A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Flynncestry: To the Shores of Amerikay

John Thomas Flynn (c.1841-1880)
Only known likeness; water-damaged

4. John Thomas Flynn

The search for the Flynns began many years ago when TOF was yet young and not yet as close as now to being an ancestor himself. TOF was the eldest of some twenty-odd cousins, some of them very odd indeed, and had lately come into the intelligence that not only did his father, Pere, also have cousins, but so did his grandfather, Pop-pop. The Flynns and allied families, while not so numerous as the descendants promised to Abram and Sarah, would have made a respectable turnout at any rowdy party, nor made it any less so.

And so, TOF, with a cassette tape recorder in hand -- you may recollect such devices from the Paleophonic Era -- went over the river and through the woods to grandfather's house, and there in the Sacred Kitchen, where Irish families always seem to congregate, he mercilessly interrogated his aged grandsire. Well, perhaps he was not so aged as he seemed at the time. In fact, he may have been about the age TOF is today. Any cousin happening to read this will recall the deep timbre of his voice, the precision of his speech, and the hatchet motions of his hand as he made his point. 

Family history is lived forward, but often discovered backward. So one starts with the living and peels back the onion generation by generation, overcoming curiosities and contradictions and resolving oral traditions along the way. Bits and pieces accumulate, not always in logical order. In the course of the interview, several things ancestral emerged.

  • Pop-pop had never known his paternal grandfather, who had died when his father was only ten.
  • He was no longer certain of that grandfather's name, but thought it might have been James or John.
  • His grandfather had been killed on the railroad when he was caught between two coal cars and crushed to death, sometime he thought in the 1880s.
  • He had married Anne Lynch, who had worked for "a miller and his wife."
  • They had all lived in Washington, NJ, where the railroad yards were.
  • He had come from Ireland, and there were two sisters and a brother who "went to California to look for gold."

Armed with this somewhat fluffy information, TOF wrote to the NJ Vital Statistics, and asked vaguely about Flynns killed on the railroad in Washington NJ in the 1880s. Bureaucrats were more nimble in those days and, after all, how many Flynns could have been killed in railroad accidents in Washington NJ in the 1880s? 

Ans.: Two.
But it may be best to let the story tell itself in the proper direction. 

This saga began in Ballinlough with the chieftains of the Sil Maelruain; then after the Cromwell War, it moved to Loughrea. We are now ready to shift the scene to the shores of Amerikay. The paterfamilias, the earliest Flynn of whom we have reasonably certain knowledge, is Martin Flynn of Loughrea, whose tombstone in Washington NJ and presence on the death certificates of both John Thomas and Martin Flynn the Younger establishes his role. The family of Martin Flynn the Older, reconstructed at this point, in time is: 
Notice that two children were baptized as Mary and another two as Martin. The older pair were born just before the Famine, the latter pair after the worst was over. The inference is that the first Mary and Martin either died shortly after birth or perished of hunger or disease in the Famine itself. There is no birth certificate or baptismal record for either Patrick or John, and there is room between their putative birth years for one or two other children.
St. Brendan's Cathedral, Loughrea
1866.  Honoria Flynn (aged 54, hence b.1812) is listed in a death index for Loughrea the fullness of which is behind a paywall.  It seems at least possible that this is Martin's wife, because the age and place is right and it is at this point that Patrick and John Thomas Flynn set off for America. Their mother's death may have been the trigger. 
c. 1866.  Patrick and John Flynn emigrate to America. John's 1881 death certificate says he had been in the US for 15 years and his marriage is dated January 1867.  Pat is around 33; and John is 23 or 24.  It was this year that habeas corpus was suspended in Ireland and there were hundreds of arrests of Fenian activists, who had been planning a feckless revolution for over a year.  Whether the Flynns were involved cannot be said, although Loughrea Flynns were involved in Fenian rallies a generation later*; but certainly the political atmosphere was oppressive and leaving the country may have seemed a prudent thing to do.  The Fenian Uprising took place the following year: a sad scattering of uncoordinated skirmishes of which the British were kept well-informed by informers in the Fenian ranks.
(*) As mentioned in the previous episode. And even later. In 1920, following an ambush near Loughrea, we read: "In the early hours of Sunday morning houses of prominent Sinn Feiners in Loughrea were searched.  ...  The house of Mr. Wm. Flynn, publican, was visited in search of his son, Mr. J. Flynn, D.C., who was not at home. However, neither Flynn was among those charged in the attack.
Washington (Warren Co.) New Jersey, back in the day.
The bird was presumably a quail.
Having sensibly waited until the Civil War was over, Pat and John made their way to Washington Twp., Warren Co., New Jersey, by what means or through what port we do not know. Ellis Island did not then exist. The New York POE was Castle Gardens, now known as Battery Park, but Philadelphia is another plausible port. In any case, a wooden sailing ship and a long, arduous passage is a more likely scenario than a jetliner.

