Sunday, April 8, 2012

Leonards of Portland, Maine

As discussed in other blog posts, the surname "Leonard" is of English origin, but was also used for Anglicizing the German surname "Leonhardt", and the Irish surname "Lennan", which was rooted in the Gaelic "O'Leannain"...among other uses.

There have been Leonard families living in Portland Maine (most of them around the corner from each other in the Irish West End) since the migration during the Great Famine, yet there were a very few Leonards that appear in earlier records.  In addition to my own Irish Leonard family, I will seek to trace and number the larger Leonard families of Portland in order to eventually determine whether or not any of them may be linked to mine or to each other, perhaps enlisting the help of some of this blog's readers.  Families for which I've established a blood connection I've numbered similarly.

1A.  The Thomas D. Leonard Family of Dublin

Thomas D. Leonard (1828-1912) was my 2nd great grand uncle, who came from Portraine, Dublin, Ireland in 1850, during the Famine's height, and managed to set himself up quite well as a florist and private gardener, buying up a large block of Portland's West End (Briggs Street).  These properties stayed in the Leonard family for 80 years, having been rented, sold and/or bequeathed to his extended family who came over from Portraine, and their own families.  In the 1920s, these properties gradually began being rented and sold off to Polish immigrant families (many of whom were friends to the Leonards).  Thomas married twice, had five children, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild.  He has no living descendants, the last to die being Thomas Leonard Graney in 1972.  More can be read about this family here.

1B.  The Mathew John Leonard Family of Dublin


Mathew John Leonard (1854-1939) was my 2nd great grandfather, who came from Portraine, Dublin, Ireland in 1881, along with his siblings Patrick, Francis, Elizabeth and Ellen, to live near his uncle Thomas in Portland's West End (see above paragraph).  Mathew worked on the railroad and made his own beer at home (useful during the Prohibition era) in the back of his house on Briggs Street.  He married once, had three children, four grandchildren, five great grandchildren, at least 13 great great grandchildren, and two more generations after that.  With this respectable number of descendants, Mathew only has five living male heirs, including myself, none of whom are going to have additional male heirs.  More can be read about this family here.

2.  The Owen Leonard Family of Cork

Owen Leonard (1827-1903) was from County Cork, Ireland, born to Patrick & Dorothy Leonard.  He arrived in 1848, another Famine refugee.  He also lived in Portland's West End, among my Leonards (I wonder if the question was ever raised about potential relations).  Owen married once (Ellen Coughlin), had at least seven children (John A. Leonard, Eugene W. Leonard, Mary E. Leonard-Coyne, Johanna F. Leonard-Owens, Nellie, Kate, Maggie), at least six grandchildren (John A. Leonard, Jr., Joseph B. Coyne, Ella A. Coyne, Catherine Coyne, Ellen Owens, and Eva Owens-Savage), and multiple successive generations.  John A. Leonard Jr. is of particular interest to me, because he had two daughters (Mary and Elizabeth, pictured below), and Mary bears a very striking resemblance to my Leonard family.

Possible Cousin?

These (and many other) pictures, with names thoughtfully written on the back, had been found in a shoebox of an elderly lady who had passed away in Portland.  Due to my interest in this surname, I was forwarded these pictures in 2011 by a granddaughter of hers, who happens to be my distant cousin from a separate line, and a fellow researcher.  Since these girls' ancestor came from County Cork, and my ancestor came from County Dublin, I'm tempted to pass off their resemblance to my family as mere coincidence.  However, I've separately researched an Irish Thomas Leonard born in Gibraltar, Spain, 1779, who supposedly had ties to County Cork and County Dublin, and was a Colour Sergeant of the York Chasseurs who eventually settled in Perth, Canada.  According to family tree drawings collected in Dublin during a WWI visit there from my great grand uncle, Mathew John Leonard, Jr., that our furthest back ancestor was Thomas Leonard, from Spain...but all documentation I've read on the York Chasseurs doesn't indicate if Thomas had any Dublin children.  Further, in my correspondence with Nicole, a purported descendant of Thomas' Cork children, she wasn't able to verify if this famous Thomas had any children in County Dublin.  She also couldn't verify that an Owen Leonard of Cork was part of this family.  It would certainly be interesting to believe that this Thomas was father to all of them, and I'd like to find out for certain in my lifetime.

