Mark and Margaret Gillan Cassidy in Troy, New York

By Bob Gray, January 2017

As discussed in “Researching my mother’s Irish roots,” all eight of her great grandparents were born in Ireland.  Her paternal great grandparents immigrated to the United States in the mid-1800s and settled in Troy, New York where her paternal grandparents were born and married.  Little is known about my mother’s paternal grandfather’s parents but sufficient information is available about her paternal grandmother’s parents to support a discussion of their life in Troy, New York.   The photograph below shows my mother’s paternal grandparents, J. Frank Lynch and Mary Louisa Cassidy, with Mary’s parents, Mark Cassidy and Margaret Gillan.  The following is based on the available public records for Mark and Margaret, newspaper articles, and supporting information on topics of interest such as milk delivery in the late 1800s.  Unfortunately, there is little in the way of family history available to include.

J Frank Mary Louisa Lynch Mark Margaret Cassidy

J. Frank Lynch, Mary Louisa Cassidy Lynch, Mark Cassidy, and Margaret Gillan Cassidy, c. 1900.

Early years in New York

The first record of Mark and Margaret in the United States is the passenger list shown below.  It is for the ship Columbia that departed from Liverpool, England and arrived at New York, New York on 22 June 1860.  The entries for Mark and Margaret are outlined by a red box in the record.  Mark’s age is given as 24 and his occupation is given as laborer.  Margaret’s age is given as 22 and her occupation is given as wife.  These ages are consistent with the other US records giving their ages or birth years and it is assumed that this record is for the Mark and Margaret of interest here.

Passenger list showing Mark and Margaret Cassidy arrived in New York on 22 June 1860.

 

The 1860 Census lists a Marcus Cassida, age 22, in Brunswick, Rensselaer, New York.  Brunswick is about eight miles east of Troy, New York.  The census record was recorded on 10 July 1860, only 18 days after Mark and Margaret’s arrival in New York.  Margaret does not appear in this record.  The absence of Margret and the short time between arrival and the census record make this record being for the Mark of interest questionable. However, it is believed to be correct as Mark’s occupation given as a laborer on a farm whose owner's occupation is given as milk man. Mark's occupation is later identified as a milk man. Also, in the 1865 New York State Census, Mark and his family are listed in Brunswick, not far from the owner of this farm, Wait J. Stillman.  There is no question the 1865 New York State Census record is correct as it includes two of their children, Mary, age 2 8/12, and Ellen, age 5/12, both born in Rensselaer, New York. 

The 1870 Census shows that Mark and Margaret moved to North Greenbush, Rensselaer, New York.  Then, the 1975 New York State Census shows the family living in Troy, Rensselaer, New York, where they stayed until they died.  Mark is identified as a naturized voter and his occupation is given as milk dealer.  The map below shows the three places in Rensselaer, New York where Mark and Margaret lived.  North Greenbush is about ten miles southwest of Brunswick and Troy is about five miles north of North Greenbush.

Google map showing Brunswick, North Greenbush, and Troy, New York.

Mark and Margaret had seven children, five girls and two boys, as shown in the family tree below.  The family tree includes spouses of their children, as well as birth and death information. 

 

Descendants of Mark Cassidy and Margaret Gillan cropped

Family tree for Mark Cassidy and Margaret Gillan.

Tragedy

 

Their youngest daughter, Emily, died very young of whooping cough.  According to her death certificate, Emily died on 29 August 1875 at the age of one year and four months.   Emily’s death record indicates she died in Brunswick but the 1875 New York State Census record for the family collected on 19 June 1875 shows the family living in Troy.  Also, the census record gives her name as Martha while the death record identifies her as Emily.  There is little doubt the two records are correct as Mark purchased a burial plot at St. Mary’s Cemetery on 30 August 1875 and the death record states Emily was buried there.

 

Residence in Troy

As mentioned earlier, once Mark and Margaret moved to Troy, they stayed there.  A summary of their residence information is provided in the table below.  The table also provides Mark’s occupation.  The majority of the information in the table comes from city directories.  The other sources used were census records and newspaper obituaries.  In a few instances, the city directory listing included two addresses, one for their home and one for Mark’s business and both addresses are included in the table.

