Friday, March 20, 2009

Stephen Eagan - A Traveling Man!

Even though my grandfather, Stephen Eagan, was born and raised in Rochester, NY, he left there in 1880 to go to New Haven, CT. He stayed for only a year and then came back to Rochester, staying there only about three years and went on to Cincinnati, OH. There he met my grandmother, Elizabeth Josephine Clarke, who he married in 1885. They stayed in Cincinnati until 1890 and then moved to New Haven where they stayed until about 1904. From New Haven they moved to Springfield, MA for about five years and then moved to Rochester where he spent the rest of his life.

More after the jump.

When I began researching my family I wondered why my grandfather had moved so often and why to these particular cities - especially why to New Haven. My father had told me that his father was a blacksmith but I have found out that he was a particular type of blacksmith - he was a carriage blacksmith. At the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries, three cities in the United States hosted the bulk of carriage business and these three were: Cincinnati, New Haven and Springfield. In Cincinnati he worked at the Gainsford Carriage Co.; in New Haven he worked at the New Haven Carraige Co. both times he lived there; and he worked at a carriage company in Springfield. (I cannot find my notes for the Springfield period but I have found his entries in the Springfield City Directory.) If he was a carriage blacksmith and the work was in Cincinnati, New Haven and Springfield why would move back to Rochester and where would he found work?

The answer was the James Cunningham & Son Company, a manufacturer of carriages and later automobiles. Located in the Canal Street area in Rochester, my grandfather worked in the factory on 13 Canal St. and, for some time, his son James worked there. In the Rochester City Directory, my grandfather was listed as a blacksmith and my uncle was listed as "auto repair" and later as a blacksmith also. I believe that some of the original buildings are still there on Canal Street. (I could never understand why there was a Canal Street downtown when there was no canal there. At another time we'll talk about that.)

But back to New Haven, CT. In the New Haven City Directory for 1880, Stephen Eagan was listed as a boarder on 4 Adeline Street. In the Federal Census for that year, 4 Adeline Street was the home of Timothy Eagan, a 30 year old railroad fireman from Ireland; his wife, Alice, also from Ireland; and Timothy's brother Patrick, a butcher. On the same block of Aldeline Street were four additional Eagan families. Were these folks related to my grandfather? Who knows. I have written to a number of Eagan families in New Haven but have not been able to determine any connection between 'my' Eagans and the rest of the Eagans on Adeline Street in 1880.

In the same year, Stephen is listed in the Federal Census for New Haven as living in a boarding house owned by a woman named Kate Reynolds. (I don't know which was put together - the City Directory or the Census for 1880.) This is probably just another of those coincidences in New Haven but persons named Reynolds were sponsors at Baptism for my Aunt Mae, Aunt Anne and my father. Sponsors for Mary Eagan in 1890 were John (or James) Eagan and Jennie Reynolds; sponsors for Anne Eagan in 1894 were Thomas Lace and Mary Reynolds; and sponsors for my father in 1901 were Carl Wagner and Margaret Reynolds. Were the Reynolds' friends, relatives or what? Was Kate Reynolds related to the Reynolds individuals who served as sponsors for the Baptisms of my father and aunts? We'll probably never know.

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