3A.  Samuel Stephen Leonard

Samuel Stephen Leonard, born in Portland in 1803, worked as a blacksmith, and enlisted in the Army in September of 1824, but deserted in 1826.  Samuel moved to Schuyler County, Illinois at some point before 1850.  He died of pneumonia in Wayland, IL, at 72 years of age, leaving a wife and seven children (he also had a previous marriage which bore him an additional seven children).  He was proprietor of what was known as the old Skidmore Hotel, on the northeast corner of the square in Brooklyn Township, IL. He was the supervisor of Brooklyn Township at one point, and was a leading and influential citizen of the community where he resided.  His brothers, Abraham and Albert Gallatin Leonard, lived in Windham, Maine, as did his uncles Samuel and Charles.

Some better documented accounts point Samuel's parentage to a William Leonard, a blacksmith, of Portland, but this has been disproven by descendants of Samuel, and the running theory is that Samuel's father was an Abraham Hayden Leonard of Windham (more on him below).

SOURCE: History of Monmouth and Wales, Volume Two by Harry H Cochrane, published 1894. (Albert G Leonard died in Monmouth, ME in 1880.), page 390.

3B.  Abraham Hayden Leonard of Windham and Portland

Abraham Hayden Leonard of Windham married a Nancy Stevens in 1801 in Portland.  Nancy died in Portland in 1807, and then Abraham remarried to a Susannah Dyer in 1808 (also of Portland).  Some descendants of Samuel Stephen Leonard above believe Abraham to be Samuel's father.

Abraham was a descendant of the noted Leonard family of Taunton Massachusetts (as were potentially many others in this writing), descending from John Leonard (1615-1675) who immigrated in 1639 from Pontypool, Monmouthshire, Wales to Springfield, Mass.

A genealogical history of Robert Adams, of Newbury, Mass: and his descendants, 1635-1900, by Andrew Napolean Adams, 1 Jan 1900, Google Books; Online
Genealogical and Family History of the State of Connecticut (, 1911), University of Connecticut Libraries, Vol 1, Pgs 232-233.
Descendants of William Scott of Hatfield, Mass., 1668-1906 by Orrin Peer Allen, 1906.
Massachusetts, Springfield Vital Records, 1638-1887,
North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000,

4.  The Thomas Leonard Family of Meath

Thomas Leonard (1807-1873) and his wife Mary (1814-1869) migrated from County Meath, Ireland to Deering/Westbrook, Maine just prior to 1840.  They had at least five children (Patrick, James H. Leonard, Margarate, Merrill & Mary E.), the first four of which were born in Ireland.  Thomas naturalized in 1855.  Their children moved to Portland and lived in the West End among my ancestors and other Leonards in the late 1800s.  Thomas and Mary are both buried in Evergreen Cemetery.  Thomas died of heart disease and Mary died of consumption.  It appears that Mary lived in the poor house in Portland for the 1850 and 1860 Census, and was listed as 'insane'.

5. The Patrick Leonard Family of Ireland

Patrick Leonard (1827-1892) was a laborer who migrated to Portland in the 1840s.  He was born in Ireland to John Leonard and Ellen McGowan.  Patrick lived in a boarding house owned by Mary Preble in 1850, and then married a woman named Kate soon thereafter.  Their son Thomas died at age two, and their daughter Ann (1858-?) married John Dow.  They lived on Federal Street and Patrick was listed as unable to read or write.  Patrick died in 1892 of phthisis.

6.  William Leonard Family of Randolph Massachusetts

William Clarence Leonard (1856-after 1920) was born in Randolph Massachusetts, son to John Warren Leonard of Randolph and Susan Thornton of Appleton, Maine.  Somewhere just prior to 1880, after his father died, William, his mother, and his wife Martha Dyer lived in Portland, Maine, and had a daughter, Stella Leonard-Elliott.  William's brother, Ernest W. Leonard, also moved to Portland at that time (after living in Appleton for a stint).  Ernest married Charity Coffin, and had one baby, Alice, who died at four months, then had four other children in Portland (William, Edna, Ernest Jr., and Leroy).  At some point between 1890 and 1900, Ernest moved his family to Cambridge, Mass.  No Leonards remained in Portland from this group.  William Clarence's great grandfather was Seth Leonard, born 1782 in Plymouth.  Seth was a descendant of the Taunton Leonards from Wales, which I'm separately related to.

7.  Beverly Leonard Family of Canada

Beverly Leonard (male) and his wife Emma migrated from Canada in 1926 with their son Gardner, and lived on Ellsworth Street in Portland's West End.  These are English Leonards, and therefore no relation that I can tell.

