Sweet, French, Sibbald and Toomey Family History

Sweet, French, Sibbald and Toomey

Family History

by Mark Dionne

What is called my character, or nature, is made of infinite particles of inherited tendencies from my ancestors-those whose blood runs in my veins. A little seed of laziness comes from this grandfather; and of prodigality from that other one. One of them may have been a moody person and a pessimist; while another was of a jovial nature who always saw the sunny side; while another ambitious one never was contented with actual conditions whatever they were. Some remote grandmother, perhaps, has stamped me with a fear of dogs and a love of horses. There may be in me a bit of outlawry from some pirate forefather and a dash of piety from one who was a saint.

My so-called particularities, my gestures, my ways and mannerisms, I borrowed from all. Without any exception. So everything in me passes on through my children. I am sewn between ancestry and posterity. I am a drop of water in the flowing river of time. A molecule in a mountain; a cell in a great family tree.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

My mother's parents were Helen Toomy and Clarence Sweet. Both were born in Bennington, Vermont, and went to high school together. He was one year older than she. Both families moved to the Boston area around 1910. Helen went to Massachusetts Homeopathic Hospital Training School for Nurses, which is now Boston University Medical Center Hospital. She graduated from the three year program October 22, 1912 and received her registration certificate January 12, 1913. On her diploma her name was spelled Toomey while the certificate said Toomy.

Helen and Clarence were married in 1917, though there was opposition from the families: Clarence was known to have tuberculosis, and he was not a Catholic. Supposedly he attempted to convert, but "he asked too many questions" and was not accepted. Helen had several adventures as a nurse. She had several famous patients, including Fanny Farmer. Her professor reportedly took her up to NH where he amputated a woman's leg, operating on the kitchen table. Helen stayed to take care of her during recuperation, and when she was finished, the farmer tried to pay her with a horse. Clarence died of TB in 1927, and Helen and her two girls went to live in Watertown with Helen's father, William, who worked at the Watertown Arsenal.

The Sweets

Clarence Sweet's father Arthur Coon Sweet was born in 1849 and was just a bit too young to serve in the Civil War like his older brother Ira. In April 1866 though, he entered F company of the 5th U.S. Infantry, where he served three years in the "Indian Wars", stationed at Fort Union, New Mexico; Fort Garland, Fort Pueblo, Fort Reynolds and Cedar Point in Colorado Territory; and Asher Creek, Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was a corporal at discharge and his wife Fannie French later obtained a widow's pension.

Arthur died in 1910, and his obituary says, "At the close of military service, he went to California in 1870 and for about two years was engaged in the wholesale meat business in that state. In 1873 he came to Bennington, was employed in a market here for a while but has been in business for about 30 years. He had conducted a market for the past six years at the corner of Main and North Streets." A newspaper announcement at his death says: "The Old Corner Market will continue business at the old stand - Harold M. Sweet - Administrator."


Clarence, Fanny and Harold eventually moved to the Boston area. Clarence knew Helen Toomy in Bennington and they were married in Cambridge, Mass in 1917. Younger brother Harold was an artist who produced magazine covers, posters and paintings. One of his paintings was supposedly exhibited in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He died by accidental drowning in Sturbridge, Massachusetts in 1921.

June 1912 magazine cover by Harold Sweet

Arthur's middle name "Coon" is a bit of a mystery. The surname Coon was common in Rensselaer County, New York, where he was born. Perhaps his mother Laura Babcock, whose ancestry is so far a mystery, had a Coon forebear. Arthur's father, Ephraim, was married twice. Arthur was the second of three children of his first wife. In 1858, Ephraim married Mary Merrithew and had four more children.

Ephraim's father was Luther., who was born in North Kingston, Rhode Island, in 1783 and moved to Berlin, New York, in 1802 at the age of 19. His house is still standing in Petersburg, New York, and is known as Painted Window Farm, because of a diamond-shaped stained glass window near the peak of the roof. Many of the Sweets are buried in a small cemetery behind the house, including Luther's wife Sally Sweet, who may have been a distant cousin. This cemetery was repaired by descendants in 2006.

