Blanks Are Filled. Now, More Questions!

question panelTo recap what we discovered about Billy Gallagher and his family previously (items in bold are new information):

William Gallagher b. ~1847 Ireland m. ~July 1869 to Catherine Fields “Kate” (b. Pennsylvania)


  1. William J. “Billy” b. 8 Sept 1870
  2. Frances “Fannie” b. 1873 m. Joseph Zarnski 1893
  3. Lizzie b. Jul 1874  d. 17 May 1883 Camden, NJ of ‘malarial fever’ 
  4. Emma b. 1877 m. Daniel J. Woods 1904
  5. Joseph b. Apr 1880 m. Alma Louise ?? 1901-02
  6. Benjamin Franklin “Frank” b. Apr 1884
  7. Lillian “Lillie” b. Jun 1886 m. Michael John Durkin 1905 (which is the subject of this post on my other blog)
  8. Bertie b. Oct 1888 d. 3 may 1892, Camden, NJ of ‘acute meningitis’
  9. Unknown child (d. before 1900)
  10. Unknown child (d. before 1900)

Billy married Mary Wilsey around 1892 (still looking for that documentation) and had the following children:

  1. Burnet J. b. 23 May 1893  d. bef 900
  2. Joseph b. May 1894 m. Agnes O’Toole 1919
  3. Bernard b. Jun 1898
  4. Walter b. 22 Feb 1902 m. Ruth Olmstead 1921; m. Ruth Burrows 1922
  5. Unknown child (d. bef 1900)

Billy and Mary divorce shortly after Walter is born.  Those records continue to elude me as well … but I will find them.  In 1904, Mary has remarried and she and her three boys are living with Arthur Cohen.  By 1912, they have two more children together: Arthur Jr. and David.

Here is where Billy’s life starts getting even juicier:

By 1905, Billy is living in a boarding house on W. 79th St. in Manhattan.

Sometime before 1909, Billy enters into a business partnership with

In 1910, things get a little sketchy.  I found multiple census records for William Gallaghers.  The first shows a 39-year-old William J Gallagher living at 510 W. 114th Street in Manhattan with a new wife named Lotta, whom he married around 1906, apparently a second marriage for both of them.  His occupation is listed as the manager of a cafe.

Billy Gallagher (Lotta) 1910 US census clip

Another is a white male identified only as “Gallagher” and listed as a lodger in a some sort of boarding house on or near Bowery Street in Manhattan (the area is current-day Chinatown).  All the fields are completed as “Un” (which I take to mean ‘unknown’).  Other than Billy living in a boarding house in 1905, I have little reason to believe this is my Billy Gallagher.  Unfortunately, there is nothing to tell me he isn’t, either.

Unk Gallagher 1910 US census clip

Fortunately, this can (hopefully) be resolved by finding the marriage record for William and Lotta (which is on my list of things to do).

On 22 Dec 1919, Billy leased the building at 727 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan from Frederick and Eleanor Hussey for 12-1/2 years and named the building the “Film Cafe.”  (Probably because nearly all the tenants that he found were in the film industry or something).

In 1920 the only William J Gallagher I could find is a married, 49-year-old white male living at 508 W. 144th Street in Manhattan, and working as a restaurant keeper.  His father was born in Ireland, and his mother in the United States.  I believe this is the same William J Gallagher listed in the 1910 census with Lotta.  Unfortunately, he is listed on a supplemental sheet that was completed in the census office three months after the census enumerators made their rounds, and I haven’t been able to locate a listing for anyone else at the same address.  Perhaps Billy and Lotta have gone their separate ways by this time; perhaps Lotta died before the 1920 census … more questions that can only be answered by court records or death records.

In or around 1920, Billy marries a woman named Betty, who is nearly 30 years his junior.  She is also apparently an employee in one of his clubs.  Shortly after they were married, Billy bought some property in Yonkers along the bank of the Hudson River (Warburton Avenue) for about $25,000.  He and Betty lived together on this property until about 1928.

Meanwhile, in August 1921 Billy enters into a business partnership with a man named John Weeks and with $10,000 capital, they obtain a charter for Gallagher-Weeks Company, manufacturer of shirts made of the cloth used to cover the wings of airplanes.

Gallagher-Weeks charter 1921 NY Times

I have not been able to determine the fate of the business, but I do know that by June 1922, there were several judgments against the company for unpaid debts.  There were help-wanted ads placed in newspapers throughout the northeast through 1923:

Gallagher-Weeks ad 1923 PA
Gallagher-Weeks ad 1922 NY Top: Times Herald (Olean, NY) 12 Aug 1922, p12 col3; Bottom: Evening Standard (Uniontown, PA) 17 Mar 1923, p2 col3

For all the business ventures Billy undertook, he was apparently always broke and borrowing money from someone.  According to the court records we found, he was constantly defaulting on loans and even filed bankruptcy at least once.

Stay tuned … we’re still uncovering information!