8.  Edward Leonard Family of England

Edward Leonard of England lived on Coyne Street with his son Edward, Jr., for the 1930 Census.

9A.  Leo Leonard Family of Albion Maine

Leo Melvin Leonard (1876-1971) was born and raised in Albion, Kennebec County, Maine, son to farmer George P. Leonard, a third generation Leonard farmer from Albion.  The furthest back this research appears to go is to John Leonard, born in Maine 1750, who was a Rev. War veteran who moved to Albion after the war, to farm and start his family.  It's unclear if this John was of Irish or English heritage.  It's most likely that he was English, because in 1750 there weren't as many Irish immigrants as English with that name.  Leo spent some time working as an attendant at the Danvers Massachusetts Mental Hospital (1900 Census), and came back to Albion, and married Margaret Flynn, where he there worked as a mail clerk.  He and Margaret moved to Portland and had three children who survived to adulthood (Leo Blair Leonard, Hazel E. Leonard, and Joseph Henry Leonard).  This family lived on Roberts Street, over near St. John's Street.  Leo also worked at the nearby Union Station Terminal as a railroad clerk.

9B.  Merton Leonard of Albion Maine

Merton Leonard (1884-1952) was younger brother to Leo Melvin Leonard above.  He and his wife, Edith McKinney, migrated south from Albion to Portland, Maine (9 Whitney Avenue) between 1900 and 1910.  He worked as a locomotive engineer at Maine Central Railroad and also as a fireman.  They moved back to Albion between 1933 and 1940.  No children.  Merton was described on his WWI draft card as being 6'3" with blue eyes and black hair.

10.  Levi Leonard Family of Connecticut

Levi (1828-??) was a boatman at the Portland Customs House.  He and his wife Martha came from Connecticut originally.  They had one son, Charles, born in 1864.  For the 1870 and 1880 censuses they were living at 19 Vine Street with Martha's children from a prior marriage.  Levi's parents were also from CT, so it's likely this was an English family, since the Irish generally didn't emigrate until the 1840s.

11.  James Leonard Family of Canada

James W. Leonard and his wife Celina were French Canadians who migrated to Portland in 1881.

12.  Bernard Leonard

A Bernard Leonard (??-1963) lived on Congress Place in Portland, but also lived in South Portland and Freeport.

13.  Jeremiah Leonard Family of England and Ireland

Jeremiah P. Leonard (1839-1915) was a coachman and hostler born in England.  He lived briefly in Ireland where he likely met his wife, Ellen Foy.  Their first child, John, was born in Ireland in 1860.  In 1867 Jeremiah and family moved to 243 Danforth Street, in Portland, Maine, where they then had Joseph Leonard, followed by Fenwick T. Leonard (1868-1929) and Christopher W. Leonard (1872-1939), who both worked as motormen.  Jeremiah died of arteriosclerosis.  His death record states that he lived in Canada at one time.  It doesn't appear that any of his four children bore him any grandchildren.

14.  William Leonard of 1874

A William Leonard married a Catherine A. Henry in Portland in 1874.  No further information found as yet.

15.  Charles W. Leonard (1889-1969)

Charles was originally from Milo, Maine, but moved to Portland and married his wife Marjorie in the 1910s.  He enlisted in WWI, and eventually moved to Cape Elizabeth by 1930, where he had five children.


  1. Do you have any information about William Leonard, a blacksmith, who lived in Portland, Maine around 1800. He had a son, Samuel, born about 1803. Samuel lived in Mass., Ohio, and finally settled in Schuyler, Co., Ill. I have no other information about his father, William.

    1. Is this the same Samuel Leonard who was owner of the Skidmore Hotel in Brooklyn, Illinois, and was also a supervisor for that town?

    2. I don't see any Leonards at all in the 1800 Census of Portland. I've never heard of William the blacksmith. I'd like to know more about what you have. Please email me?

    3. Dennis W LeonardMay 15, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      I am Dennis Leonard, grandson of Samuel's grandson Thomas Earl Leonard.Samuel Stephen Leonard was born in Portland, ME to William Leonard about 1809. Samuel moved from Biddeford,ME to Indiana then to Rushville, Schuyler Co, IL where he was an inn keeper.