Painted Window Farm, Petersburg, New York

Mark with ggg grandparents Luther and Sarah Sweet, Petersburg, New York

A great-granddaughter of Luther and Sarah, Grace Pool Daniels, recorded two stories that were repeated to her so many times that she memorized them:

While living near the Catskills mountains, women earned money by sewing and doing detail work on shirts that were already cut out in the factory. Sarah Sweet was delivering a bundle of shirts, at age 16, and got lost in the woods on her way home. It was getting dark and she heard a wolf cry which was answered by another wolf, and another. The wolves had sensed a human and were coming in for the kill. She starting running as fast as she could and came upon an old log cabin with an open door. She ran in the cabin and saw a ladder leading to a loft. She then climbed up to the loft and pulled the ladder up. The wolves came into the cabin and circled beneath her the entire night. In the morning they left and she was spared.

Her letter also goes on to talk about Luther Sweet:

He also was "spared". He was a sailor for several years and when returning home from sea, they sighted the Statue of Liberty. Custom was to shoot the cannon to salute. Somehow, Luther was in direct line with the cannon ball and it shot him out to sea. Sailors jumped in to save him, and did, but his one half of one arm was blown off.

While this story has one problem (the Statue of Liberty was built around 1886, many years after Luther's death), some relatives heard a similar story where a leg was lost.

The Rhode Island Sweets begin with John, who came from England in December of 1630 aboard the ship Lyon, with his wife, two sons John and James, and daughter Meribah. They sailed with Roger Williams and his family, bringing much needed supplies to Salem, in the Mass. Bay Colony, and he was a founder of the first Baptist church in America. His origins in England are unknown. In 1637 he was one of the fist grantees of land in Providence, and he died the same year. The Old State house stands on the lot he was granted in 1637.

John's son James was the first of the famous "Bonesetter Sweets" who possessed the natural gift of setting dislocated bones. James married Mary Greene, whose family also moved from Salem. Our Sweet ancestors follow: James, James, Sylvester and finally another Sylvester, father of Luther, mentioned above. Sylvester Sr. served as a Captain in the Revolutionary War, serving in the "Alarm" of 1777, and was discharged at East Greenwich because of injury to his eye. He was Deacon and Justice of the Peace in East Greenwich, RI. Sylvester Sr. owned at least one slave who he provided for in his will:

My mind and will is and I hereby order that my negro woman called Peg be not considered a slave, and that it be not in the power of my heirs, executors or administrators to dispose of her or treat her as such, but that during the time that she shall be capable of doing business, she shall have her choice of living with my wife or either of my children that are free to accept her, and when she shall be rendered incapable of business by age or otherwise that then she be comfortably supported and maintained by my executors hereafter named, they being equal in the expense thereof.

Sylvester Sweet Sr. married four times: our ancestor was his third wife, Mary Johnson. His first wife was Anie Luther, a descendant of Martin Luther.

Mary Greene's father was John Greene, another founder of Providence, Rhode Island, and great-great-grandfather of Major General Nathanael Greene (making him my third cousin, seven times removed). General Green was noted for his campaigns against the British in North and South Carolina between 1780 and 1782. Many historians rank him only second to Washington as a military leader. John Greene's ancestors can be traced back to British royalty, and thence back to Charlemagne, if one can believe the royal family trees.

The Frenchs

Clarence Sweet's mother, my great grandmother, was Fannie French, who was born near Bennington, Vermont in 1857. Her mother was Hannah E. Ripley, daughter of Nathanial Ripley and Phoebe Fox, who were married in Pownal, Vermont, just south of Bennington, in 1830.

According to the census in 1870, at the age of 13, Fannie was working in a cotton mill in Bennington. Jessie Sibbald was also 13 and working in a cotton mill in Bennington. Jessie's sister Christine eventually married William Toomey, and their daughter Helen married Fannie's son Clarence. Did Fannie and Jessie know each other?

Fannie had a brother Gordon who died in 1890, and sisters Catharine and Jennie. Catharine married Edward Kelly and they had three children. Jennie married Harry W. Whitney in Bennington and they had two children, Edwin and Sarah. Fannie died in Arlington, Mass. in 1929, but was buried in Bennington. Her gravestone is inscribed "The most wonderful mother that ever lived."

