Historical Background

Until fairly recently, the most that was known about the early history of the Hart family was contained in this short newspaper article, which discussed a meeting that was held on August 24, 1925.  Family reunions were held regularly on both Independence Day and Labor Day for the next few years, and the earliest details that have survived were gathered during that period.


Little is known about the first generation of our Harts to live in Ireland, and no earlier records of the family have been found.  The most that can be said is that a Robert Hart, born in Scotland around 1760, came to Ireland, and with his wife, Annie Todd, had at least four children:  Nancy, Robert, Samuel, and Joseph.  Notes gathered in the 1920’s by descendants of both Nancy and Samuel suggest that Robert and Annie also had a son named Solomon, but no further information has been found to confirm this.   This collection of historical and genealogical details has been assembled by descendants of Samuel Hart, and as a result, the majority of the information found here pertains to his line.  However, the extent of our limited knowledge of his siblings and their descendants is included on the next few pages.


Nancy Hart, daughter of Robert Hart and Annie Todd, was born about 1783. She married
Charles McLaughlin, and together they had at least five children: Charlotte, Margaret, Mary,
William, and John. John was born around 1808, and with his wife, Jane, had at least five children:
Esther, Isabel, James, William, and Mary Ann. Mary Ann was born around 1840, and married
George Froggatt. Their daughter, Mary Jane, was born around 1874, and moved from Ireland to
Brighton, Michigan, with her parents around 1876. Mary Jane, who married Joseph Clark, kept in
touch with Hart relatives also living in Michigan at the time, and hosted several Hart family reunions
in her Brighton home. Nothing else is known about the children and grandchildren of Nancy Hart.

Robert Hart, son of Robert Hart and Annie Todd, married Matilda Speer. Nothing else is
known at this time.

Joseph Hart, son of Robert Hart and Annie Todd, was born in Ireland in 1795. Six years
before his brother, Samuel, would cross the Atlantic, Joseph boarded the brig Despatch with his wife
and five children to sail from Londonderry to Quebec, and possibly from there to the United States.
On July 10, 1828, the ship was wrecked off the coast of Isle aux Morts, Newfoundland. Two of his
sons were lost in the disaster, their names unknown. Joseph, his wife Mary, and their three
remaining children, Thomas, Margaret, and Eliza, were taken with the other survivors to Halifax,
Nova Scotia, aboard the HMS Tyne. Nothing else is known about his wife and children. By the time
of the 1860 U.S. Census, Joseph was a widower living with his nephew – also named Joseph – in
Orleans County, New York; five years later, he was listed on the New York State Census as a
resident of the Orleans County Almshouse. A family tree drawn in 1925 lists him with the note:
“Lost fortune and family in shipwreck.” Nothing else is known.

An account of the wreck of the Despatch from Capt. Richard Grant of the HMS Tyne:

“The brig was wrecked on a rock, about eighteen miles to the eastward of Cape Ray, and distant
from the Main three-fourths of a mile, on the evening of the 10th of July, and it was only by watching
the occasional fall of the surf for a few hours each day; till the following Tuesday, that the mate and
crew with two boats, and the assistance of a fisherman in a small boat 12 feet long, saved those in
the accompanying list. The mate informs me that 200 passengers were said to be on board, though he
thinks several infants were not reckoned, as their passage was not paid, and the crew, master
included, were eleven in number.

“Four men and ten children died on the rock from starvation, five children and one woman, died
on the beach, four men perished in the woods, and one woman and one boy in the boats of this ship,
whilst on their passage from the place of shipwreck. By a comparison of numbers, it appears that
thirty-six at least were drowned; of that number two infants were washed from their mother’s breast,
whilst on the rock, and of one family, six were swept off after they obtained a footing.”
“…Joseph Hart, of Urney; Mary, his wife, and Thomas, Margaret, and Eliza, their children (lost two sons).”

Samuel Hart was born in Ireland about 1789 to Robert Hart and Annie Todd. On November
2, 1807, he married Charlotte Morrow in St. Columb’s Parish, County Derry. They arrived in New
York aboard the brig Ontario on July 23, 1834, and settled in Orleans County, near the village of
Kendall. In 1857, three of their sons moved their families to Michigan, and Samuel and Charlotte
went with them. After Samuel’s death in 1859, Charlotte lived with their daughter, Eliza, near the
town of Lamont in Ottawa County. Charlotte died in 1879. Both were buried in Williams Cemetery
in Smiths Creek, on the farm of Elias and Polly Williams.

It is this Hart family we are directly related to and most familiar with.


    1. Thomas Hart – b.1810, d.1892
    2. James Hart – b.1812, d.1889
    3. Samuel Hart – b.1816, d.1890
    4. Joseph Hart – b.1817, d.1869
    5. Moses Hart – b.1818, d.1896
    6. Eliza Hart – b.1819, d.1904
    7. Mary Ann Hart – b.1821, d.1841
    8. Solomon Hart – b.1823, d.1890
    9. William Hart – b.1826, d.1911
    10. John Hart – b. unknown