Walking the Streets of the Boston of My Ancestors and Relatives

In my previous Blog, I looked at the early married life of my great-grandparents James Archibald Frazer and Margaret Clarke in some detail. I also looked at where they had their photos taken and where James lived and worked in the 1890’s. In this Blog, I would like to show some connections leading up to my great-grandparents’ arrival in Boston by using maps and City Directories.

Frazer, Clarke and McMaster

These three families were inter-related. Also the Frazer and McMaster families were related in County Sligo, Ireland. I would like to pull these three families together as they lived in Boston. Here are some examples of the inter-relatedness of these Boston families:

  • William McMaster married Catherine Clarke 1882
  • James Archibald married Margaret Clarke. James was William’s nephew. Margaret was Catherine’s sister.
  • Celia Clarke married Edward McMaster in 1876. Celia was Catherine and Margaret’s older sister. I believe that Edward and William were first cousins.

It is a bit confusing.

The McMasters

Edward McMaster was the first that I have a record of to make it from County Sligo to Boston. According to Edward’s Naturalization records, he made it to Boston in 1868:

McMaster and Clarke in 1880

Here is the 1880 Census

Edward and Celia are living in the same house as Charles McGarry (here shown as McGeary) and Celia Clarke. Charles was a furniture dealer. Edward was a Hack Driver.

The elder Celia Clarke was the Aunt of the Celia married to Edward McMaster. Here is a partial Clarke tree:

Those in green have had their DNA tested. The two Celia’s are on the top left of the tree. It would stand to reason that the elder Celia came to the US prior to the younger one. A family story says that Charles McGarry was Roman Catholic and that they left for the US due to the scandal of a Protestant and Catholic marrying.

The North Boston Years

Here is a map of Margin Street from 1877. Margin is between the green 12 and the two red smudges below. Later in the Blog I show that 23 Margin Street where the McGarry and McMaster family lived was to the right of the letter “N.” on the Street (below Cooper).

I suppose some of these buildings on North Margin are the same or similar to those in 1880:

There were four families living at 23 North Margin Street in 1880. It looks like there could be about four floors in these buildings.

Going Back in Time – McGarry’s

I said that I was going to use the City Directory and maps. Here is Charles in 1869:

I feel confident that this is the same Charles McGarry based on the spelling of his last name and his profession. I am having a bit of trouble interpreting the entry. I assume that he works a J. Nealon & Co. at 135 Endicott. Endicott is one street to the West of North Margin. It appears that Charles lived still at 23 South Margin, but I’m unclear as to what 26 Charlestown refers to. I assume that 23 South Margin and 23 North Margin Street are the same place(?)

Let’s see if the 1870 Directory clarifies things:

Now there are three Charles’. It appears that our Charles was at 23 South Margin. Then there is another Charles who lives and works at 135 Endicott Street. Current day Grimes Street is in South Boston. So that means that there were two Charles McGarry’s living in the same area. Our Charles did not work at 135 Endicott, but worked at 26 Charlestown Street.

A Clue in the 1871 Directory

Here is page 190 of the Boston Business Directory:

This looks to be the same Charles that lived at 23 South or North Margin Street in the North End of Boston. I needed to pan out on the 1877 Fire Insurance Map:

So Charles, based on the 1880 Census was a furniture dealer. It appears that his place of business was on Charlestown Street. From what I can tell Charleston Street is now North Washington St.

This appears to be the same Charles in the 1864 Boston Business Directory:

If my connections are correct, then Charles would have come to the US a while before 1864. I assume that it took him a while to build up a business.

I am still going backwards in time. Here is the McGarry couple in 1860:

Charles’ holdings at $1200 are substantial compared to his neighbor who had $20 to his name. Most had nothing listed next their name. For some reason, I could not find the McGarry family in the 1870 Census.

Going back 5 years, could this be Charles, Celia and Charles’ mother Bridget in the 1855 State Census?

This Charles was listed as a laborer. To fill in the gaps, here is Charles in 1857:

The Boston Almanac for the year 1861 gives a bit more detail Here are some listings for Charlestown Street:

This gets to our walk through Boston. Imagine walking down Charlestown Street North towards Charlestown. McGarry’s Furniture would be the last business on the right before coming to Cooper Street. For Charles to get home from work, he would just need to walk down Cooper Street to North Margin. From what I can tell 23 Margin was on the Southeast corner of Cooper and North Margin Streets.

Back to the McMaster Family

Charles McGarry with his wife Celia Clarke probably came to Boston in the 1850’s. Charles established a furniture business. Edward McMaster arrived in Boston about 1868. His future wife Celia Clarke arrived in Boston about 1873. I can’t find the Edward McMaster or McGarry family in the 1870 Census. It seems like Celia Clarke was able to find her Aunt Celia McGarry. As I mentioned above, they were living in the same house at 23 North Margin Street in 1880.

Going back two years to 1878, Edward and family was at 23 North Margin Street:

This was the same year that Edward’s first child was born: Frederick William McMaster. On Frederick’s birth record, his mother’s name is listed as Cecilia.


There were not a lot of listings for McMaster in 1876, so I’ll show them all:

This is certainly the Edward that married Celia Clarke later in 1876.

This appears to be 93 West Cedar Street where Edward lived before he married.