The locations of their Troy residences are provided in the map following the table.  The residences are all within a few miles of each other.  Their most important move was the one to 265 N Third Street, as that house is less than two blocks from where my mother’s paternal grandfather, J Frank Lynch, lived.  The Lynch family lived at 71 Street near the intersection with N Third Street from 1873 until the 1888.  J Frank Lynch and Mary Louisa Cassidy were married 25 April 1883 at St Patrick's Church.  Although their address changed in 1887, they didn’t actually move.  The streets in Troy were renamed in this time period and N Third Street became Sixth Avenue with an attendant change in house numbers.  Their subsequent moves will be discussed later.

 

Residence and occupation information for Mark Cassidy in New York.

Year

Address

Occupation

1860

Brunswick

Laborer on a milk farm

1865

Brunswick

Farmer

1870

North Greenbush

Milk Peddler

1875

120 Hill Street, Troy

Milk Dealer

1876

120 Hill Street, Troy

Milk Peddler

1877

265 N Third Street, Troy

Milk Peddler

1878

265 N Third Street, Troy

Grocer

1879

265 N Third Street, Troy

Grocer

1880

265 N Third Street, Troy

Grocer

1881

265 N Third Street, Troy

Grocer

1882

265 N Third Street, Troy

Grocer

1883

265 N Third Street, Troy

Milkman

1884

265 N Third Street, Troy

Milkman

1885

265 N Third Street, Troy

Milk, cream and flour dealer

1886

265 N Third Street, Troy

Milk and cream, also flour

1887

2713/2715 Sixth Avenue, Troy

Milk and cream, also flour

1888

2715 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1889

2713 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1890

2715 Sixth Avenue, Troy

Meat market

1891

2713 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1892

2713 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1893

2709/2713 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1894

2713 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1895

2709 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1896

2709 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1897

2709 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1898

2709 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1899

2709 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1900

2709 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1901

2709 Sixth Avenue, Troy

None given

1902

266 Earl Street, Troy

None given

1903

266 Earl Street, Troy

None given

1904

269 Earl Street, Troy (house 266)

Grocer

1905

266 Earl Street, Troy

Farmer

1906

266 Earl Street, Troy

Farmer

1907

266 Earl Street, Troy

Farmer

1908

rear 308 Hutton Street, Troy

Farmer

1909

No listing

 

1910

347 Ninth Street, Troy

None given

1911

268 Seventh Street, Troy

None given

 

Google map showing location of Troy residences of Mark and Margaret Cassidy.

Milk Peddler

Mark Cassidy’s occupation is given as milk peddler or some variation of milk peddler several times in the table above.  In the years where he is identified as a grocer, the city directory does not contain a listing for milk peddlers, indicating the grocer category includes milk peddler.  For those of us old enough to remember having a milkman delivery milk to our door, our first thought of Mark’s profession might be of him carrying bottle of milk for delivery.  However, the milk bottle was not invented until 1878 and didn’t come into wide use until many years later.  Little information could be found on the history of milk peddlers during Mark’s time.  Much of the following was developed from newspaper articles about milk peddlers in Troy, New York. 

During Mark’s time, milk peddlers traveled through the streets of the city with large containers of milk.  Based on newspaper reports from the period, the milk peddlers would ring a bell as they traveled to let the residents know they were coming[i].  The customers would have their own containers for their milk.  The milk peddler would use a large spoon called a dipper to fill the customer’s containers with milk from his large cans.  The two pictures below show milk peddlers at a creamery where they would obtain their milk. 

Brunswick Creamery - Rensselaer County Historical Society Commercial Buildings 87.67.57, c. 1900.

The Lewis B. Thurston Creamery in Brunswick, NY - Rensselaer County Historical Society Commercial Buildings 87.67.57, c. 1897.

The pictures above show various types of horse drawn wagons.  The wagons are loaded with multiple cans of milk.  Due to the lack of refrigeration, milk had to be consumed or turned into butter or cheese within a few hours of exiting the cow[ii].  The men in the photographs above are dressed somewhat informally.  Mark’s working attire may have been much like his photograph at the top of the page.  Given the lack of refrigeration, milk was delivered six or seven days a week[iii].

