Marshall Family Genealogy


The Marshalls of New York City
1850's to 1900's
This is 200 W. 10th St., Greenwich Village, NYC, home of Ellen Marshall, widow to John Marshall.  She lived here with her six children from 1884 to 1890, after John died in 1877.  This home was only steps away from the home she shared with John and their children for many years, and only steps away from John's Tailor shop.
200 W. 10th St., New York, NY.  1884 to 1890 Home of Widow Ellen Marshall
and her 6 children, including John Frank Marshall

1870s Map of Manhattan with list & pictures of where Marshalls lived
   Contact/ Share Info

Who We Are

We are the descendants of David J. Marshall of South Orange, NJ. 
David J. Marshall, (pictured below) was an author and war editor for the New York Sun during World War II.  He and his wife, Mary Catherine Nash Marshall,
(pictured below) raised nine children at 311 Prospect Street in South Orange, NJ from the 1920's to the 1960's. 
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David J. Marshall
David J. Marshall
Catherine Nash Marshall
Catherine Nash Marshall
311 Kids
311 Prospect Street

This is a picture of the house.  I am standing in front of it.  The house is no longer in the family, but it still holds magical memories for many of us.  David J. Marshall left nine children and 25  grandchildren.  I am proud to count myself as one of the 25.

None of David J. Marshall's nine kids knew their Marshall grandfather.  They did know their paternal grandmother, Margie Donnelly Marshall, but her husband, David J. Marshall's father, had disappeared long before any of them were born.  His name was Frank J. Marshall, and he was a clothing designer.  He is said to have designed the 'Buster Brown' style of clothing worn by boys around the turn of the century.  It is said that he lost control of the profits and took to drink.  He is said to have raised two sons in Harrison, NJ, but left the family when David J. was twelve and his younger brother George was ten.  I don't believe he was ever heard from again.  Some say he moved north to Orange County, NY, and started another family.

This unfortunate turn of events cut the cord between us and our past.  David J. rarely spoke of his father to his nine children, and very little is known about him.  As a result, very little is known about his father.  It was believed that he was a Presbyterian minister in NYC who could trace his lineage back to revolutionary days, had studied theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and also at Edinburgh, Scotland.  He is said to have married an Ellen Brown from Belfast, Ireland, who was the daughter of one of his teachers.  They are said to have had many children, all boys except for one girl.  

David J. Marshall used to tell his children the following story;  "Grandfather paid $200 to have his genealogy traced, but then had to pay $500 to hush it up." 

While some of the things we believed about the Marshalls have been confirmed, some have not and should probably be held in doubt for the moment.  It seems the Marshalls came from Scotland, not Ireland.  Because John Marshall was born in Scotland in the 19th century,
we probably cannot trace our American ancestry back to the Revolutionary War.  John Marshall was probably not a Presbyterian ministerBeecher's Index of Ministers of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America from A.D. 1706 to A.D. 1881 does not list a John Marshall in the New York area.  He did not study or attend Princeton Theological seminary.  The Princeton Theological Seminary's Consolidated Index of Alumni, Officers and Faculty does not list a John Marshall in the 19th century. 

There was a James Marshall from upstate New York who graduated from Yale, studied briefly at Princeton Theological Seminary, then studied at Edinburgh in Scotland and returned to become a Minister in New York City. 
He was also the descendant of a Revolutionary War soldier.  But he married a woman named McNair, not Brown.  He later relocated to Iowa to become president of Coe College.  I believe that David J., disconnected from his past due to the divorce or separation of his parents, thought this man to be his grandfather. 

