Sunday, September 5, 2010

Boarding Houses.....

Back to the Irish side -- and back to Anne Hoey.

Our family story tells us she arrived from Ireland in August - and quickly found work in a boarding house in Hell's Kitchen a neighborhood in New York City. I think I've found her in the 1850 US Census, living with the Davenports (Rufus and George) and the Webbs and a Harriet Cable. The details I have on her tentative roommates are below --
  • Rufus Davenport (70)
  • George F. Davenport (21)
  • Harriet Cable (46)
  • Harriet Webb (60)
  • Caroline B Webb (36)
Hells Kichen, by Rich O'Connor (1958) describes Hell's Kitchen as western and lower New York City -- from 14th to 52nd streets from the north to the south and from 8th Avenue to the Tenderloin on the east / west. Initial white settlers (Dutch) called the area the "Vale of Flower's or -- Bloemendael". Eventually, the area was broken up into tracts and most of the area we know of as Hell's Kitchen became Eden Farm. Eden Farm was bought by John Astor in 1803.

By 1851 (when Anne had been in New York for just over three years, the Hudson River Railroad Station was built at 13th and 10th Avenue.

Anne was not the only Irish woman in Hell's Kitchen; by 1860 203,000 Irish lived in Hell's Kitchen.

Wendy Gambler presents a detailed view of American boarding houses in The Boardinghouse in Nineteenth Century America (2007). Boarding houses were common in urban America; Gamber suggests that between one-third and half of all urban dwellers in mid nineteenth century America either were boarders or took boarders in. Documenting these homes is challenging, however, as most were listed or recognized as private residences, and few formerly advertised for residents. Wives who ran the homes described themselves to census takers as "keeping house" rather than as a proprietor.

Boarders often shared rooms and frequently shared beds; given the list of names I see listed with Ann I can't imagine the sharing scenario she experienced and I'd prefer not to speculate. I do find a few of her fellow-boarders later in time (read more here ) but I don't know what connection Anne may have maintained with these families after she married John Nolan and moved to Westchester County.

What is easy to deduce is that Anne was used to living in small homes, having come from a cottage in Ireland, and likely worked very hard keeping the boarding house clean.

An interesting piece of the greater Nolan story; it appears to me that Maurice Nolan (Anne and John's oldest child) ran a boarding house in Greenwich.

Maurice married Margaret Haggerty in 1885 and Maurice Jr (their only son) is born in Port Chester in 1886. In 1900, Maurice and his wife, Margaret and their son, Maurice, are found living in Greenwich Connecticut; with 21 tenants, black and white, ranging in age from 81 to as young as 3. In 1910, the Nolans remain in Greenwich - along with Maurice Jr (now 24) , but with fewer tenants (4 -- the McDonald Family, a dad and 2 grown boys) and a Clara Haggerty -- none of whom were tenants in the 1900 census. In 1920, Maurice and Margaret remain in Greenwich, with one boarder, a Ralph Dan (22). There are no more census entries for Maurice and Margaret; perhaps they died in the 1920s.

Do any of you remember hearing about Uncle Maurice? What stories do you have about the months or years Anne spent in Hell's Kitchen?

Hell's Kitchen: The Riotous Days of New York's West Side
by Richard O'Connor

The Boardinghouse in Nineteenth Century America
by Wendy Gamber

1 comment :

  1. This is Uncle Maurice that married Aunt Anna( the french lady) ? They lived in a big house (my 11 yr old memory) , I think in Greenwich. I don't remember them having any children . I never knew where Uncle Maurice met and married her -- does she show up in later census? I remember going there between 1948 -- 50.