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Thomas Garniss Family

In my research into the Wallace family, I have collected a bit of information about the family of Thomas Garniss, shoemaker from London, who lived and died in New York. Much of this information comes from old newspaper advertisements which are displayed for you below.

All dates and places identified below are documented as indicated. Where I have assumed a family association, I give the evidence upon which it is based. I have no additional information about this family.

From death notices published in the New York Evening Post, we know that Thomas Garniss died on 13 Jul 1839 in his 84th year. We also know that Catherine Garniss, wife of Thomas Garniss died on 19 Jun 1838 in her 78th year. Finally we know from these notices that the couple were living at 274 E. Broadway in New York City at the time of Catherine's death.

From this we can infer that Thomas was born about 1756 and Catherine about 1761. We do not know the place of their origins, although Thomas did advertise that he was from London. Before we comment on their possible children, let's take a look at what we know about Thomas from advertisements that he placed in various New York newspapers.

As you read these advertisements, take note of the general practice in those days of using what looks like a lowercase f for any lowercase s that appears at the beginning or within a word. For example in the first advertisment we find the phrase "fhoes and gallofhes" which of course is "shoes and galloshes." Now let's look at the earliest advertisement that I have found.

Advertisement on 9 May 1789

This began a series of almost daily advertisements which in itself tells us that Garniss must have been a successful businessman. His claim of having made shoes for English nobility for several years may have been accurate, or may have been designed to attract business.

This next advertisement, published two years later, shows that Garniss is still advertising his quality, but is putting more emphasis on value and low price. Notice also that he has added an s to his name.

Advertisement 9 May 1791

Toward the end of the next year, Garniss began running his advertisements in more than one newspaper, a sign that business was good.

Advertisement 26 Sep 1792

It is not certain how many workers that Garniss employed, but at least one of them was undependable as we see below. It appears that the apprentice stayed long enough to learn how to make shoes and then decided to seek his fortune elsewhere.

Apprentice Runaway Advertisement 2 May 1793

As the next advertisement shows, Garniss continued to move his business location, which we assume meant that he moving to larger locations to accommodate his growing business.

Advertisement 27 Jul 1793

This next advertisement, nearly two years later, indicates a further location change, as well as, I think, an indication that his business had grown to the point that he was selling more average-priced shoes, and was directing his advertising toward those sales.

Advertisement 13 Apr 1795

A year later, he is still at the same location, and continues to offer a wide variety of shoes and other leather products.

Advertisement 6 Apr 1796

Then, a year later in 1797, we see the beginning of the end of his shoe business. In the following advertisement he indicates that he is about to end accepting business, and is looking to sell it.

Advertisement 3 Apr 1797

We learn from the following advertisement that Thomas Garniss not only had a business in New York City, but he also had a tanyard and a farm of 10 acres in Mt. Pleasant, approximately 26 miles north of the city.

Advertisement of Sale 3 May 1800

Garniss appears to have sold the farm to John and Jane Ferrel, and they also appear to have defaulted on their mortgage, causing the farm to be sold at public auction in 1803.

Notice of Sale 5 Oct 1803

I don't know if Garniss kept that farm, or if the one described below in 1816 is a different one, but he appears to be selling a farm in the same locale which, from the description, was a nice place.

Property Sale 8 mar 1816

Assuming this to be the same Thomas Garniss, he appears to have become fairly wealthy, to the point that he had a schooner to sell in 1816 as well. One wonders if he was liquidating property for another venture, or to gain funds to maintain his retirement. Thomas would have been about sixty years old by this time.

Ship Sale 26 Oct 1816

This is the last newspaper notice that I have found concerning Thomas Garniss other than his death notice. Keep in mind that this has not been an exhaustive study.

Now I will turn to those that I believe to be his children. I believe I have identified four daughters and three sons. We will mentions the daughters first.

From the New York Evening Post, 3 Nov 1808 we have this: "Sunday, Rev John Williams, John S. Wallace to Catharine Garniss, dau Thomas, all of this city." Naturally this assumes that there was only one Thomas Garniss in New York old enough to be Catharine's father. It appears that John S. Wallace died in Savannah, Georgia in 1812 where he had gone for his health. This was reported by the New York Herald on 1 Feb 1812. Catherine then married Joseph Beach, a New Jersey man who had moved to Kentucky. They were married on 29 Sep 1822 according to a Beach family Bible. Catherine died 2 Aug 1864 according to this web page. This page also indicates that she had three children whom she named Lillis Ferrier Beach, Thomas Garniss Beach, and Catherine Garniss Beach. Tragically all three died within days or months of their births.

Lilliss Garniss married John Mason Ferrier on 20 Jun 1814 according to the New York Post. The notice said that she was a daughter of Thomas Garniss of New York City. You will note that her sister Catherine named her first born Lillis Ferrier. John Mason Ferrier died on 15 Feb 1876 and Lillis died on 25 Jan 1888 in her 94th year. These dates are taken from death notices in the New York Evening Post.

