The Buckleys Arrive in New Brunswick: A Family History
By William R Tash, a great, great, grand " son of a gun."
NOTE: William Raymond Tash was born in 1931 in Brooklyn New York, the son of Raymond Clark Tash and Mary Jane Buckley and his remembrances here open a window on the “American” story of the Buckley family.
The year 1815 had been a miserable one for both our Scotch and Irish ancestors in Inverness, and in County Cork. Not only was it one of the coldest years on record. It was the beginning of an economical downturn. With the return of the veterans from Waterloo, and the victory of the British over the French and her allies, trading with Europe now took precedence over commerce with the more rural provinces of the dominion. It is believed that the cold weather was the result of a volcano erupting somewhere in the south Pacific. The ashes spewed forth, obscuring the sun and leaving a darkened continent and the off shore islands in the frozen wake. Why the Buckleys and McDonalds would elect to leave the still relatively balmy British Isles for the cooler New Brunswick wilderness- where 38 inches of snow was the norm and fifty below still not a record- is somewhat of a mystery. The collapse of the inflated Irish agricultural market, Catholic emancipation still 20 years away, and an economical future not in their favour was probably enough.
The rise of tile Orange Order in 1795, designed to protect Protestant ascendancy in Ireland probably kept our ancestors focussed on tillage farming and small Corkian shops. Not a nice view. Robert Emmet, the romantic Irish hero of lost causes, did not make things any better when the abortive rebellion of 1803 renewed hostilities with the British. Even Emmet’s brother soon looked to escape to America, and by 1820 was an eminent attorney defending free-trade policies before the US Supreme Court.
But why New Bnmswick? Choice ports of destination were few; Australia was nearly empty but spoiled with a major penal colony opened in Sydney in 1784 – India not yet secure, and terribly far away. It was also crowded with native Indians. And the former colonies still off bounds to British subjects; the relationships with their American cousins volatile and the sometimes heated, and smoldering embers left from the War of 1812. No, a southern Eden hardly seemed viable for our British founders, as the Aroostook boundary disputes fueled the flames. There may have been other reasons for the Buckley and McDonald family migrations. Oliver Goldsmiths poem, The Deserted Village, probably tells the story best:
" Sweet, smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn!
Amidst thy bowers the tyrant’s hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green: "
Their new home, New Brunswick, was a separate province since 1784. King George III named
The Scots from Inverness were among the first to arrive in the Bay du Vin area. By 1790 the Scottish merchants dominated the trade throughout New Brunswick. In 1804 Pollock and Gilmore established a lumbering business in the Miramichi river region. By 1832 they had 100 vessels, 5,000 sailors, and 15,000 lumber men hacking away at those tall Canadian pines. James Buckley and his spouse, Abagail Cadagan Buckley, arrived too late to secure bay side property.
At docking time, James Buckley was 51 and Abigail 47. Consequently, these nearly aging settlers lost little time in securing their land grant from the Kings agent on the Bay du Vin River inlet, about a quarter mile from the Bay. They brought with them all but one of their ten children. James, who was fourteen, remained behind in County Cork, until he boarded ship in 1822. Why he did not leave with the rest of the family is not clear. Possibly he was in school or the seminary, or involved with friends (yet he did not marry Mary Lynch, a native of Cork until sometime after his arrival in Bay du Vin).
John, the oldest son was 21 in 1819. Margaret, the oldest daughter, was 20. The other children – Anne, Bridget, Daniel and Thomas were, preteens; and Bryan, William, James, and Patrick were teenagers. The family was not unusually large for the time. It was, however, somewhat unusual for a family to be able to afford passage for so many. Immigrants tend to be poor. Obviously James had done rather well before emigrating, and the reason he came, other than economic, may have been political. It certainly was not for the weather, or a wilderness retreat for his declining years.
The family settled in the parish of Glenelg on the south east side of the Bay du Vin river, less than a quarter mile from the Bay. The site was adjacent to the future 200 acre land grant of Angus McDonald. Angus left Inverness five years before the Inverness region was to experience a mild-economic boom: Bad timing. But in 1820 Inverness employment consisted largely of spinning, weaving, tobacco growing, and small shop rentals. Maybe Angus had been inspired by the then popular Ossianic poems of James Macpherson, purported to be genuine remains of ancient Scottish poetry. The lyrics rang of the values of the simple life and the virtues of primitive people "old, unhappy, far-off things, and battles long ago."
Angus applied for a 500 acre lot in 1820. He was overreaching. The request was postponed. In a 1824 survey a lot "approximately" 750 acres in size was divided into four sections. Angus, James, and John Buckley would receive 200 acres each. The remaining 150 acres was unassigned. In his land grant application, James refers to his eight children; probably excluding James who remained in Ireland, and John who was now living with Mary McDonald (without benefit of priest) and soon to acquire the 200 acre lot. Both James and Mary continued to live in Bay du Vin until after James’ death, sometime before the 1850 Census. Mary is believed to have died after 1853, and before the 1860 census. The 1853 date is fixed, for Mary attended a wedding at this time. No slouching couch potato at the age of eighty!
