John FitzGerald, Sr.

Grandpa Fitz’s grandfather was a man named John FitzGerald, Sr.  My most difficult search to date, John was a mystery for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that there are many, many, many men named John Fitzgerald. 

  • Born: 1841 in Ireland
  • Spouse: Marsella (Marcella, Marsilla) Reilly 1846 – 1903
  • Parents:
    • James FitzGerald
    • Mary
  • Children:
    • James C 1868 – 1877
    • John Jr. 1870 – 1912
    • Michael 1871 – before 1918
    • Mary 1875
    • Nicholas 1875
    • Catherine (Marshall) 1877 –
    • Charles J. 1879 – 1957
    • Elizabeth (Bopp) 1884 – 1960
  • Died: 1902

The trouble in this particular case is that there are no less than three John Fitzgerald’s in Hudson, New York in the time frame I was searching.  One John FitzGerald was a very well-to-do mason in the area, that at first I believed was our man- in fact, every other family tree on Ancestry had him listed as Charles J FitzGerald’s father.  The problem that I had was that the one and only census I had John listed with Charles was the 1900 census and there were serious discrepancies with siblings, dates and this John’s profession: laborer.  In every other record of John that I thought was Charles’ father, he listed himself as a mason- even his immigration papers listed him as such.

I realized that I was looking at the wrong John, so I began by taking the only bit of information that I knew was the connecting tissue between Charles and John: the 1900 census. I started by gleaning every single bit of information from that document that I could.


  • John was listed as being a laborer born in 1840, having emigrated here in 1870.
  • His wife’s name could be Mary, but it also could be multiple other names beginning with ‘Mar’.  She was born in 1842 and according to the census had 8 children, with 7 living.
  • John Jr. was born in 1871, Mary 1875, Catherine 1877 and Elizabeth 1884

Using this information, I decided to look in the records for a John FitzGerald who wasn’t a mason prior to 1900 and found this listing from 1878:

John FitzGerald carman.PNGI decided to lookup the term ‘carman’ and found that it was someone who drove a vehicle to transport goods; my father had always said that his great-grandfather had a team of horses and here was my proof.  The listing was on Diamond Street in Hudson, so I found the 1880 Hudson census and found Diamon Street- the heart of the Hudson red light district – and sure enough, there was a John FitzGerald.


In this census, his wife is NOT Mary, but Marcilla and, just like the 1900 census, she was born in 1842.  John and Mary are here and while Mary’s age is a bit of a discrepancy, John Jr. is spot on.  Added here are Nicholas and Michael, bringing the number of children up to 7.  Where was number 8 from the 1900 census?!  Luckily, I was given new information: Marcilla was the mother’s name.  Using that I found the 1870 census:


Boom.  James.  Child number 8.  All the ages keep lining up well.  My guess is that James died before the 1880 census, but I have no proof until I find their burial records:

john-fitzgerald-burialJames died in 1877.  I now had 8 total children and a record of when Marcella, John and John Jr. passed, but no maiden name for Marcella, and no other information except what my father had told me about the youngest daughter, Elizabeth.

According to my father, Elizabeth had married a man named Emil Bump and they lived in Boston, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find Bumps living in Boston in the 1900’s.  Until, I changed the spelling a few times- and there she was: Elizabeth BOPP.  From there, I found Catherine, who had married a man named John Marshall, which gave me two of the things I needed most: where Nicholas went and what Marcella’s maiden name was.

I found the pair living with Nicholas in Boston in both 1910 and 1920:


Contained in the marriage record for John and Catherine Marshall was this:marshall-marriage-record

Marcella’s maiden name was Rielly AND I had connected the dots of Charles family.  The next steps are:

  • What happened to Nicholas, Michael and Mary?
  • Why did John Jr. die so young and was he married before passing?
  • When exactly did John and Marcella emigrate to this country?
  • Where did they live in Ireland?

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