The next daughter, Maria Garniss, married John Picket on 26 May 1814 as noted in the New York Post which also noted that she was the daughter of Thomas Garniss. It appears that John and Maria experienced considerable sorrow as four children of theirs died before reaching the age of three, as shown by the death notice below.

Albert Garniss Picket Death Notice

The New York Post on 9 Apr 1840 reported "Last evening by Rev. Spencer H. Cone, DANIEL DEAN of New Brunswick, N.J. to EMMA, daughter of the late Thomas GARNISS, of this city." Perhaps Emma Garniss was the youngest daughter, or perhaps she just married late. The notice indicates that Thomas was dead and we know that he died in 1839. I know nothing more about Emma.

Of the three sons, we know the most about John P. Garniss. Because marriage notices did not often identify the parents of the groom, we do not know absolutely that John was a son of Thomas. However, the circumstancial evidence is fairly compelling. We have the marriage announcement from the New York Evening Post, on 26 Nov 1808 that says, "Garniss, John P., of this city, mar., Sat. last, at Mount Pleasant, to Miss Amelia Wallace, dau of John Wallace of that place." We are nearly certain that Amelia was a sister of John S. Wallace who married Catherine Garniss.

To identify the various people associated with John P. Garniss, we need to begin with a letter written by Salmon P. Chase to David Austen, Jr. on 16 Mar 1867. It is recorded in An Account of the Private Life and Public Services of Salmon Portland Chase which was written by Robert Bruce Warden and published in Cincinnati by Wilstach, Baldwin & Company in 1874.

Letter dated 16 Mar 1867:
My Dear Mr. Austin: Your note announcing the death of Mr. Garniss filled me with sadness. All gone! Father, mother, their daughter, my dear wife; their grandchild, my precious little one; their adopted daughter, the beloved partner of your bosom; all! How this earth slides from under our feet! It is a comfort to be assured that Mr. Garniss, so full of years, was ready to depart. It is a comfort, too, to hear that your boys are doing well. I shall always, while I live, take a warm interest in them. With sympathizing regards to Mr. and Mrs. Ferrie[r], believe me,
Most sincerely your friend,
S. P. Chase

Mr. Austin was David Austen, Jr. He had married the adopted daughter of John P. and Amelia Garniss, Cordelia, whose birth name we do not know. Mr. and Mrs. Garness were living with David and Cordelia in the 1850 census as noted below.

1850 US Census: New York, New York County, 15th Ward, East Half, p. 235B, 888-1288
David Austen, Jr., white, male, age 33. Merchant. Real property $30,000. Born NY
Cordelia Austen, white, female, age 24. Born Virginia
John Austen, white, male, age 4. Born NY
George Austen, white, male, age 2. Born NY
John Garniss, white, male, age 65. No occupation. Born NY
Amelia Garniss, white, female, age 64. Born NY
Nancy McLaughlin, white, female, age 35. Born Ireland
Bridget O'Connor, white, female, age 40. Born Ireland. Illiterate
Ann Hughes, white, female, age 21. Born NY
Henry Johnson, white, male, age 27. Waiter. Born NY

This census indicates that John Garniss was born about 1785 in New York. We know that a daughter of John and Amelia was married to Salmon P. Chase from another entry on page 241 in the Warden book:

It was on the 4th of March, 1834, that, at the home of Mr. John P. Garniss, Salmon Portland Chase and Catherine Jane Garniss were married by Rev. Lyman Beecher. Mr. Garniss then lived at the south-east corner of Broadway and Fourth street, Cincinnati.

Catherine Jane Garniss Chase died in 1835 following a difficult childbirth. Then their young daughter died before her fifth birthday.

A photograph of Catherine Jane "Kitty" Garniss Chase can be found in the photograph section between pages 200 and 201 of Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, Team of Rivals which is about Abraham Lincoln and his Cabinet including Salmon P. Chase.

We know from an online source that Amelia died in 1864. "At Baldwinsville, NY, on Thursday, Feb 11, at the residence of her niece, Mrs. J. T. Minard, Mrs. Amelia Garniss, wife of John P. Garniss, of New York City, in the 78th year of her age. Source: NY Times, Monday, Feb 22, 1864" Also we know that their adopted daughter was already dead from a death notice in the New York Evening Post on 19 Aug 1857: "Cordelia H w David Austen, Jr. 33"

John and Amelia were living with Amelia's niece when each of them died, as shown in this census record for the Isaac T. Minard family:

1860 US Census, New York, Onondaga County, Town of Lysander, p. 215, 801-828
I. T. Minard, white, male, age 54. Attorney, Real property $10,000, personal property $2,000. Born NY
Elizabeth Minard, white, female, age 50. Born NY
Elizabeth Minard, white, female, age 20. Born NY
Julia Minard, white, female, age 17. Born NY
Charles Minard, white, male, age 15. Born NY. Attended school.
John Garniss white, male, age 75. Real property $25,000. Personal property $10,000. Born NY
Amelia Garniss, white, female, age 74. Born NY
Helen Wallace, white, female, age 77. Born NY
Helen Wallace, white, female, age 48. Born NY
Elizabeth Gladwell, white, female, age 22. Born Ireland.

Also living there was Helen Wallace, widow of Amelia's brother, James Dickinson Wallace. Elizabeth Wallace Minard was their daughter, and Amelia's niece.

The remaining two sons of Thomas Garniss are, I believe, Philip Garniss and Thomas W. Garniss. John P. Garniss' connection to these gentlemen is established within the following two newspaper advertisments.

Philip Garniss, Debtor - 27 Mar 1812

John P. & Thomas W. Garniss - Dissolution of Partnership

Philip Garniss married Jane, the widow of Michael McLachlan in 1802. It appears from other newspaper advertisements that it was a stormy marriage.

Philip Garniss Wedding

From other advertisements, it seems that Philip Garniss was a brewer, who married Jane to obtain the McLachlan brewery. At least one advertisement has been found that indicates that Philip and Jane were sued to obtain property belonging to the children of Michael McLachlan. I won't go into details here, but if you are interested, check the New York City newspapers for that era.

By 1812, Philip was in deep financial trouble, and the advertisement above indicates that all he had was being sold to pay his debts. It is here that we learn of John P. Garniss' connection to Philip as John is helping to settle Philip's accounts.

John P. Garniss appears to have been in business with Thomas W. Garniss prior to 1818 from the advertisment of desolution of partnership shown above. The nature of the business is not clear, but from other advertisments, it might have had something to do with commercial shipping.

Thomas W. Garniss married Caroline S. Rogers in Genesee County NY in October 1813.

Thomas W. Garniss Marriage

According to The Ancestors and Descendants of Dr. David Rogers published by Edward Francis Fremaux de Beixedon, Jr. in 1921, Caroline Susan Rogers, daughter of Dr. David Rogers and Esther Horton Rogers, was born in Mamaroneck NY on 7 Dec 1796 and died in Newark NJ on 21 Jan 1865. She was married to Thomas W. Garniss, a shipping merchant, on 3 Oct 1813. He was born in New York City in 1788 and died in Newark on 5 Feb 1865. They had seven children:

Martha Garniss, born 9 Jul 1814; married John A. Morrill on 9 Jul 1834; children: Catherine, Marie, Frederick
Caroline Garniss, born 1815; died 1897; never married
David Rogers Garniss, born 11 Oct 1817; never married
Catherine Garniss, born 8 Dec 1819; died 23 Feb 1907; married James M. Read on 27 Jul 1842; children: Evelyn, Gertrude, Oscar
John Garniss, born 26 Nov 1821; never married
Esther F. Garniss, born 3 Oct 1823; married John H. Wallace (brother of James S. Wallace) on 26 Jun 1856; no children
James R. Garniss, born 30 Nov 1829; married Julia Ranney in San Francisco on 5 Sep 1855; no children

Returning to John P. Garniss, we learn from later advertisments that he had purchased a brewery.

John P. Garniss Brewery

Business may have been very good, for sometime before 1830 the Garnisses left New York and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where they seemed to lead a life of leisure. We know from Robert Bruce Warden's book, An Account of the Private Life and Public Sevices of Salmon Portland Chase, that after they moved to Cincinnati they frequently traveled, including trips to New Orleans and to the White Sulphur Springs of Virginia.

In his book, Salmon P. Chase, a Biography, John Niven makes several references to the Garnisses. He indicates that at first Chase thought his future in-laws were "pretentious and boring. He took an instant dislike to Garniss, who at best was a difficult man of uncertain temper. Obviously quite successful in a material sense, he struck Chase as a vulgar, social climber, 'ambitious to lead the fashions here.'" According to Niven, "Garniss was a verbose, noisy dogmatist given to slanderous remarks about some of Chase's friends."

Despite Chase's obvious dislike for her parents, he and Kitty Garniss were married "in the parlor of the Garnisses' spacious new home at the corner of Broadway and Fourth Street. ... Kitty found herself pregnant and persuaded Chase to take up residence with the Garnisses so that she could be close to her mother."

After Kitty's death, the Garnisses doted on their granddaughter, and were concerned when Chase decided to marry again, fearful that they would not see as much of the child. Then three months after the marriage, a scarlet fever epidemic erupted in Cincinnati. Mr. Garniss was ill during a time when his granddaughter was visiting him. On 24 Jan 1840 the child became ill and was diagnosed with scarlet fever. She died a few days later. "Chase was again grief-stricken; the Garnisses were equally distressed at the sudden loss of their only grandchild."

We know from a note that Chase wrote that the Garnisses were living in Northamption, Massachusetts around 1849, for Chase's third wife and children were visiting them at that time. After that we next find them living with their adopted daughter in the 1850 census listed above, and after that they were with the Minards until their deaths.

There is certainly more to learn about this family, but I will leave that to you.


Effort has been made to eliminate errors, but their absence is not guaranteed. This document is copyright 2006 by Charles Hartley. Permission is hereby granted to individuals seeking family history information to copy the contents of this document for their personal use. It may not be sold, either separately or as part of a collection, without the written permission of the copyright holder; nor may it be placed at any other location on the internet without said written permission.

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