John, the oldest son, engaged himself in farming and lumbering. He cleared the homestead with his father, and soon become fast friends with the McDonald clan. Angus McDonald had left Inverness, Scotland, four years before the Buckleys immigrated in 1815. He demonstrated diligence in cultivating the land and preparing it for the small but growing family. Angus had no sturdy teenagers to help him. He had three children under 15 years of age, and an infant daughter, Isabella, born on ship, as it approached Bay du Vin. By the time the Buckley’s had arrived, there were three more small children in the household. In 1816, the colonial legislature provided by law for grammar schools in every county, so we may assume that the McDonalds need not have relied on home schooling during these early years. (Although with temperatures hovering around 7 degrees in January and February, and with an average 10 or 11 days of winter snow per month, family living must have been a major and important aspect of the school curriculum.)
Mary, Angus’ nineteen year old daughter, was seen regularly in the company of John Buckley. John often was at his neighbours helping the overworked Angus and Anne and chatting quietly with their oldest daughter. Mary welcomed the relief John offered from baby sitting and the other duties an older daughter performed. On August 29, 1820, the Protestant missionary Clark married Mary and John Buckley. Clark is a name interesting to me personally since my grandfather’s family, on my father’s side, was Clark. Those Clarks resided in Kittery Maine and fought bravely against the British and their loyalist sympathizers during the revolution. We do not know if a priest had been contacted and refused to recognize marriage without sufficient pre-nuptial preparations or if the pregnant Mary failed to show appropriate remorse. Perhaps there was no priest available. Still time was of the essence with the possibility of a future land grant adjacent to the in-laws.
Timothy was born less than seven months after the wedding. We know that the marriage had been "rehabilitated" by the Bishop of Quebec in 1823, by the time the third child was born. Happily for the Tashes, our grandfather Thomas was not yet conceived or even a twinkle in Mary’s eye. It is not clear whether Ann Buckley, the third oldest child, was conceived in or out of lawful Catholic wedlock.
John was not the only Buckley child ‘to marry’ a McDonald. Three months after John’s marriage, Margaret married Donald McDonald, probably a cousin of Mary’s. Margaret could be selective in regard to a McDonald mate; since there were at least eight land grants listed in Bay du Vin under the name McDonald. Mary’s three younger brothers later married children of John and Ann McEachern. John came from Inverness via Prince Edward Island sometime after 1820. He was a Presbyterian. Ann raised her daughters Catholic even though tolerance between Presbyterians and Catholics cooled after the Test Act was repealed in 1827. Once united in a common cause Presbyterians and Catholics now went their separate ways. It must have been trying for Ann in her Presbyterian enclave. According to the recollections of her granddaughter Josie, John was sometimes cruel. John the Stiff, as he was known because of his stiff leg, was less than resilient about matters religious. It seems that the epitaph, “the stiff” was also passed on to his son, and is now part of the McEachern family lore. John and Ann were the first inter-denominational couple in our recent heritage. As far as I know, my father’s marriage to Jane Buckley was the second one.
James and Abagail Buckley’s other children married Irish, or Irish Canadians, and for the most part settled in Nelson, Chatham and the surrounding areas. These were Bryan (later married to Bridget Kenney), William (married to Mary Murphy), James (married to Margaret Lynch), Patrick (married to Elizabeth Ryan and later Catherine Lowrie), Anne (married to Nicholas Murray), Bridget married to Thomas Grey), Daniel (married to Nancy Murray), and the youngest child Thomas. It may be that this doubting Thomas never said "I do" or at least no spouse is listed in the family record.
In 1842, British and American authorities established the New Brunswick-Maine boundary. New Brunswick was granted self-government in 1849. Gradually the disputes between the New Brunswick loyalists and American Yankees subsided. The first Buckley to immigrate southward to the United States, and become naturalized in Boston, was Bryan. The year was 1849. (If he had waited another five years he may have taken the trip on the Bangor to St. John railroad.) All of Bryan and Bridget Kenny Buckleys children had been born in Chatham before they left New Brunswick. Bryan subsequently moved to Clearfield, Wisconsin. He was registered there in the 1890 census. Unhappily, we do not know the precise day Bryan was born, or we US citizens could petition to have a Byan’s day, to celebrate the Buckley immigration into the United States. Probably the first descendant of James Buckley born in the United States was John Buckley, probably born in Otter county, Minnesota around 1870, to Hugh and Ms. Moore from North Dakota. Hugh was the eleventh child of John and Mary McDonald Buckley. He arrived in the United States sometime in the 1860s.
Our ancestors, John and Mary McDonald Buckley, were no advocates of planned parenthood. They gave birth to fourteen children before they completed their procreational activities. Following the birth of Timothy, born in 1820, we have Mary (later married to James Currie), Ann (married to John Donald’s), James (married first to Jessie McDonald, and later to Marie Waddleton), Angus (married to Mary Fraser and in later life to Jane Powers), Abagail (married to David Rogers), Donald (married first to Mary Fraser’s sister, Catherine Fraser, and later to Jaane Powers sister, Catherine Powers), Wi1liam, John, Alexander (married to Jane McRae), Hugh (married to that Moore woman from North Dakotas), Bridget (the mysterious one), Catherine (married to Charles Kerr), and Thomas( married first to Jane Bannon, and later to my grandmother Johanna Fitzpatrick). Yes, by 1846 old Mary McDonald Buckley had a farm, and a very large family as well!
Four of the surviving nine Buckley boys married twice (James, Angus, Donald. and Thomas). Their first spouses died fairly young: at ages 46, 48, 24, and 28. They parented seventeen children by their first spouses and fourteen by their second wives. It was far from a picnic for these not always sturdy pioneering women. One of the spouses died in childbirth, another shortly after the birth of a third child, and the other two wives after giving birth to thirteen children between them.