West Cedar was  across Town from Margin Street. The question now is when and where did Edward meet Celia? I didn’t see a listing for Celia in the 1876 directory. Perhaps she was already living at North Margin Street?

William McMaster

William’s naturalization record says that he arrived in this country on 1 May 1869. I don’t believe that he is the same person as the liquor dealer mentioned in the 1876 Boston City Directory. Here is a photo of William McMaster and his wife Catherine Clarke.

Probably taken around 1882. Reverse of picture indicates that they were engaged “about 1881” and married October 5, 1882.


Here is a document from 1879.

This says that William was a cook and that he arrived at New York. I’ll check the 1879 Boston Directory to see if William McMaster is there. In 1879 there are still few by the McMaster name.

Edward McMaster married Celia Clarke in 1876. Perhaps our William is the McMasters living at 15 Grenville place. However, I don’t know where this is and it does not give a profession for William. William did marry Catherine Clarke in 1882. At that time he was also listed as a cook.

William and Edward 1889

Here is a snapshot of two McMaster families. West Cedar sounds familiar.

Edward McMaster (and Celia Clarke) 1889

At some point Edward has moved out of the McGarry House on North Margin street back to West Cedar where he lived before he was married.

The middle circle is where Edward lived before he married. The bottom circle is hwere the family lived in 1889. Perhaps he wished to be closer to the City Stables. He was after all a driver. There were no cars in that day so he must have driven horses. Did Edward have horse experience from the farm in County Sligo that he was able to use in Boston?

I have to zoom out a little to show North Russell Street where Edward McMaster worked.

North Russell is another street that no longer exists. There is now a Hotel and Whole Foods Market where North Russell Street used to be.

William McMaster (and Catherine Clarke) 1889

This is the first time I have been able to pin down William to a place. He married Catherine, Celia’s younger sister in 1882 and is living at 73 Camden Street in 1889.

Camden Street  brings me back where I left off in my last Blog:

Two years later, in 1891, the directory shows that my great-grandfather James Frazer was living at Gainsborough Street. Gainsborough is on the other side of the tracks from Camden Street. Here are a few McMasters:

The lines that I have carried down have had their DNA tested. I’m guessing that James mother said, “When you get to Boston, make sure you look up my brother, your Uncle William”.

1893 McMaster Update

Before I closed out the 1893 City Directory, I took a peek to see where the McMaster families were. I was a bit surprised:

William the cook was now living at 9 Gainsborough. He moved in when his nephew James Frazer moved out to Westminster Street.

Edward moved from one side of the M.E. (Methodist Episcopal?) Church to the other with his wife and five or six children. In 1895, Edward was listed at 44 Garden Street. I checked the 1900 Census and they were still at 44 Garden Street for the Census. This is a hilly street and one of the streets that I used to do hill training on when I worked in Boston.

Back to Celia Clarke McGarry 1902

Celia Clarke died in 1902 at the home of the Edward McMaster family:

Here we have gone full circle. Celia took in her niece Celia  and family in the 1870’s and now the McMaster family is taking care of the elderly Celia apparently between the time that Charles McGarry died and Celia’s death.

Here is Celia’s will. Celia was the one who started the ball rolling for my family and others by moving to Boston with her husband.

So Where Are We?

  1. Charles McGarry and Celia Clarke leave Ireland after becoming part of a frowned-upon mixed marriage.
  2. Charles apparently does well in the furniture business in the North End of Boston.
  3. Celia Clarke, niece of Celia Clarke McGarry comes to the US after her mother dies. She apparently lives with the McGarry’s.
  4. Celia Clarke marries Edward McMaster, a Hack Driver, who is also from County Sligo and lives on West Cedar Street. They both live for a while in the same house as the McGarry’s in Boston’s North End. The family then moves back to West Cedar Street and Grove Street then to Garden Street in the Beacon Hill area of Boston.
  5. William McMaster who I believe is a first cousin of Edward McMaster arrives in Boston and works as a cook. He marries Celia’s sister Catherine McMaster and they live on Camden Street not far from the current Northeastern University. William signs as a witness on Edward McMaster’s Naturalization Papers.
  6. William’s nephew arrives in Boston in 1887. He is my great-grandfather James Archibald Frazer. He presumably lives with his Uncle until he gets his bearings and finds a job. James then rents a place on Gainsborough Street not far from William. Around the same time James moves from Gainsborough Street to neaby Westminster Street, William moves into the same adress where James lived.
  7. James Frazer marries Margaret Clarke in 1892. Margaret arrives in Boston in 1884 and is the youngest full sister of Celia and Catherine.

Here is Margaret Clarke with an unidentified man and James Frazer on the right.

Summary and Conclusions

  • I have tried to write a summary of some of the events that lead up to some of my Irish relatives’ arrival to Boston and how their lives were connected.
  • This is a bare bones structure and I’m sure some more details could be filled in. For example, what happened to the other Clarke sister, Jane? Why does the marriage record for Catherine Clarke give her father’s name as James and not Thomas?
  • I am doubly related to Edward McMaster/Celia Clarke and William McMaster/Catherine Clarke descendants.
  • James Archibald was a Tea Salesman and later got into real estate. He was preceded by a furniture dealer, a hack driver and a cook.
  • Descendants from Edward McMaster/Celia Clarke have taken a DNA test. I would be even more closely related to descendants of William McMaster/Catherine Clarke. I would like to see some of those descendants take a DNA test.

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