Ancestor – Margaret Alice Maloney (1855-1915)

52 Ancestors – Week 2018-04
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.A pearl of Ireland, Margaret (or Marguerite) came to America as a teenager. It is unclear if she came alone or with her parents, but my suspicion is she came alone. Life in America was not the milk and honey she hoped for, but still, it had its blessings.


Whitten-Bickford Project – Ancestor #WB11

List of Grandparents

  • Grandmother:                        Francis Florence Murphy
  • 1st Great-grandmother: Margaret Alice Maloney
  • 2nd Great-grandfather:         Timothy Maloney

Margaret (aka Marguerite) Alice Maloney Murphy (1855-1915)

The name Margaret comes from the French name Marguerite, meaning pearl. The names Margaret and Marguerite are used interchangeably in various documents referring to her. She was “Marguerite” during the 1900 census and “Margaret” in the 1910 census. Her death record says “Margerite,” an apparent misspelling. According to the 1910 Census, she could not read and write, so the records recording her name rely upon the spelling by other people.

Search Military Records - Fold3She was probably born in May 1855, at the tail-end of the Great Irish Famine. Times must have been incredibly tough in County Cork, Ireland while she was growing up. The 1900 Census, indicates she was born in May 1855 and is most likely accurate. Her death record indicates she was 62 year and 11 months old when she died, suggesting her birth in May 1852.  I prefer the 1900 census date because typically the respondent provides both month and year of birth. The death record relies on others to provide what they think is the birth date.

I know nothing of her childhood in Ireland. The Great Irish Famine of 1841-1849 was over by the time of her birth, but her native land of County Cord had seen more than a 30% reduction in population between 1841 and 1851. The aftermath of that had to have affected her childhood immensely.

She came to America in 1870. I have been unable to find her arrival information or if the 15-year-old young woman arrived alone or with family.


Margaret married Dennis Frances Murphy probably in 1885 before their daughter Frances was born. They had three children, all born in Biddeford, Maine.

  • Frances Florence Murphy – Born 11 April 1886
  • John Walter Murphy – Born 20 August 1887
  • Joanna Josephine Murphy – Born 28 May 1890.

There may have been a 4th child born to Margaret. The 1900 Census indicates that Margaret had four children, only one of whom was living. The 1910 Census indicates that Margaret had three children, only one of whom was living. Thus, it is unclear if the 1900 census is incorrect or if Magaret had another child that was not spoken of.


  • Her son John died on 22 Aug 1887 at the age of two days.
  • Her daughter Joanna died sometime before 1900, but it is unclear what her age was, but clearly less than 10-years-old.
  • Her husband Dennis died in November 1890.
15-19 St. Mary’s, Biddeford Today

In 1900, the widow Murphy is living at 19 Vitromile Street in Biddeford, Maine. She is working as a “corder” at a cotton mill. Living with her is 14-year-old Florence. Between 1900 and 1910 Vitromile Street was renamed Saint Mary’s Street.

In 1910, the widow Murphy is living at 17 Saint Mary’s Street in Biddeford. That is the same building as in 1900. She is working as an “operative” at a cotton mill. Living with her is 24-year-old Florence. Today, the building includes six one-bedroom apartments immediately across the street from the former Saint Mary’s Church.

  • In 1911, Margaret’s daughter, Florence, married Herbert Winfield Whitten in Biddeford.

Margaret Alice (Maloney) Murphy died in Biddeford on 29 April 1915. Her burial location is unknown.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Learn how Margaret immigrated (ship, date, etc.).
  • Find Margaret in the 1880 Census.
  • Research where in County Cork Margaret was born.
  • Learn location for Margaret’s burial.


  • 1900 Census (A), com, Margaret Murphy. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.
  • 1910 Census (FS) (NARA), Family Search, Margaret Murphy – Biddeford, York, Maine. “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 October 2017), Margaret Murphy, Biddeford Ward 6, York, Maine, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 236, sheet 5A, family 66, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 547; FHL microfilm 1,374,560.
  • Maine, Birth Records, 1715-1922, com, John Walter Murphy – Aug 20, 1887. Maine State Archives; Cultural Building, 84 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0084; Pre 1892 Delayed Returns; Roll Number: 79.
  • Maine, Death Records, 1761-1922, com, Margerite Murphy – 29 Apr 1915. Maine State Archives; Cultural Building, 84 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0084; 1908-1922 Vital Records; Roll Number: 40.
  • Maine, Marriage Records, 1713-1937, com, Herbert Winfield Whitten & Francis Florence Murphy. Maine State Archives; Augusta, Maine, USA; 1908-1922 Vital Records; Roll #: 60.
  • United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, Dennis F Murphy . “United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 3 April 2015), Dennis F Murphy, 1890.

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