Friday, January 13, 2012

Thank you, Mr. Murray

This week's guest blogger is Walter Hickey.  Walter probably knows more about Lowell history than most folks.  After being a classroom teacher, working in Special Collections at Pollard Memorial Library and now working for National Archives and Records Admin, he is filled with data.  He is one of the few people who share the obsession of collecting facts, visiting cemeteries, and reconstructing the lives of Lowell famous and just plain regular folks .  Now trying to get him to put all he knows down on paper is another thing.  This is his first step.

It was just about two years ago that Dave asked me if I would like to meet Colm Donnelly and go with them to St. Patrick Cemetery.  Of course I said “yes”.  In the course of showing Colm the “shamrock” stones, Dave also stopped at the grave of Samuel Murray.  Well, unlike Dave, I had not committed all of O'Dwyer to memory and had to ask, “Who was he?”, and was told he was Hugh's partner and right-hand man.  Interesting, but in itself, no big deal.  Or so I thought at the time.

            In the two years since, that one day has led to an examination of  tax assessment records, land records, probate records, and court records, as well as newspapers, all in a beginning attempt to learn more about those early Irish.  Contrary to what several sources might lead one to believe, not all Irish lived in the crude huts described as the Irish hovels in the Paddy Camps of Lowell.  Undoubtedly some (many?) of the early Irish did live is such hovels as have been described, but there was also a middle class as early as the 1830's, who lived in more substantial housing and had a higher standard of living than the poor 'shanty' Irish.  Samuel Murray was of that middle class.

According to his petition for naturalization in the Boston Municipal Court, 10 May 1830, he was born in County Tyrone on/about 10 August 1797 and arrived at Boston on/about 14 May 1817.  The Lowell City Directories of 1832 and 1833 show him in partnership with Hugh Cummiskey as West India Goods, Merrimac Street, which he alone is so listed in 1834.  With Hugh, he was appointed a town constable, 1833-1835.  I had 'always' heard of Hugh's appointment but not of Samuel's.  He married Margaret Harland [O'Dwyer says Holland] (Intention filed 6 January 1833) and dies 22 April 1835 at age 39.  He died intestate so we do not have the benefit of his will.  However, as an active Trader, his given occupation, he did have business debts.  In order to satisfy those creditors to the extent possible, an inventory of his estate was ordered by the Probate Court.  That inventory provides us a glimpse of the relative wealth and standard of living of a middle class businessman of the 1830's, who just happens to be Irish.

An Inventory of the Goods of S. Murray, Deceased

1 Sofa                                                                                    $ 12.00
1 Burau                                                                                 8.00
3 Feather Beads     ….                          11                          33.00     
3 Set Beadsteads                                                                 10.00
2 Looking Galsses                                                     3        6.00
1 Lot Bead Cloathes                                                           8.00
20 yds Carpet                                              62                   12.40
6 parlor Chairs                                                                     2.22
6 Common Do.                                                                    1.00
1 Set fire Irons                                                                      4.00
2   ?    Dogs            [fire dogs or Andirons]                        1.00       
1 Set China ware                                                                 3.00
1 Common   do. & plates                                                   1.50
3  Dished & saucers                                                             1.75
1 Cooking Stove                                                                  8.00       
1       Do     Drainage ???                                                     1.00                       
1 Secretary                                                                            3.00
1 Lot Knives & forks                                                          1.50                                                                      
1 Lot Iron Ware                                                                   1.60
1 Lot Glass Ware                                                                  2.50
1 Set table matts                                                                   .20
2 Glass Lamps                                                                       1.00
3 Brass Candlesticks                                                           .25
2 Wash Tubs                                                                         .25
1 Boiler                                                                                 1.50
2 Clothes  Baskets                                                               .20  

3 trunks                                                                                 4.25
1 small glass                                                                         .20
1 Tin Kitchen                                                                          .75
1 Work table                                                                          1.50
1 Light Stand                                                                         .85
1 Wash Stand                                                                        .70
2 Waiters                                                                              4.00
2 tables                                                                                  6.00
3 table Cloths                                                                       1.20
2 Silver Watches                                                               10.00
1 Case Pistols                                                                      3.00
1 Lot Brushes                                                                        .30
1 Lot Books                                                                          1.00
1 Surtout Coat                                                                    20.00
4 pr. Pantaloons                                                                   2.00
5 Vests                                                                                   2.50
Boots and Shoes                                                                  3.50       
1 Cane                                                                                   .20
Window Curtains                                                                 1.67
Bread pan                                                                             1.00
1 Lot Crockery                                                                     1.20       
1 Hat                                                                                      3.00                                                      

   Totals and Furniture                                                         189.29
                           By Cash                                                     2.00                                                       
Cash Received                                                     126.92                                                  
                                                     Total Amount          318.21

List of debts owed by the Estate of Samuel Murray late of East Cambridge in the County of Middles4ex Trader, deceased, intestate, which have already come to the knowledge of Margaret Murray, Widow and Adninistratrix of said deceased –Viz-
To Means & Clark—Note dated Apr. 29, 1834, besides interest $188.12
           Same              Do             “ 16, 1833                             210.31
              Same             Do        Jany. 8, 1834                              30.80
        Less endorsed on Note of Apr 16, 1833----------------------     100.00             

To Pope & Perry ----     Note-------------------------------                    600.00
    Pierce & Goodnow     Do  Dated Octr 2, 1834 beside int             45.00
          Same                     Do     “ March 1, 1833                               684.02
           Same                    Bill                                                             171.88                                                    
     Crosby                         Do                                                               90.00                      
     McLellan                      Do                                                               40.00

                                                                                      Margaret Murray, Admx
                                                                              Mar 21, 1837

It is for  this insight into his household furnishings, I say, 'Thank you, Mr. Murray”.


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  2. Is this the Mr. Walter Hickey that tough history @ the Rogers school in the 70's?