Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Mystery and Family History of Robert Macken (?-1901) and his wife Sarah Ewen

Since I received a copy of his death certificate today I decided to talk a little bit about Robert. He is one of my big confusions as no matter what I do I can't seem to get anywhere with him.

Robert was born probably in the month of January anywhere from 1845 to 1856 somewhere in Ireland. Lot of detail huh? It gets better trust me. According to his death record his parents were Robert and Mary Macken, both born in Ireland. See I told you it got better! He came from Ireland around 1870-1871. He married Sarah Ewen.

To give you an idea of how difficult it is to narrow down a birth year for either of them:
1875- Robert is 28, Sarah 26
1880- Robert is 35, Sarah is 30
1892- both are 45
1900, both are 47 with birth info: Robert Jan. 1853, Sarah July 1853
1905- Sarah is 50
1910- Sarah is 58

Sarah Ewen was born in Ireland. Yeah, I know, I'm so full of details! She is the miracle woman who ages only 5 years in 10. I wish I was that lucky. I can't narrow down to a birth year for her since it ranges depending on when you asked her (see above). She disappears from the census records after 1910 so I'm assuming she died sometime between 1910 and 1920. I am currently checking into whether she was in the 1915 NY state census so I may be able to narrow it down a little more (fingers crossed).

As for their children. I don't know what to say about them. some appear out of nowhere and some disappear into thin air:

Mary, born about 1872, is in 1875, 1880, 1892, and 1905 censuses. Not in 1900 and 1910.
John, born 5 February 1874, married Mary Ellen Hyland in 1897. Had 8 children. Was still alive in October 1955.
Robert Francis "Frank", my great-great grandfather, born 7 January 1876, married Mary Hanrahan July 1900. Had 7 children, 6 surviving to adulthood.
Sarah, born about 1878. In 1880 census. No further mention.
Michael, born November 1879. In 1880 census. No further mention but may be the 15 year old Joseph mentioned in 1892 census that isn't placed within family anywhere else.
Elizabeth "Lizzy", born 7 October 1881. married a Connolly and died in Brooklyn, November 1972.
James, twin, born 8 February 1886. In 1892, 1900, and 1905 census. No further mention.
Joseph, twin, born 8 February 1886.
Agnes, born January 1891. In 1900 census. No further mention.
Now these two are confusing. Apparently Robert and Sarah had two sons Charles and William but the birth info for Charles, William uses later in life and Charles uses different information. I am not 100% sure about them after the 1910 census so will update as I find out.
William-Charles, born March 1889. He is in the 1900 census as Charles and himself in the 1905 and 1910 censuses. I believe he may have married a woman named Pauline but not sure yet. I know he was alive when his brother Robert died in October of 1955 as he is mentioned in the obituary.
Charles, in 1900 he is said to have been born March 1889 (see William above). Afterwards he used January 1891 so he may have been a twin of Agnes and there was just a mistake in the census. Been known to happen! He is in the 1905 and 1910 census with his mother. I believe he may have married a woman named Mary. He was also mentioned in his brother Robert's obituary so I know he was alive in 1955.

I trace Robert through census records and city directories until 1900. They moved all over a small section of Brooklyn. A labourer by trade he was listed as a longshoreman on his death certificate. In 1900 he was living at 297 Hamilton Ave., Brooklyn, Kings, NY with his wife and several of their children. Now here is where it gets confusing again.

Robert died 17 September 1901 at 297 Hamilton Ave. The same address he was living at in 1900. The address was also the residence his son Robert Francis "Frank" Macken gave when he got married in July 1900. So I know it is him. His age is in the right range. I know his wife is listed as a widow in 1905 so he died 1900-1905. Only 2 died in that period and one was way too young to be him. The issue is that on his death record he is said to be single. Has got to be a mistake right? His burial place is Holy Cross. This weekend if it doesn't snow too badly I am heading out there to see if I can find him. Wish me luck!

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