John Brown McCartney was born in Belfast, Ireland, on 17 July 1897 at 97 Bellevue Street. He was the oldest child of Margaret Jane (nee Brown) and Henry. John had two sisters, Mary and Ellen. Mary died when she was seven years old. John also had four brothers, Henry, who died in just before his third birthday, Henry 2nd, James and Robert. John died on Wednesday, 1 September 1982, at the age of 85.
According to John's birth certificate his paternal grandmother Mary acted as midwife during his birth. His father, Henry was, at that time, employed as an iron turner, which is the same as a machinist in the United States.
Jack, as he was known to his friends, was 17 years old when he came to the Unites States with his mother "Maggie" (37), sister Ellen (11), James (8), Henry (7) and Robert (1year, 6 months).
In March of 1917 Jack's father, Henry,at age 42, was granted United States citizenship. This included his entire family: his wife Margaret Jane, 43, son Jack, 20, daughter Ellen, 17,sons James, 12, Henry, 10, and Robert, 5. At that time Jack was serving in World War I. Jack's experience at war is described in John's Military Experience.
Upon his return to the United States after the war, Jack worked in his father's machine shop for a while, but eventually returned to the profession he had been trained in. He went to work in a shipyard as a steam fitter. He was ultimately employed at Todd's Erie Basin in Brooklyn, NY. He commuted from Staten Island every day until his retirement in 1961 at age 65.
The commute entailed a train ride from his home, followed by a ferry ride to Manhattan and, finally, a subway ride to Brooklyn. The travel time each way was approximately one and one-half hours. Since his work hours started at 8:00 AM, Jack would arise at 5:00 and leave the house by 6:15. He would finish work at 4:00 PM and be home by 5:30; a 12.5 hour day.
On 4 April 1924, Jack married Lillian who resided at 60 Simonson Avenue in the Mariners Harbor section of Staten Island. Jack was 27 years old and Lillian was 21. Jack and Lillian had four (?) children: a daughter Lillian Gertrude, and three sons, Henry, John Brown Jr. and George.
There is a reason for the question mark relating to the four children. On my birth certificate there is a statement that my mother bore four children previous to me and one had died. My sister, Lillian, who is the oldest of my siblings, does not know anything about a child having died. It is possible that the child was born and died before Lillian was born. It is also possible that the incident occurred while my sister was too young to remember such an event. In the early 1900's it was not common practice to talk of losing a child so it is likely that my mother never spoke of it. Another possibility, and the most probable one, is that it was merely a clerical error on my birth certificate.
Lillian was 67 years old when she died on Friday, 3 July 1970. Jack survived her by slightly over 12 years, dying on 3 September 1982, coincidentally also a Friday. Jack was one of those fortunate people who retain a full head of hair which remained naturally black. When Lillian passed on, Jack was 73 years old. Shortly after Lillian's death, Jack's hair started to show the first signs of gray.
Both John and Lillian are buried in Moravian Cemetery on Staten Island.