The Somers Family -
an Early Timeline
Some interesting facts about our early past
1836 Mary Philbin is born in County Sligo, Ireland
1861 Mary Philbin emigrates to the United States
As the story goes, Mary had married a man named Peter Egan possibly in England, and was said to be pregnant when she came over to join him, possibly sailing from Liverpool. However, when she arrived in New York City, Peter Egan was nowhere to be found! What happened to him has always been a source of speculation. It was thought that he might have joined the army in the Civil War but his name did not appear in Civil War records. Then it was thought that he might have gone into the war for another man, fairly common practice in those days, in order to get some money together for Mary and the coming baby. However, his disappearance remains a mystery to this day. After she arrived, Mary Philbin was dependent on the kindness of strangers. She met a Jewish man who brought her into his home to work as a maid. Her son Arthur never forgot that kindness, in later years. saying that was why he felt kinship with the Jews, as did her grandson Andrew. There are two stories about Mary. One is that she sold ribbons at a street stand. The other was that some of the people she met on the way over took up a collection and raised enough money for her to open a millinary shop.
Charles Edward Somers, born in the Irish Free State (according to the census) comes to the US on the same ship as his brother Samuel Somers, according to one story we've heard. However, the above picture which was taken in Brooklyn, seems to indicate that their father was in the U.S. at a young age. But what of the helmet? The story was that Charles's father may have been a policeman in Ireland. Maybe this was a reproduction done in Brooklyn of an old photo from Ireland. If that is the case, the question remains, was he a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) or the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP)? A little research shows that the RIC were the "bad guys" while the DMP were the "good guys". The DMP were unarmed and only killed two people in all their years of service. They were not political in any way. In 1925 they were amalgamated into the new Garda Síochána.The RIC on the other hand was armed. They opposed the Young Irelanders and Fenians in 1836 and assisted in evictions during the Land War of 1867. In 1922 they disbanded and formed the Gardai in the south and the RUC in the north.
The possibility remains that he was a New York policeman. The NYC police helmets around that time as shown in this picture look similar to the one our ancestor is wearing.
The first census says that Charles Somers was a seaman, and later a mason. Charles met Mary Philbin when she was selling at her stand or in her milinary shop. .
1865 Mary Ann Philbin marries Charles Edward Somers
1865 Virgina Augusta Lawrence is born on July 4, 1865
Virginia is born into the Lawrence family of Newtown, Queens. Her parents are Andrew Wilson Lawrence (b. 1836 in Hastings on the Hudson) and Ellen Virginia McCloskey. (b. in Ireland)
1866 Arthur Sylvester is born to Mary Philbin and Charles Somers on January 26, 1866
They are living on Cherry Street in Manhattan, and Arthur is baptized in St. Andrew Church at which is still there on 20 Cardinal Hayes Place, next to the United States Court House. Arthur's godfather is Samuel Somers, the brother of Charles.
1867 Samuel E. is born to Mary Philbin and Charles Somers
1869 Charles S. is born to Mary Philbin and Charles Somers
Charles and Mary have moved and are now living in a tenement in Brooklyn. One day Charles disappears. As the story goes, he went out to buy bread and never came back. One theory was that he might have been abducted by pirates, which was fairly common on the waterfront in those days. But as Grandma Somers once said, why did he empty the piggy bank before he left?
1875 Arthur Somers quits school and goes to work at a glass factory at the age of 9, to help with the family finances. The story goes that he breaks a glass and the foreman tries to hit him with a poker. A girl who works there intervenes, saying he's only a child. He doesn't get hit, but both he and the girl get fired. Years later, he helps her daughter get an education to be a teacher.
1885 Samuel E. Somers (Arthur's brother) marries Anna
1886 Arthur Somers joins Pfeifer & Lavanburg, which upon dissolution 10 years later, becomes F. L. Lavanburg (Atlantic Colorworks of Brooklyn) where he is Vice President and Treasurer.
1887 Arthur Sylvester Somers marries Virgina Augusta Lawrence On Oct 31 1887
It is a Lawrence family tradition to be married on Halloween!
1892 Arthur Somers is appointed to the Board of Education of the City of Brooklyn.
1895 Ruth Edna McCormick is born to the Edward McCormick and Mary Collery McCormick Jan. 10 1895
The family resides in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Great Barrington, Mass.
1895 Andrew Lawrence Somers is born to Arthur and Virginia Somers
1896 Arthur Somers is appointed a civil service commissioner,
serving until Brook- lyn becomes a borough of New York, when he is selected to represent Brooklyn in the Central Board of Education of Greater New York, and serving in that capacity for two years.