John Buckley was a successful entrepreneur who soon owned his own lumbering business. At its peak it employed 400 persons. Still it was a small business by the Pollock and Gilmore standards. But it was sufficient to support the large Buckley family. Except for their daughter Ann and son Bryan, all fourteen Buckley children remained in New Brunswick in the Chatham, Nelson, Moncton, and Bay du Vin vicinities. The lumber industry proved exceptionally well suited to the sometimes thriving New Brunswick economy. Even today the forests cover 85% of the land and add to its natural beauty. The tall white pines were ideal for the masts and spars of the sea going schooners. The ships that brought the lumber to Great Britain also brought new settlers on each rerurning journey. Yet, in time, the forests thinned (no doubt spurred by the great fire of 1825 that killed 150 people, and swept through the Miramichi river basin region; and by those 400 Buckley and 16,000 Gilmore lumber men). The demand for the mast-wood also diminished as steam ships slowly replaced the ocean schooners, and the promise of abundance for the settlers slowly eroded to the winds and fires of change. It was all over by 1889 when my mother Jane Buckley arrived on the scene. Soon the Brooklyn foundries were meeting the demands for cast iron to cover the sides of the new iron side fleets.
New Brunswickers think that the period among 1854 and 1867 was the best in history. Trading
John Donalds was born in Newfoundland. While still a teenager he left for New Brunswick after the death of his parents. Consequently, with no aging parents to care for in Bay du Vin, he probably had no compelling family reason to remain in New Brunswick. Undoubtedly, Ann and John had waited until her mother Mary passed on in August 1878, and her youngest brother Thomas had recovered from the shock of losing his spouse, Jane Bannon, in 1876. When Thomas subsequently married Johanna Fitzpatrick in June 1878, there were no excuses for remaining. In the footsteps of her brother Hugh and uncle Bryan, Ann headed west toward Minnesota. John and Ann soon ran a prosperous rooming house in Stillwater, Minnesota. In 1885 five of her children were living with them.
Thomas Buckley, my grandfather, was the youngest of John Buckley’s children. He was born in 1846 and lived all his life in the Bay du Vin vicinity. At the time of his father’s death in 1856. Thomas was ten years of age, and living with his mother Mary, and his brothers Alexander 20, Hugh, 19 and sister Catherine 14. Thomas married Jane Bannon of Rose Bank in a double wedding with Thomas Buckley and Jane Donalds, witnessed by Father Yarrily, on September 26, 1871. Thomas was 25, and Jane 23. Jane and Thomas had three children together before Jane died five years later in April 1876. She was 28 years of age. John Alexander Buckley, born in 1872, was the oldest of the three children; next in line was Catherine Ellen, who was born in 1873; and then the baby, Mary Agnes, born in 1875. Only six months after her birth, and one day after her death, Jane Bannon died in April 1876 of complications resulting from the birth of Agnes.
Thomas must have been heart broken for he lost both his spouse and infant daughter within a day of each other. Soon he would also lose his mother and suffer the separation of Ann Donalds family. Among the children to leave with Ann would be his cousins Jane and Thomas Buckley, witnesses at his marriage to Jane Bannon. (Thomas was the son of his uncle James).
Thomas married Johanna Fitzpatrick, in June 1878, two years after the death of Jane Bannon. Johanna was 28 – two years younger than Jane. They were married by the Reverend Thomas Bannon, possibly the brother or uncle of Jane. Johanna was the third oldest child of Jeremiah Fitzpatrick, born in 1811, and Eliza Bergin, born in 1820 (the same year as Thomas’ older brother Timothy). Both Johannas parents were born in Chatham. Possibly parent Mary knew Eliza through her son Timothy and helped arrange for the mariage of her daughter to Thomas.
Besides her two step-children, who were six and three at the time of her marriage, Johanna gave birth to eight children during the remaining 19 years of her life. Mary Elizabeth, the first child, arrived on April 14, 1879. Then came William, baptized August 15, 1880 and included in the 1880 census, James J., born t\vo years later, Donald Joseph, born April 11, 1884; Anne Elizabeth, born January 19,1886, Mary Josephine, born March 3, 1888, Jane, my mother, born August 21, 1889 (whom we always believed was born in 1890, as the inscription on her grave in Sea Girt reads), the twins Jeremiah and Thomas, born June 25, 1892, and the baby Catherine, born December 20, 1893. I would guess that my mother was named after Jane Bannon, and my Aunt Catherine, after Catherine Ellen who had died the previous year, October 24, 1882.
No one in the family knows much about William so I presume he died as an infant or shortly thereafter. James never married. He served in the Canadian Army in WW 1. He left for the western part of the US at the age of fprty-four. He wrote to his sister Annie back in Massachusetts that his grocery store was flourishing. That was the decider for Annie and Jack Fagan if not for gold nuggets, at least for groceries. When Jack and Annie rushed into Seattle, they were dismayed to discover Jim’s store was tiny, very tiny, with two rooms for living in the back. Jim left for California rather soon after their arrival and was living in Florida at the time of his death in 1962. Annie and Jack quickly got rid of the store, and faced some lean years before landing on their feet The Buckley frugality saved the day along with some AT and T stock, probably secured through Phil Freeman and Aunt Elizabeth’s advice.
