Saturday, March 15, 2014


In January 2014, Amy Johnson Crow of the Ancestry blog issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.


The premise: write once a week about a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, a research problem — any that focuses on that one ancestor. The next week, write about a different ancestor. In 52 weeks, you’ll have taken a closer look at 52 people in your family tree… and maybe learned a little bit more about them in the process.



THOMAS JOSEPH MURPHY was my husband’s grandfather. He was born 11 APRIL 1877 to JOHN MURPHY and HONORA QUINLAN.  He was the third child. The others were MARY born in 1873, PATRICK born 1875, MARGARET born 1878 and MICHAEL born1881.


THOMAS was born and lived in Brooklyn all his life. I have tracked his residences in the Federal Census’ from 1880 to 1940. I have also acquired his Birth and Marriage records from the City of Brooklyn.  His father, JOHN, died when he was 14 years old.  He then had to go out and work to help support his family.


THOMAS was a Die Hard Brooklyn Dodger fan.  He would go to every game he could and met a bunch of his cronies.  They would meet at Ebbetts Field and stand through the whole game. He also was a lover of boxing.  Jack Dempsey was one of his favorite boxers.  He would listen to the fights on the radio and occasionally go in person to watch.


He was a truck driver for most of his working years.  It was a hard job because in the 1930’ and 1940’s the trucks had hard tires that had to be repaired many times during a trip.  Many of the roads he travelled on were corduroy roads which were very rough to drive across.

Corduroy roads

An ancient method of creating a hard-surfaced road is to lay logs side by side across a trail. Corduroy roads, created in this way, have been made around the world for centuries (where adequate forests existed). The idea was thousands of years old when it was brought to the American continent.

In America, corduroy roads were built mainly in areas where a dirt road became impassable in wet weather or in swampy areas that would be impossible to cross without a raised road. The logs were laid in place and the gaps between the logs were filled with dirt. If a single layer of logs did not rise above the muck, another layer of logs and dirt was added on top. Sometimes entire logs were used, and sometimes the logs were split in half and laid flat-side-up. Corduroy roads were rough to drive across. Maintenance was needed to keep a corduroy road safe, stable, and usable.






THOMAS married in 1904 to FLORENCE MC DONALD also of Brooklyn. They had a wonderful family with four children.  JOHN born in 1906, THOMAS (I wrote about him in 52 #6), VIRGINIA born in 1911, and EILEEN born in 1918.


THOMAS’ wife FLORENCE died in 1958 and THOMAS died in 1964.

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