Fannie's father was Frederick French, born in1832 in New York state, probably around Hoosick, which is just a few miles from Bennington. He married Hannah E. Ripley in 1852 and they had four children before he joined Company E of the 10th Vermont Volunteer Infantry in 1862, as did his brother-in-law Edward Kelly. His older brothers William and Franklin also served in the Civil War. Frederick was captured and imprisoned in Andersonville prison.

It appears that Frederick abandoned his family after the war. In the 1880 census, Hannah was living with her mother and listed as divorced. In the 1890 special veteran's census, she is listed as his widow, but she apparently did not apply for a pension. Her grave in Bennington says "Wife of Frederick French" but he is not buried there.

Meanwhile, it looks like Frederick married Hannah E. Montanye in Esperance, New York in March 1867. She was 15 and he was 35. They had nine children, the last being born after Frederick's death by drowning in the Erie Canal, in 1881, at Florida, New York. By coincidence both wives were named "Hannah E.". His second wife applied for and received a widow's pension, and according to her affidavit, and another by her sister, Frederick had never been married before marrying her. Both widows list Company E, 10th Vermont Volunteers, and there was only one Frederick French in that battalion. I have written more about this at this web page: http://markdionne.com/frederickfrench.html

Frederick was the youngest child of William French, and the last of a long line of French military men. William was born in Williamsburg, Mass in 1790 and probably moved around more than any other ancestor of ours. He married Eunice Coats on June 15, 1812. From her widow's pension application we learn a lot about him.

William enlisted in the 9th U.S. Infantry Apr 5, 1813 at Northampton for 5 years service. He served as a musician (fife-major) until he was discharged at Detroit, Feb 23, 1816, having furnished a substitute, Amos Gordon. In an affidavit, his sister Sophia French Cady writes: "Soon after they were married said William (my brother) joined the Army of the United States as a musician and said Eunice went with him to the Western frontier. One of the children was born at Detroit, Michigan as I have been informed. After the war they lived together in Pittsfield, Mass several years and they also lived in North Adams, Mass, Hoosic, New York and Bennington, Vermont and other places as husband and wife."

The pension application mentions "he served at Pittsfield, Mass under Gen. Harris I think, in all the battles at Sacketts Harbor." When discharged he was 5 feet 7 ½ inches, hazel eyes, brown hair, light complexion. In an affidavit, Alonzo Rudd of Bennington said "He used to fiddle, and I often went to his house in the evening to hear him play." He died in 1863 in White Creek, New York, just across the border from Bennington.

Eunice Coats was probably the daughter of Stephen Coats and Eunice Kentfield. In May 1782, Shem Kentfield, possibly Eunice's brother, was convicted of "desertion and bearing arms in the service of the King of Great Britain against the U.S.: death by hanging." He was hanged in Marlborough, NH in June of 1782, on the order of George Washington, according to Vol. 3 of the Revolutionary War Rolls of New Hampshire.

William's father Asa French was born in 1757 in Braintree, Mass, where the many Frenchs had lived for over 100 years. There are official records that he served from Sept 14, 1777 to Sept 14, 1780 as a Private in (Capt. William R.) Lee's Regiment of the Continental Troops. He also claimed he served for six or seven months in 1776 in the militia under Capt. Joseph Lyman and was at Ticonderoga, but no official records could be found.

Asa also participated in Shays's Rebellion. In August and September 1786, about 600 armed farmers stormed courthouses in Northampton and Springfield, Mass., to prevent the trial and imprisonment of debtors. Governor Bowdoin countered with a militia of 4400 troops. On January 25, 1787, Shays led 2000 rebels to Springfield, Massachusetts to storm the arsenal, but government forces of 1200 soldiers led by General Shepard quelled the uprising. The rebels were captured and sentenced to death for treason in February 1787, but they were later pardoned.
Reminiscences by Henry Shepherd.