Don Buckley was a pharmacist. He served as a captain at Kitcheren Hospital in England. After the war, he left for Vancouver, where he owned and operated a drug store. Annie’s daughter, Helen Fagan Masters worked in Dons store when she was a teenager. Don married- Mary Ann MacPherson,( Minan) around 1886. She died around 1924, fairly soon after Annie and Jack Fagan arrived in Seattle. Yet Eleanor Kruchten recalls Helen speaking of her when she worked in Uncle Don’s store. Don died around 1946 in Vancouver. Don and Mary had two children, Donald who died at the age of twenty, in WW II (Eleanor has a clipping about his death); and Gerald. Gerald married twice and had four children. I have lost track of the family.
I knew all of Thomas and Johannas daughters; but I knew Aunt Catherine, the best. She lived fairly near to us in Brooklyn, first on Dean Street and later on Midwood Avenue in Flatbush. We also visited her summerhouse in Sea Girt, New Jersey for vacation weekends. All the Buckley women were intelligent, practical, and conscientious parents. They also had a good sense of humour. My mother was quite attractive, as was Mary when she was younger (or so my mother and aunt Kathryn relate); Aunt Catherine was the go-getter, always dreaming about, and doing exciting things, or so it seemed to me. In the later years all the daughters except Annie tended to be on the plumpish side. I recently read my mothers old recipe book. All the recipes called for lard, sugar and fattening ingredients. Of course people did not know too much about fiber rich and low -in-cholesterol foods in those days. It was normal to live a highly caffinated, and dormant life style. I suppose if they had followed the mandates of the New England Journal of Medicine, my aunts and mother, would have died in their eighties rather than their seventies. The lithe Annie lived to be 86 years of age.
Since a store was adjacent to Thomas and Johanna Buckleys home on St Andrew’s Street, Johanna probably helped Thomas with the customers when not tending to the eight children.( Helen Masters recalls that both Mary and Annie also worked in the store, slipped bills occasionally into their stockings to pay for the trip that would get them out of town and to the States). The older Elizabeth probably felt the house was all she could manage, along with the younger children, Jane and Kathryn. Thomas also opened a meat stall at the comers of Water and Pleasant Street in 1887. Maybe he was thinking of 15 year old L John Alexander’s future place of employment. When Johanna wed on January 4, 1897 all the children were still living except the twins, Jeremiah and Thomas, who had died in August 1892, at the age of two months, and possibly William. Johanna’s step daughter, Catherine, died single, a month after the twins at the age of 19 on October 9,1892. Johanna died on January 4, 1897, only four years after her mother Eliza. She may have died of heart attack but tuberculosis may have played a part, since Annie and Mary recall her spitting blood. Three months later, in Apri1 1897, her step-son, John, married Clara Elizabeth Power. Clara was also from Chatham, and had met Johanna frequently at the store and St Michael’s Roman Catholic church on top of the Cunard Street hill less than a mile away. I would imagine that Clara also helped Thomas with the younger children during those early years after Johanna’s death.
Times were rough, and getting rougher for Thomas after Johanna passed on and out of their lives. There was no future helpmate on the horizon for this 51 year old man, who had been left with four young girls, Annie, Mary, Jane, and Katherine, the eighteen year old Elizabeth, and three teen age sons, Donald. William and James. He did whatever was necessary, however, to support his young family by continuing to manage the Store located adjacent to the house. According to my mother, he set a high standard for frugal living and home education. But he had considerable help from the nuns over at St Michael’s Academy, next to St Margaret’s Cathedral. If the Buckley’s learned to be frugal, considerable credit must be given to the St Michael Academy staff. Many years later Aunt Mary still recalled how Sr. Touissant snapped her knuckles with a ruler. Ouch! (Thank you Evelyn for the remembrance). The Buckley children also acquired a liking for medicine, since three of the daughters became registered nurses, a son later became a pharmacist, and a daughter (Katherine) later married a doctor. Maybe they wanted to alleviate the pain of others having experienced at first hand the tragedy of losing a mother, two infant brothers and two step-sisters.
As I recall, from my visit several years ago to Chatham, the home was on the slope of a hill close to the center of town overlooking the beautiful Miramichi river from the backyard. I recall my mother telling me about how beautiful it was in winter. From November through March, the Buckley children traveled largely by sleigh, and often woke up to the sight of snow drifts up to their bedroom windows. I also recall my mother telling me how careful her relatives were about their financial matters, squirreling away resources for the frigid years ahead. She told me very little, however, about my grandmother, Johanna, for Jane was only seven at the time of her death, and the impressions dimmed by the time she was parenting me. The-memories of her childhood were probably less than romantic, for she never took her family back to see the old homestead, although we regularly went back to Lewiston to my Father’s home, and later traveled to Quebec to explore the historical sites. We visited Elizabeth faithfully each summer in South Portland. Maine She lived only a few miles down the road from Betty Davis’ summer retreat home at Cape Ann.