Mark’s work day would have been long as well as his work week.  In the morning, after hitching his horse to his wagon, he would travel to the creamery to collect his milk for the day.  Then he would return to the city and begin his route.  A horse pulling a wagon can travel at a speed of three to four miles per hour[iv].  The creameries shown above were both in Brunswick, some eight miles east of Troy.  Given Mark and Margaret’s early residence in Brunswick, it is assumed that he bought his milk in that area.  Assuming the creamery where Mark bought his milk was halfway between Troy and Brunswick, it probably took him at least three hours to travel the creamery, obtain his milk, and travel back to Troy.  If the creamery were closer to Brunswick, it could easily have taken one or two more hours.  After making his rounds delivering milk, Mark would have to take care of his horse and clean his equipment before his work day ended.

During Mark’s time as a milk peddler, the integrity of the milk was dependent on the diligence of the peddler and his customers.  Based on the following newspaper article, the lincensing of milk peddlers by the city probably started in the 1905 time frame. 

THE SEMI-WEEKLY TIMES, TROY, N. Y., MONDAY AFTERNOON, NOVEMBER 11, 1907.

HOME MATTERS.

Milkman Arrested and Milk Confiscated.

 

Fred. C. Stoddard of Poestenkill was arrested yesterday on the charge of violating the city ordinance requiring him to get out a license to peddle milk. He had in his possession twelve cans of milk belonging, to himself and others. All the milk was confiscated, and seven cans were condemned. The arrest was made by Detective Fuser on B warrant sworn out by Dr. Nichols, Health Officer. He said that Mr. Stoddard had several times defied the Health Department and had said to the Health Officer personally that he dared anyone to inspect his milk or in any way Interfere with his business.

 

He was arrested yesterday morning on his way to the city to peddle milk. It is said seven cans of milk examined showed adulteration, and the milk will be thrown away. At the present time, Mr. Stoddard is the only milk peddler in this city who has not taken out a license. Stoddard appeared before Justice Jones in the afternoon. An adjournment was taken until Monday at 10 a. m.

Prior to the licensing and monitoring by the Health Officer, the cleanliness of the milk cans and the quart containers was up to the milk peddler and the customers.  Given that Mr. Stoddard is identified as the only unlicensed milk peddler, it is assumed that licensing started shortly before 1907[v].

Undoubtedly, Mark took good care of his horse for without it he couldn’t work.  Several of the milk wagons in the photographs above have two horses pulling them.  Mark only had one horse based on a newspaper report of an accident involving Mark’s horse.

Troy Daily Whig, 7 Oct 1872, Troy, Rensselaer, New York.

A milk peddler named Cassidy left his horse and wagon standing on Ida Hill last Saturday, and the horse took fright and ran away. The vehicle ran against a coal wagon and was upset, doing considerable damage.

The accident probably resulted in the loss of the day’s milk supply and costs associated with repair of his wagon. Ida Hill is on the east side of Troy along the road to Brunswick, given support to the assumption that Mark purchased his milk somewhere between Troy and Brunswick.  Mark and Margaret’s house at 265 N Third Street (aka. 2713 Sixth Avenue) had an alley running behind it named Green Street in 1886 and later renamed Earl Street.  There are several garages along this alley in place of what would have been horse barns in Mark and Margaret’s time.  It was in one of the horse barns that Mark would have housed his horse and milk wagon.

In the article above, the milk peddler had twelve cans of milk belonging to him and others.  This would indicate that a milk peddler might sell between four to six cans of milk.  A search for the size of milk cans produced a range from five to ten gallons, with the ten gallon size being the more prevalent size.  A ten gallon can of milk would weigh about 80 pounds.  Given the daily delivery schedule, most customers probably bought one or two quarts of milk each day.  If Mark typically bought two or three cans of milk, his number of customers might be 50 to 100 per day.  Assuming the average time with each customer was five minutes, this would translate to an additional four to eight hours in Mark’s work day.  So, all told, Mark’s work day was probably on the order of ten hours.

In an effort to estimate Mark’s income as a milk peddler, a search was conducted on newspapers from his time for references to the price charged per quart of milk.  The results were far from definitive but they at least give some idea of what Mark might have charged his customers as well as the price he paid at the creamery.  Some of the articles are for cities near Troy.  The search was perform using the Fulton History capability to find articles from newspapers in upstate New York. The articles are as follows:

THE TROY DAILY TIMES, DECEMBER 24, 1872

A Farmer Robbed on the Highway.