Here is what we do know:

  • David J. Marshall's birth certificate lists a Frank J. Marshall, born in New York City, as the father. 
  • Frank J.'s marriage certificate lists his parents' names as John Marshall and Ellen Brown.
  • In the 1900 census, Frank J. lists his father, John Marshall, as born in Scotland.  
  • We found a family in the census records, living in Manhattan headed by a John Marshall,  born in Scotland, married to an Ellen, with five boys and one girl.  They were the only couple in NYC at that time named John and Ellen Marshall.  John was a tailor.  Their oldest son was named David and their second son was named George.   (Frank J would later name his sons David and George.)  While the census does not list a son named Frank J, it does list a son named John who worked in the clothing industry with a birthdate that seemed to match.  (People in those years were notoriously inaccurate about their ages.)  Tracking this family through the years in the NYC directory finally leads us to an address that appears on Frank J's marriage certificate.  It's a match.

How We Did the Research

  • We started off by ordering David J's birth certificate from the Office of Vital Records in NYC.  That gave us the name of his parents (Frank J. and Margaret Donnelly Marshall). 
  • Once we had Frank J. and Margaret's names, we sent off for their marriage certificate from the Office of Vital Records in Manhattan .  When it arrived, we found that it gave the names of Frank J.'s parents as John Marshall and Ellen Brown.  This matched what we had all heard and what was passed down.  It told us that Frank J. was born in Manhattan.  It also gave us Frank J.'s address before he married.  This would turn out to be important. 
  • We then got on line and joined  This enabled us to look at census records.  We found a 1900 census record showing Frank and Margaret "Margie" Marshall living in Harrison, NJ with an infant son David.  Frank lists his father as having been born in Scotland.  Margie lists her parents as having been born in Ireland.
  • Now we knew we were looking for a John Marshall, born in Scotland who was married to an Ellen.  We assumed that he lived in Manhattan, because his son Frank J. was born in Manhattan.  Again using, we found an 1860 census showing a John Marshall, born in Scotland with a wife named Ellen who was born in Ireland.  His occupation is given as 'tailor.'  There are three children named David, George and Richard.  This is significant, because Frank would later name his two sons David and George.  Also of great interest is the fact that son David was born in England.  George and Richard are listed as being born in NYC.  This gives us an idea as to when the family arrived in America.  David is 9 years old in 1860 and was born in England around 1851.  George is 7 years old in 1860 and was born in NYC around 1853.  So they must have arrived sometime between 1851 and 1853.  They do not appear in the 1850 census.
  • We then found them listed in the 1870 census.  They now have six children, five boys and a girl, including a 6 year old son named John.  He must have gone by 'John' as a child and then changed to 'Frank' when he grew older.  According to a family historian I spoke with at the Family History Center,  such name changes were relatively common in the 19th century. 
  • We find them again in the 1880 census, but Ellen is listed as a widow.  In the 1880 census, son John is listed as a 16 year old who "works in clothing."  By 1880, there were 6 children:  all boys except one girl.  This is consistent with family lore that there were many boys and one girl.  Daughter Ada is listed as "attending college,"  and son Richard is listed as a clothing cutter.  Both entries suggest the family was upwardly mobile.  Cutters are described as the "aristocracy of the clothing trade" in Burrow & Wallace's 1999 Pulitzer prize winning history of New  York City, Gotham.
  • I then went to the Boston Public Library and checked out the NYC directory on micro reels.  Looking at all the John Marshalls year by year, I found that the only one who is a tailor appears in 1853.  (In 1873 another John Marshall, tailor, appears uptown, but is gone again by 1874.)  We used these directories to track his movement around the city and created an excel spreadsheet and a map showing his migration.  A summary of that spreadsheet can be found on the Where the Marshalls Lived page, along with an 1870's map of lower Manhattan.  At every ten year interval, I was able to compare the addresses given in the directory with the census addresses of John & Ellen Marshall.   They matched.  
  • The  directory tells its own story.  In the 1850's, John Marshall's addresses were generally in poor areas in and around the notorious Lower East side.  The addresses change almost every year.  Then, in the 1860's, the addresses seem to migrate westward into better parts of town like Soho and Tribeca.  By the late 1860's and early 1870's they have settled into the quaint West Village. 
  • Then in 1876 John Marshall, tailor,  suddenly appears way up town on East 104th Street.  Then, in the 1877 New York City Directory, the name suddenly  changes from 'John' to 'Ellen widow John' at the same address.  The next year, Ellen widow, John is listed back down in the West Village at 272 W. 4th.    This address is about a two or three minute walk from the square where they had settled in the late 1860's.  A few years later she moves to 200 West 10th Street which is literally right around the corner from their long-time home at 341 Bleecker.  She went back home to their block in the West Village after he died.  She stayed at 200 W. 10th for 8 or 9 years.
  • As we follow Ellen, widow, John through the years in the directory, she begins to migrate uptown in the 1890's finally settling at 266 W. 39th Street in the heart of the garment district.  This is the exact address given on Frank J.'s marriage certificate.  Frank lived with his mother until he married in his 30's. 
Historical Background