Happily for the Buckley family, Thomas’ daughter, Elizabeth, only eighteen at the death of her mother, remained to take care of the family until the girls were old enough to leave for the States. Elizabeth then left for Portland, Maine to become a nurse. She was soon to become the third spouse of Philip Freeman, and again put in the position of parenting three children not her own. Elizabeth married the spouse of her best friend, who before she died asked Elizabeth to care for the children. She certainly was a friend in need as well as deed. Elizabeth never had her own children, but clearly deserves parenting honours for her efforts with the Buckley and Freeman children. The twin brother of Philip Freeman’s first spouse, Bart Doyle, was an actor who lived in New York City. He often entertained us with his consciously flamboyant mannerisms and after dinner jokes and conversations on his visits to our home. I also recall my mother’s cousin Claire Culligan but not her husband Chester(Gloria Zirpolo-Raffetto remembers Claire ~d Chester quite well from their visits to the Zirpolos, and where my mother lived before her marriage).
Part Two: The Diaspora and On to the Millennium
Elizabeth’s adopted children Philip, Priscilla, and Isabel, are all gone now. Priscilla Butler died young, leaving behind seven children in the late 1940s in Arlington, Massachusetts. Isabel, was living in Wilmington, Delaware, the last time I was in touch with her during the 1960s. I have no information about Philip. Mary’s children – Harold, Eleanor, and Evelyn-are all alive and doing splendidly. Eleanor, is married to a distinguished accountant(Al Kruchten) and living in Ft. Collins( their four children are scattered throughout the state- Mary (married to Maurice Potter), John(married to Rosemary Murphy), Patricia ( married to Douglas Frost), and Jane ( married to Steven MacGregoir). Harold is now retired and living in Wheatridge, Colorado. Harold graduated from Boston University in 1938, after which time he took his mother to Chatham on the grand tour. He is the oldest living grandson of Thomas Buckley and proud father of five daughters – Yvonne, Geraldine, Denise (born near Mario Cuomos father’s store in Jamaica, NY), Mariet, and Renee( born in Denver)- and grandfather of several children. Evelyn and Mel Wamkin live in the Ft Nugent, Washington area near her two children Chuck and Giselle. Chuck is retired with honors from the US Navy. They are both married and have four grandchildren between them. The last time I met Helen Masters – Annie’s daughter – was when I was in the Paulist seminary in Washington, DC in 1958. Her children, Jean (husband Donald Brunson), and Thomas (wife Carol) and grandchildren live nearby. John (and Betty) Fagan -Annie’s younger child, lives in Olympia, Washington, down that long yellow brick road from Helen Masters. His daughter, Leanne (and her husband Charles Layton), live in California. His son Patrick (and wife Janice) live in Brooklyn.
Gloria Zirpolo Raffetto and I are in close contact, and get together at least once every year. Gloria lives in Sea Girt, New Jersey along with her daughter Pat (graduate of Rosemont College, and professional therapist) and son Fred (a Lafayette college, Seton Hall law school graduate, and practicing attorney). Her other son Richard (a Wharton School graduate and NYC financier and MBA from NYU)and his spouse Ariana, live near by in Bay Head, NJ . If you want to purchase a home by the ocean, Gloria will quickly arrange it, since she has pursued the real estate business since the death of her spouse, Fred (a prominent attorney in the Sea Girt area). My brother Bob (wife Hannah) lives in Bronxville, New York, and has four splendid children, Christine, Jennifer, Timothy and April. Timothy is a doctor currently living in Europe, and April is a Harvard graduate. As far as I know, Tom Zirpolo, the Freeman children, and Don’ s children are the only members of my generation that have moved beyond earthly boundaries.
My father’s sister, Lillian , took over the business, which she managed until her death in 1965. One of her famous student helpers in the shop was the future Senator, Ed. Muskie, who was a scholarship student at Bates College from 1932 to 1936.
Raymond Tash never finished Bates College. He intended to, I believe he intended to. I read the letters in the attic. Instead he learned welding while in the Navy during WWI, and settled in Brooklyn where union opportunities for welders, and ship repair contractors were better. He worked at the Todd shipyard and for most of his remaining life for George Huntington. That day that will "live in infamy" actually favored my father’s financial situation. In 1942 ship building and repair was the largest single industry in Brooklyn. As the need for skilled workers increased throughout WW2, Raymond was constantly working. Happily, Jane and Raymond were able to support their two children, Robert and WiIliam, comfortably despite the depression of the 1930s. I remember my mother having a housecleaner, and mother’s helper while I was growing up on Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn. Of course modern technology was still fifty years away. Each Wednesday the ice man cometh, and every sixth week the coal delivery. There were no ready-when-you-are supermarkets. Shopping was an every day, and sometimes all day affair; laundry, ironing, and putting cloths on the line was a major undertaking. Remember that song?
Brooklyn was an exciting place to be in those early years with the subway arriving at Coney Island in 1920 and the many ethnic emigrants arriving from Eastern Europe and everywhere (over 2.5 million by the time I arrived in August 1931). If you have ever watched the Honeymooners on the Jackie Gleason show, you have a good idea of what it was like at the time. The place was full of Alice and Ed Nortons, and Ralph KTamdens over d’are on Chauncey Street. "Yo, Ralphie boy!" And how about Wrong Way Corrigan, who flew out of Floyd Bennet Field one morning in July, 1938, heading for California. but ending up in the motherland across the sea in Baldonnel, Ireland. And then there were those fictional notables: discoer Tony in Saturday Night Live (1977), aspiring writer Eugene in Brighten Beach Memories(1986), and Mookie who just arrived in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1988).
