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 John McArthur

John McArthur

Death 20 Apr 1911 (aged 75)
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot Section 133, Lot 46
Memorial ID 18892825 · View Source
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John McArthur was born in Northern Ireland. In 1910, the census reports that he immigrated from Ireland in 1847. However, the family actually arrived from Ireland on 31 May 1853:

Joseph Auther, 35, Laborer, Ireland, U. States
Abigal Auther, 35, "
Susanna, 25, "
Joseph, 18, "
John, 13
Sally, 11, "

Port of Departure: Liverpool, England
Ship Name: Philadelphia
Port of Arrival: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Microfilm Roll Number: M425_76
Source Citation: Roll: M425_76; Line: 35.

Source Information: Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1800-1945 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006. Original data:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1883-1945. Micropublication T840. RG085. Rolls # 1-181. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1800-1882. Micropublication M425. RG036. Rolls # 1-108. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

During the 1850s, the family lived at the SE corner, 25th and Pennsylvania Avenue. In 1860, John purchased a family burial lot at Mount Moriah.

From as early as 1863 to as late as 1880 he lived at the southwest corner of 28th & Columbia Ave. He worked as a laborer and team driver during these years.

On January 16, 1885, he and his wife Jane "Jennie" McArthur were admitted "On Certificate" to the Hebron Memorial Presbyterian Church.

He first appears in the 1887 Philadelphia city directory as a driver living at 1612 Marston St. From 1889 to 1892 he is a contractor at 1612 Marston St. On June 14, 1893 his daughter purchased a house at 1941 Ridge Ave. The McArthur family lived there for many years. In 1895 John was working "livery" 1613 N. 28th St. and lived at 1941 Ridge Ave. He again worked as a driver in 1898. He appears to have stopped working about this time; subsequent listings in the directory list, "John McArthur and wife Jane, 1941 Ridge ave." with no occupation listed.

In March 2011, I visited grand-daughter Helen Garretson. She was born three years after he died and can only recall that John "was a drunk who lost three fortunes."

My research reveals these "three fortunes" were lost between 1891 and 1900.

Fortune no. 1: In May 1891 he and his son Joseph got caught up as salesmen agents for the Philadelphia Merchandise and Supply Co. with offices at 112 S. Fourth St. The business was to offer discount wholesale goods to subscribers at thirty and forty percent discount. However, by August 28, 1891 the officers were vacant and angry subscribers hounded the sales agents to recover their monies. The Philadelphia Inquirer exposed the failed business to readers in the September 5, 1891 issue. By December 1891, The principals in this scheme were tried for embezzlement. John McArthur was duped in the matter and lost money.

Fortune no. 2: Since 1889, John was listed in directories as a contractor. In the wake of the salesman disaster, he tried to resume this occupation. He was helped by his brother-in-law Frank Charlton, superintendent of the L. Martin & Company Lamp Black Works. In the Spring of 1892, the factory was closing operations in the area of Twenty-ninth street and Oxford. For decades, Twenty-ninth street from Columbia to Oxford sts. was used privately by the factory and the locals did not complain as it provided work. Once the jobs left, the community wanted the street opened. The factory had damaged the road over the years and agreed to make repairs at no cost to the city. An ordinance was passed by City Councils (Frank Charlton was a Common Councilman) for the road to be improved and Charlton verbally hired John to pave and grade the street. After John failed to complete the work by a deadline, impatient neighbors went to the Inquirer in December 1893. The newspaper ran an expose of the affair.

Fortune no. 3: In 1894, while still known as a contractor, John opened a livery stable at 1613 N. Twenty-eighth Street. In November he hired a wagon driver to transport goods. The wagon loaded with hay collided with a Ridge Avenue trolley and the driver fractured his skull. Beginning in 1898, his name no longer appears in the directories and, presumably, his livery business ended. In September 1900, his livery stable was sold at Sheriff's Sale.

After these ventures, John does not appear to have worked anymore and lived the remainder of his life at 1941 W. Ridge Avenue. The 1900 census lists no occupation. His sons Bill and Joe lived with him providing the household income as teamsters. Daughter Helen trimmed hats and Margaret was a saleslady. Martha and her husband Bill McLachlan, a foreman, also lived here. In 1900, a total of ten people lived in the house including a sickly daughter Abby and a three-year old grand-daughter Grace.

Philadelphia Inquirer Friday, 22 April 1911:
McARTHUR - On April 20, 1911, JOHN McARTHUR, aged 76 years. Saturday afternoon precisely at 2:30 o'clock at his late residence 1941 Ridge Avenue.

Researched and written by great great grandson Drew Techner.





  • Created by: Researcher
  • Added: 12 Apr 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 18892825
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John McArthur (1 May 1835–20 Apr 1911), Find A Grave Memorial no. 18892825, citing Mount Moriah Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Researcher (contributor 46902961) .