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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Family: Thomas F. Madden

(22 Feb 1854 Albany, NY - 24 Feb 1903 Bay City, MI)

Shipping was important in the lives of my Madden ancestors.  It has also led to interesting ancestry questions. This is the first of many postings about Thomas F Madden, his siblings and descendants, and some undetermined connections involved in shipping and lumbering on the Great Lakes.

Growing up near the docks of Albany, NY the sons of James Madden worked in various jobs, eventually owning vessels that were involved in the lumber shipping business in the Great Lakes. My father knew little about his family beyond the names of his grandparents and that they had lived in Bay City. I was fortunate to find help from a few of  his cousins who knew a bit more.  They have been instrumental in gathering information on the vessels owned by Thomas F. Madden, my great-grandfather.   No one, however, had information on the brothers of Thomas, beyond where they were living at the time of his death in 1903.  I spent years searching for more.  Finally, as more and more records and newspapers have become available online, I discovered that not only did Thomas maintain contact with his brothers throughout his life,  but that he was often working in partnership with his brothers and his brother-in-law.

James, the youngest brother, lived in Ashland (WI), Duluth (MN) and finally in Chicago.  He was the land based partner in the lumber shipping business.  John, a pilot,  lived in Tonawanda, near Buffalo NY, for many years.  There he married Dora Strong.  Dora's sister, Isabella, married Michael Madden of Saginaw, Michigan.  He was also a pilot on the Lakes.  This is one of those "interesting ancestry questions."  Is Michael related?  But that's a posting of it's own best left for another day.

Thomas, the oldest son of James Madden and Anna Fitzsimmons,  was born in Albany (NY) in 1854.  He left Albany sometime in the 1870s and lived in Bay City (MI) from 1880 on.  The 1880 census states that he was born in Canada. The information was most likely given by his landlord, leaving the possibility that Thomas had lived in Canada for a period of time.

Thomas married Elizabeth Silbereisen in Bay City on the 12 Oct 1882.(1)
In 1886 his occupation was listed as lumber inspector and he was living at 223 Monroe Street.(2)

Thomas was involved in the lumber trade, shipping lumber throughout the Great Lakes.  Over the years he owned a number of vessels and these will each have its own posting.  In 1901 he owned or was the manager of a three vessels, the steamer the Lizzie Madden, and the two schooner-barges the Mautenee and the Noquebay.  He also belonged to a number organizations and associations that were involved in the trade, including the Elks Bay City Lodge #88 and the Lake Carriers Association (3) 

Thomas died at the age of 49 leaving three young sons.  Elizabeth died eight years later on 19 January 1911 at the age of 52.

They had three know children, Thomas James born in 1892, Francis Martin born in 1896 and Charles Lewis born in 1899.  According to Thomas' death certificate he had 4 children and three were living.

It seems probable that there was another child born in the ten years before Thomas James was born, but to date no information has been found.  The certificate also states he was first married at age 29, the age when he married Elizabeth so it is unlikely there was an earlier marriage.

Their three sons inherited their father's share of the shipping business.  Their Aunt Lena Schramm served as Adx. of the estate, and their Uncle Michael Lynn ran the company.  The estate was not settled for many years as Charles was only 11 when his mother died.  Starting with the purchase of the AW Wright for $1.00 from their parents estate, the brothers were in partnership for many years shipping fruit and later cars.  But again that is another story. 

  1. Copied by Kitty (Lynn) Schwall, from the Family Bible of Thomas and Elizabeth Madden which was in the possession of Aunt Lena Schramm, in letter to Carl Madden and family 8/6/1951. 
  2.  Madden Thomas F, lumber inspector 8 Watson block, res 223 S Monroe: Bay City Directory 1886-7R.L. Polk & Co
  3. Marine Review 16 Jan 1896 p. 7 -  Thomas Madden attended the meeting of the Lake Carrier's Association.

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