An immigrant tailor with a family to support faced grim prospects in 19th Century New York.  John Marshall came to New York in the midst  of a massive wave of immigration.  Between 1840 and 1859, an average of about 157,000 immigrants poured into New York City every year.  But in 1854, roughly 319,000 immigrants descended on Manhattan, setting a record that stood for decades.  With the availability of cheap immigrant labor, wages plummeted. 

Burrow & Wallace's 1999 Pulitzer prize winning history of New  York City, Gotham
By 1855 the garment industry was far and away the city's largest, embracing 35% of all manufacturing employees.  95% of the city's tailors were foreign born; 34% Irish and 55% German.  Some became petty contractors, bidding (and under bidding) for the right to transform the precut cloth supplied by big companies into finished suits and shirts.  Some became cutters at large firms. Most, however, sewed at home for a contractor, at piece rates so low that by the 1850's journeyman tailors, aided by their wives and children worked sixteen hours a day but seldom cleared more than ten dollars for a seven day week.  "A tailor is nothing without a wife and very often a child," went a maxim of German craftsmen.

Still, the city was enjoying a period of prosperity in 1853 around the time John Marshall arrived.  It lasted until the Panic of 1857.  That was the year in which John Marshall lived in the part of the Lower East Side closest to the notorious Five Points.  It seems likely that John Marshall and his family may have seen some hard times in those years.  But 19th century, Protestant attitudes towards poverty were unforgiving.  It was thought that poverty was mostly the result of vice, mainly drinking.  Because John Marshall was from Scotland, it is likely that he was Presbyterian, and he may have shared those views.  While most immigrant tailors found themselves irredeemably proletarianized, for John Marshall, poverty probably wasn't an option.  By 1868 we see a work address given for John Marshall, tailor in the New York City directory.  This indicates that he had his own shop at 328 Bleecker.  This is also the beginning of a period of stability where we see the Marshall family living in one area for a prolonged period.  

The part of town that they settled in may be significant too.  The West Village was considered a 'Republican stronghold.'  Republicans in New York tended to be native born, Protestant, pro-union abolitionists and reformers.  Being Protestant would have distinguished the Marshalls from the other, mostly Catholic new comers and brought them into close contact with other more established, native born Protestants.
They lived in New York at a time when anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment was at its peak.  Politically, the era was dominated by Democratic Tammany Hall.  Tammany Hall politicians like Boss Tweed courted the Irish as they got off the boats and used the Irish Catholic vote to stay in power for decades. While pro-labor Tammany Hall may have been attractive to some struggling tailors, Tammany's reputation for corruption, graft and support for the brothels and saloons probably wouldn't have made them an attractive choice for a Protestant tailor like John Marshall.  

