Henry McCartney was the oldest son and the second child, of James and Mary (nee Leitch) McCartney. He was born in Greenock, Scotland. According to his obituary in the Staten Island Advance on 19 July 1937 he was in his 61st year when he died. According to cemetery records, he was 61 years, 6 months and 16 days old when he died. From that information we calculated his birth date as 2 January 1876. His birth certificate shows the date as 21 December 1875. The birth certificate is correct. The discrepancy is most likely due to memory lapses or mis-calculations when the data was given for entry into the cemetery log.
In 1897 Henry was living in Belfast when he married Margaret Jane Brown on the 20th of February. They were married in Trinity Church according to the rites of the Church of Ireland. The priest officiating at the ceremony was Father J. Johnson and the witnesses were James McIlroy and Rose McCartney, Henry's sister. Coincidentally, both Margaret Jane's father and Henry's father were shoemakers.
Margaret Jane and Henry had seven children: John Brown, Mary, Ellen, Henry, James, Henry 2nd and Robert. Robert was only 1 year and 6 months old when he came to the United States. Mary (their second child) and Henry (their fourth child) died within one week of each other: Henry on 28 Dec 1905, 5 days before his 2nd birthday, and Mary on 4 Jan 1906, 12 days after her 8th birthday. We do not know the circumstances of their deaths.
According to the previously mentioned directories, Henry and Margaret, while in Belfast, resided at the addresses shown below. Henry's occupation is also shown.
|Where they lived and Henry's occupation|
|1900-1902||97 Bellevue Street||Iron Turner|
|1903-1906||78 Carlowe Street||Iron Turner|
|1907-1911||70 Northumberland Street||Grocer|
In the directories, Andrew, also an iron turner, lived at the 97 Bellevue Street address in 1897 and 1898. The directory for 1896 has the house under construction. The directories for 1899 and 1902 were unavailable. Neither Andrew nor Henry appears at that address in the 1901 directory.
Of all of these addresses, only the one at 97 Bellevue Street still exists. It is in the Shankill section, as were all of Henry's' addresses as well as those of his father, James. During the recent "Troubles", the Shankill was the most volatile neighborhood in Belfast.
At one point Henry and Margaret owned a grocery store. This was mentioned by my father and is confirmed by the occupation listed for Henry in the 1907 - 1911 directories. It was probably located at the 70 Northumberland Street address where they lived.
Henry and Margaret Jane had a total of seven children: John B., Mary, Ellen Henry, James, Henry 2nd and Robert. On 28 December 1905, their son Henry died. He was just shy of his third birthday. Tragically, seven days later, on 4 January 1906. their daughter Mary also died. She was seven years old. When Margaret Jane had another son a year later, he was named Henry.
We do not know why these two young people died. Hopefully we will be able to locate death certificates for them which will give the cause of death.
In 1912, two years before his wife and children, Henry came to the
United States. He was 36 years old when he settled in Brooklyn, New
York. He sailed from Liverpool on the S. S. Lusitania, 28 Sep 1912, and
arrived at Ellis Island on 4 Oct 1912.
According to the ship's manifest, Henry listed his given name as Harry, a name that his friends called him.
Three years later, in 1915, the Lusitania was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland and sunk. Almost 1200 lives were lost.
The SS Lusitania
In 1914 Henry was joined by his wife, Margaret, sons John, James, Henry and Robert and their daughter Ellen. According to the ship's manifest, Margaret was 37 years old. John was 17, Ellen was 11, James 8, Henry 7 and Robert 1year, 6 months.
They traveled on the ship Columbia, arriving at Ellis Island on 11 May 1914. Coincidently, the Columbia is also the ship Henry's parents, James and Mary, traveled on when they came to the United States in 1921.
The SS Columbia
According to the passenger manifest for the Columbia, Maggie and all of her children, except Robert, could read and write. Also in the manifest, it is stated that John, at age 17, already had a profession, that of "fitter". It was common for a young man to apprentice to a trade at 14 or 15 years of age.
In 1915 the family moved to Staten Island and resided at 20 Lockman Avenue in a section known as Mariners Harbor.
