The 1850 Federal Census is one of the few places I’ve found a reference to my 4th great-grandmother Elizabeth Ambrose nee Leary. She is married to David Ambrose and they have three young daughters: Mary Ann, Ellen and Catherine. They lived in the Western District of the 1st Ward of New York, which is the tip of Manhattan in the area now part of the Wall Street/Financial District. Elizabeth and David were listed as the same age in 1850: 26 years old, which would put their dates of birth circa 1824. Both of their birthplaces are listed as Ireland, while their daughters’ are all listed as New York, which means they immigrated sometime between 1824 and 1847 when Mary Ann was born. Mary Ann is listed as 3 years old, Ellen as 1 year old, and Catherine as 2 months old. David is listed as working as a laborer.
In the 1855 New York State Census, Elizabeth is widowed with three children between the ages of 2 and 8 years old, Mary Ann, Ellen and Margaret. Catherine is no longer in the family (most likely a young or infant death). They are living in the home of a William Murphy and his family, along with another lodger family. There is a domestic servant in the home as well. The home is in a brick apartment building located in the 2nd Election District in the 1st Ward in Manhattan. The 1st Ward, 2nd District, was comprised of the area around lower Manhattan, including Battery Place to Broadway to Rector Street to the Hudson River. Elizabeth is listed as an Alien from Ireland, having resided in New York for 10 years, which would make her immigration approximately in 1845.
In the 1870 Federal Census, Elizabeth is listed as 40 years old (since the 1850 census twenty years ago, she has only aged 14 years!). Her daughter Ellen lives with her and they both live with Michael and Mary Ann Reilly, her daughter and son-in-law. A woman named Jane Tenant and her two children, as well as a woman named Alice Duffy, all live in the same tenement or building. Elizabeth is listed as keeping house, and Ellen is listed as an operator. This census confirms her birthplace as Ireland.
In the 1880 census she and her younger daughter Ellen are living in a three family house, along with my third great-grandparents Michael and Mary Reilly, and still with Jane Tenant and her children. They resided at 491 First Street, West Side. The only trouble I’m having is I can’t figure out where that is on a map. There are two First Streets – North and South! They mirror Metropolitan Avenue. Both streets end before they get to 491. I’m trying to locate a 1880 map to see if I can locate where this building was – and try to figure out what West Side is actually referring to.
Elizabeth is now 55 years old, having aged 15 years in the last 10, so she either incorrect about her age in 1870 or is incorrect about her age in 1880. Frankly, she could just not remember exactly what year she was born… but I like to think maybe she was trying to appear younger than she actually was in 1870 by shaving 5 years off her age.