The Bradleys in Boston

The steamer Grayhound took its last journey on 6th November 1865 crashing into the rocks at Nova Scotia.

The Disaster to the Greyhound

BOSTON, Wednesday, Nov. 15

The steamer Greyhound, Capt. NICKERSON, from Boston for Charlottetown, struck on Bird Rock ledges, Nova Scotia, on Monday night last, and, filling with water, sunk in eleven fathoms.

The passengers and crew were saved and landed at Beaver Harbor, N.S.

The Greyhound was insured for $100,000 in Boston and New York offices, and was valued at that sum.”

New York Times, November 16, 1865


(Image source and much more information on the Grayhound at this great blog:

Few weeks before the Grayhound crashed, Mary Ann Bradley and her three children – Patrick (10), Catherine (8), Ellen (6) and Mary (3) had made the trip from Charlottetown to Boston to build a new life for themselves. Mary and her husband John were both Irish-born living in Scotland, all their children born there. He had likely arrived in Boston ahead of them to look for a job.


The family lived in Boston in 1870, the father John was a labourer and his son Patrick, who was 17, was a shoemaker.

1870 census for John and Mary Bradley, and their children, Boston

I had discarded the above family as a wrong one for a long time as they are also listed living together in 1880 census (and one more daughter, Rachel born in 1871) on 5 Foster Street and all children were listed single. I knew Catherine had married Richard McManus in 1873 and was listed living with him in 1880 census together with their two children. She also had a daughter, Catherine, born in Oct 1880. I had put a little note at the daughter’s birth to follow up that there is a child McNulty born the following day at the same address. However, the address of the birth for baby Catherine was different to where her parents lived according to the 1880 census. I had assumed the family had moved between the census date in April and the birth in October.

The address where her daughter was born was 5 Foster Street, and I didn’t spot it’s the same as above until much later!

I did, however, decide to follow up on that other child McNulty that was born in the same house a day later, especially since there were two boarders listed living with the family – Neil McNulty (23, single) and Frank Sullivan (21, single). The little boy was Frank McNulty and his mother was Ellen. A quick search revealed a marriage record between Neil McNulty and Ellen Bradly on 25th Dec 1879 – Ellen’s parents were John and Mary Bradley!

Following on the other boarder revealed a second marriage on the same day between Francis J Sullivan and Mary A Bradley. The two boarders were  the sons-in-law, and the enumerator had obviously made a mistake. Two of the sisters got married together on Christmas day 1879, and then the following year one of them and the other sister Catherine had a baby a day apart!

The 1900 census was equally confusing. John Bradley was enumerated once living with his wife Mary and their grandson Patrick McManus at 280 Marginal Street, and a second time with his daughter and son-in-law Francis and Mary A Sullivan at 633 Bennington Street.

The 1910 census was really unexpected – John Bradley was living at 98 Cowper Street with William P. and Catherine Reid. His youngest daughter Rachel who had married Phillip J Molloy was living next door at 99 Cowper street with their 8 children. So this was the correct family! But who were the Reid family?

I’ve come across (and until now had put ait side before as a coincidental name match) a marriage record for Catherine McManus and William Reid on 25 Jan 1897, Catherine parents were John and Mary Bradley. Catherine had remarried which explains why I couldn’t find a death certificate for her around 1895.


I haven’t found anything more on any of the sisters or Patrick, apart from Rachel but I have found the death notices for both John and Mary Bradley – Mary died 1909, and her husband John – in 1913.

The death certificate for Mary was also a surprise – her parents are listed as Owen Keenan and Ellen Mullen, not names I’ve seen before in the family tree. I haven’t been able to find any death record for John Bradley despite manually going through the record images.

death cert

There are still many gaps, and many people to follow up on. I’m not sure why Mary and John were buried in Malden, and the church mentioned in the newspaper “The Church of The Star of the Sea” is also quite out of the way. I’m not sure why Catherine is listed as having no children in 1900 census, and what happened to her and William after 1900. There is no evidence of her going back to Derry where the rest of her children were, so maybe she had fallen on hard times – I can’t even imagine the pain of having  three of your children grow up in a different country. I haven’t been able to trace her other siblings either after 1910, with the exception of her youngest sister Rachel.

There is a DNA match  between a McManus descentents and  Rachel’s which prompted me to revisit all the documents on the Bradley line last week, and that’s when all this information started unravelling. So that further strenghtens the case that this is indeed Catherine (Bradly) McManus’ family.

There are still so many gaps to fill in, and probably so many stories to be told.


4 thoughts on “The Bradleys in Boston

  1. Those census records can throw us off, for sure, as you saw in my recent posts. It’s enough to make us all crazy! Glad you put these pieces together. Onward!


  2. Blogging family history makes for a great excuse to revisit genealogy records. It’s funny how writing the narrative brings the pieces together. I like your blogs layout and the cover photo is beautiful.


    1. Svetlana H.

      Thank you Michael!

      I’m new to blogging but writing it all out has already helped me so much in getting organised and spotting holes in the research. I always start a post thinking “I’ll just write this one and this family is done for now” and by the end of the post I have 10 new questions and leads to follow up 🙂


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