Patrick Joseph Eagan and Mary Ellen Duffield

Post updated December 31, 2023 with death information for several of the children and their spouses.

When Patrick Joseph Eagan was born on May 7, 1877, in Providence, Rhode Island, his father, Michael Eagan (1849-1930), was 28 and his mother, Catherine (née Trainor) (1850-1927), was 27. He had three brothers and three sisters.

Joseph (as he was known) married Mary Ellen Duffield on February 4, 1902, in Providence. At the time of the marriage, Joseph’s occupation is listed as “Operator, Screw Factory.”

Marriage Certificate (image via Rhode Island archives)

When Mary Ellen Duffield was born on June 11, 1880, in Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland, her father, Samuel Duffield (1857-1900), was 22, and her mother, Elizabeth (née Robinson) (1856-1896), was 24. She had one brother.

Joseph and Mary Ellen had six children in Providence over the course of 14 years:

  • Alice Elizabeth Eagan (1903-1947) married George Leonard Archibald McPhail (1898-1948)
  • John Christopher Eagan (1903-1975)
  • Mary Eagan (1906-1906)
  • Catherine Mary Eagan (1909-1974) married Carl Bernard Benson (1911-1981)
  • James Joseph Eagan (1914-1945) married Mildred Ansell (1915-1996)
  • Josephine Mary Eagan (1917-1997) married Frank Buddin (1915-1996)

Alice Elizabeth is the couple’s firstborn child, on January 3, 1903. A little more than 11 months later, on December 18, John Christopher is born, making the first two children “Irish Twins

Daughter Mary Eagan was stillborn on November 1, 1906. Her death record suggests that the child had spina bifida. She is buried at Grace Church Cemetery in Providence. If there is a marker for the child, it’s not recorded. At the time of her death, the family was living at “88 Stockton.” I didn’t locate this address in Providence, but there is such an address in nearby Middletown.

Death Index, Rhode Island (image via

A birth record for Catherine Mary hasn’t specifically been located. Later records indicate she was born on March 25, 1909.

Some of the children were captured in the Rhode Island Birth Index (1901-1910), volume 14(1), page 362. You can see Alice and John C. From the record below, it is possible that Catherine‘s original name was Gertrude (I have ordered the certificate to see if I can verify). The parents of Gertrude in this record are “Patrick and Mary” (although middle initials are not provided like the previous records), and the date is off (Gertrude was born six days prior to the date Catherine claimed as her birthday). Mary likely isn’t listed in this index because she was stillborn and a certificate of live birth would not have been issued.

Rhode Island Birth Index, 1901-1910 Volume 14, Part 1, page 362

On the 1910 US Federal Census, the family is still living on Stockton Street. We see Joseph and Mary and all their living children, along with Michael (Joseph’s father) and Alice J. (Joseph’s unmarried sister) with whom he must have been particularly close as he named his eldest daughter after her. It is from this record that we discover Mary’s family emigrated to the United States in 1883. Joseph’s occupation is listed as an Operator at a screw factory. Michael is not working at the time of this census.

1910 US Federal Census (image via

James Joseph is born next on October 14, 1914. His birth is recorded in the Rhode Island Birth Index (1911-1920), volume 17(1), page 430.

Rhode Island Birth Index (1911-1920), volume 17(1), page 430

In 1916, a border crossing is registered at Niagara Falls.

Border Crossing (image via

This is possibly when the family emigrated to Hamilton, Ontario, where Josephine is born in 1917.

The Selective Draft Act was passed on May 18, 1917. A draft card for Joseph indicates that his “home” address is 239 Branch Avenue in Providence, but at the time of the draft, he is living at 583 Catherine Street (North) in Hamilton, and the Draft Card is signed in Hamilton. Joseph’s occupation is listed as “screw machine expert” at the Steel Company of Canada (later known as Stelco).

No birth registration has been located for Josephine, likely related to the timing of her birth and the move. (She does have an American Social Security registration despite settling in Hamilton, so she was may have been registered as an out of country birth.) Later records suggest Josephine was born on September 23, 1917.

Draft Card (image via
583 Catharine Street North (image via GoogleMaps)

By 1921, the family is on the Canadian census at 9 Cluny Avenue in Hamilton. Joseph’s job is “machinist” and the eldest two children also appear to be working (but their occupation is illegible). Oddly, this record suggests that the entire family emigrated in 1913 (odd because we know that James was born in Rhode Island).

1921 Canadian Census (image via
9 Cluny Avenue, Hamilton (image via GoogleMaps)

Joseph died of bronchial pneumonia on August 29, 1932, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, at the age of 55. He is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. The family was still living at 9 Cluny at the time of his death.

The Hamilton Spectator

Mary Ellen survived her husband by over eleven years. She died on December 31, 1943, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, at the age of 63. Most of the pallbearers at her funeral were in-laws of her daughter Alice. Mary Ellen was buried with her husband.

The Hamilton Spectator

The Children

Alice Elizabeth Eagan married George Leonard Archibald McPhail (Nipper) and had several children. She and her husband died tragically young as a result of a car accident. Their younger children were raised in the house on Cluny.

John Christopher Eagan lived at 9 Cluny until his death on January 29, 1975. He never married.

Catherine married Carl Bernard Benson and had one child. Hamilton phone book/voting records indicate the family continued to live in Hamilton. Catherine died on October 1, 1974 and Carl died on February 16, 1981. They had one child, Carl Thomas Benson who died on September 24, 1984. It doesn’t appear that he married.

James Joseph worked at the Steel Company of Canada, like his father. He married Mildred Ansell in June 1941, and they had two children, a daughter first and then a son, over the next four years. On July 2, 1945, James was working when he was struck by a crane hook and died almost instantly. He was only 31, and left two children under the age of five with his widow. He and his wife lived at 130 Central Avenue at the time of his death. Mildred remarried and lived to the ripe old age of 82.

Josephine also married, to Frank Buddin, and had three children. Hamilton phone book/voting records indicate that the family continued to live in Hamilton (and in fact lived at the Cluny Avenue address for some time), but the obituary for her mother suggests the couple spent some time in Buffalo after their marriage, and obituaries for two of Josephine’s siblings suggest that the couple lived in California for a time. Frank died on April 15, 1996, and Josephine died on July 3, 1997. The couple were living in Toronto at the time of their deaths.

Special thanks to the website One Rhode Island Family without whom I would not have easily located the birth/death records for this post.


2 Responses

  1. Hello,
    I am Lynda Anne Skene (nee Eagan), daughter of James Eagan and Mildred Ansell. I was born in Hamilton Ontario. My only sibling – James Douglas Eagan – was born in 1945 in Hamilton Ontario and died just recently in Surrey UK where he had lived for many years.

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AG Knapper

I’ve been researching my tree for over twenty years…and I’ve found some easy branches, and some gnarly ones…

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