By Cliff McCarthy, 2015
Last Updated 16 November 2017
Surely, Patrick Short was one of the family’s most colorful characters.
Prominent in Democratic politics in the city of Buffalo, New York, he was said to have been a friend of Grover Cleveland, before Cleveland was elected president.
He was born in 1810 (on St. Patrick’s Day, one source claims) in either County Armagh or Monaghan in Ireland. According to a death notice in the Buffalo Daily Courier, Patrick’s father was James Short, and Patrick had two brothers in the area, Francis and James. Mary Clark, his wife, was also born in Ireland in about 1815.
Outstanding Mystery: Who were Mary Clark’s parents?
The best source of information on Patrick Short’s life is his obituary in one Buffalo newspaper, which ran after his death on 28 July 1882. It reads, in part:
“He came to Buffalo in 1836 and about the first labor he performed was on the Webster block which was built by the late Benjamin Rathbun. By industry and prudence he won a little capital and in 1840 opened a clothing store on the corner of Main and Lloyd streets. There he did business until the completion of Spaulding’s Exchange when he moved into quarters in the latter building where he remained until 1852 when he retired from mercantile pursuits. During his career as a clothier he secured a large lake trade and became quite interested in lake transportation. He owned the brig Wyandotte and the schooner Rainbow, and did a prosperous business with these vessels. In 1847, he built the schooner Robert Emmet, and in 1848 the schooner Henry Hager, and for ten years he was regarded as an enterprising and prosperous vessel owner. When Mr. Wadsworth was mayor of the city, Mr. Short served the municipality as its poor master and with satisfaction to the public, and soon afterwards, upon the recommendation of the governor, was appointed by the board of commissioners of New York to the post of commissioner of emigration for the city of Buffalo. In June, 1853, he was appointed United States mail agent by President Pierce and continued to discharge the duties of the position through the administration of President Buchanan and until President Lincoln appointed his successor. From the time of his appointment by President Pierce until the time of his death he had the contract for carrying the mail between the post office and the trains and from the trains to the post office, and in all that time he never lost a mail bag. In 1858 or 1859 he was a member of the firm of Mills, Walsh, & Co., proprietors of the ship yard and dry dock connected with the city ship canal. During the administration of Governor Robinson he was superintendent of the Buffalo division of the Erie canal, and proved himself an excellent official. He was a Democrat in politics and a natural born politician and leader. He was a man of extraordinary vitality, physically and mentally; his courage was of the unflinching sort, and once resolved he was as inflexible as a boulder of granite. He was a man of large resources and rare sagacity and his knowledge of men and affairs was remarkable. He was thoroughly magnetic and he readily commanded a large and efficient following. In the caucus he was a host in himself and rarely suffered defeat. He planned his campaigns with care; measured the strength of his forces with accuracy; but if perchance he found himself single-handed in a contest or compelled to meet an unlooked-for emergency, he became a giant in the fight and his opponents were made to feel his power in an unmistakable way. To his friends he was loyal to the last degree, but he had no concessions to make to his enemies and no favors to ask. He was wise in the councils of the party and was one of the most zealous and indefatigable workers that either political party has ever known in Buffalo. He enjoyed the confidence of such prominent democrats as the late Dean Richmond and Joseph Warren, and one of the warmest friends he leaves behind is ex-Lieut.-Governor Dorsheimer, to whose political interests he was devoted. But while he was most widely known to the public as a politician, he was known in his private life as a man of great kindliness and benevolence. He was of massive and powerful physique and neither heart nor brain was lacking in vital force. He did his full share to alleviate distress wherever he found it, and no friend ever asked his help in vain. He was a thoroughly honest man and a good citizen and although he made enemies from time-to-time, never let it be said of him that he excited antagonism by any exhibition of meanness or ingratitude. He was outspoken, bold in action, fearless in defense of his cause and manly in everything. For nearly half a century he has been known as a strong, eccentric, and influential character, and has made a place for himself in the history of the city. With the exception of that of last year, he had attended every democratic state convention for thirty-five years. His wife and nine of his sixteen children, of whom Mr. Frank Short of the city comptroller’s office is the oldest, survive him.”
A review of Buffalo City Directories shows him appearing first in 1838, listed as a “laborer,” and then as a “clothier” from 1839 through 1849. He is listed as “Overseer of the Poor”, in 1850 and 1851, as “emigrant agent” from 1852 through 1866, then as “mail agent” in later directories. His home was listed first at “118 Main” street, then at “Washington near Scott” streets, and then later on Swan street or at Bonney’s Hotel.
