Bridget Surdival: From Mayo to Brooklyn by Ellen Maki, Ph.D.

When the White Star Line’s SS Germanic sailed out of Queenstown (now Cobh, Co. Cork), Ireland on 14 April 1898, there were many young Irish men and women aboard, including 19-year-old Bridget Surdival.  The ship was headed for the port of New York, and Bridget was going to join her older sister, Mary, who was living in Brooklyn.

SS_Germanic_c1890-1900 with caption

Bridget was born in 1876 in Balla, Co. Mayo, Ireland, to parents John Surdival and Bridget Reilly. She was the youngest sister of my great-grandfather Patrick Surdival (a.k.a. Patrick Sullivan). Although her name was registered as Biddy, she used the names Bridget, Beatrice, and Beattie.

When she sailed for New York, Bridget gave her occupation as servant, and she continued with domestic work once she arrived in Brooklyn. In the 1900 U.S. census, she was living in the household of David Kalberman, a tobacco merchant, on President Street, Brooklyn, where she was listed as a servant. When the next federal census was taken ten years later, Bridget/Beatrice was working as cook in the household of Josephine B. Kellog, a widow, who lived on Monroe Place, Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle 31Dec1910p3 with captionHer life in Brooklyn was not all work, however. Beatrice was active in the Brooklyn Gaelic Society, and played an active role in organizing festivals, New Year receptions, “apron and necktie” parties, and concerts. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that in 1910 she was an attendant at the wedding of Cecelia Corley and Hugh Battersby.

Marriage soon followed for Beatrice. On 11 October 1911, Beatrice married widower John Corley, brother of Cecelia, at whose marriage Beatrice had been an attendant. The couple married in Assumption RC Church in Brooklyn. They settled at 308 Clinton Street, where they lived for many years.

Marriage License with caption

Beatrice and John had two sons: John Jr (b 1914) who became a U.S. general, and James (b 1916) who became a fireman for the New York Fire Department. My mother, Madeline Owen, recalled visiting her great-aunt Beatrice and family at their home in Brooklyn shortly after the end of WWII, when a ticker tape parade was held in honour of John Jr and other soldiers returning from war.

After a long life, Bridget/Beatrice passed away at her home on Clinton Street on 2 November 1953. She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn.


  1. General Register Office (Ireland). Births. Walshpool, Balla, Mayo. 31 December 1876. Surdival, Biddy. : accessed 7 September 2016.
  2. Immigration and Naturalization Service (U.S.A.) Passenger list of SS Germanic arriving at New York, New York. 22 April 1898. Surdival, Brid. Ticket No. 28489. Collection: New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. : accessed 7 September 2016.
  3. Bureau of the Census (U.S.A.) 1900. Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. Ward 10, SD 2, ED 136, p. 2A. Collection: 1900 United States Federal Census. : accessed 7 September 2016.
  4. Bureau of the Census (U.S.A.) 1910. Brooklyn Borough, New York City, New York. Ward 1, SD 2, ED 5, p. 1A. Collection: 1910 United States Federal Census. : accessed 7 September 2016.
  5. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. (1909) Brooklyn Gaels Dance. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 26 April. p. 7. : accessed 7 September 2016.
  6. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. (1910) Battersby-Corley. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 26 June. p. 3. : accessed 7 September 2016.
  7. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. (1910) Brooklyn Gaelic Society. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 31 December. p. 3. : accessed 7 September 2016.
  8. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. (1911) Plan Gaelic Party. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 23 April. p. 64. : accessed 7 September 2016.
  9. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. (1911) Gaelic Club to Celebrate. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 22 May. p. 7. : accessed 7 September 2016.
  10. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. (1911) Marriage Licenses. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 9 October. p. 3. : accessed 7 September 2016.
  11. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. (1953) Corley-Bridget. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 6 November. p. 11. : accessed 7 September 2016.
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  1. Welcome to geneabloggers! What a great blog! Mine is a work in progress. Lately i have been posting once a week.

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