The Delaware, Lackawana and Western Rail Road had begun building a maintenance yard.  This attracted Irish from all over, including the Lynches. 

Railroads in Washington
The M&E and the DL&W.  The Morris and Essex Rail Road had begun expanding in 1852, building towards Hackettstown intending to reach the Delaware Water Gap in order to link with the Sussex Rail Road at Waterloo Junction and with Abram S. Hewitt’s iron mines at Andover Furnace.  Their plans were thwarted by John I. Blair, a prosperous merchant of the locality, who chartered the Warren Rail Road from Belvidere to Hampton in that year.  Among those attracted to Washington for the construction was the Lynch family (arr. 1855) and the Donohue family, both of which would marry into the Flynns

The M&E continued under competitive pressure from the Belvidere & Delaware and the Warren RR Co., and from the new Lehigh Valley and Delaware Lackawanna & Western.  The DL&W was formed by the merger of two smaller industrial railroads that had been built to deliver rails: the Liggett’s Gap Railroad and the Delaware & Cobb’s Gap Railroad, which was originally intended to link with the Eire, hated rival to the M&E. 

In October of 1862, the Oxford Tunnel (begun in 1854) was completed.  Also known as the Van Nest Gap Tunnel, it was a 3000 foot long bore through the solid gneiss of Oxford Mountain and, had it not been for the Civil War then raging, would have commanded considerable attention as an engineering marvel.  It allowed the coal to move from Scranton to tidewater without any hard grades.  This was covered by the New York Times

In April, 1862, the M&E sought and secured a routing through Washington and Phillipsburg, completing that connection in 1865 and beginning service in 1866.  When it reached Washington, it bridged over the Warren Railroad running from Hampton Junction to the Delaware Water Gap.  Shortly after this, the Flynns showed up.

The tracks carried both DL&W and Lehigh Valley coal to Newark and Hoboken.  Then on 31 Dec 1868, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western leased the Morris & Essex and all its branches “in perpetuity.”   The Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western removed the bridge over its Warren RR, and reworked the interlocking.  This created one of the nations’ first major trunk lines. DL&W tracks now stretched from Hoboken deep into Pennsylvania and New York State.  In 1869 they started the Boonton branch, completing it on September 17th 1870, when three trains pulling 180 cars with 1000 tons of coal rolled onto the Hoboken waterfront via the temporarily leased Eire Tunnel. 

In 1945, the M&E will be formally merged into the DL&W as the Morris and Essex Division. The line from Hampton up to Washington will be abandoned in the late 1950s.  In 1960, the DL&W will merge with their hated rivals, the Erie, to become the Erie Lackawana, the route of the Phoebe Snow.  The line from Washington north to the Gap will be torn out during the Conrail era after 1976. The M&E continues to exist as the Morris and Essex Division of New Jersey Transit. 

Anne Elizabeth Lynch (1847-1926)

1867.  24 Jan.  John Flynn (24) married Anna Lynch (18) in Hampton Junction, Hunterdon Co., NJ.  Both were residents of Washington, NJ. and the ages are as given in the civil record.  The marriage was performed by Fr. Patrick Leonard, the second pastor of St. Ann Parish in Hampton Junction.  This parish had been founded only in 1859, as the anti-Catholic provisions in the New Jersey State Constitution had hitherto discouraged the Irish from settling there.  Prior to this, Catholics in the area had been served by St. Bernard Parish in Easton, PA, fourteen miles away.  St. Ann Parish at this time had the pastoral care of mission churches in Clinton, Flemington, High Bridge, West Portal, Washington, and Oxford.  Later, the Flynns would become members of St. Rose of Lima in Oxford, Warren, NJ. 

The Lynches
Anne Lynch was the daughter of Daniel Lynch and Bridget Barry in Burlington, VT, "two days after her parents landed in America."  She was baptized 1 July 1847 by the itinerant pastor Fr. Jeremiah O'Callaghan (Liber Baptismorum of Fr. O'Callaghan, Diocese of Burlington).  The Lynches had emigrated from Stradbally in Co. Waterford, during the Famine, and since Burlington VT was not two days' travel from any seaport in the 1840s, they likely came up the St. Lawrence through Canada.  

Grosse Isle quarantine
The ice on the river broke up late that year - "the merry month of May started with ice an inch thick" - and the first vessel to arrive, the Syria, arrived at Grosse Isle Quarantine on 17 May.  It arrived with 84 cases of typhus fever on board and nine deaths on the voyage.  "Less than a week later the catastrophe had taken place and was beyond control."  As many as 10,000 people died of typhus, including heroic Canadian doctors who stayed to treat them.  For Anne to be born in Burlington in early June, her parents would have had to arrive at Grosse Isle between late May and early June, so theirs was likely among the first ships to arrive.  They probably entered the US by ship on Lake Champlain.  Many steamboat captains helped smuggle Irish Catholics into the country, which at the time was in the grips of No-Nothing anti-Catholicism.  (Attn. Lilly cousins: Another family that came through Canada to the US was that of Lucius Lilly.) 

