1940's letter, Co. Roscommon, to Brooklyn, NY

1940's letter, Co. Roscommon,
to Brooklyn, NY1

In the 1940's, Mrs M G Lavin of 179 East 32nd, Brooklyn, NY, received a letter from Co. Roscommon, Ireland. The name of the post office is unreadable. Can we identify Mrs Lavin? Did she come from Roscommon?

When the 1940 census of Brooklyn was taken, Malachy and Mary Lavin were living at 179 East 32nd Street. Malachy was 49 and his wife was 47. With them was Anne Curley, 32, who was called Malachy's sister. The supplemental information for Mary said that she was married at 24 and never had children. (Note: I never established that Anne Curley was related to either Malachy or Mary Lavin.)

Mary (Gaffney) Lavin

I am fairly certain that this couple was married June 23, 1918, in Manhattan. If correct, then Mary's maiden name was Gaffney and her parents were Thomas Gaffney and Anne Finn. Working backward we find a Mary Gaffney arriving at Ellis Island on May 1, 1910, aboard the SS Carmania. Her nearest relative in Ireland was her father Thomas, of Gurteen, Ballymote. She was headed to her aunt Mrs. McKeever's home at 2055 3rd Avenue, New York. There was a Bridget (Finn) McKeever living at that address, according to the 1910 census and the New York City birth records.

So Mary (Gaffney) Lavin was from Co. Sligo, not Roscommon. Her father Thomas was actually in Cuilmore Townland, Sligo, in 1901 and 1911.

The Lavins

Cuilmore, Sligo, was near the border with Co. Roscommon, and not far from Clegernagh Townland, Roscommon, where Mary's husband, Malachy Lavin was born in 1885, son of John Lavin and Catherine Lavin. Malachy arrived in the United States on April 29, 1912, aboard the SS Caronia, headed for his sister Mary Lavin's home in Garden City, Long Island. I didn't find Mary in America, but she is on the 1901 Census of Clegernagh with her mother.

If I have everything correct, Mary and Malachy Lavin lived for a time in Orange, New Jersey, but spent most of their married lives in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Malachy died in November 1968 and Mary in August 1969. They are both buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn.

There is more about both of these families, including the sources, in the Family Trees > Other Families section of this website.


I am not 100% certain of all the conclusions in this article. If this were my family, I would like to see the death record for the Mary Lavin who died in Brooklyn in 1969. It might give her parents' names. If they are Gaffney and Finn, then I have identified her correctly. Or, if Mary applied for a Social Security number, the information might be on the application. She didn't have a SSN in 1940. Ancestry.com has these records, but I don't currently have access to ancestry.com.

©Ed Hamilton
February 6, 2018


^1. The image of the envelope is used by permission of the Jim Forte Postal History site and can be found on this page of the site, unless it has been sold. I am not connected with the site.

Tagged in: Postal Cover Articles