The Bedfords on Broadway

Mary Jane (Ryan) Hardie – c. 1917

My cousin gave me this photograph of our great grandmother, Mary Jane (Ryan) Hardie. It was enclosed in an envelope postmarked 1917 and addressed from MJ Hardie in East Liverpool, Ohio to Mrs. Edw. L. Murray c/o Mrs. John Bedford at 4824 South Broadway in St. Louis, Missouri.

Mrs. Edw. L. Murray was Frances Diamond (Hardie) Murray, Mary Jane Hardie’s daughter and my grandmother. In 1917 Frances Murray, her husband Edward L. Murray, and their children were living on Virginia Avenue in St. Louis, about a 12 minute walk from 4824 South Broadway.

I don’t know why Mary Jane Hardie sent this picture in care of Mrs. John Bedford on South Broadway rather than directly to her daughter, Frances. My cousin remembered her mother mentioning the “Bedfords on Broadway”. But who was Mrs. John Bedford and what was the connection between the Bedfords and my great-grandmother Mary Jane (Ryan) Hardie?

Ellen and John W. Allen
Mary Jane Hardie’s elder sister was Ellen (Ryan) Allen (1835-1928). Ellen married her second husband, William John Allen (1822-1911), between 1892 and 1900.

William John Allen is usually found in historical records as John W. Allen. He married his first wife, Bridget Shaughnesy, in 1856 in St. Louis, MO. He owned a sand and gravel quarry known as J. W. Allen or J. W. Allen & Son. The 1880 US census for St. Louis City (p. 16, ED 408, family 142) lists the following members of the Allen household:

W. John Allen (56), a quarryman; Bridget (60) his wife; Belle (24) his daughter; and William (23) his son and a teamster.

My father, Edward H. Murray, fondly remembered his great aunt Ellen Allen, whom he called “Auntie”. Ellen was his mother Frances’ aunt, and it seems possible that Dad knew Ellen fairly well as they lived near one another in St. Louis from Dad’s birth in 1912 until Ellen’s death in 1928.

On a few walks in St. Louis, Dad pointed out the low stone walls at the old courthouse, as well as the walls bordering St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church on Meramec Street and the post office next door. He stated that the stones were from John Allen’s quarry.

St. Anthony of Padua Church, St. Louis, MO
US Post Office, 2920 Meramec St, St Louis, MO 63118

Several record sets offer clues to the connection between Mary Jane Hardie and Mrs. John Bedford: City of St. Louis land records, US census records, St. Louis city directories, and Missouri death certificates.

4824 South Broadway

Allen/Bedford Home: 4824 S Broadway

The property records of the city of St. Louis state the property at 4824 South Broadway was built in 1893. The single family dwelling is 1,512 square feet, and sits on a 1.84 acre lot that abuts the bluffs of the Mississippi River. A 3-car detached garage was added in 2010. The total appraised value in 2016 was $63,200.00.

Plat Map: 4824 South Broadway, St. Louis, MO

Beginning in 1894, the address listed in the St. Louis city directory for the J. W. Allen & Son quarry is 4824 South Broadway. The property location near the Mississippi River bluffs might support this.

1900 US Census

Two family units are living at 4824 South Broadway:

1.  John W. Allen (66) and his wife, Ellen (49). John’s occupation is “stone construction”.

a.  Ellen Allen is Ellen Ryan, the elder sister of Mary Jane (Ryan) Hardie, at 4824 South Broadway.

2.  William J. Allen (43) a “quarryman”, his wife, Mary E. (39), and their four children: Mary (16), William (9), Thomas (7), and John (4).

a.  William J. Allen would be John W. Allen’s son previously listed on the 1880 census. He and Mary were married 18 years in 1900.

1910 US Census

One family unit is living at 4824 South Broadway:

1.  William J. Bedford (47) a “contractor” in “molding stone”, his wife Mary (44), and their four children: Mary (22), William (19), Thomas (17), and John (13).

a.  The names of their children are the same as those listed for William J. and Mary E. Allen in the 1900 census.

b.  With the exception of the eldest child, Mary, their childrens’ ages also correspond to those in the 1900 census.

c.  It appears that William J. Allen and family have changed their surname to Bedford. Mrs. John Bedford would likely be 44 year old Mary Bedford.

2.  I have found no 1910 census record for John W. and Ellen Allen, although they were both alive in 1910. However, the St. Louis city directory for 1910 includes a listing for John W. Allen, a contractor, living at 4824 South Broadway.

a.  William John Allen, died on 24 January 1911 at age 88. On his Missouri Death Certificate, his place of death is 4824 South Broadway and the informant is William J. Allen (not Bedford), of the same address.

b.  Ellen Allen, the widow of John W., is listed as residing at 4824 South Broadway in the St. Louis city directories for 1911-1913, 1915-1918, and 1921-1923.

1920 US Census

As with the 1900 census, two family units are living at 4824 South Broadway:

 1.  William J. Bedford (61) and his wife Mary (58).

2.  Ellen Allen (84), a widow.

a. Ellen Allen died in 1928. The informant identified on her Missouri Death Certificate is William J. Bedford.

The “Bedfords on Broadway” would appear to be William J. and Mary E. Bedford. Mary would be the Mrs. John Bedford to whom Mary Jane Hardie addressed her envelope.

The connection between the Bedfords and my great-grandmother Mary Jane (Ryan) Hardie is Ellen (Ryan) Allen, Mary Jane’s elder sister. It seems Ellen Allen lived with the Bedfords at 4824 South Broadway for several years, beginning with her marriage to John Allen (c. 1893-1900) and continuing for 17 years following John Allen’s death (1911-1928).

I still don’t know how come Mary Jane Hardie sent her picture in care of Mrs. John Bedford on Broadway rather than directly to her daughter’s, Mrs. Edward L. Murray’s, residence on Virginia Avenue. Perhaps Mrs. Murray was staying with her Aunt Ellen Allen and the Bedfords at that time. Mrs. Murray may have had a special connection to her Aunt. Frances Diamond (Hardie) Murray was named for Ellen Allen’s only child from her first marriage, Frances Diamond, who died in 1879 at age 22.

I am not certain why William J. Allen began using the surname Bedford. His 1939 Missouri Death Certificate (in the name of William J. Bedford) states that his father’s name is unknown but that he was born in England. This (along with the surname change) would indicate that John W. Allen, who was born in Ireland, was not William’s natural father. No doubt there are explanations for all the questions that arise from these facts.

What can be said is that John W. Allen and William J. Allen/Bedford shared a strong familial relationship. From at least 1880 until John’s death in 1911, they were the father and son of the J. W. Allen & Son quarry and contracting business and for those same years they resided in the same households on South Broadway.

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