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The Missing Sons of Robert Walling

Our ancestor Robert Walling had three daughters and two sons, but while the daughters married, lived and died in the Ogdensburg area, the two sons disappeared within several years of each other in the mid 1880s, one leaving a wife and two children behind. No trace of either has been found. Robert Walling was born in 1833 at Chateauguay, Quebec, the son of Nicholas Christophe Walling, 1795-1854 and Charlotte Elizabeth Newcomb, 1812-1846. Robert's mother died when he was 13 and his father remarried in 1850 when Robert was 17. About 1853 at age 20, Robert left the family behind at St. Zotique, Quebec, about 25 northeast of Massena, NY, and came to Ogdensburg where he soon met Hannah Fogarty, the 17-year-old daughter of Irish immigrant Timothy Fogarty (1809-1904.) Timothy was a carter who delivered goods by horse-drawn wagon, and later became a well-known and respected mail carrier beetween Ogdensburg and Prescott, Ontario. Robert and Hannah married Oct. 26, 1854 at St. Mary's Church in Ogdensburg, just two weeks after his father died at St. Zotique. In December of the following year, 1855, their first child, Elizabeth Walling was born. She was followed by Nicholas Timothy Walling April 26, 1858, and William Christopher, born in 1860. In the 1860 census, Robert was working as a painter and the next year, was apparently drafted and was enlisted in the Union Army Aug. 30, 1861. He was assigned to the 50th Engineering company and trained as an artificier - in charge of the upkeep and repair of small arms. Robert served his full three-year enlistment and was discharged Sept. 20, 1864 at Elmira, NY. He returned to his family in Ogdensburg where daughter Annie was born Aug. 30, 1865. By 1870, Robert had put his military training to use and was working as a machinist at the John Glass Machine Shop on Lake Street. The family was residing in the Town of Oswegatchie, next door to his wife's parents and his wife's sister Anna's family. On March 23, 1873 the couple had their last child, Mary Walling. In 1875, Robert placed an announcement in the Ogdensburg Journal that he had opened a lock and gunsmith shop on Water Street where he was "prepared to do all kinds of repairing on sewing machines, umbrellas and parasols with saws straightened, set and filed." The next year he relocated his shop to the corner of Greene and State Streets. In the 1880 census, the family is living on New New York Avenue and by 1886, Robert had again relocated his shop, to the corner of Catherine and Division Streets. What happened to his two sons, Nicholas Timothy Walling and William Christopher Walling - our direct ancestor and grandfather of Dorothy Walling Cayen - remains a mystery. We know little about Nicholas. In March of 1875, a notice in the Journal stated that "N.T. Walling has taken the stand formerly occupied by J.H. Godden and will carry on the flour and feed business in connection with the hay scales." Nicholas was 15 at this point. He is found in the 1880 census at age 22, still living with his parents on New York Ave., not married, and working as a porter. And five years later in 1885, he is listed in the city directory: "Wallling, Nicholas T., plumbing," still residing with his parents. That's the last mention we find of Nicholas anywhere. Exhaustive searches in U.S. and Canadian censuses, city directories, area newspapers, cemeteries and other sources finds no record. He simply disappears after 1885. And, so does his brother William. In October, 1878 when William was 18 and still living with his parents, he impregnated 15-year-old Alice Wicks who was living on Congress Street with her mother and siblings. The baby, William Jr., was born the following July, 1879. In March, 1880 when the baby was 10 months old, William was arrested on a bastardy proceeding and jailed at Canton - a bastardy proceeding was a legal process to determine the father of a child born out of wedlock and provide support for the child. We may assume that the action was brought by Alice's mother since Alice was still a minor, and that her mother was looking for support for her daughter and grandson who were living with her. After 18 days in jail it would appear William agreed to support Alice because he was released from jail and took up immediate residence with her at her mother's home on Congress Street. Two months later, in June, 1880 when the census taker knocked on the door, Alice and William were identified as married with an 11-month-old son. No record of the marriage has been found. In August, 1881, Alice became pregnant with their second child, Edith, born Mary, 1882. In the 1882 city directory William is listed as a laborer, residing at South Water and Lafayette Streets and in the 1883 city directory, as a sailor, residing at 170 South Water. That's the last mention of him. As with his brother Nicholas, no further trace of William C. Walling Sr. can be found anywhere. There also is scant information on William's wife, Alice. In 1900 at age 37, she is boarding with her daughter Edith and Edith's husband Earnest Russell, in the Town of Oswegatchie, as Alice McCarthy, which name she continued to use until her death in 1931. No record of her marriage to a McCarthy can be found, nor any mention of her supposed husband's first name. She indicates in the 1910 census that she was married in 1883, the year after Edith was born. In the 1907 city directory, she is boarding at 1 Tanbark Place but by 1910, working as a laundress in a hotel, she was back residing with her daughter's family. By 1920 Alice is working as a servant in a private home, also listing her profession as a hotel clerk, and in 1925, she is boarding at 25 Lake St. and employed at the Oswegatchie House hotel, later Chappel's Hotel. She is not found in the 1930 census and died in 1931. Her cemetery gravestone reads "Grandmother Alice I. McCarthy 1865-1931." The only reference to her in a period newspaper is found in an October, 1913 Journal where she was struck by a car: "Mrs. Alice McCarthy, aged 50, was crossing State Street at the corner of Greene on her way home from work. Mrs. Frank J. Dow, driving a touring car west on Greene Street, approached the crossing at the same time that a horse and carriage going south drew near on State Street. The pedestrian being blind in the left eye, saw the horse but did not see the auto and in trying to avoid one she was struck by the other. The wheels of the car passed over her and her clothing was almost torn from her body. She was carried into the home of Dr. W. Daly, who made a superficial examination and found no bones broken nor any sign of serious injury beyond shock and a severe shaking up. She was taken to the city hospital and then to her home." We have one clue which seems to indicate that one of Robert Walling's sons relocated elsewhere in the country. When their sister Annie Walling died in 1913, her obit lists among survivers, "one brother, Cornelius, in the West." This likely is Nicholas.
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