Everything my cousins want to know about Daniel Ambrose, John Wolfe Ambrose, and the Ambrose Lightship but were naturally afraid to ask me, and rightly so!
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing but I am willing to share and unafraid. Here is some interesting history of our Great Grand-mere Mary Ambrose's two brothers, Daniel & John O'Kennedy Ambrose , and the somehow related yet to be figured out exactly how, cousin or half/brother, John Wolfe Ambrose, gggranddad John may have married 3 times...
"The civil, political, professional and ecclesiastical history, and commercial and industrial record of the county of Kings and the city of Brooklyn, N. Y., from 1683 to 1884"
DANIEL AMBEOSE, M. D. This gentleman was born November 14, 1843, in the county of Limerick, Ireland; and, on the paternal side, belongs to a family in which the healing art seems to be hereditary, no less than ten of his family name and kinship being, during the past fifty years, in the medical profession, among whom is his brother, Dr. J. K. Ambrose, Coroner (1883) of Rich- mond county, N. Y. His father, Stephen Ambrose, died when he was about three years of age. Stephen was the son of John Ambrose, who, was a man noted for his upright character. He died some fifteen years ago at a very advanced age. He was the owner in fee of his native place at Dungan- ville. On the maternal side. Dr. Ambrose is descended from, a family who were, for centuries, Chieftains of Ormond. They suffered during the various wars and confiscations of the country, and were finally entirely dispossessed of their patrimony by Cromwell, the fanatical zeal of whose fol- lowers caused them to frequently discard the usages of civUized warfare in their treatment of those whom the for- tunes of war placed at their mercy. The tragic fate of the last who held out with the confederated forces against the CromwelUan invaders, is thus told by Morison, a contem- porary historian and eye-witness, whose work " The Thre- nodia," was published at Inspruck in 1659. " The illustrious Colonel John O'Kennedy, a man of the utmost integrity, was slain by the swords of the enemy after their faith had been pledged to him in battle. His head was then cut off and fastened on a spike in the town of Nenaeh A. D. 1651. ^ ' "James O'Kennedy, son of the aforesaid illustrious gentleman, a youth of great hopes, being deluded with similar pledges of good faith, was executed also at Nenagh, A. D. 1651." A young son with two other children escaped from the general massacre, settled and prospered in the neighboring county, and from him James O'Kennedy, or Kennedy, as some spellfed the name, the maternal grandfather of Dr. Am- brose, was fourth in descent. He died in 1819, and was buried in the cemetery of Anhid with many generations of his kindred; among others his father, and uncle Mark Kennedy. Among the children of the latter was a son of the same name. Lieutenant in the 66th Infantry, who died young, and a daughter who married Mr. John White, of Ennis. Their only child surviving at their death, was a young lady of rare virtues, who, dying at an early age at the commence- ment of this century, left upwards of £30,000 to works of charity and benevolence. In Lenihan's History of Ldmerick are extended particulars of the benevolence of various members of the family, including an account of Miss White's endowment of the College of Park, near the city; and of her conversion of a former theatre into the Church of St. Augustine, which she presented to the Fathers of that Order, and which, located on George street, has since been their house of worship. There is a very handsome monument erected to her memory in the family burying-ground above mentioned. The father of James O'Kennedy married one of the McMahons of Court, who also suffered severely in the Penal days. His grandfather married a member of the Cantillon family, then, and still, large landed jn-oprietors in the county. Another member of this family, a daughter of Robert Cantillon, married Maurice O'Connell, of Derrynane Abbey, whose younger brother was the father of Daniel O'Connell, styled the "Liberator." Daniel Ambrose, the subject of this sketch received a pre- paratory education at the best classical schools in Ireland, and, in his seventeenth year, took up the study of medicine in the medical schools and hospitals of Dublin. In 1864 he received the diploma of a licentiate of the Royal CoUege of Surgeons in Ireland, and in 1865 was made a Doctor in Medi- cine of the Queen's University, and received the diploma of licentiate of the King and Queen's College of Physicians in Ireland. Before the close of the last mentioned year, he came to the United States, and located in Brooklyn, where he has since resided, during tlie last fifteen years, at his present residence, No. 97 Second Place. His success in his profession was rapid, and he soon obtained a large and lucra- tive practice. In 1866, he joined the Kings County Medical Society, of which he is still a member. He was connected with St. Mary's Hospital, Brooklyn, at its inception, and in 1875 was appointed by the Commissioners of Charities of Kings county, physician to their Department. The Brooklyn Press, of June 29, 1873, speaking of him, says: " Dr. Ambrose is building up a splendid practice in Brook- lyn. His thorough European education and experience, emphatic though brief, because the Doctor is still a young man, has its proper weight, and it is safe to affirm that no physician in this city has finer prospects, and none has de- served them more." In 1867, Dr. Ambrose married Miss Anna Parker, only child of James Parker, at whose death, which occurred when she was but one year old, she became the ward of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and so continued until she attained her majority ; her mother bemg a daughter of John O'Connell, of a very old and respectable family. James Parker was the son of Richard, whose father in the olden times was a very prosperous merchant and owner of vessels plying on the river Shannon. The mother of James Parker was Anna, daughter of Thomas Jacques, who was descended from a Huguenot family, which emigrated from France in the seventeenth century, and settled in Ireland. Thomas ^S-^:-*:-^, I TSE COMMERCE OF BROOKLTJST. 