William, Edward, Thomas and Henry Whelan

William Whelan and his supposed brothers Edward and Thomas

William Whelan was born in Ireland about 1821 or 1822. Catherine Mahon was also born there, about 1824 or 1825, according to census records.

According to the 1850 New Jersey Census, William lived in Jersey City in a house with his supposed brothers and several other families, and was working as an engineer. He appears in the 1860 census index as living in the second ward of Jersey City, but I do not have access to the census itself, nor do I even have indexes after 1860. It seems that he came to America in "the early days of 1844*," perhaps with his brothers, and later "engaged in the coat business at the foot of Hudson Street*" in Jersey City.

Another family tradition, told by Regina Whelan Rooney, a granddaughter of William, holds that he owned a block of tenements along the Morris Canal in Jersey City. Regina, who called her grandfather "Henry Whelan" said he also owned a business that used horse-drawn wagons to transport goods from boats that docked along the canal. He used to tell her that he "owned" the canal, but research has shown that this exression was often used by people who owned land along the canal. Regina said William had come to America with his wife in 1844. Futher investigation into the veracity of this tradition is pending

William and his wife, variously called Katherine and Catherine, Mahan, Mahon (from her son William's Death Certificate, which is hard to read) and Maher (from various books printed early in the 20th century and her son John's Death Certificate), were among the earliest members of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Jersey City.

An Inventory of the goods of a woman named Catherine Whelan was made in 1898, followed immediately in the records by a man named William Whelan making a will. I suspect strongly that these were our ancestors.

In addition to their three known sons (William H. Whelan, John A. Whelan and Joseph Ambrose Whelan) there may well have been other children in the family.

The data below may or may not refer to our William.

Jersey City Directory,1861-62, p.313
WHEELAN, William, stables, h 103 Bergen

JSD,1862-63, p.390
WHALEN, William, laborer, stables, h r106 Bergen

WHEELAN, William, grocer, h r106 Bergen

1860 Census,1st ward,Jersey City,Hudson Cty.,NJ
p.122, Family # 850
WALEN,William; age 35; male; Trade-furniture?; born: Ireland

1860 Census, 2nd Ward, Jersey City, p. 955
enumerated with the Thos. Moore family, and a John Keeler, age 20
William Walen age 35 M born in Ireland Teamster

My own theory is that there were two William Whelans (Walens, or whatever) living Jersey City at the time. On was the teamster/laborer in the stables mentioned in the City Directories and the 1860 census in the second ward. The other was the one mentioned as living in the first ward in that same census. Support for this is that the William from the City Directories apparenty did not own his own home; the "r" before his address probably stands for "rooms" or "rents," which would explain why he was living with another family at the time of the 1860 census, with no wife or children listed. The William from the first ward may have had a family- the person who looked that 1860 census record up for me only had transcripts of the heads of the households. His occupation is given as "furniture" but a question mark is after it, indicating that the reading of it is uncertain. I wonder if it might actually read "furrier," that is to say a dealer in furs. This would fit with William's known occupation of "coat business" (fur coats perhaps). The best way to resolve this would be to look up the 1860 census for the William from the first ward and see if he has a wife named Catherine and children, corresponding with our William.

William is thought to have had the following siblings:

I-Edward, born 1827-1828, Ireland. Living with William at the time of the 1850 census, he was recorded as a laborer.

II- Thomas, born 1830-1831, Ireland. Living with William at the time of the 1850 census, he was recorded as a laborer.

*quoted from Scannell (see sources)

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