Hampshire Gazette newspaper, Northampton, July 11, 1896
The old Revolutionary hero, "Captain" Asa French, the father of Jabez, (as a boy I remember him), was cheerful and jolly, and yet his record declares him a Bonaparte when occasion required it, and one of those occasions is interesting even at this late day. During Shay's rebellion, as it was called, in 1786, the state of Massachusetts hurriedly ordered troops to assemble at Springfield to check Shay's men, who were marching there, as they had before, to prevent the court's sitting, which would give power to individuals who had mortgages on farms and homes of poor soldiers and others to foreclose those mortgages and thus deprive the soldiers and others of their homes. The real facts were terribly severe upon the soldiers of the Revolution, who had fought seven years to form this government, and the same government was depriving these soldiers of their homes and would not accept in payment the U.S. scrip, which was the only payment the soldiers had received for their services. This scrip paid to the soldiers for one month's services would buy only one bushel of wheat. Among troops hurriedly mustered by the state to Spring- field at that time was a company from Williamsburg. The men marched nearly to West Springfield the first day, and camped for the night, and there talked matters over, and then came to the conclusion that their homes would be sold for their debts and it was their duty to assist Shay. Then came the question who would dare to defy the state of Massa- chusetts and assume command of the company. Asa French, a private in the company, declared that he would take command, which involved a death penalty if not successful. The next morning the captain of the company formed it in line of march, and then Asa French stepped from the ranks and commanded Sergeant Hemingway to take a file of soldiers and put the captain under guard. He was held a prisoner, and the company crossed the Connecticut river on the ice and joined Shay's army, which was defeated that day by the state troops. Shay's men dispersed in small squads to their homes and were disgraced for defending a just cause. So great was the odium that no record of its company was kept in Williams- burg. There was so much sympathy in the community for the Shay cause that all, or nearly all, the members were treated with leniency and slight records were made of their trans- action except at the state house in Boston. Asa French was a resident of Williamsburg then, but later of Northampton.

Asa French married Sarah White of Weymouth, his third cousin once removed, in 1784, and they had nine children. Sarah White's father Ezekiel is listed as a soldier in Revolutionary War records. Since he was born in 1722, perhaps these records really belong to his son, Ezekiel Jr. Two other sons were also soldiers in the Revolution. The White homestead is supposedly still standing, on White Road in the town of Chesterfield, Massachusetts.

Asa first applied for a pension in 1820, claiming that he was impoverished and disabled, with total personal property (which he listed) of $20.58. He also asked that he be reimbursed for a musket, "having brought one when he joined the army and never getting it back". In 1842 Asa died in Northampton, where he and his wife are buried in Bridge St. Cemetery. His wife was eventually granted a pension of $80 per year in 1843.

One of Asa's grandchildren, John Watton French needs to be mentioned. In 1848, he and his wife purchased Mount Holyoke, (not the college, the actual mountain), for $1,100 and built a fabulous hotel and resort at the summit which still exists today. This hotel sparked a fashion of building mountain hotels, such as those on Mt. Monadanock and Mt. Washington. It eventually included a mechanically powered tramway up the side of the mountain right into the hotel, and John also ran a ferryboat from Northampton, across the Connecticut River. The hotel building has been partially restored and is one of the most visible landmarks in the Pioneer Valley. The view from the hotel is one of the most spectacular mountain views I have ever seen, showing the extended landscape of the Connecticut River. The area has been preserved as a Skinner State Park, and a book has been written about it by David Graci: Mt. Holyoke, an Enduring Prospect.

Prospect House on Mount Holyoke in Hadley, Mass.

Another of Asa's great-grandchildren, Howard Clark French, went to work for the Boston and Maine Railroad, and married Carrie Sanborn, the daughter of the railroad's president Daniel Sanborn. Their son, Edward Sanborn French became president of the railroad in 1930 and continued to 1955.

The author's grandfather, George Dionne, worked for the Boston and Maine Railroad. He died in 1936 as a result of injuries he received on the job. The family negotiated with the railroad for several years, and eventually received a payment of just over 1000 dollars. See the attached letter to my grandmother signed by E. S. French, President of the railroad!