Twelve Buckley children and grandchildren have lived in Brooklyn. Beside my parents and brother, these included the Zirpolo family (Dr. Zirpolo, Aunt Kathryn. Gloria and Tom),Eleanor and Al Kruchten and their daughter Mary (after WW2), and Patrick John Fagan and his wife Janice and young daughter. The Fagans are the only descendants who are currently living there now on Bedford Avenue. I was one of the twelve. William Raymond Tash (that’s me) was born at Holy Cross hospital in Flatbush, August 21, 1931. Actually it was on the same day as my mother Jane, a day always remembered with fondness. The Wall street crash of 1929 had taken its toll. Mae West had long since left the borough of Churches. No over crowding by the time I entered PS 97. Housing was cheap in 1936. We lived in a Bushwick Avenue brownstone, not too far from Mickey Rooney’s boyhood home on Willoughby Avenue. But increasing prosperity for the Tashes brought a move to southeast Queens where thousands of Brooklynites were building their islands of middle-class success. We could now afford a lovely three bedroom, two bath home in Woodhaven for only $6500. Franklin Roosevelt was no longer dreaming of the presidency while vacationing on Campabello Island in New Brunswick. He was fully in control. And President Hoover not quite certain why he and Daddy Warbucks had not solved that depression mess. The Brooklyn Dodgers were still playing at Ebbits field (until 1957) and things were grand, for us at least.
Queens was a pretty good place to live in those days; the politicians were planning for the Worlds Fair and Idlewild airport when I arrived. I attended the Fair in 1940. My mother and I rode through the World of Tomorrow where super highways were everywhere. Frank Back’s wild kingdom was the big attraction. And then we watched ourselves on television! If we keep with the sitcom analogies, Queens was where Archie Bunker went to escape the burgeoning population explosion in Brooklyn. Many new residents arrived from Manhattan and the Bronx after the connection of the new A train in 1936(as recorded by Duke Ellington’s song of the same name). The meatheads of the world were now filling up our classrooms and dreaming of a better future, but way out there on some Long Island suburban paradise. And then the war began. I remember returning from a Saturday 10-cent matinee. My father was listening to the radio as the terrible news interrupted everything.
Brooklyn was never far away: a short twenty-minute ride on the BMT elevator. (And, of course our cousin Eleanor was there in nursing school after 1938, Gloria Zirpolo was attending Packard in the 1940s, and Tom Zirpolo matriculating at Brooklyn Prep, with classmate Joe Paterno from Penn State fame (quarterbacking the football team). After grade school I traveled each day to Brooklyn to attend classes at St. John’s Prep. When I entered the Prep, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah was the class song, The Best Years of our Life, the best movie, and Olivia de Havilland, the best actress in "To Each His Own." Harry S. Truman was president. WW2 was ending, and a loaf of bread was still only 10 cents, and a gallon of milk 70 cents. And best of all I could throw away those ration stamps! My father bought a new Ford for $1,125 plus tax. In 1949 I matriculated at St. Johns, College, in Brooklyn.
The Vincentians had founded St. John’s in the 1870s to educate the children of immigrants. They had high standards. It was not an easy school to enter, or leave, at least with a diploma. Hell’s fire was never far away; novenas and first Fridays were expected for future seminarians. The layman’s theology focused on the family rosary, praying for the souls in purgatory, and light one candle. And, of course, our Lady of Fatima and those three big secrets. She was watching. But basically the Vincentian fathers were kind and a dedicated order of men.
The mighty Red Storm was the Brooklyn Red Men in those politically incorrect days. And then there were those elocution lessons. I still remember a date from Manhattan telling me that I had a typical Brooklyn accent. That was the ultimate New York "put down." “Soitainly” was. (I probably needed intensive Ebonic lessons as well). We were expected to study three hours each night; somewhat demanding at times with a part time job, and keeping up with my piano and organ practice each afternoon. On occasion I expected to earn some extra money by selling a copy of Walt Whitman’s old paper, the Brooklyn Eagle (he was the editor over a hundred years before I was in their employ, around the time Thomas Buckley was born in 1846). The Eagle has been defunct since 1960. 1 remember winning the Sigma Tau One Act Play contest at St. John’s twice. I also remember those eight years of Latin, St Thomas Aquinas, playing the organ for the Glee Club, having an athletic scholarship to help sell tickets at ball games and those wonderful and many Proms. Gardenias were the requirement for your date, unless you were plush, and went for the red roses or orchids. If you bought them on the el station rather than a florist shop, it was important to get a box with a florist’s name on it, so she would never know the source. And I remember seeing Dean Martin and Gerry Lewis at the Copacabana! And then you and your date could have your picture taken, and it would be mounted on the souvenir matchbox by the time the show was over! That was the ultimate.
I also remember being accepted into graduate school at Columbia to major in English and being a classmate of Mario Cuomo, the future governor of New York State. (One morning on the way to school at 7 AM, I asked Mario why he was up so early. Early, did you say early? I have been up since 4AM helping in my father’s grocery store, the future governor smugly remarked. I continued to munch my donut, but I was impressed)! Impressed! Needless to say, he won the Valedictorian. Al Maguire, the sports analyst was a class ahead of me. Never much of a student, but he had 69 athletic scholarship offers, a pro contract later, and big time NBC money. Not bad, for a slow learner. By the mid sixties, the Prep was closed, and the college relocated to a former golf club in Queens. We were all gone, even my mother and father were retired to Sea Girt, New Jersey. I could not go home after I left the seminary, for it was no more.
