Friday, April 11, 2014


In January 2014, Amy Johnson Crow of the Ancestry blog No Story Too Small 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.



William Joseph Mathews was my grandfather.  He was born July 3, 1883 the last child of nine of William John Mathers (52 Ancestors #5) and Mary McCrudden both of Ireland.  William Joseph was born in New York City when the family was living over his father’s shoe and boot makers shop on East 28th Street, New York, New York.


I do not have any pictures of William Joseph as a child with his brothers and sisters.  I don’t think they had the money for the new fangled thing called a camera.  I do have a studio photo that might be him with his parents but it is so faint I can’t be sure.  Older relatives have assured me the parents in the picture are William John and Mary but can’t be sure of the child.


William Joseph was about 14 or 15 when he starting working at a hotel in New York City as a hall boy.  This was indicated in the New York Census of 1900. During that time his future wife was also working at the hotel as a maid.  They eventually married on August 6, 1909 in New York City.  I have found William Joseph and his family in the 1910 through 1940 census in New York.  In the 1910 census it indicates he is an elevator operator. On his WW1 draft registration dated 1917 he states he is a timekeeper at Tiffany Studios.  In the rest of the census’ he is a guard in a bank.


William Joseph Mathews married Mamie McGuigan and they had 4 children, Thomas in 1909, Catherine in 1911, William in 1915 and James (my father) in 1920.  They lived in Manhattan until about 1933 when the moved in with his sister, Catherine Mathews Morris, whose husband had died.  He lived in Richmond Hill, Queens until his death.




William Joseph was very close to all his sisters and was good friends with all their husbands.  Many of the families lived very close and all the cousins got together all the time.


 During WW 11 he was a very proud Dad with all three sons in the service.  Thomas and William were in the Army and James in the Navy.  Fortunately, all three survived the war and came home.  In this picture William Joseph is flanked on the right by his son James and on the left William.





William Joseph went to work as a bank guard as usual on September 5, 1946 taking the subway but on that fateful day he had a heart attack on the platform and died.



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