents. He lived and worked in New York City but may have spent summers in Orange with the McCloskeys. During these visits, Felix became close to Elizabeth McCloskey and although eleven years her senior, he later married her. Also living close by in another house, was Mary McCloskey and her husband Patrick McElhinney (spelt McClaney in the census). Mary was the eldest daughter of Charles McCloskey and Mary Duffy. She probably married Patrick McElhinney in Draperstown just before immigrating with him to America.

The widow McCloskey with her ten children, well-mannered and well-dressed, must have been an impressive sight attending mass on Sunday mornings at St. John's parish. They would have been well acquainted with the Dowd's and other families there.

Mary's children were all hard workers and did well for themselves in Orange. After she finished school, Sarah McCloskey worked in a hat shop with her sister Catherine. Her brothers went on to apply themselves in the construction industry. Charles McCloskey joined up with Patrick McElhinney and together opened "McCloskey & McElhinney, Carpenters and Builders". After working as apprentices, Peter and William McCloskey opened their own "McCloskey Brothers" shop at Lakeside Avenues near Watchung providing the latest in sash, blinds and doors. William later became a master builder and with a new partner formed "Stroeber & McCloskey, Master Builders" on Jefferson Street. Charles McCloskey also later became a master builder and was involved in construction of the Park Avenue School, the Orange Pumping station, the Y.W.C.A. and other public buildings and homes in Orange. The McCloskey brothers likely built their sister Sarah's home on Park Avenue in 1895 and later, William McCloskey fit out the Dowd store on Watchung Avenue.

While Mary, Elizabeth and Sarah McCloskey all married; the sisters Ellen, Catherine and Theresa McCloskey did not. All the brothers married however: Joseph McCloskey to Hannah Moriarity in April 1882; Peter married Mary O'Donahue in August 1880; William married Maria Quinn June 1874, and Charles married Maria Crinnion in 1875. These married children of Mary Duffy McCloskey produced her forty-four grandchildren. Probably reminiscent of life back in County Derry, cousins were so numerous in the following generations that passing relatives on the streets of Orange or in the market was taken for granted.

The McCloskeys were a close-knit family. McCloskey aunts and uncles feature prominently in baptisms of McCloskey, McElhinney, Murphy and Dowd grandchildren. Aunts Kate and Tess, the Murphys, Uncle William,Uncle Charles were all regular guests at Sarah Dowd's home. An article in the society section of the Orange newspaper records a happy event shared by the family:

TheOrange Chronicle, Saturday, March 28, 1885
Mrs. Mary McCloskey of Wallace Street attained her seventy-second birthday on Saturday last. In the evening her children arranged a very pleasant surprise and the occasion was most enjoyable.

Mary Duffy McCloskey died several years later on September 19th 1891 at her home on Wallace Street. The cause of death was Bright's disease, an inflamation of the kidneys usually following a contagious illness such as scarlet fever. She had been ill for the nine months before her death. Her son-in-law Thomas Martin Dowd was the undertaker and she was buried at St. John's cemetery yard.

At the time of her mother's death, Sarah McCloskey was the mother of five, living a prosperous, middle-class life with her successful husband, Thomas Dowd on Day Street in Orange. Over the next several years Sarah went on to build her successful grocery business with her sons and daughter.



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