Friday, September 23, 2016

Chasing Daniel Murphy, Part 2: Peter and Pius and Annie

In Part 1, we got as far as linking a Daniel Murphy in Newburyport to his sister, Elizabeth Mason, and Elizabeth's daughter, Mary Jane, to a cousin, Peter Murphy. The logical next step was to find out more about Peter.

Fortunately, Newburyport, Mass., has a complete series of city directories available on, which are crucial to filling in that frustrating 20-year gap between the 1880 and 1900 censuses which is precisely where my Murphys were most active in Newburyport. I've gone so far as to extract all entries over nearly a century for Murphys, and any known allied lines, into a spreadsheet, where sorting variously by name or by address can reveal previously-unrecognized connections.

There seemed to be only two entries for Peter Murphy: in 1902, a painter living at 1 Centre Street, and in 1910, a Peter P Murphy, "countercutter", at 27 Oakland Street – exactly where Mary Jane Mason was residing with Peter and Celia Murphy in the 1910 census. Things got even more interesting when I sorted by address. First, I discovered that the 1910 directory also listed at 27 Oakland a Pius P Murphy, also a countercutter. Furthermore, Pius P was also at 27 Oakland in 1908 (as a carriage painter) and 1912 (countercutter) – and so was Daniel Murphy (no occupation given).1 Listings for a Pius Murphy (no middle initial) also appeared 1889 and 1891 (painter, 151 Merrimac St.) and 1904 and 1906 (shoemaker, 32 Ocean St.).2 Was there just one man, Pius Peter Murphy, who used his first and middle names interchangeably? Further investigation of Pius/Peter was in order.

It didn't take much digging to find a 1902 marriage in Newburyport between "Pyus" Murphy, 33, painter, and Celia McKinnon, 35, both born P.E. Island.3 His implied birth year of 1869 matches up with "Peter" Murphy's 1870 in the 1910 census (hers is off by a few years) and the census marriage data (his 2nd, her 1st, married 7 years) also matches, making it virtually certain that Pius = Peter.

Marriage of "Pyus" Murphy and Celia McKinnon, 1902, Newburyport, Mass.
Even more important, Pius's parents are given as Daniel Murphy and Johanna Collins. (With the caveat here that at his first marriage, to Mary Ann Hughes, he gave his mother's name as Mary, with no maiden name.4)

At this point I need to backtrack just a bit. In addition to the record of Daniel's marriage to Anastasia, the 1900 census record, and a couple of identifiable city directory entries, I had found one other Daniel Murphy record in the Newburyport area – a death record in Amesbury5 – but whether it was for "my" Daniel seemed questionable.

Death certificate for Daniel Murphy, 1915, Amesbury, Mass.
To begin with, I hadn't found anything else connecting Daniel to Amesbury. Next, the birth year of 1844 correlates with his age at marriage to Anastasia, but not to his given birth year on the 1900 census (though it should be noted we haved yet actually proved those two Daniels are the same); but in any case the date of birth is highly suspect, as it appears he expired on his birthday, conveniently requiring no intricate date calculations to produce an age of exactly 71 years, 0 months, and 0 days. Not impossible, of course, but I'll take this one with a long ton of salt. Third, it says he was born in Ireland and his father was also named Daniel (mother unknown). And yet...

Look at that informant. Pius Murphy. And the only Pius Murphy in the whole Newburyport area was, as far as I could tell, the one who bids fair to be "my" Daniel's son.

Granted, you would think he would have known more about his father's age, birthplace, and parents, but we already know the Murphys play fast and loose with birth dates, and Pius wouldn't be the first informant, upon being asked for "name of father," to give his own father's name instead of his father's father's name. In fact, it's entirely possible he never knew his grandparents – they may have died before Pius was born, or shortly after. As for the birth in "Ireland," a statement that "he came from the Island" (a common way for P.E. Islanders to refer to their home) could easily have been misinterpeted as Ireland.