    4. John Corn, Portland, ORDecember 30, 2013 at 5:47 PM

      I hate to be the bearer of bad news, however, the information listed regarding Samuel Stephen Leonard's father as William Leonard who was a blacksmith, etc, etc. is not correct. All this information came from a genealogy book called "Our Family Tree" written by Si & Shirley (Leonard) Corn published in June 1959. I know this to be true because Si & Shirley were my parents and I personally helped crank the old mimeograph machine to print off the pages. The book was not meant to be proven, documented facts. The sole intent was to compile family stories before everyone died and the stories were lost. I cannot find any verifiable documents that indicate a William Leonard ever lived in Portland, Maine.

      Samuel Stephen Leonard definitely was born in Portland, Maine abt 1803 according to his Army enlistment record. That record shows that Samuel enlisted on 02 Sep 1824 in Boston and deserted on 10 Nov 1826.

      Samuel married twice -- He had 7 children with his 1st wife (name unknown) 2 in Mass (1827-1829), 3 in Ohio (1836-1840), 1 in Missouri (1841), & 1 in Illinois in 1845. Samuel then married Mary (Webster) Brown on 9 Nov 1848 in Schuyler County, Illinois. They also had 7 children, all born in Illinois.

      I have a scanned copy of a letter written by Samuel to his brother Albert G. Leonard dated July 31st 1851 from Rushville, Illinois. It is addressed to "Albert Leonard, Windham, Maine, Cumberland County" with a post mark of Aug 10. It states in part "I have ben keeping a public house for 18 months but have sold out and am now going on to my farm Where I have two hundred acres of the best of land". Sorry for the spelling but I copied it exactly as written. It also references an "Uncle Samuel" and an "Uncle Charles".

      The best guess that I have for Samuel father would have to be Abraham H Leonard who first appears in the 1800 census for Windham, Maine. In 1800 he is single. He later appears in the 1810, 1820, and 1830 census. Maine Marriage Records on show Abraham married Nancy Stevens on 11 Oct 1801 in Portland, Maine. Nancy died in 1807 also in Portland. Abraham then married Susannah Dyer on 6 Nov 1808 again in Portland. There is also a booklet called "The History of Windham, Maine" that was written in 1897 that briefly mentions both Abraham Leonard and Albert Leonard.

      The confusing part is that the census records are for Windham but the marriage records show residence as Portland. Both Windham & Portland were spawned from the general area called Falmouth at about the same time in the very late 1700's.

      If anyone has any more documented information, please contact me at

  2. Great website, Scott!! Very interesting! I will keep my eyes out for any and all info. on the Leonards of Portland and Maine. Fenwick Leonard worked for the noted Deering family, whose mansion was on what is now Bedford Street. Nick Noyes, head librarian of the Maine Historical Society, is their direct descendant. Extant diaires for the Deerings are at the MHS which mention this Leonard family

  3. Scott-- I am with Matthew Jude on this one. It is excellent. Besides, I have full confidence in Matthew Jude's history and geneaology skills. He is the head dude at the Maine Irish Society in what had been St Dominic's Catholic Church. A key person for tapping for maple syrup and history of the Irish especially of Portland area. Coincidentally, my frst cousin, Marie, of whom I have already spoken to you is another great resource She is a volunteer at Calvary Cemetery, South Portland, where she is updating the horrendously outdated 3x5 card burial record system.... and getting the data into a computerized form. The two of them are much aware of each other. Marie's husband Joseph is from Ireland, a very talented computer technician, and both are wonderful people. Marie and I are also related to a 2d cousin Marilyn "Donnie" McKeough McCue. Donnie's folks are primarily from Nova Scotia where she was born and raised until she relocated to Massachusetts. Her geneaology is documented back to Adam and Eve and their cousins in Eden.////// Seriously, it is quite a network you have tapped into. On m part, while I have done quite a bit of family history --as has my wife Mary, I have not been able to given the time to it that I would like to... Though Mary, our son Matt, and I did a good tour of the "Maritimes" this past summer.... Looking forward to hearing from you again soon and please resend your email address so I can start sending some material to you. In the meantime i am very impressed with the organization of thoroughness of this "Old Blue Genes" site. Keep it up, there are many who will find both your method and data to be of awesome value. Paul Ken

    1. Thanks Paul, it's been great talking to you. I think I spoke with Marie at one point, and helped her with dates for my people at Ancestry, since some of what they had was incomplete. I know Matt very well, we run into each other sometimes in our travels. He's a great resource.

  4. Interested to know if my 4th great-grandfather Patrick Leonard, born around 1820, is related to this clan?