Saturday, November 15, 2014

#38-John Joseph Lawrence Barnwell and Agnes McCune, First Generation Americans in NYC

John Joseph Lawrence Barnwell & Agnes McCune (father's maternal grandparents)
Immigrants to the New World are usually struggling so to get by that (unless they came from elevated positions), they leave little mark. I been an expatriate 4 times, and despite the financial advantages, I find you struggle to build networks and learn about the country and culture.
When the children of the immigrants came along, they usually had no money and lacked the benefit of having parents who had superior schooling or useful training.
But the immigrant story is common, and is oft repeated. And so, though I know very little about the Barnwells & McCunes, it's still important to put down what is known. My father wrote a bit about his mother's parents, first generation Americans, and I will place that at the end of the post. Now for the facts:
John Joseph Lawrence Barnwell & Agnes McCune
My great grandfather (my father's mother's father) John Joseph Lawrence Barnwell. He often goes by his initials.
The little information I have is gleaned is from his two draft cards and the census records. I'll call him "JJL Barnwell" here for short.
~His Parents and his Siblings~
Lawrence Barnwell Born 1856 in Ireland. Died 1892 in NYC
Mary [---]-Born 1861 in Ireland. Died [unkwn] NYC
Both his parents were from Ireland & both immigrants.
What county in Ireland and when they migrated is not known. Nor do I know if they were married before they immigrated. Also unknown is his mother's maiden name.
His Siblings:
I have recorded only a Mary and an  Alice Barnwell.

Lawrence & Mary, born in Ireland, JJL and sisters Mary & Alice b. USA  in a 1892 census.
The port of entry for his parents was likely New York (not Boston).
It is quite likely they had traveled with family members (as many people did).
I speculate Lawrence Barnwell may have traveled here with,or to join a brother in Connecticut (more on that later in the post).
~Unrelated to the Southern Barnwells~
      I'm 99.9% sure that his Barnwell family is unrelated to the large Barnwell family that migrated to the Georgia & the Carolinas when the country was still being settled.
My slight uncertainty exists because it is always possible that this family migrated to the "colonies" and then also returned to the British Isles. Some people did do this.
But there is no evidence to link this Barnwell family of New York to ones in the Georgia & the Carolinas.
~John Joseph Lawrence Barnwell~
JJL Barnwell, a true New Yorker, never lived far from the place of his birth. Here are the facts:
Birth: December 16, 1881 Brooklyn, NY
Death: Oct 1948 Long Island City, Queens, New York, NY
JJLB was born in Brooklyn, and lived in New York City his entire life (with a few brief exceptions), and died right across the bridge in Long Island City, Queens, NY.
 ~A Bit Of Staten Island~
In a 1915 census, they were living in Staten Island, where JJLB was working as  a driver.

Staten Island 1915 Census Barnwell family
~Is there a CT Relative?~
My grandmother, his daughter also remembered staying in the "country" (i.e. not NYC) for a while when she was young. There was at least one photo allegedly taken in Connecticut.   I'm not sure where those photo(s) would be now (sitting in the house on Budd Hill where my uncle had it?).
I found a William Barnwell & family in 1870 census in Statford CT.
 Might he be JJL Barnwell's relative? from the age, he could be a brother.   
It looks promising because William Barnwell was born in Ireland and was working as a day laborer.
Based on my father's and grandmother's recollections, this may be a relative, or it just might be a distraction!

Barnwells of CT 1870 census -possible relations?
~World War 1~
World War 1 came and the US joined late in the war. JJL Barnwell registered with the draft. When he registered they were living at 2758 8th Ave, New York, New York; he and Agnes had five children (living) and a sixth was on the way.
 JJLB was working at American Railway Express and gave the address as  49th St and Lexington Avenue, NY, NY.  He was a driver.
By the 1920 census the Barnwell family was still living at the same address in Harlem (below is a map & satellite image).

Red dot shows Barnwells lived. Hudson on left of screen, Harlem River on right.

Satellite view of same map.
In 1920 my grandmother (Catherine) was 9 years old and her siblings were (in order):
Alice (1905)
Lawrence Joseph (1909)
Catherine (1911)
Richard (1914)
Regina (1916)
& Thomas (1918)
Still to be born was:
Gerard (1921)
Lucille (1924)
Josephine (1925–1930)
Vincent (1926).
All those long names were shortened/made diminutive: Larry, Kitty [Catherine], Dick, Vinny.
 ~1928 on~
I figured in that my grandmother Kitty (Catherine) married my grandfather about 1928. Yep, she was young.
The Barnwells moved out to Long Island City Queens, and the younger children appear in the 1930 census living there but by then older married children (such as my grandmother) were no longer living at home.
~Their Children~
1 Alice  1905 – ?
2 Lawrence Joseph 1909 – 1991
3 Catherine F 1911–1992 M my grandfather
4 Richard  1914 – 1981
5 Regina  1916 – 1980
6 Thomas 1918 –1976
7 Gerard 1921 – 1985
8 Lucille J  1924 – 2000
9 Josephine  1925 – 1930
10 Vincent  1926 – 1990