A milk peddler named John Alecks, who resides in Brunswick, was attacked at 10 A.M. yesterday by highwayman on the Stone Road a short distance east of Ninth street, the thieves demanding the contents of his money box under penalty of death.  He yielded and they obtained nine dollars and a few cents for their trouble. This is the most daring outrage that has taken place in this vicinity for years.

Albany NY Evening Times Sep 28, 1874

WEST TROY.

The milk peddlers are talking of increasing the price of milk from eight to ten cents a quart—the Albany price.

Buffalo NY Daily Courier March 23, 1876

STATE ITEMS

Troy milk peddlers have reduced the price of milk to eight cents a quart.

Utica NY Morning Herald 1877

MONTGOMERY COUNTY.

Seventeen milk peddlers are now en­gaged supplying our citizens with the lacteal, and propose reducing the price to four cents per quart.

THE RED HOOK JOURNAL, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11, 1878

Our village is well supplied with milk, and at a lower price than ever before.  We have four milk peddlers and the lacteal fluid is sold at three cents per quart.

Rochester NY Evening Express Apr-Nov 1880

—It was announced that the New York state food administration would take direct charge of the investigation the milk situation in Dunkirk and will prosecute the local dealers who refused to reduce the price of the fluid from 15 to 13 cents per quart, as they had been directed to do January 2nd by County Food Administrator Pickard.

THE UTICA SUNDAY TRIBUNE, FEBRUARY 27, 1887.

There is war among the milk peddler’s in the Mohawk Valley. At Fultonsville, genuine cows' milk is being sold at three cents per quart

THE ALBANY EVENING JOURNAL SATURDAY, JUNE 16. 1900

C0XSACKIE.

The milk peddlers have reduced the price of their commodity to 5 cents per quart.

THE DAILY TIMES, TROY, N.Y., MONDAY AFTERNOON, MAY 27, 1901

Out of Town

Petersburgh

It has been customary in previous years for milk peddlers to sell milk at three cents a quart, beginning May 1, and continue to sell at that reduced price during the warm months. This year they continued after May 1 at the cold weather price, four cents. In consequence Artie Armsby commenced selling Thursday at three cents, which has caused the others to sell at three cents, as formerly.

UTICA HERALD-DISPATCH, MONDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 2, 1907.

LITTLE FALLS

Higher Cost of Milk— All the milk peddlers of this city increased the price of milk from five cents to six cents per quart yesterday.  They say that the increase is necessary on account of the Increased cost of feed for their cattle.

THE DAILY TIMES, TROY, N. Y., MONDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 8, 1917

THE MILK SITUATION

Some Members of Producers’ Association Hold Up Their Product for Increased Price – Assurance Given That There Will Be No Famine

According to information received by N. G. Farber, Agent of the Rensselaer County Farm Bureau, there was a shortage of milk in this city today.  He said the Melrose, Wynantskill, and Poestenkill sections held up their milk. Brunswick members of the New England Producers’ Association did send in their milk, but will not do so tomorrow unless the price demanded is paid.  Mr. Farber stated that the Rensselaer County Farm Bureau is not identified with the Dairymen’s League but is only a source of information.

Milk producers who are members of the New England Producers’ Association demanded seven and three-quarters cents a quart.  They have been receiving six and one-half cents.  The Trojan Farms Company, distributors, and the Rensselaer County Milk Peddlers’ Association have refused to pay the increase.

The articles show a good deal of fluctuation in the price charged by milk peddlers per quart of milk.  Only a few of the articles are for Troy with the rest being nearby town except for the 1880 article which was for Dunkirk, New York.  The price per quart of milk from the articles above are summarized in the chart below.  The chart indicates a slight trend lower after the 1870s.  This may be why Mark’s occupation becomes broader in the later years, including eggs, flour, and even meat, to his distribution of milk.  Although the last article is well after Mark died, it provides information that other creameries were located in Melrose, Wynantskill, and Poestenkill.  These are all about the same distance from Troy as Brunswick. 