Henry became a naturalized citizen of the Unites States on 9 March 1918. His certificate number was 872704. Because they were under the legal age at that time, all of his children automatically became U. S. citizens. At that time, they resided at 458 Van Name Avenue, also in the Mariners Harbor section.
During World War I Henry worked as a foreman machinist for Standard Shipbuilding Corp. on Shooter's Island, which is located in the Kill Van Kull between Staten Island and New Jersey.
After the war, he established a machine shop business on Staten Island. Exactly where the shop started is not known. Nor is the date known, although it is probable that the shop was started after Standard Shipbuilding Corp. closed in 1921.
The family subsequently moved to 207 South Avenue (also in Mariners Harbor). The machine shop was then located in a building behind the house in which the family lived. Henry was an active member of the Marine Square, Free Mason. All of his sons were also members of the Masons.
Thanks to Ellen Crane (who is the great grand-daughter of Henry) we have the following photo that shows Henry, his mother, Mary Leitch McCartney, his daughter, Ellen McCartney Nelson, and his granddaughter Margaret Nelson. We don't know the exact date of the photo; but judging the age of Margaret to be around 2 years old and the fact that she was born in 1924, we estimate it was taken circa 1926. This would be five years after Mary Leitch McCartney arrived in the US and went to Texas.
Henry in the machine shop
In his machine shop, Henry made a small brass cannon. It was styled like those used in the wars of the eighteenth century. After his death my father John kept it and it was my Saturday morning task to polish it when I was young. When my father died, the cannon passed to my oldest brother, Henry. Just prior to his death, Henry gave the cannon to his grandson, Henry. It seems very appropriate that the task of polishing the cannon is the responsibility of its maker's great-great grandson, who bears the same name. Many thanks to the webmaster's nephews, Glen and Henry, we now have photos of the cannon. Click on the image below to see more photos of the cannon.
My father told me a story that involved the cannon. Though it was rather small, only approximately 18 inches long, the cannon could be fired. It was my grandfather's practice to fire the cannon on the Fourth of July. On one such occasion, while my grandfather Henry was setting up the cannon, a neighbor who was celebrating the holiday with the McCartney family accidentally touched off the wick. Someone's fingers were in front of the cannon and were injured when it went off. It is not clear in my mind if the fingers belonged to my grandfather or to the neighbor.
Henry died on Sunday, 18 July 1937, after an illness of eighteen months. According to the records at the cemetery he had died of 'chronic heart failure'. My cousin Jane Kirkwood Palmer told me a story that she heard from her grandmother Ellen, Henry's daughter. At the time of Henry's death, the deceased was usually waked in his or her own home. At Henry's wake the line of people waiting to pay respects went a long way down the street and the weight of people on the front porch caused it to collapse. Obviously, he was a well-respected and well-liked man.
Unfortunately I did not know my grandfather since he died seven months after I was born. From what my sister Lillian has told me he was a wonderful grandfather.
Friends and business associates knew him as Harry. Surviving him were his wife, one daughter, four sons and nine grandchildren. His wife Margaret Jane followed him twenty years later, coincidentally also on a Sunday, 8 September 1957. She was 82 years old. Both Henry and Margaret are buried in Silver Mount Cemetery in the Silver Lake section of Staten Island. They are interred in the 'New Section' in plot # 792.
An interesting comment was made when I spoke with a woman in the Silver Mount Cemetery office. She said the records indicated that Henry's burial was the second opening of the grave. Who was the first person buried there? It couldn't have been their infant son James. He would have been buried in Ireland.
A subsequent visit to the cemetery to review the records answered the question. On August 4, 1933, my grandmother, Margaret Jane McCartney, purchased plot 792. On that day John Brown was buried in the grave. He was 53 years old. The cemetery records stated that he had died of 'burns'. Since my father had spoken of an uncle they called 'Brownie', it can be assumed that John Brown was Margaret Jane's younger brother (John was 53 when he died and Margaret Jane would have been 58 that year) and, most probably, the person my father, John Brown McCartney was named after.