Asa's father was Samuel. He served at a young age at the battle of Louisberg, Nova Scotia, in the War of Austrian Succession. In 1771 he moved his family from Braintree to Williamsburgh. Samuel's father, Ensign Alexander French, was prominent in Braintree and Randolph. A will describing his estate is in existence. His father was also named Samuel, and was the first of our French line born in the New World. Our immigrant ancestor was John French, who was born in England in 1612 and settled in Braintree, Mass., in 1640 after living a short while in Dorchester. His wife, Grace, is buried in Hancock Cemetery in Quincy, Massachusetts, along with several of their descendants.

Grace French died Feb. 28, 1680 age 59 (Hancock Cemetery, Quincy)

I love a little portion of John French's will, which ends:

...To the true performance whereof the said John French doth hereto set hand this eighth day of July Anno Domini one thousand six hundred eighty three ---- and she shall have apples what she please for spending, and a place for a garden plot.
It refers to John's second wife, Eleanor Veazie, who I imagine bent over his shoulder as he wrote his will, nagging him to add that postscript.

Now back to Alexander French for an interesting connection. He married Mary White, daughter of Thomas White and Mehitable Adams. Mehitable's parents were Joseph Adams and Abigail Baxter. Joseph's great-grandson was John Adams, our second president, and also our second cousin (seven times removed, in my case). Another great-grandson was Samuel Adams, one of the principal leaders of the American Revolution, Governor of Massachusetts, and also our second cousin.

Other presidents in this branch of the family are also distant cousins: John Quincy Adams, sixth president, third cousin six times removed; Millard Fillmore, 13th president, seventh cousin four times removed; Howard Taft 27th president, ninth cousin twice removed; and Calvin Coolidge, 30th president, ninth cousin once removed. Other distant cousins in this branch are Eli Whitney, Emily Dickinson and Florence Nightengale.

We also have roots in Weymouth, Mass, starting with Capt. Thomas White, born about 1599 in England, who married Anne Workman in Weymouth in 1639. He is both my 8th great grandfather and 9th great grandfather, because Asa French married his third cousin, once removed.

The Ripleys

Nathaniel Ripley, Jr. led a short life in Bennington, about 1804-1847, but there is a good story about him:

In a collection of newspaper clippings kept by the late Dr. Henry Clay Day of Bennington and in the possession of the Bennington Historical Museum mention is made of the second Nathaniel Ripley, as follows: "Drowned in this town on Thursday evening the 26th instant, Mr. Jesse Downs of Bennington, aged 49, and Mr. Seth Keys of Pownal, age 45. They were in a wagon with a boy who drove the horses, on their way to their respective families, from the East Village, and the road passes very near the Safford Mill Pond which has a very steep bank. The evening being very dark the horses got out of the road and plunged into the water where it was ten feet deep. Some persons in the company gave the alarm. Their bodies were found in about half an hour, but too late to restore them to life. The boy was taken from the wagon without having sustained any injury. The horses were drowned." Vermont Gazette, December 1, 1818. Dr. Day had added in his own handwriting; "The boy mentioned above was Nathaniel Ripley, father of Mrs. Edward Kelley and Mrs. Hannah French and the grandfather of Mrs. Arthur Sweet and Mrs. John Brant."

A lot more is known about Nathaniel Ripley Sr. He was born in Plympton, Massachusetts in 1755, with ancestors from Plymouth. After serving in the Revolution, he and several brothers moved to Ashuelot, near Winchester, New Hampshire where there was a growing iron making industry. With two sons from an earlier marriage, he married Molly Hawkins and they had six more children. Several if not all of these children died young, and Molly apparently fell into mental illness. Around 1800, Nathaniel moved to Bennington, leaving Molly back in New Hampshire. He apparently took another wife, Rachel Oliver, in Bennington though no marriage record can be found, and they had six children including Nathaniel Jr. After the elder Nathaniel's death, Rachel moved to Caanan, Connecticut with two daughters.

"In memory of Billey son of Nath'l and Mrs. Moley Ripley
died May 20, 1792 age 14 months and 5 days"  (Ashuelot, NH)

I have not been able to find Nathaniel Ripley's immigrant Ripley ancestor. The trail ends with William Ripley who was born in West Bridgewater around 1670. Other Plymouth ancestors of his include eight Mayflower passengers: Stephen Hopkins and his wife Elizabeth Fisher, William Brewster and his wife Mary, Elizabeth Tilley and her parents John and Joan who died in Plymouth in 1621, and John Howland who eventually married Elizabeth Tilley.