Assuming that the other discrepancies can be plausibly explained, there's still the question of what the heck he was doing in Amesbury. While Pius apparently had lived in Amesbury for a while before 1900 (he married and had several children there with his first wife), he appeared to be solidly located in Newburyport after the turn of the century up to 1912, and a Haverhill directory entry gives me reason to believe he was living there by 1915. So just who was living at 105 Congress Street in Amesbury? Was Daniel just a boarder there, or was there a closer relationship?

This is an easy task if a city's directories have a "reverse lookup" section (listing occupants by street address). The Newburyport-Amesbury directories, alas, do not, but you can find a surprising amount of information using a keyword search in Ancestry's city directories database. Leaving the names blank, I entered Lived In = Amesbury, Essex, Massachusetts, Any Event Date = 1915 +/– 5 years, and Keyword = "105 Congress" (with the quotation marks). At the top of the results were entries for Henry J Shennett for 1912, 1914, and 1916, and a little further down for 1910 and 1919.6 (The results are nominally for Newburyport, but they prove to be in the Amesbury section of the joint directory.) This was a name I had not encountered previously. 

Next I looked for census records for Henry Shennett, finding him at 105 Congress in both 19107 and 19208, with a wife named Annie M in 1910 and Margaret N in 1920. But the real find was an 1890 marriage record for Henry Shennett and Annie Murphy.9 Annie was born in Prince Edward Island, and her father's name was Daniel. So I don't think it's a coincidence that Daniel Murphy was living with Henry and Annie when he died, and this strongly implies that she was Pius's sister. She gave her mother's name as Margaret (no surname), not Johanna Collins, but remember even Pius said his mother was Mary (no surname) at his first marriage. This could be a another case of someone using both a first and middle name interchangeably. (The M in Annie M could be for Margaret, accounting for Henry's wife's name in 1920. Or it could be for Murphy.) But each gave Daniel Murphy as their father's name, and a brother-sister relationship would certainly explain why Pius was the informant for Daniel's death at this particular Amesbury address, when Pius was probably living in Haverhill.

Marriage of Henry Shennett and Annie Murphy, 1890, Portsmouth, N.H.

At this point, it seems time for a (virtual) trip to P.E.I. Stay tuned.

  1. The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory [varying subtitles], for 1910, p. 178, entries for Peter P and Pius P Murphy; 1908, p. 164, 1912, pp. 170-171, entries for Pius P and Daniel Murphy; also similar entries for Peter and Pius Murphy in 1889, 1891, 1902, 1904, and 1906; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 Feb 2014). The only Daniel listed in Newburyport in 1910 is a Daniel J Murphy, who also appears for a number of years before and after that, and is definitely not "my" Daniel.
  2. It may be only a coincidence that Mrs. Anastasia Murphy boarded at 32 Ocean St. in 1912.Then again, it may not.
  3. New England Historic Genealogical Society, "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910," database and digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 25 Oct 2015); Newburyport, vol. 524, p. 551, marriage of "Pyus" Murphy and Celia McKinnon, 1902. 
  4. Ibid., Amesbury, vol. 379, p. 210, marriage of Pius Murphy and Mary Ann Hughes, 1887.
  5. New England Historic Genealogical Society, "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911-1915," database and digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 11 Sep 2016); Amesbury, vol. 1915/2 Death, p. 16, death of Daniel Murphy, 1915. To the best of my knowledge, the "Daniel D. Murphy, M.D." who signed the death certificate is no relation to my Murphy clan. He was a physician in Amesbury for a good many years.
  6. The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory [varying subtitles], for 1914, p. 373, 1916, p. 392, entries for Henry J Shennett, 105 Congress, Amesbury; and similar entries in 1910, 1912, and 1919; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 23 Sep 2016).
  7. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Essex County, Amesbury, enumeration district (ED) 260, sheet 17-B, p. 2235 (penned), dwelling 184, family 213, Henry J. "Schenett" household; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 Sep 2016).
  8. 1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Essex County, Amesbury, enumeration district (ED) 4, sheet 9-B, dwelling 199, family 235, Henry J. Shennett household; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 Sep 2016).
  9. "New Hampshire, Marriage and Divorce Records, 1659-1947," database and images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 Sep 2016); marriage of Henry Shennett and Annie Murphy, 1890, Portsmouth, N.H.

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