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.
Posted here as a downloadable Word document is a genealogical report about the family of my great-grandfather Thomas Smith (1837-1902) of East Boston, Mass. and his wife Jane (Gilchrist) Smith (1834-1907).
My great-grandfather, Thomas Smith, Jr., was born on April 13, 1861 at 1:20 p.m. at 22 James St. in Glasgow, Scotland. He was the oldest surviving child of Thomas and Jane (Gilchrist) Smith. (An older son, John, had died in infancy.)
In 1872, when he was 11 , Thomas emigrated with his family (his parents, a sister, and three bothers) on the steamer Olympus.
Thomas became a machinist. He was employed in that capacity by at least age 19, as the 1880 U.S. census shows. In 1880, he was living with his family in the Orient Heights section of East Boston.
Jennie Houston Wright, our great-grandmother, was born December 22, 1863 in Needham, Mass. She was the daughter of Colwell Wright and Colwell’s second wife, Margaret (Houston) Wright. Her parents were Scotch-Irish. Jennie Houston Wright had a half brother, George C. Wright (by Caldwell Wright’s first marriage), who died in 1865 when Jennie was a little over one year old. Jennie got her first name from her maternal grandmother, Jennie (Lowery) Houston.
Both Thomas Smith, Jr. and Jennie Houston Wright had some schooling, as early census records show.
In 1878, when Jennie was 14, her father Colwell was convicted of arson and sent to state prison. She and her mother moved to East Boston where they took up residence with her aunt and uncle. Jennie took a job and was working as a sewing machine operator by the age of 17.
There in East Boston, Jennie met Thomas Smith, Jr. They were married on June 11, 1884 in East Boston by Rev. Lewis B. Bates, a Methodist-Episcopal minister. Thomas was 23 and Jennie 20.
The couple lived in East Boston. They had two children: Thomas Gordon Smith, our grandfather, born September 29, 1885 at 647 Saratoga Street in East Boston; and George Caldwell Smith, born September 3, 1892 at 38 Horace Street in East Boston.
On, on May 22, 1894, when Jennie (Wright) Smith was pregnant with her third child, Thomas Smith, Jr. died suddenly at the age of 33 in East Boston. The cause of death, from his death certificate, was “pneumonia (6 ds.).” Jennie was 30 at the time of her husband’s death. Son Thomas Gordon Smith (our grandfather) was age 8; son George Caldwell Smith was 19 months old.
The third child of Thomas, Jr. and Jennie (Wright) Smith, Marjorie Houston Smith, was born November 13, 1894 in East Boston. At that time, Jennie was living at 84 Horace Street in the Orient Heights section.
Jennie (Wright) Smith lived for quite a while at 84 Horace Street. Her parents lived with her for a while. The family was quite poor. Eventually she remarried and moved to Dorchester, Mass., where her second husband lived, and then to Somerville. Her second husband, whom she married on October 22, 1907 in Boston, was George F. Simpson. At the time of this marriage, Jennie was 43 and George Simpson was in his 50s. It was George’s second marriage.
George Simpson was a mariner and sea captain. He became captain of the Boston Floating Hospital. George, who had children by his previous marriage, died on April 22, 1919 at Worcester State Hospital in Worcester, Mass. An obituary was published in the Boston Herald of April 25, 1919:
The funeral of Capt. George F. Simpson, the oldest captain in the employ of the Boston Towboat Company, and for 10 years captain of the Boston floating hospital, will be held at 2 o’clock this afternoon at his home, 26 Cambria Street, Somerville. Capt. Smith [sic] died Tuesday night. He was born in Boston, Oct. 12, 1852, and began his career as a cabin boy on the sailing ship National Eagle, which sailed from Boston to Liverpool in 1865. He is survived by his widow and three children.
Jennie (Wright) (Smith) Simpson survived her husband and lived to the age of 84. She died on April 7, 1948 at Grafton State Hospital in North Grafton, Mass. A brief death notice appeared in the Boston Herald:
in Dorchester, death of Jennie H. (Wright) Simpson; funeral services will be held at the J. B. Cole & Son Funeral Home, 490 Columbia rd.
Jennie (Wright) (Smith) Simpson is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett, Mass. with her second husband, George F. Simpson, her daughter, Marjorie Farrar, and her granddaughter Evelyn Frances Farrar. The gravestone reads:
CAPT. GEORGE F. SIMPSON / 1851-1919
HIS WIFE / JENNIE H. / 1863-1948
MARJORIE S. FARRAR / 1894-1940
BABY ELVA R. FARRAR
Thomas Smith, Jr. is buried separately in the same cemetery with his parents and brother William G. Smith.
Children of Thomas, Jr. and Jennie Houston (Wright) Smith:
i. Thomas Gordon Smith. Born September 29, 1885 in Boston. Died November 19, 1967 in Arlington, Mass. Married Esther Moulton Whittredge February 12, 1912 in Boston. She was born August 15, 1886 in Wakefield, Mass. and died October 3, 1970 in Arlington. Children: (1) Douglas Whittredge Smith, married Winona H. Behr; (2) Gordon Moulton Smith, married Virginia Talbot Baker; (3) Alan Wright Smith, married Elinor Congdon Handy.
ii. George Caldwell Smith. Born September 3, 1892, Boston, Mass.; died unknown. Served in World War I. Married Florence E. Fletcher June 30, 1922 in, Boston. She was born November 10, 1892 and died June 21, 1973 in Quincy, Mass. Children: (1) George Caldwell Smith, married Jeanne Daley; (2) Nancy Lee Smith, died in infancy.
iii. Marjorie Houston Smith. Born November 13, 1894 in Boston. Died of cancer July 29, 1940 in Boston. Married Raymond Francis Farrar September 5, 1923 in Somerville, Mass. He was born April 27, 1896 in South Acton, Mass. and died February 3, 1971 in Acton. Children: (1) Donald Simpson Farrar; (2) Evelyn Frances Farrar; (3) Alden Ray Farrar.
Bibliographic Note: I visited the gravesite of Jennie (Wright) (Smith) Simpson at Woodlawn Cemetery. I also visited the houses at 647 Saratoga Street where our grandfather was born and at 84 Horace Street where Jennie lived with her family.
— Roger W. Smith
Thomas Smith and Jane (Gilchrist) Smith, from Scotland to Boston, MA, 1872