During the summers I was first a camper, and later a counsellor at St. Joseph’s Camp, in Monticello, New York. Saint Joseph’s was where the New York Italians and Irish sent their children to escape from the heated streets of the city. Al Smith’s granddaughter Anne, was one of the campers in my group. As you may have forgotten Al Smith was the former governor of New York, and first Catholic candidate for the presidency. Another camper close to the Buckley family was Joe Isola, who later became the distinguished editor of nearly all of Bill Buckley’s books.
I understand that Bill Buckley may be a descendent of James Buckley and has recently been studying the archives in Chatham(as told to me by Paul Buckley, Bay du Vin). John McCormick, however, believes it goes this way: Bill Buckley was born in 1925 and married Patricia Taylor; he is the son of William Frank Buckley (b. 1881) and Aloise Steiner (b.1895); son of John Charles Buckley (b. 1848 ) and Mary Ann Langford( b.1850); son of John Buckley( b. 1812) and Eleanor Doran( b. 1826). They came from County Cork in 1840 and settled in Nelson Township, Halton County, Ontario. Nelson is now part of the city of Burlington. Since his ancestors came from Cork, the relationship is probably pre- James. John Buckley was Episcopalian and Ellen a Catholic, but we would have to know the parish to make the connection( Edmund Buckley, Houston Texas provided the information 713-622-7416).
Another highlight during those years was my cousin Gloria’s marriage in 1949 to Frederick Raffetto at St. Catherine’s Church Spring Lake. (Although I was in camp at the time, my parents tell me it was magnificent. I was, however, in Spring Lake 41 years later, to attend her son Richard’s wedding to Ariana Bryer, in the very same church! Still another highlight during those years was my cousin Tom Zirpolos’ wedding to Senator Elkins daughter, Maureen, in Washington, DC in 1951. The senator, along with 29 other Senators and Representatives, attended the wedding at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. The Papal delegate presided at the festivities as Catherine Buckley Zirpolo, her daughter Gloria, and spouse Dr. Alexander Zirpolo were the proud parents. The Zirpolos had eight offspring. Maureen now lives in Santa Monica, California, with nearly all the children living within a few miles of the Pacific. Thomas died in 1970 of brain cancer. He was only 42 years of age.
The Korean War interrupted my plans for graduate school. Instead of matriculating at Columbia
Catholic University was an exciting place to be in those days with Phil Bosco, the later NY actor, holding forth on the Shakespearean stage, alumnus Ed McMahon drinking his way through those million dollar reunions, Helen Hayes in residence for awhile, along with "Don’t Eat the Daises" Jean Kerr, and her distinguished NY Times play critic spouse, John Kerr. Father Harkey held sway over the Theater Department, Monsignor Furfey in Sociology, and Father Curran in Theology. I earned a Ph.D. degree in sociology and Master’s in Education. If you ever took a tour of the newly dedicated Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, or as known irreverently to students at Catholic University, the Shrine of the Immaculate Concession, for the many souvenir outlets located in the basement of the Shrine, I probably gave you the tour. If you have not bought your family a Shrine brick it may not be too late. I was soon engaged in teaching at Mt. St Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and doing research at Catholic University on a project funded by the US Department of Labor. I recall the Headmaster telling me that I was receiving the highest starting salary ever at the Mount, ever; it would be $4500; (still enough to handle my expenses and allow me to travel for four weeks in Europe that summer). Mother Seton’s shrine, was across the way from the Mount and I was told she had worked for considerably less. And we were twisting away and watching the first of the Bond series: Gold Finger, as it mesmerized us from thinking about the emerging Vietnam crises, and the civil unrest going on about us in downtown. Washington. I was on the campus of Catholic University when word came that President Kennedy had been shot. Camelot had ended. I always remember fondly those post seminarian days when I attended Catholic University. But Camelot was no more. I received my Ph.D. in 1967.( My bio continues for five more paragraphs, so skip ahead if time is running out for you ).
In 1967 I was offered a position as Program Analyst with the U.S. Department of Labor to evaluate their new social programs which had been initiated under President Johnson’s War on Poverty. The futtlre Senator Patrick Moynihan from New York was in charge of Labor, giving birth to a new era of government paternalism and defining the social agenda for the years ahead. Thus I began a nearly 10-year career with various government agencies. My last position was Director of Evaluation and Operational Planning for the Health Services Administration. The newly developed HMO concept and Community Health Centers were parts of my portfolio. During the time at Labor, 1965, I married Rosalia Herman who was soon to be in labor as well giving birth to our two children, Raymond and William. Rosalias’s father was for a time international vice president of the Seagram Corporation, in New York. He claims to have overseen the construction of the Seagram’s building near Rockefeller Center (Yes, I was impressed, Mario, this time really impressed). But it was not enough; after seven years of marriage, Rosalia and I separated. I had custody of the children and raised the two boys Raymond (born in 1967) and William (born in 1969). Raymond is now 29, living in Philadelphia, PA., a network manager, for Touille Touche and a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Bill, is a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University in Virginia. Bill is earning a degree in recreation management. He plays guitar and sings in his band while not in class, playing golf, or working (not necessarily in that order). After leaving government in 1975, I pursued various consulting and professional interests. In 1976, my musical, Everyman 76, won the creativity award in the Washington DC one act play contest. By 1977 I also had my own consulting business, the Horizon Institute. It was a busy time; I published two books and several articles. One book was published by MIT press, and the other by the Michigan State Center for Industrial studies. I was also area director for Parents without Partners and continuing to do my self defined missionary work among the marital dispossessed.