Anne appeared with her parents and her brother John Lynch in the 1850 US Census for Poultney, Rutland Co., VT.  But by the 1855 NJ State Census, the family was living in Washington, Warren Co., NJ.  In between, they lived in Connecticut long enough for brother Daniel to be born.  In the 1860 US Census, Anne was listed as a servant in the household of a farmer named A. Miller. 
1864. 27 Oct. Daniel Lynch became a US citizen. 

Note: Among the oddities of oral traditions are its peculiar accuracies. Pop-pop had said that his grandmother once worked for "a miller and his wife," and the Census record shows that he worked for a farmer listed as "A. Miller."

The State Marriage Record states that John was a laborer and Anne was a spinster.  The record also gives incorrect names for their parents: Patrick and Elizabeth for John and James and Ellen for Anne.  We don’t know where these names came from, but there was a Patrick and Elizabeth Barry that lived next door to the Lynch family, so these may actually be the names of witnesses. 

In a letter to TOF, Anne Pippitt, John's grand-daughter (and Pop-pop's cousin), recalled her grandmother Anne Lynch Flynn describing John as "handsome," "red-haired," and how fine he looked as parade marshal, riding a white horse at the head of the St. Patrick's Day parade.  What year or years he led the parade is unknown. 

1867.  Honora Flynn, the eldest of John and Anne's children, was born. The date is not given. Like many of these early state records, the document is incomplete and may have been filled out by third parties well after the fact. She was named according to custom after her father's father.

"Paddy on the Railroad"

The curve of one branch of the railroad comes in from the right (east) edge
and loops around to exist in the center top (north). Barely visible is the
old Morris Canal running from upper left to run tangent to the curve.
The state road is the straight line heading north by northwest. The rail yards
and shanties were at about the point where all three are clustered.
The Irish railroad worker is almost a cliche,  but it is a cliche for sound reasons. It was more often true than not. Both John and Patrick worked on the Delaware, Lackawana and Western Railroad, probably in a variety of jobs over the years.  We know that John was listed variously as a "car repairer" and a "car greaser" and that Patrick was a "night watchman."  John and Anne lived in a section of Washington known as "The Patch" or sometimes "Dublin" for fairly obvious reasons.  This was an area designated on the 1871 Atlas of Warren County (further down this post) as "DL&W Housing," so we may suppose they were railroad-owned.  It sat in the northeast corner between Belvidere Ave. (now Rt. 31) and Feebtown Road.  Later, an American Can Co. plant was built where the repair yards once were, and an office building named "The Old Barracks" now sits where some of the RR shanties stood . 

1868.  Some miscellaneous items in the Washington Star
  • In Feb, the DL&W cut wages.  Conductors and engineers were making $5/day, firemen $2, brakemen $1.65.  A wage of $5 in 1868 would be equivalent to a wage of $81 in 2010. 
  • 9 April.  "We are informed that the DL&W have no men to load boats at their coal chutes this season.  They are offering the sum of $1.30 per day (=$21.03 in 2010 dollars)  This company has been very liberal for a long time."
  • 23 April.  M&E RR laborers "threw down their shovels" from Hackensack Bridge to Milburn.  Wages were cut from $1.50/day to $1.40/day.  (2010 equivalent: $24.26/day to $22.65/day.)
  • 27 July.  "John Quinn lectured on 'English Misrule in Ireland' in Biglow's Hall in the presence of a large number of Fenians.  Committee of Safety of the General Corcoran Circle."  (We might presume that Patrick and John were in attendance. 
It was also this year that Washington Borough was separated from the remainder of the township.

1868.  22 Sep.  John Flynn became a US citizen, according to Warren County Naturalization Records.  

1869.  21 Aug.  Martin Flynn Jr was born, according to St. Rose of Lima parish records (and his tombstone)  A sketchy State record states 18 Aug 1870, lists no mother and gives the father only as “Flynn.”  This was probably a late entry by the State made with incomplete information.  The Irish custom in those days was that the first-born son was named after the father's father.

1869. 21 Sep. Lucius Lilly became a US citizen.  

The Washington NJ rail yards in ca. 1870, a photograph appearing in the Washington Star.  Left edge,
center is the "lower Station."  The freight house is further to the rear, center. In the background is Oxford
Mountain through which the Oxford Tunnel was driven under Van Nest Gap. This is where John Flynn
worked at about the time he worked there, and for all we know, he is one of the
figures in the picture.

