Michael Maliff


     There is one member of the McDermott extended clan that I have not mentioned as yet, and he certainly deserves recognition. Michael Maliff  was the older brother of Ann Maliff, James McDermott’s wife, and it is through him that we know the names of  Ann’s parents, opening up the possibility of pinpointing a place of origin in Ireland.

     According to his Naturalization records,  Michael was born in Longford, Ireland around 1790 to 1791, making him about eight years older than Ann. He married his wife, Mary McCormick in Ireland, and they had at least three sons there – Richard, born in 1820, Thomas born in 1821, and John, born around 1825. In their Naturalization petitions Richard and Thomas said they arrived in New York on June 19 and June 6, 1842, respectively. Their father Michael stated  he arrived in Boston on October 15th, 1842. Of course he didn’t state if he sailed directly to Boston, or came over together with his sons to New York first.  John, the youngest at 17, stated he arrived on May 1st of 1843 in New York City.

     It seems puzzling, at first glance, that all of the Maliffs would have come over on different dates, but so close together. We must keep in mind, however, that those dates were given years later, when they were applying for Naturalization, and might have simply reflected faulty memories. This indeed seems to have been the case. Barbara Peters located the ship manifest of the “Agnes Gilmour”, which arrived in New York in on June 6 of  1842 (the date of arrival that Thomas Maliff had given). Listed among the passengers was the Mills ( or Milfs?) family.

      Michl Mills  , 50 yrs        (born 1792) 

      Mrs.       ”     , 50 yrs        (born 1792) 

      Thomas  ”     , 22 yrs        (born 1820) 

      Richd      ”     , 21 yrs       (born 1821)

      John        ”     , 20 yrs       (born 1822)

      Ann         ”     , 19 yrs       (born 1823)

     The alignment of names and ages here is far too close to be just coincidental. The biggest discrepancy is in John’s birth date which he later claimed was in 1825.

     Although everyone eventually ended up in Boston, we know that Thomas at least did not go there directly. His initial Naturalization Application was filed in Orwigsville, Pennsylvania, the county seat for the town of  Pottsville, where Thomas was living in 1844. Pottsville is located on the West Branch of the Schuylkill River, northwest of Allentown, Pa. It had a small textile industry, and was in the heart of coal mining country. And in 1829, D.G. Yeungling & Son established what is now the oldest operated family beer brewery in the United States. What brought Thomas Maliff to this part of the world, other than the beer, however, seemed a mystery. It was a mystery that was finally solved only after a chance discovery of an advertisement  placed in the Boston Pilot newspaper in January of 1873 – nearly thirty years after Thomas applied for his naturalization.

View of Pottsville in 1854

     Meanwhile back in Boston, having survived the trans-Atlantic journey, Michael Maliff’s wife Mary then quickly succumbed to consumption on August 1 of 1843, and was buried two days later in St. Augustine’s cemetery, in the “old section, Plot #150” according to the Archdiocese archives. Mary was 52 years old, the same age as Michael.

    Four years later, on January 25, 1847 we find another death. Ann Maliff , age 18 yrs, 6 mos., who died of consumption  and was buried in South Boston at the Roman Catholic cemetery, in the same lot. Although our Ann would have been actually 4 or 5 years older, this surely must have been her.

     We first find notice of Michael in the 1844 Boston Directory, under the name Michael Maley, laborer, living on Dorchester  near 1st St. in South Boston. On March 25 of the following year Michael remarried to a woman named Ann McCrief. Ann McCrief was younger than Michael, born around 1804. And we do have an immigration record for an Ann McCrief, arriving in Boston on June 10, 1837 on the ship “Marathon”. That particular Ann claims to have been born in 1815, however, so it might not be the same person.

     Michael applied for Citizenship on April 10, 1846 in front of the U.S. District Court in Boston. His petition was not granted  however till June of 1848. His sponsors were James McDermott and Patrick Murray, a neighbor of Michael’s.