Stephen Hopkins was the only Pilgrim who had been to North America before 1620: in 1609 he came to the Jamestown Colony on the ship Sea Venture. The ship was wrecked in Bermuda, and 150 passengers were marooned there for 9 months. After the castaways succeeded in building two small ships from the wreckage of the Sea Venture, Hopkins decided he wanted to stay in Bermuda. He was tried for mutiny and sentenced to hang, but was eventually pardoned for the sake of his wife and children. The shipwreck of the Sea Venture is thought to have inspired William Shakespeare, an investor in the colony, to write The Tempest.

Descending from John Howland's family are five US Presidents: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (my 7th cousin, 3 times removed), Gerald Ford (my 11th cousin), Richard Nixon (my 9th cousin twice removed), and the two Bushes (10th cousin twice removed and 10th cousin three times removed). Other descendants include: Edith Carow (Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt), Winston Churchill, Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Steinbeck. Also Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, and his wife Emma Hale. Also Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; actors/actresses Humphrey Bogart, Alec Baldwin (as well as the other three "Baldwin brothers"), Maude Adams, and Lillian Russell; both wives of Theodore Roosevelt; signer of the United States Constitution Nathaniel Gorham; Mormon apostle Parley P. Pratt; Florida governor Jeb Bush; and Robert E. Lee (Confederate General).

One interesting distant cousin on the Ripley side is Robert Cornog (1912-1998). He and physicist Luis Alvarez discovered tritium and helium-3. Cornog went on to work on the Manhattan project. Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein dedicated his book Stranger in a Strange Land to Cornog.

The Toomeys

My great great grandfather Patrick Toomey was born in Tipperary, Ireland around 1832-1838. He was granted citizenship in Albany County, New York in 1854, on the same day as his brother Kennedy Toomey. He married Mary Mahoney, the daughter of Michael Mahoney and Bridget Barry, about 1856, and they had five children: John, Michael, Kennedy, William and Mary. They lived in Cohoes, New York at least from 1860 to 1900. From time to time, the family spelled the name Toomy. The name Kennedy Toomey is common in this family, occurring at least six times in several generations.

Helen Toomy's uncle John attended St. Mary's Jesuit College in Montreal, Lady of Angels Seminary, graduated from Troy Seminary in 1877, and received Holy Orders in 1882. He became an immensely popular priest at St. Agatha's church in Utica, New York, and died at the age of 34 in 1891. According to a newspaper account, 10,000 people attended his funeral. Helen mentioned this frequently, even though she was just two years old when John died.

In a taped interview, Patrick's granddaughter Isabel Toomey, said: "He was head of all the Harlem (?) mills in Cohoes. He made wonderful money. I also had an uncle John. He made over $20,000 one year. Patrick was the head of 10 to 12 textile mills. Grandma never did a day's work once she was married. He would send a few of the girls over to do the cleaning." (It sounds like she could be saying uncle John made over $20K, but it's probably Patrick.) She was undoubtedly referring to the giant Harmony Mills in Cohoes.

Harmony Mill #3, Cohoes, New York

Census records show a Kennedy Toomey of about the same age living in neighboring Troy, New York. He and his wife Ann had children Mary, Anna, Katie, Maggie and Kennedy Jr. In 1880, the census listed his occupation as "Boss in cotton mill."

Newspaper obituary, probably from Cohoes Republican, Sunday, Dec 31, 1899


Loving Brothers After a Separation of a Week Meet Again Where There is no More Parting

Patrick Toomey of this city and Kennedy Toomey of Troy were two members of a once numerous family. The brothers were greatly attached to each other and on every possible occasion met to talk over old times and exchange greetings. They had fallen into the sere and yellow of life and had for some time known that soon the two must journey on into the unknown land. They dreaded the time when one must be left alone.

The time of parting came however and on December 24 Kennedy who had planned to spend Christmas day with his brother here dropped dead in St. Francis' church Troy just as he was leaving after early service. The news of the death of his beloved brother was kept from Patrick as it would have had a terribly depressing effect on him who was then in the hospital where he had gone the Monday previous for treatment for stone in the kidneys.