Based on the map below, John's shanty is probably in the background off the left of the page.
(Edson Breyer's Postcard Museum)

DL&W Rail Yards in 1874.  County Atlas of Warren County
The map shows the northern edge of Washington Boro and into Washington Twp.  Belvidere Ave. (left of center) is the main N/S street through the borough.  Two clusters of RR houses are seen, and our best guess based on the sequence of
houses visited in the 1870 Census is that John Flynn was in one of the shanties near McGovern in the left-hand cluster.

1870 US Census for Washington Twp., Warren County, NJ, p.43 Dw. 331 Family 332
 Name Age Sex RaceOccupation  born inCannot readCannot write Voter
 Flinn, John 25MW RR Laborer Ire X X X
 Flinn Ann22 FW Ire [sic]
 Flinn Ann [sic] 3F W  NJ
 Flinn Martin 1MW  NJ
 Flinn Patrick 35 M W RR Laborer Ire X X
 Cavan Peter 21 M W RR Laborer NY X X
 Lahly Steven 22 M W RR Laborer Mass

In addition to his brother Patrick, John and his family had taken in two boarders. 

1870-1872.  Washington Twp records list John and Patrick as paying a poll tax of $1 each.  In the 1871 record, John is listed as having one child in school and a “population” of 4, presumably his family.  Also, Thomas Sawyer, who will later marry Bridget Flynn, was born 24 Sept. 1870, per St. Rose of Lima baptismal records.

1871 22 July.  Daniel Joseph Flynn, our great-grandfather (Pere's grandfather) was born, according to the St. Rose of Lima baptismal registry. Following the Irish custom, the second-born son was named after the mother's father.

30 Sept. The Hacketstown Gazette took the Washington Star to task for currying the favor of the Catholics in an article welcoming the construction of St. Joseph Church in Washington.  "We do not see how the building of a Catholic church benefits a community.  When we laud such an enterprise, we give moral support to a system of delusions calculated to shut out all knowledge of true religion..." It is intriguing how much hard-line Protestants a century and a half ago sound like atheists today. One need only delete "true religion" and replace with "Truth" and it could have been said by R. Dawkins.

1872.  24 Sep. Patrick Flynn became a US citizen, according to Warren County Naturalization Records.

At around this time, the father and younger brother -- both named Martin -- came over. Probably, as was often the case, John and Pat had saved up to pay their way. What happened to their two sisters, Mary and Bridget, is unknown beyond a vague oral tradition that another brother and two sisters "went to California to look for gold."

1873.  Date not specified. The St. Rose of Lima Parish Register lists:
  • John Flynn
  • Anne, his wife
  • Honora, age 7
  • Martin Jr, age 5
  • Daniel, age 3
  • Martin Flynn (no age given. This might be his younger brother if the father was already dead.)
1873.  25 May.  John Thomas Flynn, Jr. was born, according to the St. Rose of Lima baptismal registry.  According to custom, the third-born son was named after the father.

1873.  The township poll tax lists John and Martin, but not Patrick.  Perhaps Pat was out of the county for some reason. Next to Martin’s name is a notation “Dead.” 

1873. 28 Sep.  Martin Flynn (elder) Dies.  In 1873, he paid a poll tax of $1 to the Borough of Washington, but in the register, this was crossed off and the notation "Dead" written in. This seems to be the only civil record of his existence in the US. There is no civil death certificate, so we don't know what he died of. At the time, St. Joseph's in Washington had not been built (or was just being built) and the Flynns belonged to St. Rose of Lima in Oxford, NJ. There is a record of his death in St. Rose's records that states:
Martin Flynn.  Sept. 28, 1873.  Lived in Washington, NJ.  Buried in St. Rose, Oxford, NJ.
However, his tombstone is in Washington, NJ, in a cemetery that was not dedicated until 1881.  Possibly it was a reburial?  The tombstone is inscribed:

Sacred to the Memory of
Born in Loughrea
County Galway
Died Sept. 28 1873
Aged 66 Years
May his soul rest in peace
Erected by his son Patrick

This was the initial clue that pointed TOF and his brothers to Loughrea. TOF and BroPat went gravestone-hunting one fine day and stopped first at St. Rose of Lima in Oxford NJ. After all, how many Flynn families could there have been with parents named John and Anne and children named Martin, Patrick, James, and John? 

Ans.: Two.

1875.  25 July.  James Flynn (middle name unknown) was born, according to the St. Rose of Lima baptismal registry.  NJ Vital Statistics gives a date of 25 July. Irish custom has run out of reasons for boy's names at this point.

1876. 16 Aug.  Daniel Lynch, father-in-law of John Flynn, died aged 65 years.  Interment at Oxford.  (Washington Star, 25 Aug.)