     The 1846 Directory located Michael Malef, laborer, in the rear of a house on 1st St. near Dorchester Street. In July of that year he paid James McFarlen $700 for a 45’x46’ lot on First St. with “the  buildings thereon”. It was adjacent to land Deming Jarves had purchased in 1845 to supplement his 1840 construction of the Mount Washington Glass Works across the street. Perhaps this house was just too close to the clamor and smoke of the Glassworks, because Michael and Ann quickly sold it to James Goodman on January 21 of 1847 for $800. 

    Not wasting any time they bought another house in March from Elisha Howes for $900. This was located nearby on what was to be named Dove St. – between 1st and 2nd Streets  and between F Street and Dorchester St. This was where they lived until 1853. In May of that year they sold the house to John Jennison for $800 but took back a $300 mortgage, which Jennison was able to pay off by June of 1855.

   It appears that the Maliffs then moved to Quincy. There are no extant Street Directories for Quincy in those years but we do have the death record of Ann Maliff on May 31st of 1854. It states that she died of dropsy in Quincy, Ma. Dropsy is an old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water. It probably referred to edema due to congestive heart failure.

          In the 1860 Census we find that Michael Maliff  was back in South Boston sharing a house on Dove St. near Dorchester with his niece Ann (McDermott) Story, her husband William and their six children. It appears that Michael owned the house, since the Census rolls show he owned real estate valued at $700. He was also listed there the following year under the name Michael Maley.

   At some point Michael moved in with his son Richard , who was living in Easton, Mass., south of Boston. He showed up there in the 1865 Census.

     Richard Maliff had come to Boston by at least 1846. Although we don’t have his marriage records, he met and married Ann Mullen sometime in 1846. Ann had arrived in Boston from Ireland, via Liverpool, on the ship St Petersburg on June 3 of 1846. Their first child Mary A. was born in 1847. They went on to have six more, four of whom survived childhood. Richard and Ann lived briefly in Hingham in 1848, but then moved back to South Boston. It was there in 1851 that Richard filed for Citizenship. However he never followed up on it till 1870  at which time it was finally granted. His sponsors were the husbands of his McDermott cousins – John Cuddy and William Story.

    When his father and step-mother moved out to Quincy it apparently inspired Richard to leave South Boston as well. By 1854 he and his wife had settled in Easton, and there the family would remain. As mentioned previously, in 1865 his father Michael was also living with the family. Richard worked as a shoemaker and also as a shovel maker, most likely  in the Ames Shovel Company, probably the biggest employer in Easton. The Ames Shovel Company traced its origins back to 1774 when Captain John Ames began making iron shovels in West Bridgewater, Ma. His son Oliver Sr. moved the company to North Easton in 1803. In 1844, the elder Ames transferred the shovel business to two of his sons, Oakes and Oliver Jr.  Within the next few years, gold would be discovered in California (1848) and in Australia (1851) creating a worldwide demand for the company’s shovels, which were already known for their high quality.

      Strong demand for shovels would continue throughout this period with the great expansion of railroads and later the American Civil War. Abraham Lincoln  personally asked Oakes Ames to supply shovels to the Union Army. This made the Ames brothers very wealthy men. The Ames  entered politics and became influential in financing the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad.  Expansion of the shovel factory continued over the years until 1928.

          In the 1880 Census Richard Maliff, by then nearly 60, was listed as a farmer, though his youngest boy, Peter, was just beginning at the shovel factory. In 1900 he was found living with his son Frank, a poultry dealer, and was by then a widower. He died on Jan. 18, 1901.

The Ames Shovel Factory – Easton, Ma.

