Doran Sisters – From Ireland to New Jersey – Those Places Thursday

Nellie and Lizzie Doran ~ Photo curtsey of Bob Ruthazer, and the Pearson family.
Nellie and Lizzie Doran ~ Photo curtsey of Bob Ruthazer, and the Pearson family.

This beautiful portrait is of Ellen “Nellie” Doran McVeigh Smythe Pearson (1884-1932) on the right, and it was most likely taken when she was a young woman in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lovely linen blouses, and scarfs, accent their fair Irish complexions and gorgeous hair styles. They could be Gibson girl models. Since the photo has “Nellie and Lizzie” written on it, most likely the pretty young lady on her left was younger sister, Elizabeth Doran Rafferty.

The photo comes to our branch of the Doran family via a cousin of ours, Bob Ruthazer – Nellie’s grandson. Last week my husband and I had a delightful visit with Bob and his lovely wife, Diane, and this was one of the photographs they graciously brought over to share, along with wonderful family stories. My grandfather, Bernard “Barney” Doran was Nellie’s brother. When Bob read a few of the blog postings that my sister and I had written, he reached out to us, and finding out that we live in the same state he arranged a much anticipated reunion. What bliss to find we both have the Irish gift of gab!

Since I have previously posted on Elizabeth Doran Rafferty (1886-1933), today’s posting is about Nellie. I’ve seen records with her name as Ellen, Nellie, and Helen, but my family remembers her as fun-loving Auntie Nellie. She was born 28 December 1884, the first child of Bernard and Mary Hall Doran, living at 5 Springfield Village, Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland. This record below is from the Ulster Historical Foundation.  I contacted them in 2002 to do a research report on our Doran family of Belfast (UHF4/02/121):

EllenDoran1The Hall family were Protestants, but Nellie’s mother must have converted to Catholicism since all of the children were baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. Nellie was named after her paternal grandmother, Ellen Little Doran (1840-1903), and her paternal aunt, Ellen Doran Lewis. Springfield Village was at one time a more rural area, but it later became absorbed into the city of Belfast. The two RC churches in West Belfast are St. Peter’s Cathedral, dedicated in 1866, and St. Paul’s Church, opened in 1887.

St. Peter's Street, Belfast ~ photo taken 2008 by Maryann Barnes
St. Peter’s Street, Belfast ~ photo taken 2008 by Maryann Barnes

Nellie’s siblings were:  Elizabeth, Bernard, Mary (died in infancy), William John, Joseph, and one more child born in 1897, that died along with her mother, Mary. The Rafferty family had shared with our family the family recollection of Elizabeth Doran Rafferty’s daughter, Sarah “Sal” Rafferty, written in the early 1970s.

When Mama was nine, her mother (Mary Hall Doran) died. Aunt Nellie was eleven and could go to the mill to work. Mama kept the home and looked after her three young brothers. She had to boil, on an open hearth, and peel a stone (14 lbs.) of potatoes every day for their supper. Her father couldn’t be bothered with all the children. He took them all to Aunt Lizzie Hall in the Springfield Village (she was about 35 years old then) and left them with her. He met Aunt Nellie every payday and took her pay away from her until she learned to evade him.”

Elizabeth Hall (1870-1933) was the spinster aunt who lovingly cared for the children. She was a hard working woman, earning her own living, and not only raised the Doran children, but after they emigrated to New Jersey, she followed in 1914, working in the Coats and Clark Thread Factory in Newark, NJ. The Census of Ireland, 1901, shows Elizabeth Hall as the heard of the household on Fort Street, Falls Ward, Belfast, along with her two nieces, Ellen and Elizabeth Dorran. The two sisters are listed with the occupation of Flax Reeler, at ages 16 and 14.

EllenDoran2Nellie Doran must have had lots of spunk, because she lived a life of adventure. She was the first one of the siblings to make the voyage to the United States when she was twenty years old. On 22 June 1905 she arrived at Ellis Island aboard the SS Teutonic. She was going to her cousin’s place, Francis Collins, at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Female Orphan Asylum, Willoughby Ave., Brooklyn, New York. Possibly this is where she received training to be a nurse, because from then on that was her occupation. On 15 May 1909 Nellie sailed from Londonderry, arriving at Ellis Island on 23 May 1909.  At that time she was listed as Nellie Doran, age 24, single, and listed her occupation as Nurse.  She stated she was going to her sister, Lizzie Doran, at 65 East 65th St., NYC, and she had left from her aunt, Eliza Hall, at 51 Springfield Village, Belfast. She had been in the USA in 1906 and 1908.  Her height was 5’3”, and she had a ruddy complexion with auburn hair and blue eyes.  ( Database: New York passenger Lists, 1820-1957; Year: 1909; Arrival; Microfilm serial: T715; Microfilm roll: T715_1272; Line: 29).

