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Steam Mill, Dedham-Norwood, MA

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1850 to 1865
Location: Dedham, Massachusettsmap
Surname/tag: Steam_Mill
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Steam Mill, Dedham-Norwood, MA

An ongoing project (of Igor Rowen) to identify and create profiles for people that were in Dedham (later Norwood) Massachusetts during the 1850-1865 time period. Specifically families linked to a tenement referred to as "The Steam Mill."

Contributions WELCOME. GEDCOM is uploaded and profiles cleaned up. Rowen-9 21:01, 14 March 2016 (EDT)

Project Progress
12MAR2016 Profiles created, but not sorted into the table. Coded the #Pendergast sketch.
14MAR2016 Table 1 populated, #Pendergast sketch populated, GEDCOM profiles cleaned up.
30MAR2016 Table 2 created of all 30+ Surnames from #1918 Steam Mill name list.
To Do (in approx sequence of priority)
Still missing 2 maiden names for Roach & Crowley.
Announce project on G2G
Create profiles for remaining surnames and wives when appropriate
Finish writing "The Story" narrative
Find County in Ireland for as many Table 1 & 2 names as possible

The Story

   On a recent genealogy trip to Norwood (Oct 2010) I had a chance to look through some of the manuscripts and information about the Irish who settled in Norwood. These were document collections at the Norwood Historical Society.
   One three ring binder caught my eye. It was labeled as a checklist of early Irish and German families. The binder was compiled by Willard W. Everett, a Norwood Historian. Among the papers he had compiled was a list of “Norwood’s Irish “Steam Mill Apartment” Residents.” Subtitled “Irish immigrants who lived with their families in the old Steam Mill” it was compiled by Patrick J. Pendergast in January, 1918. The list was created at the request of Fred Holland Day, another Norwood Historian. The list may have become part of a newspaper article
   The list was extracted from an informal genealogical sketch titled “SOUTH DEDHAM, MASS. In 1854.” By Patrick J #Pendergast, dated Jan 2nd, 1918. (typed and edited with a date of March 23, 1936.)
   In the book, “Norwood: A History” , the Steam Mill is discussed[1] as an Irish Tenement converted from a steam powered Playing Card Factory (hence the name Steam Mill) which itself was a converted two story warehouse for wagons and equipment owned by Moses Guild for his freight business.
   Within the narrative of Pendergast’s sketch is the observation: “At that time there were nine families living there. ...” The list, on the other hand, had 30 male names and two widows. So it is probably the case that the turnover of tenants in the nine apartments was quite high.

   I decided that I’d take a look at the 1855 Massachusetts State Census, since Pendergast’s sketch calls out 1854. The Steam Mill should have been in full swing at that time. And, indeed, I got lucky.
   For one thing the census is on-line at FamilySearch.org.[2] The census taker recorded two important items, in addition to the names and ages, and that was a sequential dwelling number along with a separate sequential family number.
   In the 1855 State Census the following [see Table 1] is a single dwelling (#5) and there are nine families (#5 – #13). [ref 3] Eight of the families listed are on the Steam Mill list. James Crowley (#11) isn’t on the Pendergast list.
   Also note that Mrs. Nugent isn’t a widow in 1855. Her husband, Patrick, heads family #9.

Table 1 1855 Steam Mill Apartment

 Line   Dwell   Family   Forename   Surname   Age  Occupation   Birthplace              
 22   5   5  Thomas Ford  45  Laborer Ireland    
 23        Sally (Fahy) Ford  35     Ireland    
 24        Bridget Ford  11     Ireland    
 25        Catherine Ford  9     Ireland    
 26        Margaret Ford  6     Massachusetts    
 27        John Ford  4     Massachusetts    
 28        Mary Ann Ford  2     Massachusetts    
 29      6  Philip Daily  30  Laborer Ireland  (Daley)  
 30        Mary (Keyes) Daily  27  Ireland   
 31        Henry Daily  5  Massachusetts   
 32        Mary Daily  3  Massachusetts   
 33        David Daily  3M  Massachusetts   
 34      7  William Cuff  30  Laborer Ireland   
 35        Margaret (Welch) Cuff  22  Ireland   
 36        Bridget Cuff  5M  Massachusetts   
 37        John Cuff  45  Laborer Massachusetts  (sic) 
 38      8  Patrick Roach  40  Laborer Ireland   
 39        Mary (unknown) Roach  35  Ireland   
 40        Ellen Roach  13  Ireland   
 41        Patrick Roach Jr  7  Ireland   
 42      9  Patrick Nugent  40  Laborer Ireland   
 1        Mary (Cuff) Nugent  40  Ireland   
 2        John Nugent  16  Laborer Ireland   
 3        Catherine Nugent  14  Ireland   
 4        Mary Nugent  12  Ireland   
 5        Thomas Nugent  4  Ireland   
 6      10  John Dower  36  Laborer Ireland   
 7        Mary (Hogan) Dower  36  Ireland   
 8        Joanna Dower  10  Ireland   
 9        Mary Dower  7  Ireland   
 10        Ellen Dower  4  Massachusetts   
 11        James Dower  2M  Massachusetts   
 12      11  James Crowley  30  Laborer Ireland   
 13        Mary (unknown) Crowley  22  Ireland   
 14        James Crowley Jr  3  Massachusetts   
 15        Mary Crowley  2  Massachusetts   
 16      12  James Pintergast  34  Laborer Ireland  (Pendergast) 
 17        Mary (Farrell) Pintergast  24  Ireland   
 18        Patrick Pintergast  5  Massachusetts   
 19        Mary Pintergast  3  Massachusetts   
 20        Bridget Pintergast  3M  Massachusetts   
 21        John Furrell  32  Laborer Ireland  (Farrell) 
 22      13  Margaret (Griffin) Smeedy  55  Ireland  (Smidy) 
 23        Ellen Smeedy  23  Ireland   
 24        Morris Smeedy  21  Laborer Ireland   
 25        Thomas Smeedy  16  Laborer Ireland   
 26        Margaret Smeedy  13  Ireland   
 27        Edward Smeedy  11  Ireland   
 28        John Smeedy  6  Ireland   
 29        Patrick Egan  20  Laborer Ireland   

