Sunday, 4 March 2018

Very Rev James Dougherty D.D. (1843-1906) of New York

Kingston Freeman Jan 1906
What are the chances? I have two ancestors who became clergy, both named James Dougherty--after my 3rd great grandfather (father and great grandfather respectively), both who earned doctorates in divinity, but one was a Congregationalist minister who married twice and had three daughters, and the other was a Catholic priest.

Last year, I wrote about my 2nd great uncle James Dougherty (1796-1978) of Vermont and how he left Catholicism for Congregationalism, became a respected clergyman and more, here. His grand nephew, James Dougherty (1843-1906), who is my 2nd cousin 2x removed, was born in  Kingston, Ulster, New York.

I've found a great deal of information about James over the years, but never found a comprehensive recap of his life until yesterday, when, while looking for something else about someone else, as often happens in all genealogy research, I can assure you, I came across a lengthy obituary that appeared in the Kingston Daily Freeman on 2 Jan 1906, the day after his death in the rectory of St Gabriel's Church in Manhattan.

From James' obituary, I learned that his studies for the priesthood included stints at Fordham University in New York and also at the Grand Seminary of  Montreal, a distinctive landmark I often passed by when I lived in Montreal that still stands today, and near the homes of his uncle, Judge Marcus Doherty and Marcus' son, Hon. Charles J. Doherty. This 2017 Montreal Gazette article describes the history of Grande Seminaire.

Father Dougherty's name and signature appear in several Doherty family baptisms, marriages and funerals in Montreal and Sherbrooke over the years. He clearly had a close relationship with his family there. In fact, the obituary notes that his survivors include "his uncle, Judge Dardee of Montreal". I've seen many spellings of Doherty/Dougherty over the years, but that's definitely a first.

To my knowledge, this James Dougherty was the only one in his extended family in Kingston, New York to have a relationship with his Montreal family.

But he also remained close to his extended family in Kingston, several of whom moved to New York City. Thanks to Find My Past, I'm now just starting to find marriage records of some his cousins, who were married by him at St. Monica's Church in Manhattan, where James was rector from 1887 to 1902. Find My Past has just released the first batch of digitized New York Roman Catholic baptisms and marriages. I can't wait for more of these records to be digitized.

In the absence of a photograph of James the priest, the obituary brings to life the character of my ancestor cousin:
"....He was universally loved for his bright cheery manner and words of help to all in affliction. He was a large hearted man and priest, and did much good in this city by his quiet benevolence.....He was liberal in his religious views and easily won the respect and love of  his fellow clergymen in town...."
The obituary notes that:
"...his parents died when his three sisters were very young and the latter always depended on him..."
James was also very young when his parents died -- a boy of nine or 10. He went off to study out of town when still a teenager, while his younger sisters lived with family in Kingston. But after James' 1867 ordination, he returned to Kingston. The 1870 census shows that they were again all living together, with James, the eldest, listed as the head of the household. As you can see, the siblings then ranged in age from James' 26 to 19 years old.

1870 US Census, Kingston, New York
I know from the 1850 census, that James' father had a clothing store in Kingston, New York. I think he was in business with his brother in law, Bernard McReynolds, who also reported this occupation in several censuses. The family had enough money to ensure that James, the only son, was well educated, regardless of the path he chose.

Here are James' bequests to his sisters in his 1902 will.



His sister Isabella was a cloistered Ursuline nun, explaining the $500 left to the convent. Mary Ann Hallahan was the second eldest of the family, married to a man, city directories tell me, ran two saloons in Kingston. An inflation calculator tells me that $2000 US in 1902 had the purchasing power of $55,142.54 US in 2017. I wonder how much the estate residue left to Elizabeth amounted to. I also wonder how a priest accumulated that kind of money in the 19th century.

I wonder if the two James Dougherty clergymen ever exchanged their views on religion. By the time Father James was ordained in 1867, the Rev James had been a minister for over 25 years.

The never ending story continues....


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