The operation was performed Thursday before Christmas and the good old man would probably have recovered had not blood poisoning set in. Friday it was plain there was no chance of saving his life and death resulted Saturday morning at 4 o'clock. The body of the deceased was taken to his home in the early morning where it now lies awaiting sepulture. The brothers are reunited after a separation of less than a week. Kennedy who was to have kept Christmas with his brother Patrick but as he could not Patrick has gone to spend the New Year with his brother in Heaven.

Patrick Toomey was a grand old man who lived a half century in this city winning the regard of all people. For over 42 years he was overseer of the card room of Harmony mill No. 2 and was respected by his employers and respected by the employees under him. He is survived by his wife, two sons, Michael of this city and William of Bennington Vt., one daughter, Mrs. John F. Lyons of this city, three brothers, James B. of this city and two residing at Fall River, Mass. and one sister in Amsterdam. Another son Rev. Father Toomey died in Utica in 1891.

The funeral will take place Tuesday morning at 9 o'clock from his late residence, No. 37 McElwain avenue, and at 9:30 o'clock from St. Agnes' church. Interment will be at St. Agnes' cemetery this city.

Patrick's parents were Patrick Toomey and Ellen Looby from Solohead Parish, just west of the town of Tipperary. Baptismal records mention several villages in that area: Ballygodoon, Monard, Gotinstown, and Ardlaman, so apparently they moved around frequently. That part of Tipperary is also known as Sologhodmore. Patrick Toomey Sr's parents were probably Kennedy Toomey and Catherine Ryan.

Ballygodoon, Tipperary
Some Toomey cousins, descendants of Helen's uncle Peter, live in the Fall River and Providence, Rhode Island area.

The Sibbalds

John Sibbald was born in Alva, Stirlingshire, Scotland around 1831. His father was Robert and his mother Mary (possibly McIntyre). His siblings were Janet, Mary and Duncan. Alva was a major textile mill center, and the Sibbalds brought their skills to the Albany area where several of them designed and patented mill machinery.

Old mill in Alva Scotland (May 2007)

Ellen Lyle was born in Scotland around 1837. Her father was named Robert, and her mother Mary was born in Paisley, Renfrewshire. She married John Sibbald in 1853 and their first child Isabella was born in New York in 1855. In 1860 they were living in Cohoes, New York. John is reported to have laid parquet flooring and may have made some invention related to linoleum-like floor covering. John was a strict religious man, a protestant.

John Sibbald died sometime around 1864-67, and Ellen married Patrick Lyons, a Catholic, who was supposedly very kind to his step-children. Patrick's son Robert was an important businessman in Waltham, Massachusetts and president of the city council for several years starting in 1918. Later he was vice president at Waltham Trust Co. Grandson John O. Sibbald was a well-known family physician in Troy, New York for many years.

Old family stories suggest that there were Sibbald relatives in Ontario, Canada. Indeed, there were a number of Sibbalds concentrated on one area in Ontario, and in fact there is a Sibbald Provincial Park and a Lake Sibbald there. Sir Robert Sibbald (1641-1722) Physician to King Charles II, founder of the Edinburgh College of Physicians, King's Geographer in Scotland, First Professor of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and founder of the Royal Botanical Gardens for medicinal herbs. While some family members have claimed that he is our ancestor, I find records that he only had daughters and did not pass on the Sibbald name to any descendants.

Copyright © 2007 Mark Dionne. All Rights Reserved. This work is based on original research by Mark Dionne. Permission to copy or reprint this work is granted, provided: (1) the copy or reprint is used for non-commercial, educational purposes; (2) the work is copied in its entirety or a single paragraph is used as a quotation, and; (3) the author's name (Mark Dionne), email address, the URL mentioned in the following paragraph, and this notice are all included.

Latest revision: December 23, 2010. The master copy of this document resides at http://www.markdionne.com/Sweets_Frenchs.html. Revisions may have been made since this copy was taken. Please refer there for the latest revision.

[mark at mark dionne dot com]