Table 1. Nine families same building, the Steam Mill[3]

South Dedham, Mass. in 1854

March 23, 1936. A.B.U.

Jan. 2nd, 1918.
     The spot now occupied by the Band Stand was then covered by a large building. It was called the Steam Mill. It used to be a Card Factory. When I lived there, I can remember seeing cards pasted in the cellar overhead, - Kings, Queens, Jacks and Aces covered the boards.
     At the time there were nine families living there:
Mrs. (Griffin) Smidy, widow, three sons and one daughter.
William Launders, married the daughter Ellen (Smidy). William Launders worked in the old cemetery. Otis Morse was the undertaker and had the care of the cemetery. The sons of Mrs. Smidy worked for Captain Guild.
James Pendergast, the father of twelve children, six boys and six girls:
   Patrick     Edward     Mary     Bridget 
   William     James     Ellen     Catherine 
   Thomas     John     Alice     Elizabeth 
Patrick Roach worked for Otis Morse. He had two sons and three daughters: Patrick and John, Mary, Ellen and Bridget. Ellen married Daniel Lee.
Mrs. (Cuff) Nugent), widow, had two sons & two daughters: John and Thomas, Catherine and Mary. Mary married John Leonard.
Philip Daley had two sons and (a) daughter: Henry and Horace and Mary. He worker for Tyler Thayer.
William Cuff had one son William and daughter Mary who married John Bell. He (William Sr.) worked for Spencer(?) Fuller.
Bartholomew Cuff had one son William and two daughters Ellen and Catherine. Catherine married Sumner Ellis. Bartholomew Cuff, (a)Tailor, worked for Oliver Morse. Note: John Cuff's brother William lived in Steam Mill) per Fred H. Day.
John Dower had one son Thomas and two daughters Mary and Helen. He worked at the ink mill.
Patrick Higgins worked for the Railroad Company.
Patrick Higgins 2nd worked for the Fisher Talbot Carpet Shop. He had two sons, Dennis and John and one daughter, Anna, who married John Coughlin, the Priest Father.
John Coughlin's son: James Coughlin lived there a short time. They moved to Mylod Street.
     Captain Guild owned a great deal of the land in Norwood (South Dedham). There was a great deal of woodland along Winter Street. One time he cut a very large oak. It was so heavy, they got stuck bringing it home. Then one moonlight night, all the men with yokes of oxen, helped him bring it home. He made them a present of it. They rolled it in front of the Steam Mill for a settee and every night they sat on it and told stories. Happy days!

Table 2 1918 Pendergast Name List

Norwood's Irish "Steam Mill Apartment" Residents
Irish immigrants who lived with their families in the old Steam Mill
compiled by Patrick J Pendergast in January, 1918
at the request of Fred Holland Day

 Forename   Surname   notes   1855 family#              
 Thomas   Casey               35      
 Patrick   Collier                      
 James   Coughlin               135      
 James   Crowley               11      
 Bartholomew   Cuff                      
 John   Cuff               7      
 William   Cuff               7      
 Stephen   Curran                      
 Philip   Daley               6       
 John   Dower               10      
 Daniel   Dyer                      
 Luke   Dyer               136      
 Thomas   Ford               5      
 John   Hennessey                      
 Michael   Hennessey                      
 Pat   Higgins                      
 Patrick   Higgins (2nd)                      
 Daniel   Horrigan                      
 William   Launders                      
 Dennis   McCarty               169      
 William   Morrissey               169      
 Mary   Nugent               9      
 Richard   Oldham               36      
 Robert   Oldham               146      
 James   Pendergast               12      
 Reardon   Reardon                      
 Roach   Roach               8      
 John   Scannell                      
 Margaret   Smeedy               13      
 John   Sullivan                      
 John   Tobin                      
 Michael   Tobin                      
 William   Tobin               115      


  • Source: FANN2002 Fanning, Patricia. Norwood: A History, The Making of America Series. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2002
  • Source: MA1855C "Massachusetts State Census, 1855," database with images, accessed via FamilySearch, Massachusetts, Secretary of the Commonwealth, State Archives, Boston,


  1. Source: #FANN2002 Fanning, Patricia; see pages 63 & 64.
  2. Source: #MA1855C Year=1855; Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts
  3. Source: #MA1855C Year=1855; Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States, GS film: 000953954, DF: 004279372, image= 00065, Dwell=5

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