From the Isle of Man to worldwide


Articles from the USA

This article was originally written in 1981 and published in the Isle of Man Family History Journal Vol 3 in that year. In printing it here it is intended to show the lengths to which genealogists and family historians go to get information about their "families" and the fun and excitement had along the way.


There is something about genealogical research which just seems to grab you – when one is about to lose interest and give up, something just happens to turn up, doesn’t it?

My continuing QUALTROUGH research was getting me a little bogged down after my return from the Isle of Man last August (1980). I had spent a very busy three weeks there gathering all the Qualtrough references I could find and by the time I returned to New Zealand knowing the daunting task ahead of me sorting all these out, my brain told me it had had enough.

I had obtained QUALTROUGH addresses from many areas of the world and sent a questionnaire and covering letter to them all. That was in May 1980 and I am still receiving replies.

One particular one sent me off on a very exciting and fruitful search, the results of which I would like to share with you. The reply concerned came from one John Pazton Qualtrough of Illinois, USA. He did not seem to know much about his immediate ancestry, but added at the bottom of his sheets: "Did you know that there is a Qualtrough Street in both SanDiego, California and Rochester, New York?" This little "tit-bit" of information brewed away inside of me for a while till I determined that these streets must have been named for someone. What did I do? Well, I wrote to the city authorities in each city for information pertaining to these streets. The results that I received from these two enquiries are still astounding me!

First, I received a letter from the genealogy section of the San Diego Public Library to which my letter had been forwarded. The reply was most helpful and courteous. It went like this:

"Your query about the origin of the name QUALTROUGH for one of San Diego’s streets has indeed been a challenging one, involving the City Clerk’s Office and several branches of our Main Library. As far as I have been able to ascertain, it is not named for a local person.

"The street had at least one other name before it became Qualtrough Street in 1900. In that year many San Diego streets were renamed in a huge ordinance because there was too much duplication of names. When new names were selected, alphabetical series were often used: birds in one area, trees in another.

"The series chosen for the La Plays area in which Qualtrough Street is situated is apparently one of naval men. Then I discovered that these men had been officers, and checked an Annapolis (US Naval Academy) alumni directory in our government documents. Sure enough, there was a Qualtrough listed.

QUALTROUGH, Edward Frank, Commodore USN (Ret) Born New York (State), Appointed from New York. Retired 30 June 1909, died 18 November 1913. (See Great White Fleet article)

"These brief items are all I could glean from the Alumni Directory. Perhaps if you wrote to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, they would be able to supply more family information."

So I wrote to the USNA in Annapolis and their reply included a copy of Edward Frank’s obituary and also his father’s name and birth details, which stated that he (Edward Frank) had been born in Rochester, NY.

The reply from Rochester City authorities was even more enlightening. The City Historian to whom my letter had been forwarded, told me the following:

"Qualtrough Road lies a few miles from Rochester. Several Qualtroughs lived in Rochester and the vicinity in the last century (ie19th Cent). It seems the road was named for Richard Qualtrough, a Penfield farmer with 83.55 acres of land. This man married Catherine Kennedy in 1854. Most prominent of the Rochester Qualtroughs was Joseph (died 22 February 1898) who emigrated from the Isle of Man and settled in Rochester earlier in the century. He was a prominent miller, an alderman in the 1860’s and an overseer of the poor. John Qualthro, who apparently varied the name’s spelling, served in the New York State 6th Cavalry 1861-1865.

"An LM Qualtrough was a teacher at Central School in Rochester in 1877"

From that letter, which also included a list of researchers addresses, I engaged what turned out to be someone proficient in her job.

Mrs Nixon, my researcher, came to light with many Qualtroughs. She confirmed that Joseph (miller, died 1898) was the father of Edward Frank Qualtrough, after whom the San Diego street was named. Joseph from his death records was born in 1825, Richard of Penfield died 1905, aged 78, making his birth about 1827 and another Edward Qualtrough died of malnutrition in 1891, aged 68, making his birth about 1823. From Rushen (Isle of Man) baptismal records which I have, I have deduced that these three are brothers, all sons of William Qualtrough, former coroner and widower of Rushen who married Miss Elizabeth Qualtrough, spinster, daughter of Thomas Qualtrough of Kentraugh (IOM) in 1823. Of course, this is only conjecture at this point and needs proving.

Joseph Qualtrough was the first one to appear in Rochester from the Isle of Man in the early 1840s (his obituary says he came with his parents, but no trace of their burial records have been found yet) purchasing a block of land in 1849. Edward and Richard purchased land in Penfield near Rochester on what was later to become Qualtrough Road.

A Martin Qualtrough and family appear in Rochester too, and from the Rochester probate records given to me by Mrs Nixon, and also from the Rushen (IOM) 1861 census which I have in my possession, I have identified Martin Qualtrough as being born in 1834 in Rushen, son of Paul Qualtrough and Mary Qualtrough (nee Clague) of Croit-E-Caley, Rushen, IOM.

Rushen, New York, appears to have been quite a gathering place for Qualtroughs in the 19th century. Some fared well, some did not. Joseph became a prominent figure in Rochester while his brother Edward died of malnutrition. In subsequent generations there have been a John Qualtrough, a Frederick, Ray, Donald, Clarissa, Bridget and so on. My job now is to try and tie some of these Qualtroughs in with some of those who have answered my questionnaire. Who would have thought that my two enquiry letters to San Diego and Rochester would have revealed so much.

Written in 1981 by Elizabeth A Barlow (now Feisst). As a follow up to that article:

I would like to say that I never did sort out these Qualtroughs from Rochester and am now challenging myself to do so.

Submitted by Elizabeth Feisst, Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia.

January 1981.

© 2021 by Malcolm Qualtrough, Elizabeth Feisst and the late John Karran Qualtrough. 

Hosted by Ask Web Design, Isle of Man.

© Copyright by Malcolm Qualtrough, Elizabeth Feisst and the late John Karran Qualtrough.