Patrick Henry Rafter1833

Patrick Henry Rafter 1833

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Place of migration
Migrated to/Born in USA

NOTE from June 13, 2020. I've found out a lot of new information/possibilities for Patrick. Perhaps refer you all to this webpage:  From Ancestors and Family of Fillmore Condit (1855-1939) and Jane Condit Robison (1882-1972)…by William Condit Robison and Elizabeth Robison Jennings, Berkeley, California, 1985: OUR RAFTER ANCESTRY The name Rafter is given in The Surnames of Ireland (1969) as “a small sept in the Kilkenny area,” but few if any Rafters are living in Kilkenny today. There are a number of Rafters listed in the Dublin telephone directory, some of whom may be descended from our great-grandfather Patrick’s brother Michael who moved from Kilkenny to Dublin in the mid-nineteenth century. The Gaelic origin of the name is given as “MacReachtagain” in Irish Pedigrees; or The Origin and Stem of the lrish Nation by John O’Hart (Dublin, 1887) which tells us that this name “has been modernized to Rafter” (p. 856). The first of the family of whom we have any information was William Rafter, who, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica (llth edition), was “an Irishman of good family but small means” who had held a captain’s commission in the French army under Louis XIV. The Compendium of Irish Biography says he was “a lawyer…originally of Kilkenny.” William’s chief claim to fame was that he was the father of Kitty Clive (1711-1785), a celebrated comic actress whose larger-than-life portrait may be seen hanging in Longleat, mansion of the Earl of Bath, and doubtless other places in England. She was a popular subject for porcelain statuettes that were produced in large numbers in the 18th century, some of them imported to America. A brother of Kitty Clive is said to have been an ancestor of our line of Rafters, but there are at least three intervening generations of whom we have no records. The first of whom we have any positive information is our great-grandfather Patrick. Patrick was born 21 March 1833, either in England or Ireland, and died 19 April 1870 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. His obituary, which contains some errors, states that “Mr. Rafter was born in England, of Irish parents.” We do not know the names of his parents, but he had brothers named Michael [note that the novelist Michael Rafter mentioned above was born in 1792, so he would be from at least one generation above Patrick] and Edward, and sisters named Mary, Anne, and Anastatia. Apparently none of the sisters married and Edward died young. Whether Patrick was born in Ireland or not, our evidence suggests that he grew up in Kilkenny, where all of his sisters lived. We have a photographic portrait of Patrick, a distinguished-looking man with a full beard, which hangs in the family home at Soquel, California. He was said to have red or reddish hair, which reappeared in his daughter Ida, our brother Jack, and in three members of our children’s generation. Patrick came to the United States in 1854, at age 21, and was married three years later to Hannah Thomson Hoyt (see Smith). Hannah was the widow of William Frederick Hoyt (see Our Smith Ancestry) and the daughter of Phoebe and John B. Smith. The ceremony was performed by Rev. William B. Brown, a Congregationalist minister, on 30 August 1857. The marriage record gives his occupation as Printer at the time of their marriage. Until recently our information about Patrick’s origins and early life was limited to some family stories passed on by our mother, who was born twelve years after he died. But recently these accounts have been augmented by three letters from Patrick’s sister Mary, written in 1868, which turned up in the family archives. Mary apparently obtained Patrick’s address in the U.S. from an attorney to whom Patrick had written. The “family story” was that he was educated for the priesthood but decided it was not for him and left Ireland. Whether or not he was ever ordained has not been ascertained. A passage in Mary’s letter dated January 8, 1868, suggests that Patrick left under conditions of secrecy and perhaps stress: “You cannot wonder that we thought you were not living because it is now fourteen years since we had the happiness of seeing you, and your Brother Michael Sisters Anne and Anastatia, with myself concluded that were you living, you would write to us as we were more interested in your happiness than all the world besides. Dear Brother when you left your situation in Ballingurry [a village about 12 miles southwest of Kilkenny] Father Furlong wrote to us, to know if we could give any intelligence of you,— of course we could not…” After receiving this letter Patrick must have promptly renewed his contact with the family, because Mary’s next letter, dated