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Where did Thomas L. Marsalis go?

Posted by Jim Barnes 
reports that Thomas L. Marsalis, the flamboyant businessman who urbanized Oak Cliff during the 1880s, went broke during the panic of 1893 and "... left for New York in 1894 to try new business endeavors, but died a poor man a few years later. The location and date of his death are unknown."
Does anyone at this Message Board:
a. Know anything more about the disappearance and death of Thomas L. Marsalis?
b. Have any photographs of Marsalis, other than the newsaper image reprint in "The Hidden Citymoody smiley
Thomas L. Marsalis (age 57) is listed on the 1910 Census for New York, New York (Manhattan Borough) as a real estate investor living with his wife Elizabeth (age56), daughter Laila, and son Thomas who is a stock broker. Apparently Thomas L. died after 1910 but before 1920 because only his wife and daughter are on the 1920 census and ,I have determined, his son Thomas was married and living in New Jersey by 1920.
Thank you very much. That is unexpected.
The Handbook of Texas Online, in their biography of Marsalis, states:
Thank you for the additional information. My husband (who was born in Dallas) is a direct descendant of the Peter H. and Mary Magdalene Gordon Marsalis/Marsales family of Amite, Mississippi. It is accepted that Pieter Van Marselis along with his wife, 4 children and 2 servants emigrated from Holland in 1661 on the ship "Beaver" to New Amsterdam. He settled in Bergen Co.,N.J.and died there in 1680/82. Four generations later a direct descendant named John Marselis was born in N.J.in 1745. One of his sons was our Peter H. who had married M.M."Polly"Gordon either in NC or GA. They had 6 sons and several daughters. Most of the sons were born in Georgia in the very early 1800s and the rest in Amite. All 6 sons ended up with plantations around Amite. Their names were Ephraim, William P., Patterson, Thomas, James, and John. It is generally believed that our Thomas L. was a son of Patterson and his second wife Martha Terrell. After her death and when Thomas L. was only a year or so old Patterson moved to Claiborne Co.,Louisiana and by 1856 was married again. Whether Thomas L. was for certain Patterson's son or not he definitely was of this family because they were the ONLY Marsalis/Marselis family in the South in the 1800s. John Marselis and his wife Prudence Fritz Randolph also had sons John H. and Ephraim. This Ephraim also had moved to MS. and died there in Wilkinson Co. in 1812. So it is possible that Thomas L. was one of their descendants.
This is wonderful information, thank you so much for sharing your family research with us.
I've been digging around, and looking at maps. Amite is a city in Louisiana, but a County in Mississippi, just north of the Louisana state line, not far from New Orleans. Your records seem to correct and clarify the Thomas L. Marsalis biography from the
Re Thomas L. Marsalis: the only info I have on him for his latter years is the 1910 census. I found it by plowing through 100s of census images until I finally figured out the code.Census takers often misspelled names (wrote them the way they sounded) and often guesstimated other info or consulted "neighbors". Thus I found Thomas L., Jr. listed in 1920 as "Marsala", his wife's name indecipherable, and his daughter listed as Barber, age 4 9/12.The last census images I have access to are 1930. So far nothing more of Elizabeth or Laila (sp.?) but Thomas, Jr. is listed in Montclair, NJ (recorded as Marsallis). He is listed as age 46, married since age 31, a Stock exchange Broker, and "w w veteran". His wife is Lillian, age 37, and daughter Barbara, age 15.
Re: the location of the earlist MARSALIS/MARSELIS:
They moved from the Bergen Co. area to the Piscataway area.(Dunellen, Scotch Plains, Bound Brook Etc. )I don't know how interested in all this you are but I have alot of family tree info. The problem is I still haven't found a source with documented evidence that verifies Peter H. (MS) was one of John Marselis and Prudence Fitzrandolph's sons. (NOT FRITZ as I wrote before but FITZ).There is a lot of info available on the Fitzrandolph family and Ephraim is suppose to be this Prudence's father. Google has much data. An interesting site is :
[www.dunellen.com] Good early history summary with mention of Marselis.
Also: [www.goleader.com] Which talks about the Stage House in Scotch Plains and was once owned by a Peter Marselis, who, I think at this point, was John Marselis' brother. It is a restored gourmet restaurant today and is on an old direct road from NY to Philadelphia.
Incidentally the spelling of MarsElis was changed with the southern move as best as I can determine
We had always assumed Marsalis to be of French origin and were very surprised to find its pure Dutch. Currently I am awaiting a book to arrive that hopefully will connect many of the dots.
Since you seem very interested in Dallas history, we have a 1951 book called the LUSTY TEXANS Of DALLAS (What a title!) by John William Rogers.In case you have not seen it, if there's any info you might like for me to check let me know.
A current popular history, "The Hidden City: Oak Cliff, Texas" by Bill Minutaglio & Holly Williams (1990) gives a biographical account of Thomas L. Marsalis, starting on page 49, in which it informs readers that "His parents were Dutch Quakers who had left Holland for Pennsylvania in the 1840s."
