In my last blog about Patrick Thomas King, Lost Soldier Found in Arlington Cemetery, I shared the story of my 2nd great grandfather who died from wounds received at the Battle of Cold Harbor during the Civil War, leaving a widow and 4 young children. In this blog post, I want to share a bit more about his young widow, Margaret Smith King, one of my 2nd great grandmothers.
Margaret Smith was born about 1834, probably in Clones, County Monaghan, Ireland. She was the daughter of John Smith (abt 1790-1863) and Margret O’Neill Smith (1802-1881). The family lived in Clones in the 1840’s where her father had a carriage making business. In 1846, and early in the famine years, an Ireland commercial business directory notes Margaret’s father, John Smith, as a coach & car maker located on Cara St in Clones [see the September 2020 blog post, From Clones to Brooklyn].
While I don’t directly know how the famine impacted the Smith family, it seems likely that the market for carriages and cars must have disappeared very quickly. What I do know is that by 1849, the Smith family decided to leave their home in Clones, Ireland and immigrate to the United States.
It was probably late summer of 1849 when 15-year old Margaret left Clones, Ireland with her family for England and the port of Liverpool. Margaret departed Liverpool with her parents and siblings on August 23, 1849 aboard the ship New World with over 400 other passengers. The ship landed in New York City a month later on September 21st.
Several of Margaret’s aunts and uncles (her mother’s siblings) had arrived in New York earlier in 1849 and were living in Brooklyn. So it is not surprising that the Smith family also settled in Brooklyn where Margaret’s father once again established a carriage business known as Smith & Sons.
When Margaret was nineteen, she married Thomas King on August 19, 1853 at Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Brooklyn. King was listed as a “grocery store clerk” in the 1855 census, and later as a “coach painter” in the 1860 census. He was by then most probably working for Margaret’s father.
Thomas King & Margaret Smith King had 4 children: John born in 1855, Margaret/Maggie born in 1857, Thomas Francis born in 1858, and Ellen/Helen born in late 1861. And in 1861, the Civil War had begun. In September 1862, Thomas enlisted as a Private in the 170th New York Infantry. At the time he enlisted, Thomas & Margaret’s youngest child was less than a year old.
Thomas King was himself an immigrant, having arrived in the United States around 1849 according to the 1855 census. And as I shared in my last blog post, we don’t know if King was born in Ireland, England, Australia or the West Indies.
We also don’t know if Thomas King, later known as Patrick Thomas King, enlisted because of a desire to serve his new adopted country, or if his enlistment was simply a decision made for economic reasons to support his family. He served in the Union Army for almost 2 years before his death on June 30, 1864.
With the 1864 death of Thomas, Margaret Smith King, became a 30-year old widow living in Brooklyn with four young children. A couple of months later, Margaret filed for, and was granted, a widow’s pension to help support her and the children. I have no doubt that times were very difficult for this young family.
I was not able to find Margaret in the 1865 New York census, but her pension application filed in late 1864 lists her address as 745 Pacific St in Brooklyn which is only a block from St Joseph’s Catholic Church at 856 Pacific St where Margaret’s uncle, Rev Patrick O’Neill, was the pastor.
By the 1870 census, Margaret is still in Brooklyn as the head of household with her 4 children, and her occupation was “ironing and washing”. The 3 youngest were in school, and the eldest, 15-year old John, was working in a hat factory.
A curious piece of information that was included in the pension file is that in 1871 Margaret married someone named Duckworth. As Margaret Duckworth, she had to file for guardianship for her 2 youngest children who were still minors in order to continue their pension payments. The guardianship and pension continuation was granted. The pension paperwork noted that Margaret married Duckworth on October 18, 1871, but unfortunately it never listed the full name of her new husband!
Margaret’s Duckworth marriage must have been short-lived or she was widowed again because in the 1875 & 1880 censuses she is once again using the name of Margaret King. As the head of household, her occupation is “keeping house” and her 2 youngest children are still living with her. I have never been successful in learning the first name of her 2nd husband, Duckworth.
Though I don’t know the hardships of the Smith family in Ireland, Margaret lost many of her family members during her years in Brooklyn. Margaret’s older brother, Francis, died in 1854 when he was only 24 years old. Her sister, Ellen, died in 1862 at 33 years old. And her father died in 1863, a year before she lost her husband, Thomas. Margaret’s 2 oldest children also died as young adults. Maggie, the oldest daughter, died in 1880 of consumption when she was only 23 years old, and Maggie’s 4-month old daughter, Maria, had died a year earlier. Margaret’s son, John, died in 1885 of tuberculosis when he was 30 years of age. Margareat's mother died in 1881, and her brother, Joseph, died in 1889 in a poorhouse hospital. I also believe that her other brother Robert died in 1889, however I haven’t been able to prove that connection. Margaret was 59 years old when she died in 1893.
Margaret died on January 5, 1893 in Brooklyn. Her death certificate listed her as a “cook.” She is buried in the Smith family plots in Holy Cross Cemetery located in Brooklyn.
* * * * *
John Smith (1790 - 1863)
Margaret O’Neill Smith (1802 – 1881)
Margaret Smith King (1834 – 1893)
Patrick Thomas King (1834/35 – 1864)
John King (1855 – 1885)
Margaret King (1857 – 1880)
Thomas Francis King (1858 – 1926)
Ellen/Helen King (1861 – 1919)
For some time I have believed that Margaret’s second husband could have been Capt Morris Duckworth (1839-1873) who died of consumption in 1873. Everything that I can find shows that he lived in the Brooklyn and New York City area, however, Morris Duckworth actually died in Milford, New Jersey on September 12, 1873 and his body was returned for burial in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, in the Duckworth family plot. His obituaries never mentioned a spouse, only his parents.
Unfortunately, the pension file that listed the date of Margaret Duckworth’s marriage, did not note the church in which they married; and I have not been able to find a King-Duckworth marriage in the Kings County or New York marriage records.
– Jane Scribner McCrary