At eight cents per quart, Mark’s income for a day would range between four to eight dollars with an estimate of 50 to 100 customers buying a quart each.  This is consistent with the amount of cash in the money box of the milk peddler who was robbed on December 24, 1872.  The maximum income when the price per quart was three cents plummets to only three dollars.  Probably as much as half of Mark’s daily income went to the creamery where he purchased his milk for the day.  As indicated by the November 11, 1907 article above about the arrest of an unlicensed milk peddler, Mark may have shortened up his work day by buying his milk from another peddler instead of going to the creamery himself.  This would undoubtedly cut into his profits as the middleman would want something for his efforts.

Financial Troubles and More Tragedy

Indications are that Mark Cassidy made a decent living as a milk peddler in the 1865 to the early 1880s.  Despite their growing family, Mark and Margaret were able to purchase the house at 265 N Third Street, Troy in 1877.  Their daughter, Mary Louisa, married J. Frank Lynch in 1983, my mother’s paternal grandparents.  Their first child, Frank E. Lynch, my mother’s father, was born in 1884.

However, indications are that things were not going well for Mark and Margaret starting in 1885.  Per the following newspaper articles, Mark was arrested, charged and fined for attacking Daniel E. Paris on November 10, 1885. 

Troy Daily Times, Tuesday Afternoon, 10 Nov 1885

—Daniel E. Paris and wife of West Troy were on their way home from the Farrar lecture last night, and when crossing from the Troy house to the Hall building Mark Cassidy almost drove over them. Mr. Paris took the horses by the heads and turned them aside. When Cassidy attacked Paris with his whip, Mr. Paris broke his umbrella over Cassidy's head. Officer Dunnell took Cassidy into custody. In police court this morning the case was adjourned until November 18.

Troy Daily Times, Saturday Afternoon, 28 Nov 1885

In police court this morning Mark Cassidy was fined $100 for attempting with his horse and wagon, on Broadway the night of November 9, when Daniel E. Paris and wife of West Troy were returning from Canon Farrar's lecture, to run over Mr. Paris. Two or three attempts were made, and when Mr. Paris finally turned aside the horse's head, Cassidy struck him with a whip. The magistrate gave Cassidy a severe reprimand, as well as fining him. Threats have been made by friends of Cassidy of further proceedings, and Superintendent Willard will endeavor to procure the names of some of the many persons who saw the affair on Broadway that night, to be used in case such proceedings are undertaken, or the names can be sent to Mr. Paris.

This article may be for a different Mark Cassidy but there are no other Mark Cassidys listed in the Troy City Directory in 1885.  Their son, Mark, would have been 17 in 1885, making it unlikely he was the Mark Cassidy who attacked Mr. Paris.  Daniel E. Paris owned a stove manufacturing company in Troy.  His company made cooking stoves as well as parlor heaters.  The reason for Mark’s attack is unknown but it may have been the result of problems associated with a stove purchased from Mr. Paris.  The $100 fine was significant as it represents a month’s income for Mark based on the discussion above.  Whatever the issue was between Mark Cassidy and Daniel E. Paris, losing $100 could not have helped Mark’s situation.

In 1888, Mark and Margaret’s grandson, Mark Joseph Lynch died at the age of two.  This had to bring back painful memories for Mark and Margaret as he was about the same age as their daughter, Emily, when she died.  Although Emily is not listed on the cemetery record shown below or the gravestone for this plot, their daughter Emily is unquestionably buried in the same plot.  This plot is also where Mark and Margaret are buried along with another daughter Elizabeth.  Another daughter of Mark and Margaret, Ellen F. Cassidy Kelly died in 1893 and is probably also buried in the same plot.  There is a faint note about J__ Kelly on the record.  Ellen’s husband was John J. Kelly and he died sometime before 1900 and may also be buried in this plot.  The stone for this plot was probably erected Elizabeth who died in 1940.  She would have been about four years old when her sister died and therefore not know where she was buried.  The record below indicates the original deed was lost, making the omission of Emily plausible.

St. Mary’s Cemetery, Troy, New York, record for the Cassidy plot.