According to your research information, the 1840s is actually the 1660s, giving his family background quite a different color.
I look forward to having the time to bloodhound my way through the death records of the State of New York, and I will look forward to reporting some sort of result to you, here.
"The Lusty Texans of Dallas" is well known local history classic, easily obtained through the local library system. It is cited by the "Handbook of Texas Online" in the Biliography following their sketch of Marsalis. I myslf have not read it, and should try to look it up sometime and give it a read.
I too had assumed that the Marsalis name was somehow related to the French city's. Indeed one of the streets in Oak Cliff (currently Lausanne north of Colorado) was christened "Marsailles" in the original 1923 plat of Colorado Boulevard. I assumed that this was pun on the Thomas Marsalis name, perhaps the Owens family knowing something of Marsalis family history. (Apparently NOT!)
Thanks so much for a little illumination on one of our pioneers.
Here's surprise:
"The WPA Dallas Guide and History", a typewritten manuscript prepared by the Works Progress Administration of the United States government during the late 19930s and early 1940s, published in book form in 1992, states on page 364, under the history of the 'Masonic and Odd Fellows Cemeteries' (now called simply 'Pioneer Cemetery', west of City Hall in downtown Dallas):
"Here are buried ... Dr. J.W. Crowdus, once mayor of Dallas...(and)T.L. Marsalis, who developed Oak Cliff...".
This is a surprise!! Wasn't J. W. Crowdus the father of Elizabeth, the wife of T.L.Marsalis ?
1870 CENSIS DALLAS, DALLAS CO.-J.W. Crowdus, age 42 with financial worth of $8,000 and $5,000 (alot for those days),born in Ky., married to F.E., age41, daughter Elizabeth 17 born in Tenn., Hattie 15 b.Mo.,Eugene 10 b.Mo., and Fannie 6 b.Ark.
1880 CENSUS misspells name as CROWDERS-J.W. is listed as a physician. Somewhere else I read he was a pharmicist.
1880 CENSUS misspells MARSALIS AS MarsaLLIS T.L.age 27, and wrongly lists his and his parents birthplace as La. Wife listed as Mrs. T.L. age 26 born in Tenn. and her parents wrongly listed as born in Tenn., and daughter LELIA age 2 born in Tex. T. L. is listed as a wholesale grocer.
Unfortunately there is a very limited Federal census for the U.S. for 1890 due to a fire and the 1900 census has not yet been indexed. I checked for Philadelphia and Manhattan and of course there are 1000s of images.
Thomas L. Marsalis WAS the son of Patterson and grandson of Peter H. Marselis/Marsalis. I found confirmation in the censuses for 1860 and 1870.
The 1870 CENSUS Claiborne, La. has Patterson listed as MARCELIUS, PAT, age 57, born in Ms. and was a farmer and dry goods merchant. His real estate value was guessed at $2500 and his personal value at $10,000. The 3 oldest children were also born Ms. This includes Thoamas L., age 17 and a "store clerk". The next 8 children had been born in La.
The 1860 CENSUS has PATERSON MARSALUS living in Jackson, Louisiana. Here Patterson's real est. value was $6000 and personal $9000.There are 7 children listed. "Thomas" could be interpreted as "Francis" the way it is written. He was age 8 and born Ms.
Patterson was quite prolific, I have counted at least 19 children! He was still in Claiborne in 1880 living with his wife,6 of his children,2 laborers, and a servant.
Thank you for inspiring me to dig some more over old ground. For years we've wanted to clarify the History Online data about T.L.'s heritage (which is mostly in error as the same info has beeb used repeatedly over many years) My Marsalis book did not come today and we will be gone for the next week so no news from it for awhile.
Yes, Mayor Crowdus was Thomas L. Marsalis' father-in-law. According to Ralph Black, his Pioneer cemetery tombstone is dated 1895. We're still searching for confirmation of the WPA report of Marsalis burials there too.
Jackson Parish is adjacent to Claiborne Parish. In the census of 1860, Dr. John H. Stevens was living there. He had been there since about 1849 or 1850, when he left the Pennyslvania State Hospital in Philadelphia where he had "interned". He married neighbor Mary Armstrong in 1869 at the hamlet of Vienna, in Claiborne Parish. Her Methodist minister father had moved around the area and lived during the War in Union Parish. From your net worth figures, it looks as if the Marsalis family had a similar wealth to that of Dr. Stevens and Rev. Armstrong. So, altogether, I find it increasingly likely that young Tom Marsalis would have known the Stevens in Dallas, being of the same origin, similar economic status, and sharing membership in the same religious denomination. Yet, if Marsalis was interested in the old Stevens farm in Oak Cliff development plans, there is no evidence. The reason may simply have been that the Stevens farm was stilled tied up in a twenty year long probate struggle. Dr. Stevens had died intestate in 1881, and Rev. Armstrong held an undivided half interest in his farmstead. Rev. Armstrong's wife had children by a previous marriage and those heirs started asking for their shares of their grandmother's estate. When executrix Mary Armstrong Stevens refused to give them anything, a lengthy (over 600 pages of records)court case ensued. Ironically, the suing descendents of Eliza Chappell Armstrong, had moved to Dallas from Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. Tom Marsalis might not been eager to take sides.