February 10th 1868 opens in this way: “It is with heartfelt pleasure I have received your most kind and affectionate letter which needless to say affords me and Anne and Anastatia the greatest of happiness…Thanks be to God that has spared you through the many dangers you underwent and left you to console them that long wished to even hear from you.” According to our mother, Patrick was musical, played the violin and composed for it, and was a Methodist choir leader. He went into the newspaper business and for a time published a paper in Susquehanna County, northeastern Pennsylvania. He appears to have moved to this location because of poor health. Further information concerning his life and character is given in his obituary, which apparently was published in Susquehanna though the source is not given: “He came to America…alone, and has made his way alone and unaided to position, usefulness, and the centre of a large circle of appreciative friends. He learned the printer’s trade, and for several years published the Northern Pennsylvanian at this place. He was married at Newark, N.J., whence he removed to this place, hoping to benefit his health. He has assured us that he believed the pure mountain air of this valley to have largely benefitted him. He was never in robust health, but has ever been active, earnest, aspiring and useful. He was invested with a rare gift for music, and has been active in securing to our village, bands of string and instrumental music. He has been for several years connected with the Erie shops as bookeeper. He was a member of the Masonic and Odd Fellow fraternities, and a Good Templar. He was ever an active worker in reforms of every nature—temperance, labor, &c. His work is done—it was not a negative work—it was positive, certain, philanthropic, earnest, and humane. “Mr. Rafter was in usual health till within a week of his death. He was intending to visit his native land and two sisters, within six weeks.— Thus are mortal expectations disappointed, and the living cut off by death.” The mention of his “two sisters” in the obituary suggests that one of the three must have died between 1868, when Mary’s letters were written, and 1870 when Patrick died. Mary‘s letters tell a sad story of poverty and poor health, as only Anastatia was able to earn a living at the time. Anne was bedridden, and Mary had had an unsuccessful operation on her eyes. Patrick must have sent some assistance immediately on receiving Mary’s first letter, as her next was very appreciative. The three sisters lived in a house on “Watkin Street opposite Friary Chapel.” Watkin Street in Kilkenny is a short street which has three names in as many blocks, and the house opposite the chapel is still standing. The Friary itself is a rather large establishment. Patrick and Hannah had only one child, who was our grandmother: Ida Frances, b. 19 Nov 1858 at Newark, NJ, d. 27 Apr 1921 at Long Beach, CA; m. Fillmore Condit 30 Mar 1881 at Newark, NJ; ch: Jane (Robison), Everett, Jessie (Simonson), Donald. Sources: “Family Register,” photocopied pages from a family Bible that appears to have belonged to Patrick and Hannah Rafter, later Fillmore and Ida Condit; location of original not known. (Reproduced in Appendix.) Obituary of Patrick Henry Rafter (source not given). Letters from Mary Rafter to Patrick Rafter dated 8 Jan, 10 Feb, and 10 Aug 1868. (Reproduced in Appendix) Personal communications from Jane C. Robison. Photocopy of probated will of P. H. Rafter, 1870, Susquehanna Co., PA, Wills and Administrations, Vol. 3 pp. 384-5. Names as executors W. A. Hoyt of Corning, NY and Elias Francis of Newark, NJ (an uncle of Ida Rafter Condit). Marriage certificate of P. Henry Rafter, Newark, printer, and Hannah T. Hoyt, 30 Aug 1857 (certified copy). Stocker, R. M., History of Susquehanna County, PA, 1887, pp. 114 and 612. ****************************************************************** Blog Author Note [my blog is at]--also note that Patrick Henry Rafter is my great-great-grandfather: I have done considerable research trying to find this link of our Patrick Rafter with the family of Kitty Clive. I have not succeeded yet, but am determined to figure it out. Here is a short biographical note on Kitty Clive (from the website of The Twickenham Museum): Kitty Clive was born Catherine Raftor, the daughter of an Irish soldier: a captain in the army of Louis XIV, of gentle birth but few means. At the age of 17 she went on the stage, joining the company at Drury Lane where Colley Cibber was the manager. Shortly after this she married George Clive, a barrister and relative of the 1st Lord Clive. The marriage was short and separation soon followed by mutual consent. She made a career as an actress, with a penchant for comedy. This did not prevent her singing oratorio parts for Handel, a friend, nor taking the part