In 1852, while one of three Overseers of the Poor, Patrick Short was indicted by the State of New York for “wilful [sic] neglect of duty in refusing to prosecute for the recovery of penalties for violations of the Excise Laws of the State.” His lawyer sought a dismissal of the charge, since he was only one of three Overseers and such an indictment should have been brought against all three. The judge refused to dismiss and the case proceeded. Patrick Short was found guilty. This seems to have been a largely political case, since the following year he was named “emigrant agent” for the city.
The records of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church show the baptisms of three of the children of Patrick and Mary Short. Also recorded is the marriage of their son Patrick to Sarah Boore. Local newspapers noted the wedding of daughter Catherine to John D. “Crinnin”. It was through the Crennan family that Mary Ann Short met William Henry Machen. [see William Henry and Mary Ann MACHEN]
The census records for the Shorts are curiously inconsistent, listing varying ages and names. Fourteen of their sixteen children are listed between 1840 and 1870 and there was at least one set of twins. Patrick was listed as a “farmer” in the 1870 enumeration. They always had boarders living with their household.
Naturalization records at the Erie County Hall show that Patrick Short’s application for citizenship was recorded in 1838 and he became a naturalized citizen on October 7, 1840. Brothers Frank and James also were naturalized over the ensuing years.
Mary Ann’s death occurred on January 19, 1883, having outlived Patrick by only a few months. Since she had been named sole executrix of Patrick’s will, her untimely death necessitated a court action among their children to settle his estate.
Her obituary says she died suddenly at the family residence at 244 Swan Street:
Retiring as was her disposition, the sweet influence of her truly Christian life made itself felt in the community in which she lived so long and had so many devoted friends.
With sixteen children, the odds probably favored at least one egg in the basket being rotten. In this family, it was Patrick Short, Jr. About him, the Auburn [NY] Daily Bulletin wrote:
Patrick Short (junior), although he ranks in seniority as a crimester, arrived at Auburn prison yesterday, from Buffalo. Short has long been a hard case. He comes on two indictments, sentenced to six years on each, one for grand larceny after a felony, the other for assault to harm. Although but 31 years of age, he has already served three terms, having been an inmate of Auburn in 1870, when he was pardoned from a sentence of ten years for assault with intent to kill. Being released, he was afterward arrested in Buffalo, but broke jail and escaped, went west, and served a term of two years in Joliet prison, Illinois. He was nabbed by Buffalo officers after his discharge, and is now where the dogs will not bite him.
Children of Patrick & Mary (Clark) SHORT
PATRICK SHORT was born on 17 March 1810 in Clones, Co. Monaghan, Ireland. He died on 28 July 1882 in Buffalo, NY. He married MARY CLARK. She was born about 1817 in Ireland. She died on 19 January 1883 in Buffalo, NY. Patrick SHORT and Mary CLARK had the following children:
i. FRANCIS “FRANK” SHORT was born about 1832 in Ireland. He died on 27 February 1897 in Buffalo, Erie Co., NY. He married FRANCES A. “FANNY” BOORE on 15 August 1858 in Buffalo, Erie Co., NY, daughter of Lewis BOORE and Anna DORAN. She was born about 1836 in Lower Canada.
ii. CHILD SHORT.
iii. JAMES SHORT was born about 1836 in Ireland. He died in 1862 in Hospital of the Sisters of Charity, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY.
iv. ELIZABETH SHORT was born about 1837 in Erie Co., NY. She died before 1882.
v. CATHERINE “KATE” SHORT was born about 1838 in Erie Co., New York State. She died after 1891. She married JOHN D. CRENNAN on 21 May 1857 in St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Buffalo, NY, son of Michael CRENNAN and Mary. He was born about 1827 in Ireland. He died between 1870-1880.
vi. HENRY SHORT was born about 1839 in Erie Co., NY. He died on 11 July 1866.
vii. MARY ANNE SHORT was born in May 1841 in New York State. She died on 14 November 1914 in Washington, DC. She married WILLIAM HENRY MACHEN on 4 February 1861 in St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Buffalo, NY, son of Augustine Ulysses Sulpice Ireneus MACHEN and Aagje “Agatha” KUIJK. He was born on 10 February 1832 in Arnhem, Holland. He died on 19 June 1911 in Washington, DC.
viii. PATRICK C. SHORT, JR. was born about 1842 in Erie Co., New York State. He died before 1882. He married SARAH BOORE on 20 June 1864 in St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Buffalo, NY, daughter of Lewis BOORE and Anna DORAN. She was born in 1843. She died before 1875.
ix. MARGARET A. “MAGGIE” SHORT was born on 8 June 1844 in Buffalo, Erie Co., NY. She died on 4 January 1912 in Toledo, Lucas Co., OH. She married FERDINANDUS WILHELMUS JOSEPHUS MACHEN on 19 October 1863 in St. Joseph Catholic Church, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY, son of Augustine Ulysses Sulpice Ireneus MACHEN and Aagje “Agatha” KUIJK. He was born on 28 October 1840 in Arnhem,Holland. He died on 29 October 1919 in Toledo, Lucas Co., OH.
x. VERONICA “VERA” SHORT was born on 15 August 1842 in Buffalo, Erie Co., NY. She died on 16 December 1924 in Hotel Rafael, San Rafael, Marin Co., CA. She met FRANK MOSELEY. He was born in New York State. She married EBEN JEREMIAH BEANE on 28 November 1883 in Manhattan, New York, NY, son of Theodore BEANE and Cynthia COOK. He was born about 1832 in Sorrento, ME. He died on 23 February 1911 in Alameda Co., CA.
xi. EDWARD SHORT was born about 1847 in Erie Co., NY. He died on 19 March 1879 in Buffalo, NY. He married SARAH. She was born about 1852 in England.
xii. EMILY SHORT was born about 1848 in New York State.
xiii. THERESA SHORT was born on 2 February 1848 in Erie Co., New York State. She died after 1905. She married MICHAEL J. TIERNEY on 20 May 1872 in St. Joseph Catholic Church, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY, son of Patrick TIERNEY and Marie HARE. He was born about 1845 in Ireland.
xiv. ANGELINE L. SHORT was born about 1850 in Buffalo, Erie Co., NY. She died after 1920. She married JAMES J. CORCORAN on 22 November 1887 in St. Joseph Catholic Church, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY, son of Michael CORCORAN and Margaret McMAHAN. He was born in November 1854 in New York State. He died before 1915.
xv. EMELINE AGNES SHORT was born about 1850 in Buffalo, Erie Co., NY. She died on 13 October 1931. She married JAMES A. CAMPBELL on 17 September 1888 in St. Joseph Catholic Church, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY, son of James CAMPBELL and Margaret HIGGINS. He was born in July 1847 in Canada. He died on 23 August 1915.
xvi. JOHN SHORT was born on 2 January 1852 in Erie Co., NY. He died before 1882.
- 1840 U.S. Census for Patrick Short (1st Ward, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY).
- 1850 U.S. Census for Patrick Short (Ward 1, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY).
- 1855 New York State Census for Patrick Short (Ward #2, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY).
- 1860 U.S. Census for Patrick Short (2nd Ward, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY).
- 1865 New York State Census for Patrick Short (Buffalo, Erie Co., NY).
- 1870 U.S. Census for Patrick Short (2nd Ward, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY).
- 1875 New York State Census for Patrick Short (E.D. #2, Ward #2, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY).
- 1880 U.S. Census for Patrick Short (Buffalo, Erie Co., NY).
- Auburn Daily Bulletin, 5 June 1875.
- Buffalo City Directories, 1838-1870: Crary’s; Faxon, Graves, & Wilgus; Walkers; Jewett, Thomas, & Cutting; Thomas and Lathrops; Jewett and Co.; and Warren, Johnson, & Co.
- “Death of James Short” (Buffalo Daily Courier, 1862).
- Death notice for James Short, Buffalo Daily Courier, July 28, 1848.
- Deaths in Buffalo (taken from newspaper obituaries in Buffalo & Erie Co. Historical Society).
- “Funeral of Patrick Short” (Buffalo Morning Express, 1 August 1882).
- Index to Alien Applications, Erie County Hall, Buffalo, NY.
- Index to Naturalizations, Erie County Hall, Buffalo, NY.
- Marriage Record for Veronica Short Moseley & Eben J. Beane (New York Marriages, 1686-1980, at http://www.FamilySearch.org).
- Notes of Edwin Machen in possession of James Machen.
- Obituary for James Short (Buffalo Daily Courier, July 28, 1848).
- Obituary for Mrs. Mary Short (Buffalo Daily Courier, 20 January 1883).
- Obituary of Patrick Short, July 29, 1882, newspaper unknown.
- Obituary for Patrick Short (Buffalo Daily Courier, July 29, 1882).
- Obituary of Mrs. Mary Short, Buffalo Daily Courier, January 20, 1883.
- “Postoffice Appointment” (Buffalo Daily Courier, 1867).
- Probate of Will of Patrick Short (Erie Co., NY Surrogate’s Court, 19 August 1882).
- “The Brig Robert Emmett” (Buffalo Daily Courier, 1852).
- “The Canal Board” (New York Herald, 5 April 1877).
- “The People vs. Patrick Short,”(Cayuga Chief [Auburn, NY], 30 March 1852).
- Will of Patrick Short, written July 10,1877 and proved August 19, 1882, Surrogate Court, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY