Sunday, January 5, 2014

G3 Grandparents Robert Bell Brady and Elizabeth Knowles

Robert Bell Brady was born in Rock Sound, Bahamas on Sept., 2, 1835 to parents John Brady (b.1803-) and Amelia Morton (b.1804-). Not much is known about John and Amelia at this time.

Elizabeth Ann Knowles was born in Rock Sound, Bahamas on February 18th, 1832 to William Knowles and Catherine Elizabeth Wells. Not much is known at this time about William and Catherine either.

Robert and Elizabeth marry in Rock Sound in 1860.

Robert and Elizabeth had 5 children: Sarah Sophia, Robert Jr., Catherine (my G2, nicknamed Ma Catty),. Amelia, and Ann.

On Jan. 1, 1866, Robert arrives in Key West at age 30 with his older brother John, age 40 and father-in-law, William Knowles, age 64. The Brady brothers are listed as seamen. William Knowles is listed as a farmer. They are all three listed in order, so they must have arrived together. This would have been the same time my great-great grandmother Catherine (Ma Caty) was born: February 9, 1866. (According to the 1880 census, she could have been born in 1864, that would make her 16 when she got married as opposed to 14.)

At some point, Robert must go back to the Bahamas, as his family doesn't immigrate to Key West until 1876, ten years later, which is proved in his Declaration of Intention.


By 1870, Robert's older brother John, his wife, and four children were settled in Key West. John was listed as a seaman. Robert and his family would come over 3-6 years later. The information varies. Their last known daughter, Ann M. was born on October 22, 1871.  Ann was not listed in the 1880 census, leading me to believe she did not survive. The 1900 census proves this. It states they had 5 children, but only 3 are living. Sarah died in 1900 at the age of 40. The cause is not known.


Taken on the 2nd of July, 1880, this census states that Robert, Elizabeth, Sarah, Amelia, and Robert Jr. lived on Fleming Street. Robert and Elizabeth's nephew Alonzo Watkins (18) also lived with them as a boarder. Robert 's occupation is Laborer. Elizabeth keeps house. Sarah (20) is at home. Junior (18) is a seaman. Amelia (12) is in school. In this census, it is confirmed that Robert cannot read or write, but Robert Junior can. Catherine, age 14-16, had gotten married to Joseph A. Knowles in the spring. They lived around the corner on Frances Street.


On June 30, 1885, this picture of the family was taken:

Robert and Elizabeth were still living on Fleming Street. Robert is a seaman. Living with them is their daughter Sarah Pent, now a widow, as well as her 3 yo son William. Amelia, age 17, and Robert, Jr. (21 and a seaman) are also living there. Their nephews Alonzo and William Watkins. (I'm not sure how the Watkins boys are related to them, but Elizabeth's mother was a Watkins, so perhaps it's through her side of the family.)

Robert's older brother John lived a few blocks away on Watson Street with his wife and sons. One of his sons was a shop keeper. Robert is believed to have died before the 1900 census was taken.


The 1900 census, taken on June 5th, 1900, shows Robert and Elizabeth have moved to Southard Street. No children are living with them, only their grandson, Sarah's son, William Pent. At this point, Sarah has died. The census shows that Elizabeth had 5 children, but only three are living: Ma Caty, Junior, and Amelia.


The 1910 census finds Robert and Elizabeth living alone. Robert doesn't work any longer, but Elizabeth still works as a stripper at the cigar factory. This, of course, is not stripper in the traditional sense. Her job would have been to strip the tobacco leaves that were to be rolled.  In this census it is confirmed that they had four children and one died. Why there is a discrepancy between 5 children and 4 I am not sure.

Their children:

726 Ashe Street
Amelia only went to school until the 7th grade. She married George B. Roberts at age 26 on August 4th, 1886. Together they had 5 children: Sarah Irene, George, Jr., Ruby, Archibald, and Marie. Amelia and her husband both worked at the cigar factory. In 1915, their son Archibald dies at age 16.  Her husband died in 1916, and the census in 1935 shows her as being a widow. She owned a house at 726 Ashe Street, which is where he mother died in 1924. She was a F.E.R. Clerk Worker(?). Her son George, age 43, lived with her. He also only attended school up to 7th grade. He was a sponger. The same situation is happening in 1940 except Amelia is no longer working. She resided in Key West until her death at age 97 in October of 1957. She is buried with her son, Archibald.

Sarah Sophia married Edwin Pent sometime between 1880 and 1881. They had one son, William Irwin. In 1885, Sarah Sophia is found living with her parents with her 3 yo son. She is a widow. No record can be found of her after 1885. She either died or remarried. In the 1900 census, William Irwin, age 18, is living with his maternal grandparents Robert and Elizabeth. William marries Mildred Carey, and they have two daughters, Ruby and Virginia. William dies in 1939 in Key West.

Like his father, Robert, Jr. was also a seaman. In 1886, he married fellow Bohemian Mary Eliza Spencer. They had four daughters: Lillian, Eliza, Julia, and Mary.

It is unclear which Robert Bell Brady died in 1927. At first, I assumed it was the senior Brady because the obit and burial record do not specify Junior, but Junior's 1920 census shows him living on a "lane off White Street" which was Stickney Lane, the same lane stated in the obit and burial record. Both father and son worked at Thompson Fish Co. I have no proof that Senior ever lived on Stickney Lane. The last census I have for Senior (1910) is very difficult to read the street name. My guess is Frances Street.

Catherine (Ma Catty) married Joseph Alexander "Pa Joe" Knowles, who was also from Rock Sound. They married when she was 14-16, depending on when she was born. Sources vary. From 1889-1909, they had 5 children: Rosalie (Rosie), Joseph Leeburg (Dodie), Kathleen (Aunt Teen), William Irwin, and my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Grandma Libby). They lived on No Name Key near Big Pine for many years, only moving back to Key West late in life. Much more about them here.

According to Bahamas, Select Births, 1850-1891 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014, there was another daughter born on Oct. 22, 1871, Ann M. No information is known about her at this time.
Thompson Fish Co. on Right
Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,
                                                        Photographer: Dale M McDonald Collection, 1935
It is unknown when Robert Bell Brady died, but it must have been at some point after the 1910 census was taken.

Elizabeth cannot be found in the 1920 census.

At age 89, on December 1, 1924, Elizabeth died of senility. They were living at 726 Ashe Street, which was Amelia's house. She is buried in the Key West Cemetery, but the location of her grave is unknown.

No known photos of Robert or Elizabeth exist, but here is one of John Alexander Brady's son, John, Jr. It can give a slight idea of what the Brady men looked like: