Edward Neville

Photo added by Jim Forcum

Edward Neville

  • Birth 11 Apr 1864 Bannow, County Wexford, Ireland
  • Death 7 Feb 1934 Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
  • Burial River Grove, Cook County, Illinois, USA
  • Plot Section O, Block 4, Lot 107
  • Memorial ID 169728278

was born on 11 Apr 1864, a Monday, in his parent’s home in Cookbook Townland, Bannow Parrish, County Wexford, Ireland. He was fifth of an estimated 14 children born to John Neville (c. 1834-21 Nov 1918) and Margaret Walsh (c 1848-before 1888), who had married in 1857 in Whittyshill Townland, Bannow Parrish, County Wexford, Ireland. He was born almost exactly 20 years after “The Great Potato Famine of 1845.”

Sixty four years prior to Edward’s birth the “Acts of Union 1800” united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland (previously held in personal union) to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Between the years of 1845 and 1852 famines struck Ireland along with disease that would leave nearly a million Irish men and women dead. In late 1845 a fungal disease was found in potatoes and because potatoes were the main source of food in Ireland the fungus would prove to a major problem for the natives. The first fungal attack didn’t have a serious effect on the island but the year following the total potatoes crop was wiped out. Other fungal attacks occurred in 1848 and in 1849 making the already existing problem worse.

The Nevilles appear to have been in that small group of families that depended on their income from “smallholdings” (subsistence farming on a small acreage that produced food for the family). The potato was still the largest crop in Ireland and the Irish had become entirely dependent on this crop for their source of food when Edward was born. In general, while Belfast had a kernel of the industrial revolution where a man could count on good wages, the majority of Irish people fell into two categories “smallholders” or “laborers,” with the former being better off than the latter. By the mid-19th century Irish families were in an endless downward spiral due to: most families’ were large, even huge, meaning that every year they survived on smaller and smaller portions of food; most Irish families did not own the land upon which they lived, meaning they either paid rent of a share of the crop to their Protestant English Landlords.

The impact of emigration from Ireland was severe; the population dropped from over 8 million before the Famine to 4.4 million in 1911. Gaelic or Irish, once the island's spoken language, declined in use sharply in the nineteenth century as a result of the Famine and the creation of the National School education system, as well as hostility to the language from leading Irish politicians of the time; it was largely replaced by English.

Little is known about Edward Neville’s early life except that he was enrolled in Danescastle School from 4 Sep1871, age 7, to 30 Jun1876, when he left at age 12. Then in the late 1897 the 23 year old immigrated to the United States, settling in Chicago, Illinois.

When the 1900 Census was taken (5 Jun), Edward was a boarder living at 199 Union St., Chicago (West Town), Ward 17, Cook Co., IL. His landlord was Thomas Morgan, age 37 from Ireland, and this Thomas’ wife, Anna, age 40, also from Ireland. That year Edward’s occupation was listed as working in a Chicago “Freight House.”

Edward Neville married Johanna Morgan on 25 Jun 1903 in Chicago. Johanna had been born in Kilcavan Townland, Bannow Parish, County Wexford, Ireland during the year of 1864 and may well have been the sister of Thomas Morgan, with whom Edward living when the 1900 Census was taken.

It is unknown exactly how many of Edward’s siblings came to North America, but it is known his younger brother Joseph Neville (born 15 May 1874) arrived in New York City, where he settled on 18 Jun 1897 and another younger brother Patrick Bernard Neville (born 7 Oct 1865) would settle in Toronto, Ontario Canada.

On 27 Mar 1907, Margaret Mary Neville was born in Chicago, the first and only child of Edward Neville and Johanna Morgan.

Then in 1909, Edward Neville, with his wife Johanna and infant daughter traveled back to County Wexford to visit his Neville relatives. On 17 Dec 1909, having sailed from Queenstown, Ireland on the "SS Mauretania" the family arrived back in the port of New York. Of note is the fact that on the passenger manifest Edward’s occupation is listed as street car “Conductor,” thus he had already started his lifelong career with Chicago’s street car system. Over the years, both Edward and his wife Johanna maintained correspondence with the Nevilles in Ireland.

On 16 Apr 1910, Edward Neville and family were living at 635 Sherman Place, Chicago Ward 25, Cook Co., Illinois. This was not an apartment, but rather it was an actual house. The record shows that Edward was a naturalized citizen, but Johanna was not. As of that date, his occupation was listed as “Railroad Laborer,” but he would soon return to Chicago’s Street car system.

The first streetcars in Chicago were horse-drawn and entered into service on April 25, 1859, but soon San Francisco pioneered a new system, with cars hooked to a moving cable underneath the street. Chicago's lines were steadily rebuilt in the 1880’s until the city had the world's largest cable-car system. In the meantime, Eastern cities were experimenting with electric streetcars that drew their power from a wire strung over the tracks, a method imitated in Chicago beginning in the 1890’s. The Chicago Surface Lines (CSL) was operator of the street railway system of Chicago, Illinois, from the years 1913 to 1947. (That firm is a predecessor of today's publicly owned operator, the Chicago Transit Authority.)

