I was surprised and delighted by your message. It seemed that my chances of linking up with this family were very remote. Although Dowd is a relatively common Irish name, I believe"Townsend" to be unique as a first name among Dowds, so that if Richard's grandfather was Townsend Dowd we should have a precise match.
To put it briefly, Richard is going to have a whole lot more family on his father's side than he ever expected! Townsend appears to have married twice (without benefit of divorce).
The earliest record I can find is the 1880 Census which shows Townsend Dowd as a 12 year old farmhand on Harvey Darlington's farm in Chester Co., PA.
Four years later he is working at a ship yard in Wilmington, DE. (Wilmington City Directories).
Based on the 1900 census he married Sarah (Sadie) Steptoe in about 1893. In 1894 the couple had a son, Fulton Dowd, who died as a child in 1896 and is buried in Lombardy Cemetery, in Wilmington. Very close to Fulton's death, they had a daughter, Edith, born in Pennsylvania. About 1897 they moved to to Camden County, New Jersey where their son George Elmer was born in 1898 (George Elmer is my mother's father and my grandfather).
This is the family as of 1900:
1900 Census: Townsend Dowd; Waterford Twp, Camden Co., NJ; Head, 32, born Aug 1868; born in PA, both parents born in PA; married to Sadie 7 years, 2 children born [?], 2 living; Machinest; children at home; Edith, Elmer. (ED 106, p. 281A)
In about 1901 another daughter, Ethel, was born, and daughter Inez was born in 1906.
In 1910 things get interesting, as Townsend appears to have been supporting his family in New Jersey by working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (calling himself "single"). There are two entries:
[New Jersey]: 1910 Census [15 June]: Townsend Dowd; Atlantic Ave, Berlin Twp, Camden Co., NJ; Head, 42, Married to Sadie 16, 5 children, 4 living; Carpenter Ship; children at home; Edith, Elmer, Ethel, Inez; Mother, Hannah, (widowed, 58, 1 child living, born in PA, parents born in PA). (ED 111, p. 1B)
[Brooklyn] 1910 Census [21 April]: [Marie G. Rasch], Townsend Dowd; 111 Clermont Ave, Brooklyn, Kings Co., NY; Lodger, 42, single [!], Iron Worker, [Brooklyn] Navy Yard.
Ten years later, in 1920, Townsend has started a new life in Brooklyn with a new wife, Bessie [Murphy], and children Eleanor and William. His original family remained in New Jersey:
[Brooklyn] 1920 Census: Townsend Dowd; 93 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, Kings Co., NY; Head; 48; Married to Bessie - 38; Carpenter, [Brooklyn] Navy Yard; children at home; Eleanor - 5, William - 1; Brother-in-law, William Murphy, 45, single. (ED 223, p. 13B)
[New Jersey] 1920 Census: Sadie R. Dowd; Haddonfield Road, Berlin Twp., Camden Co., NJ; Head; 47; Married; maid [Victor] Talking Machine Co. [Camden, NJ]; children at home; Elmer-21, Inez M.-13, Ethel S. -18. (ED 3, p. 13A)
Townsend apparently died somewhere between 1920 and 1930, because the 1930 Census lists Bessie as a "widow:"
[Brooklyn] 1930 Census: [William Murphy], Bessie Dowd; 993 Jefferson Ave, Brooklyn, Kings Co., NY; Widow; 46; children at home; Eleanor - 15, William - 11. (ED 24-299, sh 9B)
by 1930 all of Sadie Dowd's children were out of the house and she had moved back to Wilminton (where she had family):
[Wilmington] 1930 Census: [Samuel Gerrard], Sadie Dowd; 9 Rockford Road, Ward 7, Wilmington, New Castle, DE; 58, servant in Boarding House, born in DE, Father born in PA, mother born in NJ. (ED 40, p. 12B)
All of this means that Sadie's children: Edith, G. Elmer, Ethel and Inez were half-sisters and brothers to Bessie's children Eleanor and William. In turn, that means that your Richard, as William's son, had a significant number of half-uncles and aunts in New Jersey. My grandfather, George Elmer [always called Elmer] was Richard's half-uncle and my mother [she's the last of her generation in Elmer's family alive] is Richard's half- first cousin.
I don't know where Townsend is buried, though my aunt, now dead, though his grave was in New Jersey. I have not been able to go further back than Townsend himself. The 1920 Census appears to show his mother, Hannah, living with the family in New Jersey. But I've not been able to locate any "Hannah Dowd" of an appropriate age and location aside from that entry.
I'm not sure how Richard will take all this. I have complete faith in the data; as you can see it's completely verified in the Census materials. My Mother already knows the story, so she's prepared for half-relatives, but it may be too much for Richard and others in the Brooklyn family.
We will likely never know the full story on Townsend; it may be that he converted to Catholicism in Brooklyn and somehow believed his first marriage was therefore void, it may also be that he was simply a rascal.
In any event, please send this information on to Richard and any others of the Brooklyn family. I would love to get in personal touch with all these "missing" relatives and to fill in each family on the other side's various ups and downs.
Walnut Creek, CA
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