It has always been family lore that James Brown McLea and his wife Margaret Turner had traveled from Scotland to live in Paterson, New Jersey, where James worked as a jeweller.

However, in recent months, looking in Massachusetts directories (where the family lived after Margaret's death in 1897), James was always a dyer, machinist, or similar. Indeed, it was thought that he may have injured himself and no longer have been able to work as a jeweller, requiring different work to support his family.

One digitized directory from Paterson, 1890-1893, available on Ancestry had confirmed him as a jeweller, so I sought to see what I could find out from other directories. I got a letter today from the Passaic County (N.J.) Historical Society Library, where I had written for help.

They couldn't find him ("McLea, James B, jeweller") in any other records that they hold, but they did find him in the directories for 1886-7, 1887-8, 1889-90, 1890-1, 1891-2, 1892-3, 1893-4, 1895-6, 1897-8. They are missing in 1867-8, 1884-5, 1896-7, and the single year 1898.

  • From 1886 through 1890, they are at 39 Vine in Paterson.
  • From 1891 through 1895, they are at 71 Vine. (This may be simply a number change.)
  • In 1896, they are at 94 Cedar.
  • In 1897 (Margaret's death), they are at 14 Temple st.
  • In 1897-8, they are at 206 Cliff.

A John McLea also shows up in 1895-6, a laborer at 496 Main. In 1896-7, he is at the same address. In 1897-8, he is a boilermaker at 160 Oak, and in 1898, he is a laborer at 543 Totowa ave. His relationship to my McLea family is unknown.