On 22 Jan 1920, Edward Neville, with his wife and daughter, lived in a rented house at 3211 Halstead St. Chicago Ward 23, Cook Co., Illinois. (Note: Union St., Sherman Place and Halstead Street were all in the same neighborhood just south of the Chicago River, but no longer exist.) Johanna was a housewife and Edward was a bone fide “Street Car Conductor.” By this time Johanna was a naturalized citizen as Edward had been by 1910. At that time and place each Chicago trolley or street car carried two employees, the “Driver” and the “Conductor,” with the latter being in charge of the vehicle. The Conductor, with a coin changer strapped to his waist would walk down the aisles taking the fare from the passengers. A street car conductor wore a spotless uniform, with a bowtie, that looked much like what was worn by a railroad conductor. At each stop the conductor would bellow out the name of the street or stop. By the early 1920s, Chicago Surface Lines had over 16,000 workers, making it the leading employers in the Chicago area.

In Aug 1922, Chicago’s great street car strike occurred. Its duration is unknown, but it undoubtedly disrupted Edwards’s life.

In 1929, when the fare was 7¢ to any point in the city, Chicago's streetcars carried 896,576,586 revenue passengers. With a city population of 3,376,438, Chicago Surface Lines’ streetcars were known as "the largest street railway system in the world." The clang of the trolley bell and the click-clack sound of wheels bumping over rail joints were the background music of neighborhood life. The streetcar's drawback was that it could only follow the tracks, making it difficult to detour around accidents and fires. Gasoline-powered buses first appeared on Chicago's streets in 1927 suffering no such disadvantage. As a conductor, Edward Neville was never wealthy, but he was considered “well-off,” because he had a city job and didn’t have to look for employment every few years as so many did at that time.

When, on 15 Apr 1930, the census taker arrived at the Neville household they were living at 1433 Edgewood Ave., Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois (southwestern suburbs of downtown), and this house Edward actually owned. Edward was still a Conductor for the Chicago Surface Lines. Johanna and Edward’s daughter had graduated from Catholic high school in 1925, but in 1930 she had not yet begun college. The census dutifully recorded that the Nevilles did indeed own a radio.

The Great Depression had begun on 4 Sep 1929, but was at its worst in 1932, with unemployment reaching 23.6%, and peaking in early 1933 at 25%. Edward Neville must have felt blessed because he never lost his job.

On 11 Nov 1932, Edward was ill and went to see J. A. Tobin, MD, at 622 Deversy St. in Chicago. Dr. Tobin notes he had diagnosed Edward as having “acute myocarditis” on 1 Feb 1933; “acute bronchitis” on 8 Nov 1933; and “Hypostatic Pneumonia” on 2 Feb 1934.

Edward Neville, aged 69years, 9 months and 26 days, passed away in his Edgewood Ave home at 6:25 a.m. on 7 Feb 1934. Dr. Tobin listed the cause of death as the “Hypostatic Pneumonia” and a contributory cause was “nephritis”. On the Death Certificate the doctors notes that his occupation contributed to his death and notes this was due to “Exposure (night work on Street Car)”. Edward Neville was laid to rest on 10 Feb 1934 in Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery, 3100 North Thatcher Ave. Cook Co., River Grove, Illinois 60171-1099 (just outside of Chicago and now near O’Hare Airport).

After Edward’s passing, his wife, Johanna, and daughter, Margaret Mary Neville, were able to continue living in the Edgewood Ave. home.

As of 23 Apr 1940, Johanna, then 75 years old, and Mary Margaret Neville, 32 years old, had moved and were living at 7223 N Claremont Ave., Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois (on the far north side of Chicago) which Johanna owned. Though hypothetical, it is presumed Johanna had a city pension from her husband’s employer. Daughter Mary Margaret had completed 4 years of college, and was then teaching English in a Chicago Catholic (Parochial) school, earning $1,500 per year, which was excellent for 1940! With the pride of Nationalism, Johanna no longer lists her birthplace as Ireland, but rather states it as the “Irish Free State.”

Johanna Morgan Neville passed away in 1953 at the age of 89, and was laid to rest next to her husband Edward Neville in Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery, 3100 North Thatcher Ave. Cook Co., River Grove, Illinois.

It is presumed, but not known, that daughter Mary Margaret lived with her mother until her passing. Sometime after 1940, she went back to school and received her PhD, and thereafter she was known as “Dr. Neville.”

Family Members






  • Created by: Jim Forcum
  • Added: 10 Sep 2016
  • Find A Grave Memorial 169728278
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Edward Neville (11 Apr 1864–7 Feb 1934), Find A Grave Memorial no. 169728278, citing Saint Joseph Cemetery, River Grove, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Jim Forcum (contributor 47985100) .