Who was Joseph Welsh?

Joseph Welsh was born in 1858, the eldest son of Patrick (c.1825-1875?) and Maria (1827-1886). His parents had emigrated from Ireland, and his father worked as a labourer. In 1870, the family lived in the village of Dennison, in Norton township. Joseph had two siblings, Mary, age seven, and James, age five. The 1870 census showed that the children were born in Ohio [1], though the 1880 census recorded New York state as the place of birth for Joseph. [2]

Sometime betweem 1870 and 1880, Joseph's father died, possibly at Canton, at the age of fifty. [3]

The 1880 census enumerated the family at Johnson's Corners in Norton township. After her husband's death, Maria supported her children by taking in laundry. Joseph, age twenty-two, was working as a coal miner, while Mary, age fifteen, and James, thirteen, were at home. [4]

From Samuel Alanson Lane's account of the events leading to Joseph's death, we learn that Joseph was a Roman Catholic, and, in 1884, he was still working in the coal fields. [5,6]

On the 9th November, 1886, Joseph's mother died of heart disease, at the age of fifty-nine years. Maria Welsh, the mother of a murdered man, had predeceased the convicted man's mother, Mary McLister, by just four months. In fact, their deaths were registered on the same page in the Record of Deaths, Probate Court, Summit County. [7] Unlike Mary McLister, however, it appears that no sympathetic obituary was published to lament the passing of Mrs. Welsh.

As for Joseph's siblings, the genealogical trail becomes very difficult to follow after the 1880 census. No trace has been found of James, though in one newspaper account, Mary Walsh [sic] was reported to be the sole survivor of the family. [8] The search is confounded by the spelling variants of Welch and Walsh, and there were a fair number of Irish immigrants and their descendants, named Welsh, Welch, or Walsh, in Ohio during the nineteenth century.

Our last sighting of this family is of Joseph's sister, Mary, and her relatives, then living in Massillon, demanding an investigation into the Governor's pardon and the release of Robert McLister from the State prison in Columbus in 1890. 

Sources:

  1. U.S. 1870 Census; Patrick and Maria Welch, and family, Dennison, Summit County, Ohio; original records: United States, Census Office, 10th Census of the United States, film T9-1069, page 38; National Archives, microfilm publications, ref. T0009; database hosted by Family Search, FHL film 1255069, online at www.familysearch.org (accessed 2004-03-10); confirmed to digitised copies held by ancestry.ca (accessed 2011-05-25, by subscription).
  2. U.S. 1880 Census; Maria Welsh and children, Johnson's Corners, Norton township, Summit County, Ohio; original records: United States, Census Office, 10th Census of the United States, film T9-1069, page 318B; National Archives, microfilm publications, ref. T0009; digitised copies held by ancestry.ca (accessed 2015-04-21, by subscription).
  3. Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001; Patrick Welsh, died 11 June 1875, married, age: 50 years, born in Ireland, occupation: laborer; race: white, cause of death: don't know, place of residence: Canton, Ohio; original records: Record of Deaths, Probate Court, Stark County, vol. 1, pg. 138, line 77; digital copies hosted online by www.familysearch.org (accessed 2014-04-21).
  4. U.S. 1880 Census; Maria Welsh and children, Johnson's Corners, Norton township, Summit County, Ohio, op. cit.
  5. Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001; Joseph Welsh, died 29 November 1884, age: 27 years 5 months, born in New York, occupation: miner; race: white, cause of death: shot, place of residence: Norton township; original records: Record of Deaths, Probate Court, Summit County, vol. 1, pg. 234, line 179; digital copies hosted online by familysearch.org (accessed 2014-04-21).
  6. Lane, Samuel Alanson. "The M’Lister-Welsh Tragedy," in Fifty Years and Over of Akron and Summit County (Akron, Ohio: Beacon Job Department, 1892), pp. 931-9.
  7. Summit County, Ohio, Death Records, 1866-1908: Maria Welsh, died 9 November 1886, widowed, age 59 years, 2 months, 19 days; died in Norton township, born in Fulton County NY [sic], housewife, race: white; cause of death: heart disease; place of residence: Norton township; original records: Record of Deaths, Probate Court, Summit County, pg. 274, no. 189; database hosted by ancestry.ca (accessed 2015-04-21, by subscription).
  8. The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnai, Ohio), 17 January 1890, pg. 4; digitised newspapers hosted by www.newspapers.com (accessed 2015-04-23, by subscription).
"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."—Lesley Poles Hartley (1895–1972), The Go-Between (1953).

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