The massive waves of immigration and the cultural clashes that followed caused deep divisions in New York at that time.  John Marshall's family always seemed to live right around the corner from New York's worst upheavals.  In 1857 they lived a few short blocks from the famous Fight at the Five Points.  (A John Marshall was treated at City Hospital for gun shot in that melee, but as there were three other John Marshalls in the neighborhood, the one wounded may not have been the tailor.)  A few years later they lived in an area of New York that experienced some of the worst of the 1863 Draft Riots.  Eight years later, the Orangemen began their ill fated march through Manhattan from Greenwich St., again just blocks from where John Marshall, the tailor, lived.  The bloodshed, later known as the Orangemen Riots, took place farther uptown, but was provoked by Protestants from precisely his neighborhood.
It has been said of Frank J. that he was indifferent to his religion.  Long after his Protestant father had died, he married an Irish Catholic.  He had spent his formative years in the West Village, which would later become a center for bohemian lifestyles. 

By 1898 Frank J. had moved uptown to 266 W. 39th Street and lived in the heart of what is still today the garment district.  He may have felt the impact of struggles and developments within the garment industry at that time. 
United Garment Workers:   First national clothing workers union to represent the diverse labor force in the men's ready-made clothing industry.  Chartered by the American Federation of Labor (AFL) , the United Garment Workers Union (UGW) was formed in New York City in 1891 joining the more skilled , largely native-born Journeyman Tailors' Union of America and the less skilled, largely foreign born Tailors National Progressive Union.  Though dominated by the skilled cutters, the union maintained a tenuous peace amidst employer attacks. The UGW successfully led an 1893 strike of 16,000 garment workers in New York City, but a number of reversals in 1896 led to a more conservative strategy of accommodation.  This shift alienated more radical, primarily Jewish workers.  Between 1907 and 1912, a series of strikes heightened internal divisions.  Union leaders halted strikes against the wishes of many of the rank and file, and members were disillusioned by the unions's growing nativist and craft-bound parochialism following the general strike of clothing workers in New York City in 1913.  Dissatisfied workers bolted the UGW convention in 1914 to establish the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACW).  Despite court challenges by the AFL, the ACW quickly became the dominant national labor organization in the men's clothing industry.   [Carpenter, Jesse Thomas. Competition and Collective Bargaining in the Needle Trades, 1910-1967 (Ithaca: Cornell Univ Press, 1972)]

Frank J. and Margaret were married in St. Francis of Xavier Catholic Church on Jan. 10, 1898.  
St. Francis of Xavier
It is the same Catholic church in which thier first born son, David J., would be baptized almost a year later.   The next year, Frank J. would move his family from Manhattan to Harrison, New Jersey.  Of his two sons, only David J. would have children.  


    David J. Marshall's birth certificate (born in 1899)

    Frank Marshall and Margaret Donnelly's marriage certificate
       1860 Census showing John & Ellen Marshall family in NYC
(See Line 26)

    1870 Census showing John & Ellen Marshall family in NYC
(See Line 8)

    1880 Census showing Ellen Marshall widowed in NYC
(See Line 27)

    1900 Census showing Frank and Margie Marshall in NJ
   (See Line 67.  Note Frank's father listed as being born in Scotland.  Also note
     Margie Donnelly's mother, Bridget, lived next door).

    1895 New York City Directory Image showing John Marshall's Widow, Ellen, at
    same Manhattan address as on her son Frank's marriage certificate (266 W. 39th St.)
  (Note:  We copied many of these directory images for many years but only uploaded this
     one as a
sample. According to the directory, Ellen lived here until 1900.  Frank's marriage
     certificate lists this
as his home address in 1898).

Marshall Family Tree
1870s Map of Manhattan with list & pictures of where the Marshalls lived

Contact/ Share Info
Research is ongoing, and we hope to have more vital records pertaining to Frank J. and his father, John, soon.   We hope to get records from the Presbyterian Church as well.  This web site could serve as a central clearinghouse for any new information that comes to light.  Please feel free to contact us with any information you have.  If nothing else, my hope is that this site will inspire somebody else to do the real research and tell the rest of the story.  Feel free to pick up where we left off.  Just be sure to share the information!

This website was designed by John Marshall & Amy Marshall.
The genealogical research was  done by John Marshall & Amy Marshall.  Amy's contributions were invaluable. The majority of the 'big hits' were hers, and she did most of the hard work on this website.  May, 2005