I met Mary Raymond, a Cornell graduate and nurse at the NIH, and we were married in Rockvil1e, Maryland in1977. Mary is from Buffalo, New York. Her grand parents arrived from Ireland after the potatoes ran out at mid century. We have two children, Melody Jane, born at home in 1979, and Delia Marie, born also at home in 1983. Although home births are a bit of a rarity today, I would suspect that all my ancestors were born at home as well. I am the only hospital baby along with my two sons.
In 1982, I applied for, and was selected Associate Dean of the Graduate School of the University of Maryland at College Park, Maryland. In 1984 I was appointed Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. I also hold tenure as a professor in Sociology at Temple University and on occasion teach an Intellectual Heritage course. If you are not sure what Intellectual Heritage is, just recall your Western Civilization course and add a few third world characters for diversity. If you are not sure what Temple is, just remember it’s where Bill Cosby, our most noted alum holds forth, along with Bob Saget (Candid Camera), and where many of the lawyers, doctors, educators, and theatrical stars of the future develop their basic skills. And if you are not sure where or what Philadelphia is, ask W. C. Fields. Remember his memorable line: "1 would rather be in Philadelphia." Not always. The cheese steaks will slow your heart rate, and the Phillies will dampen your appetite for baseball. But Ben Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and a host of founders spent balmy summers here, along with Benedict Arnold and that Tory wife of his; and before air conditioning.
Still smitten by the theatres’ charms and determined to be a playwright, I wrote a musical based on the Scarlet Letter that was awarded first place in a national contest at the Topeka, Kansas Civic Center’s New Musical contest in 1993. The musical was subsequently performed under the direction of Robert Hedley at Temple University( it pays to be Vice Provost).
Bill’s oldest daughter Melody Jane is a freshman at Temple, majoring in Theater, and an honor student. Since Melody was home schooled and theoretically a high school senior; she has certainly done well for herself. Delia Marie, is 13 now. She won first place in ice skating competitions in Buffalo, New York, selected twice to be in the party scene of the Nutcracker with the Pennsylvania Ballet Company at the Philadelphia Academy of Music, and performs in various regional plays. She is also interested in fine arts. Even if you loved school, as 1 did, there is nothing better for some children than not going, nothing better in the world. There are support groups, libraries, computer and internet resources, and a laboratory of new approaches where ideas in the making can be observed (But what about socialization you say?). And many home-school children are socialized in a more humane fashion. More the way adults sometimes are: parents are their friends, and friends are met at various events without the daily grind of competitive scrutiny. It is not for everyone. Who has the time these days? Good parents are the key for everything worthwhile. I know. At least I know I think…I think.
For example, my daughter Delia is the youngest of the sixth generation of James Buckley descendants. I am the youngest of the fifth generation. My mother was the last to marry of the fourth generation, and close to the youngest. Thomas was the youngest of the third generation. Only John was a leader of his generation, and James, the progenitor. This means that Delia and I are considerably younger than most Buckleys in our descendant relationships to James, and speak for an earlier era persuasively, if closeness means anything. On the other hand it may be irrelevant! (End ofBio). Than how come we did not invent anything like William Knapp Buckley, our grandfather Thomases brother’s grandson? (Yea. he is the Buckley cough medicine inventor). That’s the exciting part; we do not know how our story will end!
And what does the future hold for Bill and the five hundred living descendants of the Buckley and McDonald ancestors? It appears that slowly, but irreversibly, the descendants are drifting southward. (I believe John McCormick and a few other Canadian cousins have already beaten us to Florida for most of the year). No problema. By 1830 eighty percent of the English-speaking population of Canada could be traced back to the United States; now it’s ebb tide time. There now may be more American Buckleys than Canadian. None of us are still British subjects. Few, if any are farmers, merchants. or lumber men. Educators, dentists, doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, commentators, thinkers, and various other helping professionals fill our ranks. Nearly all Buckley descendants still live in the Americas. (Though some US born Buckleys are checking out our mothers old Canadian passports, just in case). Most still appear to adhere, at least loosely, to their Catholic roots. Catholicism is still a symbol for most of us of what we have been, and the sacrifices Buckleys have made for it. To remove all ties might be the "slippery slope" that would lead ultimately to the destruction of what most Buckleys consider to be their heritage. And after all we can hardly be heritage vandals if we have continued to read this far. Still, we are not feeling marginalized, so we are not acting marginally any longer. We are in the mainstream.
And we are many: Germans, Italians, Spanish, English, Dutch, and many other nationalities; Protestant and Jewish swim; with the tide, or against it? It is not always an easy decision. Yes, many of us have been bedevilled by new problems like divorce, the shifting sands of moral relativism, feminism, paternalism and any series of millennium catastrophes. My generation remembers wistfully that as children we played outside the school with friends. But few
PS if you would like a tape of the new musical, the Scarlet Letter, please send $10. and a stamped address envelope. All requests will be honored either by me, or one of my descendants. (No need to rush). Please add $1 to the price every tenth year from this date, January 1997.
END OF PART TWO (There will be a short intermission, possibly one or two years, but no more than twenty).