65 & saw extensive service in the British navy, and fought with Nelson in all the naval battles of the Mediterranean and the Nile, and was engaged in the famous naval fight at Trafalgar in 1805, in which the great admiral lost his life. He was the son of Luke, the son of Isaac Jacques, who was mayor of the city of Limerick over one hundred years ago, and whose monument still exists in St. John's Protestant Church in that city, of which church he and his family were members. While at the zenith of success, in 1879, Dr. Ambrose was obliged to suspend the active practice of his profession on account of his suffering from catarrh, with which so many persons are afflicted along the Atlantic seaboard, and especi- ally physicians, owing to their frequent exposure in all kinds of weather. Being of an active temperament, he could not remain idle, and he associated himself with his cousin, Mr. John W. Ambrose, of New York, whose firm of Mills & Ambrose had just then completed the contract for the con- struction of the Second Avenue Elevated Railroad in the city of New York. John W. Ambrose is a gentleman of rare energy, abil- ity and executive qualities, and his indomitable persever- ance, together with the magnitude of his works, have placed him in the foremost ranks of the contractors of this country, his operations having necessitated the employment of 6,000 men at one time. Together they purchased, in December, 1879, the large tract of water front between Twenty-sixth and Twenty-eighth streets, Brooklyn, and from the vicinity of Third avenue to the channel line of Gowanus bay, con- taining about twenty-seven acres. They immediately com- menced operations, in which they were joined about six months subsequently by Mr. Robert J. Mills, of New York city. The general plan or scheme of these gentlemen em- braced the establishment of dry docks, piers, a series of warehouses, and, indeed, such other improvements as the enterprise would from time to time develop. They built large and powerful steam dredges and scows of the largest capacity, for the purpose of dredging, so as to make deep water, and carrying the excavated material to sea, for which object they had steam tugs of great towing capacity. April 23d, 1882, the Brooklyn Eagle devoted much space to a re- view of this enterprise, saying, among other things: " In short, it was the practical rescue by capital of what had hitherto been only a vast expanse of water and swamp, and its subordination to the spirit of progress. Since that time one-half of the property, including that part between Twenty-sixth and Twenty-seventh streets, or a little over two hundred lots, by making deep water, sinking cribs and building land behind them, has been improved. There is sufficient water to allow vessels to come in and out, and the cribs have been sunk to a distance or depth sufficient to float the largest vessels that come to this port, thus anticipating by a year or two the dredging of the channel by the United States Government. * * * *' * Continumg the march of improvement the company built from the bulk- head line to the external or pier line, a distance of about 700 feet, two pile piers, between which were placed two im- mense sectional dry docks. These docks are capable of lifting the heaviest ships, and have all the appliances known to modem ship-building. Since their construction they have been in constant use. The advantages accruing from the situation of the docks are : their central location, abundant space, immunity from the depredations of river thieves, freedom from the commercial annoyances of low tides, and their constant employment of large numbers of men who have came from New York and other cities to reside per- manently in Brooklyn, and thus contribute to the bone and the sinew of its working community. From trustworthy sources it is estimated that, owing to the influx of popula- tion by reason of this great commercial improvement of the city, over half a mUhon dollars is distributed annually, while small houses in the vicinity of the ship yards are in the greatest demand by the families of mechanics who have come to stay, and who coubtitute a little seitlement of their own. One of the many interesting features in connection with the improvement of this property is the eight great tab- ular wells, located at a depth of about 60 feet, and/ which furnish a supply of fresh, delicious water, limited only by the capacity of the pipes sunk. From this source 20,000 gallons of water per hour are obtained, and the supply can be increased almost indefinitely. It is distributed in six- inch pipes over a great part of the property, and through these are numerous taps and nozzles, ready at any time to be brought into requisition, either for general use or in case of fire or other emergencies." The water has been analyzed and found to be free fi'om any substances deleterious either for drinking purposes or boiler use, and it is worthy of note in this connection, that the system so successfully introduced by Dr. Ambrose and his associates was, not long afterward, adopted by the city of Brooklyn in furnishing a water supply to its rapidly aug- menting population. The writer in the Eagle continues : "On the piers and slips running away out into the water and inviting, as it were, the merchantmen of distant shores to come into a safe and convenient harbor, is a little village of store-houses, blacksmith shops, offices and