This is where in her life narrative, that my sister and I got confused. We had found a marriage record from Belfast dated 26 December 1908, where she married Patrick McVeigh. From the same family history written out by Sal Rafferty there was no mention at all of a Patrick McVeigh, only that Nellie married a man with the surname of Smith in Newark, NJ, having one child named Elizabeth “Bess”. After his death from yellow fever, from working on the Panama Canal, she eventually married Amos Moffet Pearson (1873-1931), having three children: Ellen, Marguerite, and Amos Moffat, Jr., (called Jack). Below is the record of the marriage of Nellie Doran to Patrick McVeigh:

EllenDoran3As my sister, Veronica, and I researched records at the New Jersey Archives, in Trenton, NJ, we came across the birth record of daughter, Ellen McVeigh, in 1914, listing her father as Patrick McVeigh, birthplace Ireland age 31, and her mother as Ellen Doran, birthplace Ireland, age 30. Ellen was listed as the second child. We tried searching for Nellie’s daughter, Elizabeth, under the Smith or McVeigh surname without any luck.

When my grandfather, Bernard Doran, came to the United States in October of 1910 he was going to his sister, Mrs. Ellen Smith, living on Ogden Street, in Newark, NJ. The 1910 census dated April 23, 1910, lists a Nellie Doran, Boarder; with Frank & Lizzie Sears, Ogden Street, Newark, 8th Ward, Essex County, NJ.  She is 25, single, born in Ireland, and works at a Thread Mill as a Reeler. We then found the marriage record of Helen Doran to Amos Moffet Pearson. On 20 September 1920 they married at his home on Winthrop Street in Newark. His age was listed as 47, and he reported himself as a widower. Nellie reported in their marriage record that she was a widow, age 37.  The witnesses to their marriage were her brother, Bernard Doran, and his wife, Mary Mahoney Doran [Source: New Jersey Archives, Trenton, NJ; Certificate and Record of Marriage].

With family recollections of Aunt Nellie and Uncle Moffet, plus the names of the children, we had found out quite a lot about this branch of our family, but there were so many dangling threads to our narrative. When cousin Bob came over last week, we finally had answers to some of our questions. Bob and Diane mentioned that Nellie’s second husband’s last name was spelled Smythe. The first husband, Patrick McVeigh, had gone to sea right after his marriage to Nellie, and disappeared. From research done by the Pearson family, it shows that Nellie married Thomas Joseph Smythe on 15 May 1910. Their daughter, Elizabeth, called Bess by the family was born in Newark, NJ in 1911. Patrick McVeigh had been declared dead at sea, previously. But the wrinkle was that he had simply disappeared from the British Navy, and then re-appeared after Nellie’s husband, Thomas Smythe died on 29 October 1911. Since Patrick was also Nellie’s husband, they lived together after Thomas Smythe died, having daughter, Ellen. After Patrick McVeigh’s death, Nellie answered an advertisement placed by Amos Moffat Pearson, stating he wanted to hire a nurse for one of his sons. His wife, Carrie Boss Pearson, had died in 1912, leaving him to raise their twin sons.

At some point a romance blossomed between Nellie and Amos Moffet Pearson, and they married, having two more children, Anna Marguerite and Amos Moffet “Jack” Pearson, Jr. Evidently the blended family lived together happily. My father remembers going to the Pearson’s New Jersey shore house with his parents and siblings, and having lots of fun.

When I found out Nellie’s second husband’s last name was Smythe, I checked and found that although we knew what cemetery Nellie was buried at, we didn’t know she had been buried with her husband, Thomas Smythe. They are buried in a plot together at Holy Sepulchre, East Orange, NJ, which is very close to the city of Newark. I had checked for McVeigh and Smith, but never Smythe at this cemetery. Amos Moffet Pearson, Sr. was buried with his first wife, Carrie, at Evergreen Cemetery, in Basking Ridge, Somerset County, NJ. Here’s Nellie’s obituary

Death Notice: Pearson – On December 29, 1932 Ellen, beloved wife of the late Amos M. Pearson. Funeral services will be held at her home, 57 Union Avenue, Nutley Saturday morning Dec 31 at 8:30 o’clock thence to St. Mary’s Church Nutley where at 9 A.M. a mass of requiem will be offered for the repose of her soul. Interment in the cemetery at the Holy Sepulchre at the convenience of the family.” [Source: Newark Evening News, Friday December 30, 1932, page 10. Repository New Jersey State Library – copied –  7/29/2005].

What a remarkable woman Nellie Doran Pearson was! At every obstacle and hardship, she picked up the pieces, moved on, and made a new life for herself, and then also for her children. She was a beloved sister, wife, mother, aunt, and niece – adored by all that knew her. From the photograph recently shared with us, my sister and I can now also see what a beautiful woman she was inside and out.

Those Places Thursday is a blogging prompt suggested by GeneaBloggers to help document the places our ancestors lived.

4 thoughts on “Doran Sisters – From Ireland to New Jersey – Those Places Thursday

  1. What an awesome research and connecting the dots thanks to MaryannBarnes. The Ruthazer & Pearson Family thanks you. Bob, Dianne Ruthazer & Family


  2. Thanks, Cousin Bob! I’m so glad you, and your family, enjoyed reading this posting about your beautiful grandmother, Nellie!


    1. Thank you for reading the post and commenting. I agree about the picture, and we’re so thankful. I just took a look at your blog, and your recent DNA posting which is very interesting!


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