~ JJL Barnwell Residences and his age ~

~Birth –Dec 1881 Age: 0   Brooklyn, Kings, NY
~Residence-1892 Age: 10  Brooklyn, Kings, NY
~Residence-1910 Age: 28  Mhtn. Ward 22, NY, NY
~Residence-1915 Age: 33  Staten Island, NY
~Residence-1920 Age: 38 Mhtn. Assm Dist 22, NY
~Residence-1920 Age: 38 2758 8th Ave, NY, NY
~Residence-1925 Age: 43 NY, NY
~Residence-1930 Age: 48 Queens, NY
~Residence-1940 Age: 58 Queens, NY
~Residence-1942 Age:60 L.I.City, Queens, NY
~Death - 1948 Oct Age: 66 Queens, NY
~John Joseph Lawrence Barnwell's Appearance~
I have no photos of him. But as John Joseph Lawrence Barnwell registered for the draft for both World Wars, I have a description of his general appearance from them. He says his skin tone is sallow--which in American English is yellowish and can indicate illness.
However in Ireland (though born in the US, his parents were Irish) sallow skin means your skin is on the tan side.

Several of his sons had this kind of "sallow" or swarthy skin:
JJL and Agnes Barnwell's boys
And, John Joseph Lawrence Barnwell had blue eyes and black hair. (My grandmother had fair skin, however.)
He was also only 5 feet, 2 inches tall, and slender.
Several years later, by World War 2, he had experienced a job injury, was 60 years old and (of course) had grey hair.
Additional information to aid in identifying him was:
"Stiff knee from operation and wears glasses" (not sure how helpful that would be in time of war).
The person who he gave as "always knowing your address" was his son-in-law, the husband of his eldest child Alice:
 "Patrick McGee, 27-56 27th Street, Long Island City Queens"

~What about "The Mrs.?"~Agnes McCune~
His wife Agnes' maiden name, as far as I can surmise was  McCune,  or McKeon (it is pronounced the same). I believe she was born in about 1885 in New York City.
Her father was born in Scotland and her mother was born in Ireland.I pulled that fact from Agnes' 1920 US Census. By then she was already a wife and mother but her parents' native land is asked for in the census:

Yellow highlight-Agnes McCune's info. Father/Scotland, mother/Ireland

~My father tells about the Barnwells (his grandparents)~
I'll let my father's give his memories of the McCunes & the Barnwells:

My mother’s parents, my Barnwell grandparents,[Agnes McCune Barnewell & JJL Barnwell] had 16 or 17 births. It was the Catholic practice at that time, perhaps still is, to name and baptize still-born babies. [To this day it depends on the state]. Those names are not found in official stats, but might be found in parish records.
They weren't particularly Irish.  John (Jack) was born in Brooklyn and was a teamster. Jack worked for the RR Express  as a delivery man. He was a small man, 5' 2", 125 lbs.
About 1922 he fell while carrying a big trunk up a flight of stairs.  The fall damaged his right knee and between the state of medicine and his lack of medical coverage, he didn't work again until WWII.    He then became a elevator operator, called "an indoor aviator." RR Express put him on unpaid leave for all those years.
I know even less about my grandmother [Agnes McCune]. She had a 6'6" Scotsman, a McCune grandfather who was a Presbyterian born in Edinburgh, but whose family originated in the Highlands.
He had married a small Catholic woman, so the children were raised Catholic.  Supposedly  on his death his wife begged him to convert  but he refused, saying God would judge him on his merits, not his creed. I think that's were the McCune name came from. I don't know when they emigrated.
She, Agnes McCune [Barnwell], supported the family by working as charwoman and a building superintendent, while "old Mrs. Duffy" took care of the kids. Who Mrs Duffy was, I have no idea. As building “super” if someone littered the place, like throwing trash into an air shaft, Agnes McCune [Barnwell] would hunt through it until she found an envelope or something, and then raise hell with the tenant.
Apparently, Agnes had temper I never saw; by repute she used to throw pots and pans. I have only the memory of her spitting at the TV when watching professional wrestling in her old age. I remember sitting by her on a little stool and joining in rub, rubbing my upper gum with snuff, as she did. {Ah, my dissolute youth!}
JJL Barnwell & Agnes McCune & family

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