of Hamlet in that play. In 1747 she became one of the original members of David Garrick’s company. Garrick found her quite a handful: on one occasion in 1765, Kitty wrote an angry letter: “Sir, I beg you would do me the favour to let me know if it was by your order that my money was stopped last Saturday.” However, there was mutual esteem and she remained with the company for 22 years before retiring in 1769 to Strawberry Hill in Twickenham. Horace Walpole made a house available for her retirement, naming it “Clive’s Den.” It later came to be known as Little Strawberry Hill. There she lived until her death on 6 December 1785. She was buried in St Mary’s Church, Twickenham where there is a memorial plaque in her memory on the exterior of the north wall of the church. Kitty’s father was from Kilkenny. The reason he was serving as a captain in Louis XIV’s army was because he had to flee Ireland after serving on the losing side at the Battle of the Boyne (1690). He was eventually pardoned and allowed to move to London, where he met and married Elizabeth Daniels. It is said that they had many children, but the only ones documented (after scouring countless biographical material about Kitty Clive) are her brother James, baptised 11 January, 1702 in Saint Martin in the Fields; and her sister Anne, baptised 29 January, 1697 in Saint Martin in the Fields. The sister married Jacob Mastavier 29 May, 1719, in St. Marylebone, Middelesex, England—this married name is often written Mestivyer in mentions of her in Horace Walpole’s letters. Unfortunately her brother James was not our male ancestor, as he never married. He was his sister Kitty’s constant companion in their later years when she was a resident of Little Strawberry Hill. I was interested to read that the comedian Henry McGee, who died in 2006, was a descendant on his mother’s side of Kitty Clive’s family, but have not been able to trace this lineage either. I have spent a lot of time researching a curious individual Michael Rafter, who wrote military historical novels in the 19th century, and who I am convinced must somehow be related to our Rafter family. He is most certainly related to the William Rafter line, because one of his novels begins with the story outlined above which is really William’s story. Here is a brief passage from the beginning of Percy Blake: or, The Young Rifleman, by Captain Rafter, Hurst and Blackett, 1855: …my pugnacious ancestor, William Blake, who had exchanged his “dirty acres” for the doubtful honour of following King James to the field, obtained a company from the French monarch in the Irish Brigade, and continued to serve in that glorious band of expatriated heroes for several years, till an ardent desire to see his family and native seat once more, brought him again to Ireland. His relations, however, were all dispersed or dead, his estate forfeited to the crown by that loyalty to his sovereign which, under the new reign, was called rebellion; and marrying soon after a lady in London, with whom he received a moderate fortune, he gave up foreign adventure and settled for the remainder of his days in his native country. From this gentleman I am lineally descended. It is easy to see that the novelist Michael Rafter has written his own history but just changed the name of himself as hero to Blake from Rafter. Michael Rafter’s family is very interesting, and I have traced the stories of quite a few of his children, some of whom emigrated to the U.S. and ended up in Brooklyn. But until I find a “cousin” connection with Patrick’s family, I will continue with the facts we know about Patrick. ****************************************************************** My research has been able to document Patrick’s movements in Newark and Susquehanna. I have found him listed in the Newark City Directory of 1861, listed as “Printer (P. H. Rafter)” at 9 Court Street. A History of Susquehanna County, 1873, has the following paragraph: The “Northern Pennsylvanian,” Independent in politics, was started at Susquehanna Depot, in the spring of 1856, C. S. Bennet and A. W. Rowley, proprietors, and a Mr. White editor for a few weeks. H. C. Vail then became editor and proprietor, and under his editorship the paper was Democratic. In 1858, L. P. Hinds took the paper, made it independent again, but in less than a year he sold it to Wm H. Hunter, who conducted it two or three years, and sold it to P. H. Rafter. The latter sold after about two years to Mr. Benedict, who sold, after a year or two, to S. B. Chase, who took the press to Great Bend, in 1865 or ’66, and afterwards sold it to L. Hib. Whittlesey, who edited and published a spicy paper until his death in 1870. J. R. Gailor succeeded him, but was obliged to relinquish it on acount of failing health. The press was removed to New Milford, where, since his death, the “Northern