1900 The Census lists the following: Mary Ann Philbin age 64, widow, number of yrs in US - 39 cannot read, cannot write, speaks English, is living with her son Charles age 30, single, carpenter.
1902 Arthur and Virginia buy their house at 988 Sterling Place, Brooklyn.
The house is said to be designed by a famous architect.
1905 Charles Somers (Arthur's brother) marries Mary L. Sewell
1910 Census lists Charles J Somers, age 40, living with his wife Mary L. Somers, age 32, with their family:
Virginia E Somers age 5
Elizabeth Somers age 4
Mary L Somers age 2
Nellie Smile 29 (maid)
1907 Arthur Somers is appointed School Commissioner for the City of New York by Mayor McClellan,
having declined several appointments to responsible positions with attractive salaries, because he preferred to give his services gratis to the work of developing the public educational system of the metropolis. 1910 Census lists Samuel Somers age 42 living with his wife Anna with their family:
Ethel age 15
Arthur age 14
Florence age 12
Anna age 6
1910 Census lists Arthur Somers age 44, living with Virginia Somers age 43, at 988 Sterling Place with their family:
Adrien (Andrew) Somers age 15
Vivian Somers age 12
Fred Somers age 11
Arthur Alexander Somers age 6
Mary Philbin Somers age 74 (mother)
Ellie Nevins age 26 (maid)
1913 Arthur S. Somers becomes President of Sumner Savings Bank
1914 Mary Ann Philbin Somers dies at age 78
1916 Samuel Somers dies
1917 Charles J. Somers dies
Obituary: Charles J. Somers for 25 years in the employ of the American Book Company, died at the home of his brother, Arthur S. Somers, at 988 Sterling Place, Brooklyn. Arthur S. Somers is a member of the Board of Education and President of the Sumner Savings Bank.
There is no indication why Arthur's two brothers died, but it may have been the flu, as the deadly 1918 Spanish flu pandemic may have been starting around then.
1917 Andrew L. Somers is decorated for service in World War I
He serves in France during the war as a navy aviator,then transfers to the Marine Corps where is is a caption in the Marines reserve. He receives the same wings that his son Arthur will receive years later in World War II.
1918 Andrew Lawrence Somers marries Ruth Edna McCormick
1918 Andrew Somers joins F. L. Lavanburg & Co.
1919 Arthur Sylvester Somers II is born in Brooklyn, NY.
His parents are Andrew L. Somers and Ruth Edna McCormick. The family lives at 1328 President Street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn until the older children Arthur, Andree and Ed have married. Then they move two doors down to 1338 President Street with the two younger children, Edna Valerie and Andrew Jr.
1920 Alice Irene Burlington is born in Montvale, NJ.
Her parents are Harry J. Burlington (b. County Kilkenny, Ireland) and Ella Augusta Mauchet (b. Jersey City, NJ).
1920 Census lists Anna G. Somers, age 46, widow of Samuel Somers, living with her family:
Ethel age 24
Arthur age 23 (clerk in grocery store)
Florence age 21 (saleswoman in shoe store)
1924 Andrew L. Somers is elected Brooklyn Representative to Congress
They call him "The Baby Congressman" because at age 29 he is the youngest Representative in Congress.
1924-1925 Virginia and Arthur Somers travel to New Mexico
1926 Virginia Lawrence Somers dies at age 61
1930 By now Arthur's wife Virginia Lawrence is dead, both his brothers Charles and Samuel are dead, and Charles's wife Mary is dead, as is their daughter Elizabeth. Their other daughters Mary and Virginia are now living at 988 Sterling Place with their Uncle Arthur (who adopts them) and his youngest son, their cousin Arthur Alexander.
1932 Arthur S. Somers dies at age 65
1935 Lincoln Terrace Park is renamed to Arthur S. Somers Park
It is later renamed back to Lincoln Terrace Park. Seems you can't take a park away from a President! But then due to Arthur's granddaughter Valerie's efforts, it gets renamed to Lincoln Terrace Park/Arthur S. Somers Park. It's an honor to share a Park name with a President of the United States! President Street runs right into the park, which is between Rochester Ave. and Buffalo Ave. and bound by Eastern Parkway to the north and East New York Ave. to the south.
Public School 252 at 1084 Lenox Road is named Arthur S. Somers School in honor of educator Arthur S. Somers who served on the Board of Education consecutively for 26 years. He was devoted to the value of education, as he himself was self-educated, having had to drop out of school as a teenager and go to work to support his family after his father disappeared.
1949 Congressman Andrew L. Somers dies at age 54, while serving in Congress.
1976 Ruth Edna McCormick Somers dies just before her 82nd birthday, on Dec. 12 1976