1888 was also a difficult year financially for Mark and Margaret.  As the newspaper articles below show, Margaret was sued by James E. Kimball & Sons for non-payment of an account for $408.75.  James E. Kimball & Son were wholesale flour, feed and grain traders in Troy.[vi]  Given that Mark’s occupation included flour, he most likely purchased his flour for James E. Kimball & Sons.  The outcome of the trial is unknown but regardless it had to be a big financial problem for Mark and Margaret as they had to hire a lawyer for both trials and Mark’s ability to purchase flour for resale would have been severely hindered.  In addition, Mr. Kimball “was one of the organizers and a director of the National Bank of Troy, and a man held in the highest regard in business and social circles.vi Mr. Kimball probably was not a good person to have as an enemy in a small town like Troy.

Troy Daily Times, Wednesday Afternoon, 21 Mar 1888, Troy, Rensselaer, New York.

Civil Cases in County Court.

In county court this morning, Judge Fursman presiding, a jury was taken in cause No. 16, James E. Kimball & Son vs. Margaret Cassidy, an action on an account of $408.75. William E. Kisselburgh appeared as attorney for the plaintiff and James H. Ryan for the defendant.

At 12 25 o'clock the case was given to the jury, and case No. 17, Prefontaine vs. Richards et at., was taken up. The suit is brought on two undertakings entered into by the defendants in a former action, where Richards was the plaintiff. Richards discontinued that action, and Dr. Prefontaine now sues on the two undertakings, each for $350, which Richards entered into in the prosecution of the prior action. At 12:45 o'clock the court took a recess until 2 o'clock. At 3:40 o'clock the court directed a dismissal of the complaint in the case of Prefontaine vs. Richards.

The case of Lewis Traver vs. Barton H. Dennison was then called and a jury taken. The action was brought to recover damages for alleged breach of warranty in the sale of a horse. The jury in the Kimball-Cassidy case was still out at 4 o'clock.

Troy Daily Times, Tuesday Afternoon, 26 Oct 1888, Troy, Rensselaer, New York.

The case of James E. Kimball & Son against Margaret Cassidy was then taken up. The action was brought to recover on a judgment of more than $400, for goods sold to Mark Cassidy, the husband of the defendant, who subsequently, in 1886, made an assignment to his wife. This is the second trial, the jury on a former trial having disagreed. The case was given to the jury shortly after 12 o'clock. W. E. Kisselburgh appeared for the plaintiffs and James II. Ryan for the defense.

More signs of financial trouble for Mark and Margaret start showing up in 1892.  Their house is listed along with many others for non-payment of taxes to the city.  The amount of tax due was $67 and the late fee brought the total up to $73.  It is noted that the listing mentions the lot, the house, and the house in the rear.  The house in the rear is believed to the where Mark kept his horse and milk wagon.  The notation “w s Sixth ave.” indicates the lot was on the west side of Sixth Avenue which is correct.

The Troy Daily Times, Monday Afternoon, 11 Jan 1892, Troy, Rensselaer, New York.

CITY TAX SALE

Mark Cassidy, lot 118 and house, and house in rear, w s Sixth Ave. $73  $67

Things seem to have settled down financially for Mark and Margaret until 1901.  Starting then and continuing until 1903, their house is included in the published list of homes up for city tax sales, as seen in the following articles.  The list of articles below is incomplete but they cover the years where there was a question of paying taxes.

THE DAILY TIMES, TROY, N. Y., SATURDAY AFTERNOON 18 May 1901, Troy, Rensselaer, New York

CITY TAX SALE

 

Mark Cassidy, lot 118 and house and house in rear, w s Sixth Ave  $37  $33

Troy Daily Times, Saturday Afternoon 10 May 1902, Troy, Rensselaer, New York

 

CITY TAX SALE

 

Mark Cassidy, lot 118 and house w s Sixth Ave  $68 $60

Troy Daily Times, Saturday Afternoon 17 May 1902, Troy, Rensselaer, New York

 

CITY TAX SALE

 

Mark Cassidy, lot 118 and house 2713, w s Sixth Ave  $68 $60

 

Troy Daily Times, Saturday Afternoon 1 June 1902, Troy, Rensselaer, New York

 

CITY TAX SALE

 

Mark Cassidy, lot 118 and house 2713, w s Sixth Ave  $68 $60

Then in 1903, Mark and Margaret’s address changes from 2713 Sixth Avenue to 266 Earl Street.  Their new residence is on the alley behind the house on Sixth Avenue and is most likely the horse barn.  It is not known if they retained the whole property and rented out the main house or worked out a deal with the city or new owner to allow them to use the house/horse barn on Earl Street.  Either way, the change had to be dramatic as the buildings along Earl Street are small compared to the few houses remaining on 2700 block of Sixth Avenue.  In 1905, Mark’s occupation changes from grocer to farmer.  It is assumed he was growing vegetables on his land on Earl Street.  Given the size of the lot, they probably consumed most of what he could grow and perhaps sold some to neighbors.