Pennsylvanian” is published by H. F. Beardsley. I found this entertaining snippet in the Binghamton, New York Broome Republican from Wednesday, November 13, 1861: The Northern Pennsylvanian published at Susquehanna Depot, Pa., has taken new life since the accession of Mr. Rafter, the new proprietor. He informs us that he received over 100 new subscribers last week. The paper needed a new rafter. We hope he will never be a sleeper in his business, but support and be supported. I wrote the Masons and was sent a summary of his short tenure there: Entered as apprentice, Fellow Craft April 18, Master Mason May 23, Resigned 30 Jan. 1866. Occupation listed as [railroad] car reporter. I was even sent a map of Susquehanna Depot showing where the widow Hannah’s property was in Oakland, which was part of Susquehanna Depot [presumably where she lived with Patrick and their daughter Ida]. After Patrick died she took in a female boarder, but eventually she and Ida moved back to Newark. I have recently found online a Methodist hymn, words and music by P. H. Rafter, called God's Favors Acknowledged. Given his reputed proficiency with music, mentioned in the obituary (above), it seems likely this hymn is by him. The most promising material remains the letters written by Patrick’s sister Mary. I have transcribed them and pored over them for clues. One clue is the frequent reference to the old days in Callan, which is a city close to Kilkenny, on the southwest side. A genealogical researcher suggested I follow up a lead—he had found a Rafter family living on Green Street in Callan in the relevant time frame. So I sent for microfilm for Callan births and marriages. From Mary’s letters it is possible but not certain to guess at the birth order of the siblings as Michael, Patrick Henry, Mary, Anne, Anastasia, Edward. Patrick’s dates are 1833-1870. Mary was writing letters to Patrick in 1868. She and her sisters Anne and Anastasia lived in Kilkenny. Michael lived with his wife and child in Dublin. Edward died 8 yrs. before. Anne was not well. Mary talked to Patrick of their life in Callan, and friends like Patt Holohan. Here’s what I’ve found. 1869 deaths Kilkenny, Anne Rafter, age 32. This concurs with Anne being ill (above) and her dying just before Patrick (his obit. said two sisters). This would put her birth date as ca. 1837. 1892 deaths Kilkenny, Anastasia Rafter, age 53. This concurs with Anastasia being the healthy one of the 3 sisters (only one working when Mary writing letters). This would put her birth date as ca. 1839. I searched the microfilm for Callan births and marriages. I found a family as follows: Marriage August 3, 1833. Edmd Rafter and Mary Hacket. They live on Green Street in Callan. Birth May 5, 1833. Pat, son of James Holohan and Catherine Hayes. Sponsors Mary Hacket and Joseph Hacket. The Edmund Rafter and Mary Hacket have children as follows (the ones I found): August 10, 1834, Mary. March 8, 1836. John. October ? 1839. Jos?? (Wished it were Anastasia, but looks like Jos.) August 19, 1942. Edward. So Mary and Edward look possible for my family, but Patrick would be…illegitimate, born before parents’ marriage. The John could be a child who died? The others might not have been baptised? Or these could be cousins where Edmund is Patrick’s uncle and then some of the childrens’ names are the same in the two families. I continue to follow various paths. I have written to several Catholic seminaries in Ireland, and received very gracious replies, but none ever found a Patrick Rafter listed as a seminary student. In Mary’s letters there are references to tracking down various relatives, with the implication that they might help them locate family property. I firmly believe that this family did descend from William Rafter, that some of his descendants returned to Ireland from London searching for the old family lands, but were never successful. This is a theme with Kitty Clive and her brother James, and also it is a theme brought up by the novelist Michael Rafter. Please check back to see if Patrick’s heritage is successfully uncovered.

Additional Information
Date of Birth 21st Mar 1833
Date of Death 19th Apr 1870
Number of Siblings Five
Names of Siblings Michael, Edward, Mary, Anne, Anastasia
Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname) Hannah Thomson Smith Hoyt
Place & Date of Marriage Newark, New Jersey, Congregational Church, 30 August 1857
Number of Children One
First Child Ida Frances
Occupation Printer
Place of Death Susquehanna Depot, Pennsylvania
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    Thursday 21st November 2019 01:38AM
  • Hope to hear from you, thanks so much for being willing to help! I tried writing your email address. Mine is Thanks! Sharon Olson


    Monday 25th November 2019 06:05AM

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