My great-great grandfather, Thomas Smith, was born on May 25 1837, almost certainly in the village of Milton in the County of Dumbarton in Scotland. (One source confuses things by indicating that he was born in Glasgow; this appears to be an error.) His father, John Smith, was a weaver.
Thomas Smith, his wife Jane (Gilchrist) Smith, and their five children – ages one to ten years old – emigrated to Boston (taking passage on a steamer from Liverpool) in June 1872.
Thomas was a laborer; his occupation was brass finisher. In Boston, he found work at William T. Foster & Company in East Boston, who, in an advertisement in 1886, described their business thusly: “brass founders, ship plumbers, and metal dealers; ship bells, water closets, side lights, steerers, and every description of ship fastenings and trimming.”
Thomas and his family lived on Bennington Street in East Boston. Bennington Street is in the section known as Orient Heights, which is where my grandfather, Thomas Gordon Smith, was born. Orient Heights is on the Blue Line, which goes to Logan Airport, and is quite close to the airport.
The elder Thomas Smith, my great-great grandfather, died in Boston on October 16, 1902 at age 65.
Thomas Smith and Jane Gilchrist were married in Glasgow in 1859. They lived for a couple of years on James Street in the Bridgeton section of Glasgow.
In around 1863, they moved with their two young children to the city of Greenock. One of these children was Thomas Smith, Jr. (b. 1861), my great-grandfather.
The family lived for about ten years on Duncan Street in Greenock before emigrating.
I visited Greenock in 1999. It’s a nice town on a human scale. Its population is around 44,000. Many of the buildings are old. The town does not appear prosperous, quite; on the other hand, it does not seem to be gloomy or run-down.
Addendum: One additional fact of some interest. It is noted above that the father of my great-great grandfather Thomas Smith (1837-1902) was John Smith. The maiden name of Thomas Smith’s mother, my great-great-great grandmother, was Gordon. This is noteworthy because people in earlier times were more accustomed than they are now to use family surnames in naming their children. My grandfather, Thomas Gordon Smith’s (1885-1967), middle name was Gordon.
— Roger W. Smith
Thomas Smith and Jane (Gilchrist) Smith, from Scotland to Boston, MA, 1872
The family of Thomas Smith (1837-1902) and Jane (Gilchrist) Smith (1834-1907) of Boston, MA