The last few years of their life are spent moving every year if not more frequently.  This movement is symptomatic of an inability to pay their rent.  By this time, Mark and Margaret are both in their 70s and their life could not be easy for them[vii].  Margaret died November 21, 1910 and Mark died the following year on March 18th.

Conclusion

There is no way to know if Mark and Margaret Cassidy were better off coming to the United States instead of staying in Ireland.  Certainly, their early life here was successful, as they raised a large family and owned their own home.  The tragedies of losing two of their children and a grandchild could have happened in either place.  I for one am grateful they came, as I wouldn’t be writing this history of them if they didn’t.  Later in their time in the United States, financial troubles seemed to take a great toll on their life.  They eventually lost their home and became transient, moving every year to a new home.  Several forces probably played a part in their financial problems including the recession of 1882 to 1885[viii], changes in the rules for milk peddlers, the price Mark could charge for milk, and Mark’s ability to compete with younger milk peddlers.



[i] When I was growing up in Erie, Pennsylvania in the 1950s, a man with a horse and wagon would go past our house calling out “rags, rags” as he went.  We called him the rag man for obvious reasons.  I assumed milk peddlers did the same but I found at least two references in Troy newspaper articles from the period referencing “milk peddlers’ bells.”  One article from July 1870 includes the line “The day will arrive with a bang and a salute by five milk peddlers' bells.”

[ii] Lobel, Cindy R., Food in 19th-Century American Cities, americanhistory.oxfordre.com

[iii] ELMIRA DAILY GAZETTE AND FREE PRESS, MARCH 22, 1893. The milk peddlers of Wellsboro, Pa. are trying to combine against the Sunday delivery. They propose to make their rounds on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning.

[iv] This was from an internet posting.  As a young boy, I was easily able to run beside the Rag Man’s wagon at his horse pulled it along paved city streets.  I could only follow him for a block as I wasn’t allowed to cross the street but the speed of three or four miles per hour would be consistent with my experience.

[v] The effort to improve the quality of the milk supply would go on for many years as the following article demonstrates: Troy Daily Times, Thursday evening July 27, 1927, Showing Grade of Milk.  Health Physician W. B. D. Van Auken announced this morning that he would have placed at the City Hall a chart showing the names of the milk peddlers in the city and the quality of milk sold by each peddler. For the last three months, Dr. Van Auken conducted a crusade, against the sale of Impure milk in the city.

[vi] From Genealogical and Family History of New York, Page 612, Obtained at Fulton History com. “James Edward, only son of Edmund (2) and Betsey Maria (Warner) Kimball, was born in Albany, New York, May 5, 1828, died in Troy, December 28, 1896. He was educated in the public schools and Madison, now Colgate University, Hamilton, New York. He began business life as a clerk in the firm of Bates & Griffin, where he remained until 1858. In that year, he formed a partnership with J. M. Bradley, and as Kimball & Bradley successfully engaged in the wholesale flour, feed and grain trade at Troy. In 1868 John P. Wright was admitted to the firm, the firm name changing to James E. Kimball & Company. Mr. Wright retired in 1876, and the business was continued by James E. Kimball and his son, Charles P., under the firm name of James E. Kimball & Son. James E. Kimball was one of the organizers and a director of the National Bank of Troy, and a man held in the highest regard in business and social circles.”

[vii] The 70 years of age is based on their records in the United States.  Research of records in Ireland suggests they could have been ten to twelve years older.  See Researching my mother’s Irish roots.

[viii] Wikipedia, Depression of 1882–85, lasted from March 1882 to May 1885.  At 38 months in length this is the third-longest recession in the NBER's chronology of business cycles from 1854 to present.

 

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