Monday, April 20, 2015

The Decline of James Goodbody Kearney

The wedding of James Kearney and Lizzie McCarthy on 15 September 1892 appears to have been a true celebration. The guest list included many prominent people from New York and Trenton, New Jersey. The newspaper account lists a number of these guests. They are family members and close friends. I will explore their connections in future posts.

Miss Lizzie McCarthy, daughter of ex-Freeholder Florence McCarthy, was married Thursday morning at St. Mary’s Cathedral to James Kerney, of New York city. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Father Gammel, who also celebrated the nuptial mass. The bride was very tastefully attired, and carried a bunch of roses in her hand. Miss Mary McCarthy, a sister of the bride, acted as bridesmaid; T. Carroll, of New York, assumed the position of best man. Messrs. Augustus Gribbins and Matthew Gowan officiated as ushers.

The guests comprised many prominent people from New York and a select number of Trentonians. Among them were Mr. Kerney, father of the groom, and Miss Kerney, of New York; Miss Carroll, of New York; Superintendent B. F. Ford, of the State House; Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell, of Calhoun street; Misses Mary and Jennie Mitchell, John Whelan and family, Mr. and Mrs. J. Roche, Misses Maggie Gribbin and Mary and Maggie Cahill, Misses Alice, Maggie and Laura Claffey, Misses Nellie O’Hara and Lizzie Gowan and Florence McCarthy. A great number of costly and beautiful presents were given the bride by her friends.[1]

A year later, the couple welcomed daughter, Miriam, into their family. She was born on 22 October 1893.[2] On 8 March 1896, Matthew Joseph, my grandfather, was born.[3] Both children were born in New York City. Within six months, the family appears to be living in Trenton, New Jersey in the house owned by Elizabeth McCarthy’s father, Florence McCarthy.

On 19 October 1896, James Kearney was arrested (drunken conduct) for safekeeping and discharged the following day.[4] His release on 20 October 1896[5] is the same day he was admitted to Trenton Psychiatric Hospital. He was accompanied by his sister, Sarah Kearney, and his sister-in-law, Mary McCarthy.[6] Elizabeth would have been caring for their young children. In four short years, this couple married, had two children and were separated by James’ mental and physical health. He remained hospitalized until his death in 1910.[7]

[1] Marriage Notice, “The September Weddings Happy Couples Joining Hands and Hearts until Death Do Them Part,” Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, New Jersey, p. 6, marriage of Lizzie McCarthy and James Kerney, date of marriage 15 September 1892; digital images online ( : 13 March 2015).
[2] U.S., Social Security Death Index,  1935-2014, New Jersey, Miriam Kearney, 142-03-9487, issued before 1951; online database ( : 13 March 2015). Date of death: November 1978.
[3] Certificate and Record of Birth, State of New York, New York County, City of New York, certificate no. 14135, birth of Matthew Joseph Kearney, date of birth 8 March 1896; photocopy held in file.
[4] Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, New Jersey, Monday, 19 October 1896, p 1, James Kerney, digital images online ( : 13 March 2015). James Kerney, of West Hanover street, was arrested for safe keeping, and was too drunk to answer for himself this morning.
[5] Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, New Jersey, Tuesday, 20 October 1896, p. 2, James Kearney; digital images online ( : 13 March 2015). James Kearney, charged by Patrolman Irving with drunken conduct, was discharged.
[6] New Jersey State Archives, Department of Human Services, Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, Case Books [incomplete] 1848-1910, Book M [Men], 20 March 1895 – 13 January 1898, James Kearney, date of admission 20 October 1896; photocopy in file.
[7] New Jersey State Archives, Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, Case Books [incomplete] 1848-1910, Book M [Men].


  1. What a tragic story. Welcome to Geneabloggers, Kate. I love the name of your blog.

    1. Thank you, Dara, for your words of encouragement. Sometimes finding the right name is the biggest hurdle!