other buildings. Probably the most attractive of these is the ele- gant olSce occupied as the business headquarters on the dock, which is built on pile foundations in order to make it as sub- stantial in construction as possible. In imitation of corru- gated iron, and both finished and furnished in hard woods, it marks a happy combination of commerce and art. From the balcony of the second story a bird's-eye view of the ac- tive, busy scene below and the superb water front is pre- sented, while a perfect forest of masts rises up toward the sky, emblematical in its upward tendency of Brooklyn's commercial future. Along the 4,000 feet of river front may be seen the winter quarters of numerous yachts, excursion boats and steamers. Only a short distance further off are a number of vessels used in the North river freight trade, one of the Old Dominion line of steamers, and several vessels which have either been on the dry docks, or awaiting their tuin for repairing to be done. Over toward the extreme river front the Iron Steamboat Company has leased for five years about 700 feet of the dock, which is to be occupied as a depot for its boats in winter, as a storage place at nights in summer, owing to the inadequacy of accommodations in New York for that purpose, as a coahng bunk, and to take in water for the boilers from the capacious water works already described. The superintendent of the company ***** has his office on the dock, thus bringing to this city, in fact, at least |100,000 to be dis- tributed, owing to the employment given by the company to representatives of many famihes living in the vicinity. The seven great boats of the line, named after the constella- tions by Rufus Hatch, of New York, and beginning with Taurus, "The Bull," a gentle reminder of the animals which are supposed to frequent Wall street, in midday, attract the eye of the visitor by the grace and symmetry of their pro- portions. Looking in another direction may be seen the dredging machines busily at work in Gowanus bay, lifting up huge buckets full of mud and constructing a channel which will enable the largest European ocean steamers to avail themselves of Brooklyn's commercial advantages. The bay is being dredged to a depth of 19 feet at low watei-, or 24 feet at high water, the contract having been awarded to J. W. Ambrose & Company, who were the lowest bidders. It will cost about $150,000 when completed. * * * * The intention is to erect warehouses for the storing of grain, cotton, tobacco and such other merchandise as may be brought to this post, and the managers of the enterprise con- fidently look forward to a day — and that not a distant one — when that part of the city will be occupied by immense buildings similiar in character to the Pierrepont, Prentice, Harbeck and Robinson stores. * * * j^ connec- tion with the improvements stated, notice should be made of the telephonic communication with New York, and the electric light, which is placed at the end of one of the great piers, thus making the neighborhood at night almost as bright as day." On the first day of May, 1882, a stock company was formed and incorporated under the name of the Brooklyn Water Front, Warehouse, and Dry Dock Company, and 660 HISTORY OF KINGS GOTINTY. such was the favor with which the enterprise was regarded that the stock was quickly and eagerly sought for by such gentlemen as Messrs. Eadcliffe Baldwin, the New York agent of the State Line of Steamers; John Williams, presi- dent of trie Fulton Bank, of Brooklyn; H. P. De Graaf, president of the Bowery National Bank, of New York; John W. Hunter, ex-Mayor, and James Weir, Jr. , president of the Board of Aldermen, of Brooklyn; David S. Arnott; Richard Poillon, the eminent ship builder of New York, and many other prominent capitalists of Brooklyn and New York. On the organization of the company. Dr. Ambrose was elected one of its directors, and such was the confidence re- posed in him by his associates that he was chosen to be the treasurer and executive officer of the corporation. This great interest has been a complete success, and will iden- tify the name of Dr. Ambrose with Brooklyn as long as the city shall exist. From present appearances it may be regarded as the precursor of a more gigantic enterprise of the same character, which promises to dwarf, at no far dis- tant day, the water front improvements of Brooklyn exist- ing at this time, the large body of land lying immediately south of the property of this corporation, which has hereto- fore laid dormant and absolutely unproductive, having re- cently been purchased by New York capitalists, some of whom have had their attention called to the possibilities contingent upon the development of the property referred to by the success of the improvements of Dr. Ambrose and his associates. Politically, Dr. Ambrose has long been allied to the dem- ocratic party, and on all questions of national importance has thought and voted with that organization; but in municipal affairs his politics may be summed up in the state- ment that he has the best interests of the city at heart, and conscientiously supports such men and measures as he be- lieves promise most on behalf of the public good. The demands of his profession and of his business interests have been so great upon his time and energies that he has never had an opportunity to drift into political life ; and, even had such an opportunity presented itself, his inclinations would not have allowed him to become involved therein. Of pro- nounced literary tastes, he has devoted much attention to historical and general reading, and traveled much, both in the United States and throughout Europe. As a gentleman of education and a wide range of inJormation, socially, professionally, and in business circles, he takes rank among the best of the Brooklynites of this day and generation.