The Marshalls of New York City
1850's to 1900's
200 W. 10th St., New York, NY. 1884 to 1890 Home of Widow Ellen Marshall
and her 6 children, including John Frank Marshall
1870s Map of Manhattan with list & pictures of where Marshalls lived
INDEX TO SITE
Who We Are
How We Did the Research
Marshall Family Tree
Contact/ Share Info
Who We Are
We are the descendants of David J. Marshall of South Orange, NJ.
David J. Marshall, (pictured below) was an author and war editor for the New York Sun during World War II. He and his wife, Mary Catherine Nash Marshall, (pictured below) raised nine children at 311 Prospect Street in South Orange, NJ from the 1920's to the 1960's.
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This is a picture of the house. I am standing in front of it. The house is no longer in the family, but it still holds magical memories for many of us. David J. Marshall left nine children and 25 grandchildren. I am proud to count myself as one of the 25.
None of David J. Marshall's nine kids knew their Marshall grandfather. They did know their paternal grandmother, Margie Donnelly Marshall, but her husband, David J. Marshall's father, had disappeared long before any of them were born. His name was Frank J. Marshall, and he was a clothing designer. He is said to have designed the 'Buster Brown' style of clothing worn by boys around the turn of the century. It is said that he lost control of the profits and took to drink. He is said to have raised two sons in Harrison, NJ, but left the family when David J. was twelve and his younger brother George was ten. I don't believe he was ever heard from again. Some say he moved north to Orange County, NY, and started another family.
This unfortunate turn of events cut the cord between us and our past. David J. rarely spoke of his father to his nine children, and very little is known about him. As a result, very little is known about his father. It was believed that he was a Presbyterian minister in NYC who could trace his lineage back to revolutionary days, had studied theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and also at Edinburgh, Scotland. He is said to have married an Ellen Brown from Belfast, Ireland, who was the daughter of one of his teachers. They are said to have had many children, all boys except for one girl.
David J. Marshall used to tell his children the following story; "Grandfather paid $200 to have his genealogy traced, but then had to pay $500 to hush it up."
While some of the things we believed about the Marshalls have been confirmed, some have not and should probably be held in doubt for the moment. It seems the Marshalls came from Scotland, not Ireland. Because John Marshall was born in Scotland in the 19th century, we probably cannot trace our American ancestry back to the Revolutionary War. John Marshall was probably not a Presbyterian minister. Beecher's Index of Ministers of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America from A.D. 1706 to A.D. 1881 does not list a John Marshall in the New York area. He did not study or attend Princeton Theological seminary. The Princeton Theological Seminary's Consolidated Index of Alumni, Officers and Faculty does not list a John Marshall in the 19th century.
There was a James Marshall from upstate New York who graduated from Yale, studied briefly at Princeton Theological Seminary, then studied at Edinburgh in Scotland and returned to become a Minister in New York City. He was also the descendant of a Revolutionary War soldier. But he married a woman named McNair, not Brown. He later relocated to Iowa to become president of Coe College. I believe that David J., disconnected from his past due to the divorce or separation of his parents, thought this man to be his grandfather.
Here is what we do know:
How We Did the Research
An immigrant tailor with a family to support faced grim prospects in 19th Century New York. John Marshall came to New York in the midst of a massive wave of immigration. Between 1840 and 1859, an average of about 157,000 immigrants poured into New York City every year. But in 1854, roughly 319,000 immigrants descended on Manhattan, setting a record that stood for decades. With the availability of cheap immigrant labor, wages plummeted.
From Burrow & Wallace's 1999 Pulitzer prize winning history of New York City, Gotham:
By 1855 the garment industry was far and away the city's largest, embracing 35% of all manufacturing employees. 95% of the city's tailors were foreign born; 34% Irish and 55% German. Some became petty contractors, bidding (and under bidding) for the right to transform the precut cloth supplied by big companies into finished suits and shirts. Some became cutters at large firms. Most, however, sewed at home for a contractor, at piece rates so low that by the 1850's journeyman tailors, aided by their wives and children worked sixteen hours a day but seldom cleared more than ten dollars for a seven day week. "A tailor is nothing without a wife and very often a child," went a maxim of German craftsmen.
The part of town that they settled in may be significant too. The West Village was considered a 'Republican stronghold.' Republicans in New York tended to be native born, Protestant, pro-union abolitionists and reformers. Being Protestant would have distinguished the Marshalls from the other, mostly Catholic new comers and brought them into close contact with other more established, native born Protestants.
