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My Grandparents, What was Their Life Like?

Updated on November 18, 2012

I've always been a bit of a history buff. A few months ago, while browsing through records on ancestory.com, I found a U.S. census record from the late 1800s that listed an address for my great-grandparents in New York City. Naturally, I tried to find the address on google maps but the address no longer exists. That made me sort of melancholy, it would have been nice to learn more about the place my paternal grandfather lived as a child.

My grandfather was the first of his siblings born in the U.S., the older three were all born in Ireland. My great-grandparents immigrated here some time between 1883 and 1885 from Cork, Ireland. My grandfather was born in 1886. He married young and had 16 children, with my father being the youngest child.

Have you ever seen the movie "Gangs of New York" with Leonardo DiCaprio? The movie takes place in Amsterdam, New York in the 1860s. The movie portrays life there as being pretty rough with a constant threat of pickpockets on the street, fighting everywhere and it seems as though folks had to be on constant alert for dangers from muggers, murderers and other mayhem.

Well, I saw this movie again recently and while watching it, I couldn't help thinking of my great-grandparents and wondering what life was like for them back in the day. Yes, I realize the movie isn't in New York City where they lived, but I'm sure the similarities between the two cities were such that it wouldn't be unreasonable to imagine that life for my grandparents was much like the portrayals in the movie. I know that during the time period, the Irish people were treated horribly. They were beaten, robbed or killed simply because they were Irish. It wasn't safe for them to go about daily life without the constant threat of danger. I realize that chances are slim that they actually lived as the movie portrayed, but at the same time, many things in the movie were historically correct. I feel blessed that they simply survived so I can be here today!

After watching the movie, I looked at photos online taken in that time period and in the general area. A picture says a thousand words and I did a lot of reflecting on life while looking through them. I have one picture of my great-grandparents from Ireland, although I'm not certain where the photo was taken. I also have several photos of my paternal grandmother but, unfortunately I have only one of my grandfather. He passed away a few years before I was born but my grandmother lived until the mid 1970s when I was 10 or 12 years old. I'm grateful I was able to have her in my life even if it was for a very brief time.

My Paternal Grandparents, Hugh Charles Murray and Mary Jessie Doucette
My Paternal Grandparents, Hugh Charles Murray and Mary Jessie Doucette
My Great -Grandparents from Ireland, John and Margaret Murray,  parents of Hugh Charles Murray
My Great -Grandparents from Ireland, John and Margaret Murray, parents of Hugh Charles Murray

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    • lindalou1963 profile image
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      Linda 4 years ago from Texas

      Oh my, I can only imagine! That would be a treasure indeed. It would be great if you could put it into a hub or two. Thanks for reading my story!

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I have a diary/book - a record - that my great uncle wrote of their life in Idaho when he was a child. My great grandmother was the first white woman to enter the small valley where they homesteaded and the stories from her son are absolutely fascinating. They give a real look into what life was like then and I value that small book a great deal.

    • lindalou1963 profile image
      Author

      Linda 5 years ago from Texas

      Thank you midget38, I appreciate it!!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      It is at such times when we really have to be thankful for our great grandparents and grandparents. for all that they have gone through so that we can live a better life. And admire them for their resilience too! Thanks for sharing this, Linda! I share as well.

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      It does, Lindalou. It is another classic picture, thanks for posting it. The worn condition brings so much character to this keepsake that it almost looks like a puzzle.

    • lindalou1963 profile image
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      Linda 5 years ago from Texas

      I have added the additional photo, I thought it would add a little to the story.

    • lindalou1963 profile image
      Author

      Linda 5 years ago from Texas

      Thank you...the photo is actually my grandparents, although I do have one of my great grandparents. I might add it to the story and caption both! Thanks again.

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I love the vintage photograph of your great grandparents. I never got a chance to meet either of my great grandfathers, but I too like to imagine what their lives were like. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      It's too bad the address is no longer there. I was lucky enough to spend a fair amount of time in the old victorian my dad got to grown up in in upstate New York and the quaint little house in Oklahoma where my mom was born and raised. I often think of those places now that most of my family is gone. And, like you, so happy I got to have them in my life, even if it was for only a little while. :)