    Michael Maliff’s  second son, Thomas, who had moved up from Pottsville Pennsylvania to South Boston around 1846 married Ann McGlaughlin of Hingham in April of 1848. Perhaps he had met her while visiting his brother Richard, who was living in Hingham in 1848. Thomas and Ann however lived in South Boston on A St. near Athens, quite close to his father’s house. His 1848 Citizenship petition was sponsored by his uncle James McDermott and his father Michael Maley. In the course of their marriage Thomas and Ann had eight children. Thomas was a teamster and expressman and lived in South Boston his whole life, except for, surprisingly, a ten year stint in Chicago from 1850 to 1860. His children worked with him as teamsters, or found employment in the Glass Houses of South Boston. He died on Jan. 17th of 1887.

    When Michael Maliff left Richard’s household in Easton, he then moved in with his youngest son John. John probably was living on Tremont St. in Boston proper in 1847-48, but when he married Rose Hughes in 1851 they got married in South Boston. In 1852, together with Rose’s brother Thomas Hughes, they bought half of a duplex in Boston’s South End, the other half being owned by the Hughes family. The widowed mother Ellen died in 1858.  Then that portion of the house eventually went to Ann Hughes, Rose’s unmarried sister. In 1862 all the siblings and their spouses sold their inherited portion to Ann for one dollar – the same process that Ann (Maliff) McDermott was to go through in 1870 when she sold the Saugus property.

      John and Rose resided there at 15 Wheeler’s Court until 1870, raising three children. John had always made a living as a waiter, sometimes working at the renowned Parker House in Boston. The 1870 Census placed Michael, now 80 years old  living with his son’s family. But that same year they decided to move back to South Boston, buying a place on West Seventh St. It was there that Michael Maliff died, on March 8th of 1878, nearly 90 years of age. In his death records are listed the name of his (and Ann Mcdermott’s) parents. They were Thomas and Nancy Maliff.

     To come upon the given names of our forebearers in Ireland is a great find. But without knowing the county and parish they came from, it leads us no farther. We know that the Maliff’s, like the McDermotts and the Keenans as well, were all from Longford. But where would one begin looking for them?

     Fortunately, thanks to John Maliff, we have a starting place. Thomas Hughes and John Hughes, his brothers-in-law, sponsored him for citizenship in November of 1849. And in that document  John Maliff  stated that he had been born in Abbeyshrule, Longford , Ireland.

    At long last – a Homeplace.

     It is also thanks to John Maliff  that we solved the mystery of why his brother Thomas first went to Pottsville , Pennsylvania after landing in New York City in 1842.  On January 25 of 1873 John placed the following advertisement in the Boston Pilot newspaper, which featured a section dedicated to helping Irish immigrants connect with other family members who had made the journey to America.

The Family of Michael Maliff

     This simple advertisement not only confirmed the hometown of the Maliffs, but opened up a whole new line of inquiry into their family story. We now learned that Michael Maliff also had a daughter, Catherine, who married John Ennis, and she was living near Pottsville. Returning to the passenger manifest for the ship “Agnes Gilmore” on which the Maliffs arrived from Ireland we find a startling discovery. Directly above the listings for the Maliffs are found the following passengers:

          Matthew McCormick    (age 31)

          Mrs. McCormick           (age 30)

          Richard McCormack     (age 2)

          John Innes                      (age 31)

          Mrs. Innes                      (age 30)

          Mary Innes                     (age 1)

          Mrs. Innes                       (age 50)

          Biddy Kinney                 (age 21)

     Mrs. Innes (Ennis) (age 30) is obviously Catherine Maliff  (born around 1812) with her daughter Mary. Mrs. Innes (age 50) would be John’s mother. What about the McCormacks? We recall that Michael Maliff’s wife was Mary McCormack (age 50-born 1792), which would make Matthew her younger brother. Included in that ship’s manifest was a column for “Place of Destination”. All of the above stated their destination was Pennsylvania.