They lived in New York at a time when anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment was at its peak. Politically, the era was dominated by Democratic Tammany Hall. Tammany Hall politicians like Boss Tweed courted the Irish as they got off the boats and used the Irish Catholic vote to stay in power for decades. While pro-labor Tammany Hall may have been attractive to some struggling tailors, Tammany's reputation for corruption, graft and support for the brothels and saloons probably wouldn't have made them an attractive choice for a Protestant tailor like John Marshall.
The massive waves of immigration and the cultural clashes that followed caused deep divisions in New York at that time. John Marshall's family always seemed to live right around the corner from New York's worst upheavals. In 1857 they lived a few short blocks from the famous Fight at the Five Points. (A John Marshall was treated at City Hospital for gun shot in that melee, but as there were three other John Marshalls in the neighborhood, the one wounded may not have been the tailor.) A few years later they lived in an area of New York that experienced some of the worst of the 1863 Draft Riots. Eight years later, the Orangemen began their ill fated march through Manhattan from Greenwich St., again just blocks from where John Marshall, the tailor, lived. The bloodshed, later known as the Orangemen Riots, took place farther uptown, but was provoked by Protestants from precisely his neighborhood.
It has been said of Frank J. that he was indifferent to his religion. Long after his Protestant father had died, he married an Irish Catholic. He had spent his formative years in the West Village, which would later become a center for bohemian lifestyles.
By 1898 Frank J. had moved uptown to 266 W. 39th Street and lived in the heart of what is still today the garment district. He may have felt the impact of struggles and developments within the garment industry at that time.
United Garment Workers: First national clothing workers union to represent the diverse labor force in the men's ready-made clothing industry. Chartered by the American Federation of Labor (AFL) , the United Garment Workers Union (UGW) was formed in New York City in 1891 joining the more skilled , largely native-born Journeyman Tailors' Union of America and the less skilled, largely foreign born Tailors National Progressive Union. Though dominated by the skilled cutters, the union maintained a tenuous peace amidst employer attacks. The UGW successfully led an 1893 strike of 16,000 garment workers in New York City, but a number of reversals in 1896 led to a more conservative strategy of accommodation. This shift alienated more radical, primarily Jewish workers. Between 1907 and 1912, a series of strikes heightened internal divisions. Union leaders halted strikes against the wishes of many of the rank and file, and members were disillusioned by the unions's growing nativist and craft-bound parochialism following the general strike of clothing workers in New York City in 1913. Dissatisfied workers bolted the UGW convention in 1914 to establish the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACW). Despite court challenges by the AFL, the ACW quickly became the dominant national labor organization in the men's clothing industry. [Carpenter, Jesse Thomas. Competition and Collective Bargaining in the Needle Trades, 1910-1967 (Ithaca: Cornell Univ Press, 1972)]Frank J. and Margaret were married in St. Francis of Xavier Catholic Church on Jan. 10, 1898.
It is the same Catholic church in which thier first born son, David J., would be baptized almost a year later. The next year, Frank J. would move his family from Manhattan to Harrison, New Jersey. Of his two sons, only David J. would have children.
David J. Marshall's birth certificate (born in 1899)
Frank Marshall and Margaret Donnelly's marriage certificate
1860 Census showing John & Ellen Marshall family in NYC
(See Line 26)
1870 Census showing John & Ellen Marshall family in NYC
(See Line 8)
1880 Census showing Ellen Marshall widowed in NYC
(See Line 27)
1900 Census showing Frank and Margie Marshall in NJ
(See Line 67. Note Frank's father listed as being born in Scotland. Also note
Margie Donnelly's mother, Bridget, lived next door).
1895 New York City Directory Image showing John Marshall's Widow, Ellen, at
same Manhattan address as on her son Frank's marriage certificate (266 W. 39th St.)
(Note: We copied many of these directory images for many years but only uploaded this
one as a sample. According to the directory, Ellen lived here until 1900. Frank's marriage
certificate lists this as his home address in 1898).
Marshall Family Tree
1870s Map of Manhattan with list & pictures of where the Marshalls lived
Contact/ Share Info
Research is ongoing, and we hope to have more vital records pertaining to Frank J. and his father, John, soon. We hope to get records from the Presbyterian Church as well. This web site could serve as a central clearinghouse for any new information that comes to light. Please feel free to contact us with any information you have. If nothing else, my hope is that this site will inspire somebody else to do the real research and tell the rest of the story. Feel free to pick up where we left off. Just be sure to share the information!
This website was designed by John Marshall & Amy Marshall.
The genealogical research was done by John Marshall & Amy Marshall. Amy's contributions were invaluable. The majority of the 'big hits' were hers, and she did most of the hard work on this website. May, 2005
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