1877. 17 March.  The Washington Star reported that the Emerald Society and Band celebrated St. Patrick's Day "in a becoming manner."  In another story on the election, the paper reported that Morgan Sweeney was defeated "because he was Irish.  The Irish are at the tail end of the Democratic Party, but the Irish will keep with it rather than go Republican." This is the old familiar story in which an ethnic group is held captive with promises never actually delivered on.

1878.  27 Feb.  Patrick Henry Flynn was born, according to the St. Rose of Lima baptismal registry.  NJ Vital Statistics gives a date only of "Mar." That's five boys and one girl, in case you're keeping score. Honora must be getting mighty lonely.

1880 US Census for Washington Twp., Warren County, NJ, E.D. 211. p.2 Dw. 20 Family 20
 Name Age Sex RaceOccupation  born inMother bornFather born Misc.
 Flynn, John 39MW repairs cars on RR Ire Ire Ire 3 mos. out of work
 Flynn, Ann32FW keeps house VT IreIre
 Flynn, Honora 12F W  at home NJ VTIre
 Flynn, Martin 10MW  at home NJ VTIre 
 Flynn, Daniel 8 M W at home NJ VT Ire
 Flynn, John 7 M Wat home NJ VT Ire
 Flynn, James 4 M Wat home NJVT Ire 
 Flynn, Patrick 2 M W at home NJ VT Ire
John, Sr. is again listed as "cannot read" and "cannot write." 
Patrick Flynn, the brother, is not listed and I could not find him in Washington.  There was a Patrick Flynn in Harmony Twp., aged 40, single, farmer; but this is not likely the same man. 

Confusing note: There was another John and Ann Flynn at St. Rose of Lima, living in Oxford next door to the Sawyers.  This John had come the US as a boy, lived in Scranton for eight years before coming to Oxford, where he worked as a puddler in the iron works ("Oxford Furnace")  They named their children: John J., Michael, Patrick R., James, Thomas, and Martin W.  This John Flynn died in 1933 and does not appear to have been a relative. A descendent of this John lived coincidentally up across the corner from TOF.

1881.  20 May.  Bridget Flynn (middle name unknown) was born, according to the St. Rose of Lima baptismal registry. Finally! A second daughter, named -- as custom held -- after the mother's mother.

1881.  24 July.  John Thomas Flynn was crushed between two coal cars while working in the rail yards at night.  He was buried 27 July in Washington NJ beside his father, but no stone remains as a marker.  [New Jersey Vital Statistics, Washington Town Records]  TOF found two newspaper accounts of the event:

A FATAL ACCIDENT -- John Flynn, a man of about thirty-five years of age employed by the D.L.&W. railroad company as a car repairer, at Port Washington, N.J., was killed at that place about 12:15 last Sunday morning.  He had been at work on some cars that were standing on a side track, and wishing to go to the opposite side of the track, started to pass through between the cars on which he had been at work and some others that stood a few feet away.  As he did so, a coal train, in switching some cars on the same track, pushed those already standing there together, catching him between them with the above result.  Flynn leaves a wife and a large family of small children.
-- Easton Daily Argus, Tues., 26 July 1881

CRUSHED TO DEATH -- John Flynn, an oiler on the D.L.&W. road, was caught between cars at Port Washington Sunday morning between two and three o'clock and crushed to death.  He had stepped between two cars to tighten some screws, when the train started and he was caught between the bumpers.  The accident was almost immediately discovered by the other train hands and Flynn was picked up and carried to the telegraph shack, but died before he reached there.  He leaves a wife and seven small children.
-- Hacketstown Gazette, Fri. 5 Aug. 1881

The State Certificate of Death lists John's age as 48 years and his occupation as car-greaser.  It gives his birthplace as Ireland and states that he has lived in New Jersey for fifteen years.  His parents were listed as Martin and Nora Flynn, both of Ireland.  He was pronounced dead by accident by Jos. S. Cook, M.D., who stated that "John Flynn was crushed between two cars."  The undertaker was Jacob Fitts of Washington. 
Notice that the two newspaper accounts differ in some details. Was the accident just after midnight or between two and three o'clock? Was John an oiler or a car repairer -- or were they the same thing? But notice too that Pop-pop, while not remembering his grandfather's name had remembered that it was between coal cars that he had been crushed. 

1885. New Jersey State Census, Washington Borough; #654; Dwelling 127, Family 132.  Only names, age ranges, and birthplace were given. 
 Name Age range
 Ann Flynn20-60
 Daniel 5-20
 John 5-20
 James 5-20
 Patrick 5-20
 Bridget 0-5
 Martin 20-60
 Patrick 20-60

John's brothers, Martin and Patrick are living with the widow Flynn.  Both brothers, like John T., had worked on the railroad.  Patrick was a night watchman and Martin was a switch tender.

As far as we know, Patrick never married and had no issue.  But shortly after this state census, Martin married and started a branch of our family with whom the clan of John have long fallen out of touch. 

