My Conway Family Page
Latest Update: April 8, 2001
My maternal grandmother was Loretto Elizabeth Conway Sanders (1868-1923.)
We had little information about the Conway family, but through some court records, census data and other sources we have been able to piece together a fairly complete picture of the family, including finding some living cousins we did not know we had.
The Conway immigrant ancestor seems to have been a William Conway (ca 1805-1880) who according to census records was born in Ireland. In March, 2001 we located his 1826 Declaration of Intention (to become a U.S. citizen) which stated that he was 23 years old and was a native of County Maith (sic -- correct spelling is Meath). This indicates that he arrived in the U.S. in the early to mid 1820's. We do not know if he was married when he came, or anyone else he might have come with. He became a US citizen in 1830 and in 1834 bought farmland in Pleasant Valley, New Jersey -- on the Hudson River, just south of the present site of the George Washington Bridge. The seller of the land was John DeGroot The surrounding properties were owned by Francis R Tillou and a Mrs Dempsey. The location of the property is clearly identifiable in the 1876 Atlas of Bergen County.
The property was used as a farm for many years, then converted to a hotel -- presumably to cater to wealthy New Yorkers who traveled up the Hudson by steamboat. The hotel was destroyed by fire in September 1879 and the property was eventually sold.
William's first marriage was to Julia Roach, and they had a son, John M Conway (born 1832 in Pleasant Valley [before William bought the property]; died 1893.)
This John M Conway, the father of the Loretto Elizabeth Conway Sanders mentioned above, turned out to be the only surviving child of William's from two marriages, according to a lengthy deposition he filed after his father's death which provides many details about the family:
In the Matter of the Application of John M. Conway Petition, Report &c State of New Jersey Orphans Court in & for the County of Bergen ss
In the Matter Petition of Chap 195 Laws 1880
The Application of John M Conway pr 290 To the Court:
The petition of the undersigned respectfully sheweth: That on the 8th day of January A.D. 1880, William Conway departed this life at the residence of your petitioner, No. 234 W 49th Street, in the City of New York; which was also the last place of residence of the said deceased. That your petitioner is the only son and heir at law of said William Conway, deceased, and the only person interested in the estate of said deceased, and he further saith, upon his information and belief, that there are no creditors or persons otherwise having or claiming to have any claim, lien or interest in said estate.
That the name of your petitioner is John M. Conway as aforesaid, that he is of the age of forty eight years, that his place of residence is in the City of New York, in the County and State of New York, as above set forth and that he is now seized in fee simple absolute of all the real estate of said deceased. That the said William Conway died intestate seized in fee simple absolute of certain real estate situated at Pleasant Valley, on the Hudson River, in the township of Ridgefield and County of Bergen aforesaid, which is described as follows:
[after a lengthy description of the property, the following questions and answers were recorded: ]
Q. State what your father's family consisted of A. My mother, Julia Roach, and three children besides myself. They all died in comparative infancy. I think I was 4 years old when my mother died. My father told me.
Q. Did your father marry again, and what family did he have? A. He did and had six children by his second marriage. Three died in infancy, one was killed in the battle of Antietam. The remaining two died at Pleasant Valley, aged about 20 years each, and I am the only child surviving of both families. Father's second wife is also dead. She has been dead fully 20 years.
The above document, plus the census records for the period, provided a clear picture of John M Conway's generation, and a little more information about his father William. We have also found William's burial place -- the Madonna Cemetery in Fort Lee (New Jersey.)
Our information about John M Conway's children was also a bit scanty and incomplete. We have the cemetery records of the Conway plot JMC purchased in Calvary Cemetery (Long Island City, New York) at the time of the death of his first daughter, where JMC, his wife and several of their children (those marked with a *) are buried. We were also fortunate to find several other documents (John M Conway's will and a trust agreement regarding the disposition of his property) which completed our understanding of the family.
John M Conway married Elizabeth Mehan (ca 1836-1893). Their
1. Mary A. Conway* (1855-1888)
2. William Conway (1859-1861)
3. James Louis Conway (ca 1864-1909) m Anna McGurran (ca 1865-1922)
4. Florence J. Conway* (1865-1892)
5. Loretto Elizabeth Conway* (1868-1923) m Beverley Constantine Sanders (1854-1934)
6. Walter M. Conway (1873-aft 1905) m (Isa)Bella M. Puff (1877-aft. 1933)
7. Joseph F. Conway* (1875-1921) m Ada Lastname? (1877-aft 1921)
(See their photos)
We were not in touch -- or even aware of any living descendants of John M and Elizabeth Conway, (other than the children of #5, since that is our immediate family.) We therefore focused our attention on children #3, #6, and #7.
We concluded from census and other records that Joseph (#7) died childless.
Among my late father's papers we found a 1938 obituary for a James L Conway, who we surmised was the son of James Louis Conway (#3), which stated that he was survived by a wife and son, JLC, Jr. We determined through a phone search that there were about 25 James L Conways in the U.S. We wrote to each one, enclosing a copy of the obituary, and asking if they were the JLC we were seeking. Fortunately we found the right one; when he called he said he was as surprised as I was to learn that he had a second cousin he had not previously known about. Since then we have worked to piece together some details of our common Conway heritage.
Finding living descendants of Walter (#6) has been more of a challenge. We think we've finally made a breakthrough. This is described in one of our "Research Problems and Questions".
Questions about William Conway:
1) Who provided the money for him to buy the farm shortly after he arrived in the U.S.? (Possibly Julia Roach's family??) Lived on property, (or nearby -- JMC b 1832 pleasant valley) for at least a few years before he bought it.
Back to Konvalinka Home Page