     The Church records for Abbeyshrule only go back as far as 1830, but we were able find a record of the Marriage of Catherine Milea (Maliff) to John Ennis on Feb. 10 of 1839, and the subsequent baptism of their daughter Mary on June 13, 1841. And it turns out that Matthew McCormick married his wife, Catherine Kielty,  shortly after the Ennis’s nuptials – on May 7th of 1839.  But who was Biddy Kinney – the one seemingly unrelated member of the emigration party? We also find an Abbeyshrule  marriage record from 1839 in which the witnesses are listed as Biddy Kinney and Richard Maliff.  It was often the case that sponsors were either betrothed or romantically linked. This could have explained why Biddy accompanied the Maliffs and McCormacks to the new world, but we can find no trace of Biddy’s history in the States, and we know that Richard later went on to marry Anne Mullen in 1846.

     The Ennis family was from just outside Abbeyshrule, in Cloonbrin. Charles Ennis, John’s father (John named his eldest son Charles), was located there on 8 acres in the 1825 Tithe Applotments. After John Ennis married Catherine Maliff he took over the family holding.

     It appears that the McCormicks were also from Abbeyshrule. Richard McCormick, Mary and Matthew’s likely father, died there in April of 1839. Matthew was married to Catherine Kielty a month later and set up housekeeping just outside of Abbeyshrule, in Drunamore. The Kieltys were from Tennalick, the next townland over.

St Paul’s Mission Church

     What we have found in the “Mary Agnes” ship manifest seems extraordinary – fourteen extended family members that embarked for America at the same time – half of them planning to stay in New York  (the Maliffs) and the others bound for Pennsylvania. We know that James and Ann (Maliff) McDermott were living in Brooklyn and subsequently left for Boston sometime between 1840 and 1843.  Its possible that they were in New York to greet the Maliffs and that the family collectively decided on the move back to Boston.

   That the others were destined for Pennsylvania speaks of some other connection. We don’t know who that connection was  – but we know that it multiplied.  In the 1850 Census John and Catherine Ennis were living in Schuylkill Township, Pennsylvania, near Pottsville where Thomas Maliff had applied for Naturalization in 1844. Living beside them were Edward and Mary Innes, John’s elder brother by five years, and his son Charles with his wife Mary. We haven’t found a immigration record for Edward Ennis, but Irish baptismal  records have him in Ireland till at least 1844 ( Edward and Mary had twin daughters in 1844, but they died young).

      Although Thomas Maliff was ill disposed to the hard life of a coal miner and quickly left for Boston, John Ennis stuck it out for the next thirty years. After moving several times within the coal mining area around Pottsville, in 1880 the Ennis family finally relocated to Amity Township in Berks County, probably near Douglasville, where John took up farming. Like his relative by marriage, James McDermott, however, he too was not able to long enjoy the healthier life of working the soil. A long hard career of laboring in the coal mines had taken its toll, and John died on September 8, 1883. He was buried in a nearby small Catholic cemetery at St. Paul’s Mission (now abandoned) near Douglasville, Pa.        

    Sometime after John’s death Catherine and five of her surviving children moved to Philadelphia, where they remained for the rest of their lives. Only one of them had married – Mary, who had only one daughter – Katherine Brennan, and she became a nun with the Sisters of St. Joseph. Catherine (Maliff) Ennis passed away in 1911,  followed by each of her surviving children over the next decade. They were all laid to rest in the family plot in Douglasville.

Family of John Ennis and Catherine Maliff

      The preceding trail of evidence clearly shows that the Maliff family was based in Abbeyshrule, County Longford –  but what about the McDermotts? One might assume that James McDermott would meet and court his future wife, Ann Maliff, in the area around where he was born and raised – perhaps Abbeyshrule itself  –  but one can never be sure without a proper paper trail. James stated in his Naturalization Petition that he came from County Longford, and his death record stated that  his parents were Patrick and Bridget McDermott. Pinpointing his exact homeplace, it turns out, required following an even more more elusive and convoluted trail than the one which led us to Thomas and Nancy Maliff.  


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