The Clan of Martin J. Flynn
Martin had come to Washington in 1873, along with his father, also named Martin.  There, they joined the older brothers, Patrick and John.  Legend says that there were some sisters, too, whom the Loughrea baptismal register names as Mary and Bridget.  But there is no documentation of their presence in the US. 
1884. 23 Oct.  A few years after his brother's death, Martin became a US citizen.  (Warren Co. Naturalization Records)
1886.  The History and Directory of Warren County lists Patrick Flynn of "Dublin" as a night watchman and Martin Flynn, also of "Dublin," as a coal dumper.  Dublin was the name of the district in Washington where the Irish railroad workers lived. 
1886. 8 May.  Martin Flynn (31) married Julia Donohue (26) in a ceremony presided over by Rev. William J. Donovan. 
1887. 9 Mar.  Martin Flynn was born to Martin and Julia.
1888. 26 Sept.  Edward Flynn was born to Martin and Julia
1889. 20 May.  Martin Flynn (35) was run over by a freight car and killed. This was the second Flynn killed on the railroad in the 1880s in Washington NJ. And he was a brother of the first.
KILLED AT HIS POST.  Martin Flynn, aged about 32 years, switchtender on the D.L.&W. railroad at the culvert, Washington, was almost instantly killed at nine o'clock on Monday night by being run over by a freight car while in the act of attending the switch.  He had just set the switch for the engine coming up from [Hampton] Junction, and stepped over on an adjoining track, when a car that had been detached from a train from the opposite direction on the down grade, struck him and passed over him, cutting off one of his legs, breaking an arm, and mangling his body frightfully.  He was taken to the freight house and medical aid summoned, but all of no avail, as his injuries were fatal, and he died within an hour.  His body was taken to his home on Warren Street, from whence the funeral took place on Thursday morning.  He leaved a wife and two small children to mourn his untimely passing. 
-- Hackettstown Gazette, 24 May 1889 
Martin Flynn, a switchtender on the M&E road, of Washington, was killed there on Monday evening by a car while on duty.  The accident threw the car from the track.  -- Easton Daily Argus, Thur. 23 May 1889
1895.  NJ State Census for Washington lists for House #591 Family 711: Nora Donohue (60+), Julia Flynn (20-60), Hannah Donohue (20-60), and Martin and Edward both (5-20).  This is the widow Flynn, her mother and sister and her two children. The Census incorrectly lists Martin and Edward as Donohue rather than Flynn. 
1897-1900.  Washington Tax Records list Julia Flynn as a taxpayer on W. Warren St. with a house and lot.  The property is evaluated at $400 in 1897 and $500 in 1898-1900.  Taxes in 1898 were $7.82 (1898), $7.86 (1899), and $7.83 (1900).  That was actual money in those days. 

1900 US Census for Washington, Warren County, NJ. Warren Street.

 NameRel. Col Sex Birth Age Marital Yrs Md # children # living Born Father born Mother born Occupation
 Donohue, Laura head W F May 1830 70 W
 74 Ire Ire Ire
 Flynn, Julia dau W FJan 1870 30 W
 22 NJ Ire Ire Weaver in Silk Mill
 Martin son [sic] W M Mar 1887 13 S NJ Ire NJ School
Eddie son
 W M July 1888 11 S NJ Ire NJ School
 Donohue, Hanna dau W F Apr. 1873 27 S NJ Ire VT silk weaver
Julia and her sister and working at the silk mill.

1917.  21 July.  Julia and her family moved to Allentown, PA. and sold the house on Warren St. to Marvin Rush "in consideration of Six Hundred and Fifty Dollars lawful money of the United States of America, to them in hand well and truly paid." 

Of the Allentown Flynns, Edward Leo never married and died in 1962.  Martin J. Flynn married Kathryn M. Sweeney and had five children:
Mary (died at birth), Charles J. (1918), Miriam Frances (1920), Kathleen M. (1921), and Martin E. (1924).  Martin J. died in Allentown 16 April 1957 and his wife followed 19 April 1963. 

Of the children, Martin E. had three daughters and died in Allentown 6 Aug. 1977.  His obituary and the name "Martin" caught the eagle eye of TOF's mother, and she wondered if he was a relation.  TOF dug into it and found the connection to the younger brother in Washington.  Miriam married Robert Maher and Kathleen married William Orsolics and nothing further is known. 

Charles J. Flynn married Eleanor D. Fukan and had three children: Brian C. Flynn (1950) (who married Louise Wardlow) and Philip P. Flynn (1951) both then in Allentown, and Daniel G. Flynn (1952) in Greensburg, PA.  By 1977, Charles was in Elmira NY, a teller for the Chemung Canal Trust.  He died there 1 Oct. 1984 after a brief correspondence with TOF.  His son Philip apparently was in Denver at a time when Michael and Patrick were there, and by weird coincidence a girl Pat was dating had previously known Philip.  At least, it seems he was the same Philip, but we don't know and she no longer knew how to contact him. 

