Thursday, July 2, 2015

John W. Combs of New York City, circa 1830-1874

Gravestone of Anne (Kiley) Thilemann
    John W. Combs was born in New York circa 1829 or 1830. He had an unknown first wife, by whom he had two children, Charles M. Combs (born 21 January1857) and Caroline May Combs (born May 1862). His second wife was Anne C. Kiley, born in New York circa 1841, daughter of Timothy and Margaret (Donovan) Kiley, by whom he had one surviving child, Elizabeth F. Combs (born 19 December 1873).
    John’s death date is unknown, unless he is the John W. Combs who was buried in The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn on 13 March 1874. Others in the same lot were Capt. Elias Combs, buried 1866; Matilda J. Combs; and Jennie Combs, both buried 21 April 1870. Matilda was Elias’ first wife (died in July 1868) and Jennie was his daughter. To date, no link between this John W. and Elias has been found.
    Anne was listed as “widow of John” in the 1874 New York City directory. She married, second, Frederic Thilemann Jr. (1843-1904) and died in 1898. Anne's daughter used her stepfather's surname as her maiden name.
    Charles M. Combs married Alice M. Green, and the couple had at least eleven children between 1877 and 1899. Charles died on 6 September 1936 and Alice died on 14 November 1936. Both were buried in Old St. Raymonds Cemetery in the Bronx. Charles’ death certificate lists his parents as John Combs and Anna Kiely [his stepmother].   
    Charles and Alice had three grandchildren: Eugene Randolph Murray-Aaron (1896-1974), Gerard Pulver (1915-1977), and Geraldine Pulver (c1917-?). Only five great-grandchildren have been found.
    Caroline May Combs, almost always called Carrie, married first John Cottrell, with whom she had three children. In 1883 she married Michael Francis Sheridan, with whom she had at least seven children. Michael Sheridan died in the Bronx in March 1900. His widow was enumerated in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses. No record of her death has been found.
    Caroline had four known grandchildren: Gerard Grady (c1904-?), Thomas F. Grady (c1905-1966), Walter Grady (c1911-?), and Fred Sheridan (c1937-?). Four great-grandchildren have been found.
    Elizabeth F. Combs/Thilemann married Robert Bartley; she died in 1936 and he died in 1943. Elizabeth had one surviving child (a daughter who always thought her maternal grandfather was Frederic Thilemann), one grandson, and no great-grandchildren.
    Who was John W. Combs and who was his first wife? One hint is given in the record of a short-lived marriage of Caroline May (Combs) Cottrell Sheridan that gave her mother’s name as Carrie Sanders. Unfortunately, this record said her father was Charles Combs, which suggests that Carrie was not sure of her birth parents’ names.

     Photograph by Bronx Cop for Find A Grave (November 2013) and used with permission. Gravestone is in Old St. Raymonds Cemetery, Bronx, New York.