Kay O. Freeman did some research on the story of the "barrel containing $40,000 nearly all in gold, ... hidden in the cellar of the home of Mrs. Ella Quinn, of Philadelphia." Thanks!
The "Gold in a Barrel" story appears with same wording in newspapers from Fort Wayne, Indiana (April 20, 1900), Richfield Springs, NY (April 20 or 26, 1900) and Eau Claire, Wisconsin (June 21, 1900). I did not see it in Philadelphia Inquirer.
Each story says Ella Quinn (or Mrs. Ella W. Quinn) of North Philadelphia, died 2 days ago. John Quinn, 6 years old, of Trenton inherits…
I believe most of the details of this story are wrong.
The key is the Bridgton, NJ byline – which leads me to believe the story is about THIS Ellen Quinn:
Ellen Quinn, age 68, died April 3, 1900, at her residence, 614 South 7th St., 4th Ward, Philadelphia. Funeral St. Paul's Church. Burial Cathedral Cemetery.
She was born in Ireland and emigrated before 1860.
Ellen was the widow of Dennis Quinn (born Ireland 1833 – died May 31,1889, Philadelphia , also 614 South 7th St.). They had lived at same address at least since 1870. The family lived above their place of business. [building may still exist].
Dennis Quinn was a saloon keeper. He (and others) had many battles over renewing license to sell liquor. There was anti-saloon feeling in the city. This is reported in his obituary – the troubles hastened his death from "brain fever." He was a stout, hearty man, well-liked, who lost his will to live. "He and his wife had intended to start a pleasure trip when his license was not renewed. They had saved a small fortune between $50,000 and $75,000."
The son, John A. Quinn (born 1860, PA), was bartender at father's tavern and had similar problems with liquor license renewal in 1890's – 1900's, despite being elected a Philadelphia City Councilman in 1903.
Ellen Quinn wrote her will Nov. 13, 1891. It was probated April 20, 1900, in Philadelphia. She leaves "the half of the double house and lot of land on East Avenue, in the City of Bridgeton, New Jersey, purchased by me of Aaron Smith." Various bequests, but most to son, John A. Quinn, who is executor.
John A. Quinn has a son, John, Jr., who was born Sept. 18, 1895, so he would be right age for the 6-year-old mentioned in newspaper stories. There are four other children – why is he singled out? (JA Quinn's wife and children were all born in New Jersey).
Ellen Quinn died before the 1900 census enumeration. Interestingly, the James A. Quinn family is enumerated twice [happens sometimes] in 1900 – living both at 614 South 7th St, Philadelphia and 143 East Avenue, Bridgeton, Cumberland County, NJ. [it is same family! Same names, birth months, etc.]. John A. Quinn, age 39, is listed as "retired."
In 1910 census, John A. Quinn family still living 143 East Ave., Bridgeton, NJ. He is "retired."
By the 1920 census, John A. Quinn has died. His widow and children are living same house; but they do not seem to be that rich – daughter: stenographer, machine shop; son: time keeper, ship yard; son: salesman, grocery store.
In the 1930 Census, the Quinn family still living in the East Avenue house, Bridgeton, NJ.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
MYSTERIOUS LEDGER SIX NINE FOUR: THE ELLA QUINN HOARD
Wayne Homren, Editor
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