The Break-up of the First Flynns

Through the Oxford Tunnel
Children hopping freights to go to work.
We may regard the household of John T. Flynn as the "First Family" of our branch of the Flynns in America.  Following the death of John, the family began to break up into new units.  Martin (12) and Daniel (10) would hop the freight train as it slowed though the Patch and ride through the Oxford Tunnel to work in the nail mill in Oxford.  Later, Martin went to Newton to work in a shoe factory there and Daniel followed.  An old photograph of the Oxford Tunnel from Owl's Flight Photography is shown at left.  The tunnel bore, while adequate for two tracks with Civil War era cars, was too narrow for later equipment.  The tracks were converted to "gauntlet tracks", i.e., overlapping rails.  This effectively reduced the tunnel to a one-track tunnel, since trains could not pass each other once inside. 

1889. 3 Oct.  Honora Flynn, housemaid, died after a two months bout of chronic pneumonia, at age 22. 

1892. 18 May.  Daniel J. Flynn (21) married Matilda Ochenfuss of South Easton, PA. The wedding took place at St. Philip and James Catholic Church in Phillipsburg, NJ, starting the next household in the TOFian line -- and introducing a Germanic element into matters. The Flynns of Phillipsburg kept in touch with the siblings and cousins in Morrisville/Trenton, but we shall follow the latter and leave the former for another time.

Ochenfuss. In one way, unusual names are easier to track; but in other ways not. One can only imagine the number of variant spellings of Ochenfuss that have appeared in the records, from Ochen/Ochsen/Acken to -fuss/foose.  Matilda was the daughter of Mary Ochenfuss and John Hetzler, but carried the name Ochenfuss. Hetzler vanishes from the record. Mary had been in turn the daughter of John Ochenfuss, who worked on the Lehigh Valley Railroad in South Easton. He was a native of Germany.

1893. 13 May.  Young Martin Flynn (24) married Alice Newitt in Newton, NJ.  There was one daughter, Anna Marie Flynn (b. 26 Aug 1894) who later married James Anthony Pippitt and begat a daughter with whom TOF later corresponded.  But Martin's marriage does not last long because...
1895. 2 June.  Martin Flynn (26) died in Newton, Sussex Co., NJ.  He is buried in Washington, NJ, next to his father (John) and grandfather (Martin). This began a tradition of Martin Flynns dying at successively younger ages.

1895. New Jersey State Census, Washington Borough; House 211, Family 258.   
 Name Age range
 Flynn, Anne20-60
 Bridget 5-20
 Lynch, Bridget 60+
(At this point, Honora and Martin are dead and Daniel is married and living in P'burg. 
James may have already gone to Trenton. 

1897/98.  John Flynn, Jr. is listed in the tax records of Washington, N.J., paying a $1 poll tax each year.  At this point, he is the oldest male in the household. 

1898. 12 May.  Bridget Lynch, 73, mother of Anne Lynch Flynn, died.  (Washington Star)

1898. 28 Dec.  Bridget Flynn (18) married Thomas Sawyer (28), son of Abram Sawyer and Catherine Heffernan, a rubber-turner from Trenton.  The ceremony was performed by the Rev. J.A .Regnery (Washington Town Records; Washington Star)  At some point around now, all the Flynns except Daniel move to Trenton to live with Tom Sawyer and Bridget and work at Vulcanized Rubber making the earpieces for telephones.  Bridget and Tom Sawyer had four children:
  • Thomas Sawyer (1899)
  • Anne Sawyer (1902) m. Emmet J. Walsh.  She died 1926 and is buried with her uncle John Jr. and her grandmother Anne Lynch Flynn in Morrisville. 
  • Catherine Sawyer (19??)
  • Vincent Sawyer (1917) m. Anna Mattis. 

1899.  Nov. James Flynn married Mamie Flannigan, probably in Trenton, NJ, or Morrisville, PA. 

1900 US Census for Trenton, Mercer County, NJ, E.D. 65. 223 Second Street
 NameRel. Col Sex Birth Age Marital Yrs Md # children # living Born Father born Mother born Occupation
 Sawyer, Thomas head W M Sep. 1871 28 M 1 NJ NJ NY Turner
 Bridget wife W F May 1880 20 M 1 11  NJ Ire VT
 Thomas son W M Nov 1899 1/12 S PA NJ NJ
 [Flynn], John b/l W M May 1873 27 S NJ Ire VT Presser
 Patrick b/l W M Feb 1878 22 S NJ Ire VT Turner
 James b/l W M July 1875 24 M 7/12 NJ Ire VT Turner
 Mamie s/l W F Nov 1878 20 M 7/12 NJ NJ NY
 Annie m/l W F July 1847 53 W 75  VT Ire Ire
There are a number of errors in the Census compared to other documents.  Tom Sawyer's father Abram was born in Canada.  Bridget was born in 1881.  And the surname FLYNN was omitted, so that it seemed John and the others were also Sawyers. 