Jim,in a Tues.,March 7, 1916 newspaper article T. L. Marsalis is noted as a New York real estate dealer. This helps narrow his death down farther as we know he was not listed on the 1920 NY census.Apparently by then he was also involved as a "lodyist" (lobbyist ?)at Washington.
Earlier in 1897 and according to the NY Times he was president of the rapidly failing American Grocery Co. which had been reorganized from the Thurber-Whyland Co. The company was registered in NJ.
We've had some off-Message Board emails, which I would like to report. Both Ralph Black and Greg Jaynes report that J.W. Crowdus was indeed buried in the downtown Pioneer Cemetery (the Masonic portion). Ralph reports nothing about any Marsalis, but Greg reports that the daughter of T.L. Marsalis, who died around age four, was buried there, in the Crowdus plot. Greg, who has done extension research and survey recordings of the cemetery, wrote to me that he believes Thomas L. Marsalis, founder of Oak Cliff, is NOT buried in Pioneer Cemetery.
Could you post the name of this March 7, 1916 newspaper and the headline of the story?
That's very interesing. Marsalis had been away from Dallas 24 years.
Jim You mentioned that Greg Jaynes had a CD on the Pioneer Cemetery. I would like to have a copy of that. Greg,if your are tuned in, contact me at my email address please
THE CLEARFIELD PROGRESS (An Independent Republican Newspaper) Tuesday, March 7, 1916
New York, by United Press
GERMAN-AMERICAN ALLIANCE BACKED GORE RESOLUTION--Alliance Would Keep Americans Off Vessels by Refusing to Grant Passports
"Again taking up its expose of alleged pro-German propaganda the morning World today gives an alleged copyrighted story and letters from various sources alleging that the Gore and McLenore resolutions in congress were backed by the national German-American alliance. The World named Alphonso G. Koelble a New York attorney as leader of the clearing house of the alliance, and declared T.L.MARSALIS, a New York real estate dealer, is the laeding lodyist directing the work at Washinton.
The story alleges that the congressional program of the allince includes keeping Americans off belligerent ships by refusing passports, placing an embargo on contraband of war, and prohibiting federal reserve banks from subscribing to war loan to belligerants.
In addition the World alleges the alliance program is for control of the Republican national convention and defeat of Wilson. What is alleged to be a copy of a letter from Congressman Bertholdt of Missouri to Koelble suggesting that the latter start a Champ Clark boom in New York is also published."
In brief: 1901 German-Alliance formed-- heritage reminder etc.
1915 G.-A. and Irish-American Alliance formed to keep U. S. out of war
1917 U.S. enters War, anti German hysteria rampant
1918 World War 1 ends, the Reich defeated (Thank God), and German- American alliance disbanded
Thomas L. Marsalis, Jr. was a veteran of WW1 but thats all known so far. Have found nothing more about his father.
The NEW YORK TIMES articles were April 18,1897
AMERICAN GROCERY COMPANY. Application for the Appointment of a Temporary Receiver fot the Concern Has Been Filed
and October 11, 1897
A BIG CONCERN'S DECLINE.The American Grocery Company Tied Up by Differences among Its Stockholders. BUSINESS PRESTIDGE INJURED.An Obstructed Liquidation-Meagre Remnant of the Once Great Trade of the Thurber-Whyland Company- A Reorganized Concern with Scant Capital and Peculiar Assets
Store and salesrooms in Franklin Street being kept open by T.L. Marsalis, President. He is also mentioned as "President and Manager-T.L.Marsalis, formerly of Dallas, Texas. Long article!
The April 18 article says he became President in June of 1894.
Another interesting little tidbit:
New Jersey, Trenton-THE TRENTON TIMES 27 Jan.1887
Disastrous Fire at Dallas
Dallas, Texas,Jan.27-A fire originating in T.L. Marsalis & Co.'s large wholesale grocery house about 6 o'clock yesterday morning, destroyed three of the finest buildings in the city. the losses on buildings and stocks will aggregate $400,000, divided principally as follows: L.Marsalis & Co.,$200,000; Armstrong Brothers,wholesale grocers,$100,000; S.B.Hopkins & Co., wholesale liqours, $90,000. The firms are insured for about two-thirds of the amount of their losses.
Jim, do you think this could be Thomas, Jr. and wife ?
Name Birth Death Last Residence Last Benefit SSN Issued
THOMAS MARSALIS 05 Feb 1884 Jun 1966 21658 (Queenstown, Queen Annes, MD) (none specified) 220-32-0100 Maryland
LILLIAN MARSALIS 08 Jun 1892 Dec 1963 (Maryland) (none specified) 220-32-0101 Maryland
The names and dates seem to fit, but could still be coincidence. I'll check some more and can always order the original which should have parents.
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