1900.  30 Sept.  John Flynn was born to James and Mamie Flynn.  Whether John survived and had children is not known.  James and Mamie also had a daughter Mae (b. 4 Aug. 1902) who married a Gilbert Horrell. 

Date ???  John Flynn married Kate O'Neill, the daughter of the police chief of Bayonne, NJ.  Nothing else is known of them except that John is buried in Morrisville, and Kate's funeral was a big event in Bayonne.  We don't know of any children from this marriage, but it is not impossible that there are Flynns out of Bayonne that are related to us. 

Patrick Henry Flynn (l) visiting his older brother Daniel Joseph Flynn (r)
in Phillipsburg NJ. Date unknown. Wouldn't want to tangle with either.
1901. 26 June.  Patrick Henry Flynn married Margaret Catherine Cooney of Sheffield, England, in Trenton, NJ.  Patrick had been a silk weaver in Washington before going to Trenton.  He was a good baseball pitcher and liked fishing at Seat Creek and keeping his garden of vegetables and flowers.  Patsy and Margaret had ten children:
  • Anna Loretta Flynn (1902) no issue
  • James Joseph Flynn (1904) no issue 
  • Margaret Catherine Flynn (1906) m. Ernest Pitman.  Pitmans 
  • John Thomas Flynn (1908) m. Anna Rose Smith.  Daughters. 
  • Loretta Flynn (1909) died young 
  • Joseph Flynn (1911) died young 
  • Catherine Eleanor Flynn (1915) m. Robert John Dobuski.  Dobuskis 
  • Marie Elizabeth Flynn (1918) m. Joseph Martin Keller.  Kellers 
  • Leo Flynn (1920) died young 
  • Mary Flynn (1922) died young

The large family of the Patrick Flynns has passed through daughters, so none of his descendents now bear the name of Flynn. TOF at one time had carried on a correspondence with a Dobuski, and it was this Dobuski who supplied copies of the portraits of John Flynn and Anne Lynch that had been kept by a great aunt. TOF can no longer find the letters, alas. 

1925. 20 Jan.  John T. Flynn, Jr. died.  He is buried in Holy Trinity Cemetery, Morrisville (aka, Yardley PA).

l. to r.: Matilda Ochenfuss Flynn, Daniel J. the younger, Blanche Cantrel
Flynn, Anne Lynch Flynn, and Daniel Joseph Flynn Sr.
1926.  17 Nov.  Anne Elizabeth Lynch Flynn, widow of John Thomas, died.  She lived at 70 Bridge St., Morrisville, PA.  Her occupation was given as "housework" and her parents as Daniel Lynch and Bridget Barry.  She was buried three days later in Holy Trinity Cemetery, Morrisville.  The PA Death Certificate does not list causes of death.  Her age was given as 77 and her birth date as 6-10-1849, which is late by a year. 

Her last appearance in the photographic record is from a visit to Phillipsburg, in this picture taken in the backyard of her son Daniel. Note to any cousins who may be reading this: Yes, that's Granny in the back and the kid is Great Uncle Dan.

Wikipedia: Morris and Essex Railroad
Wikipedia: Delaware Lackawana and Western Railroad
1874 County Atlas of Warren County, NJ


  1. It was a very rough time. I had a great-great grandfather who "drowned while working at dredging out the Kanawha River at Red House Shoals in Putnam County. He was a good swimmer, but became entangled in a rope."
    Samuel Crookshanks (1813-1870) and so would have been 57 when doing this work. He left behind 9 children, the youngest was 10 years old. There is a note in the family history, a quote from Lincoln, that the Lord must love common people... he made so many of them.

  2. Broken image links, ahoy!

    1. I'm seeing some apparently-broken image links.

      I click on one to view just-the-image, and Google wants me to sign in and request permission from the owner, or something.

      Odd. Really odd.

      Currently, I can see the Timeline, the cathedral, the overhead pic of Washington-NJ, one of the rail-yard pics, and the Oxford tunnel.

  3. Despite the issues with the pictures, the story is interesting.

    And mildly-surprising, in the way that family history, old newspaper stories, and various other records need to be pieced together to tell the full story.

  4. Mary Pippitt CervantesOctober 11, 2015 at 2:53 PM

    As the great, granddaughter of Martin Flynn and Alice Newitt this information filled in some gaps in my records. Thanks!

    1. Welcome, coz! I believe that makes us third-cousins. I have some additional information on Martin and Alice that was omitted from this brief summary. What I cannot find at this point are the letters I received from your grandmother many years ago, but I do have some information on the Newitts. Let me know if you're interested.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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