Donald Rose (McCullough)

Three Brothers – the Sons of Mrs. Rose

There, upon the hills of The Green-Wood Cemetery, among the thousands of unmarked public lot graves, stands a headstone of gray granite. On it, the inscription reads:


Grave 310, Public Lot 17263, Section 16

aged 28 years.

aged 23 years.

aged 15 years.
Three Brothers.

Died Dec. 5, 1876,
Natives of
Inverness-Shire Scotland

To this genealogist, the date of death inscribed on the stone indicates that the three brothers died in the Brooklyn Theater Fire. In fact, their names first appeared on the list of missing persons, as reported by families visiting the site of the fire. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle in their December 6, 1876 issue, published the list of missing persons twice, on pages two and four, respectively, and on those lists the names of three brothers appeared as such:
  • Angus McCullough, aged 26, 294 Pacific street.
  • John McCullough, aged 22, 294 Pacific street.
  • Donald McCullough, aged 15, 294 Pacific street.

Then, on December 8, the Eagle published a detailed report on the brothers:

Three Brothers.
Angus and John McCullough, brothers, and Donald Rose, their step brother, aged respectively 26, 22 and 18 years, visited the theatre on Tuesday night. The body of Angus was identified yesterday by cards of his employers, Arbuckle Brothers & Co., 54, 56 and 58 Front street, found in his pocket. John’s remains were also identified. He resided in Buffalo and was on a visit to this city. The family residing here consisted of Angus, Donald and the former’s sister. By John’s invitation all were to have gone to the theatre together, but illness detained the sister at home. The remains of Donald Rose have not yet been identified.

On the page where the above report was published, the Eagle also included a list of Identified Bodies on which Donald Rose’s name appeared. Perhaps in the chaos that ensued after the fire, with so many families looking for their loved ones, many names  were inadvertently listed as identified. As evident from the final report by the Coroner Simms, who issued burial permits, Donald Rose’s body was never found. But we do learn from the Eagle more about the family when it published an obituary in the December 9th issue:

The McCulloughs-Three Brothers.

The funeral of Mr. Angus McCullough, aged 28 years, and Mr. John McCullough, aged 23 years, both sons of Mrs. Jesse Rose and both victims of the recent calamity, took place this morning at 10 o’clock, from Pilgrim Chapel, on Warren street. The Rev. George A. Bell, assisted by the Rev. S. B. Halliday, conducted the services. Mr. Bell, in his address, spoke of them in the most eulogistic terms. They had been for a long time members of the Church of the Pilgrims and of the Married Men’s Sunday Class of Plymouth Bethel. They had been the staff and guardian of the family of which there now survive only the aged mother and a sister. 

The funeral was quite largely attended by the friends of the family and the members of the church to which they belonged.
McDonald Rose, aged sixteen, also a son of Mrs. Rose, perished in the theatre, but his body has not yet been identified.
The three brothers were all laid to rest in The Green-Wood Cemetery on December 9, 1876. The McCulloch brothers in grave 310 of Public Lot 17263, Section 16, and Donald Rose with the unidentified victims in the mass grave on Battle Avenue, Lots 22427-22432 in Section N.

What can be said of the origins of the three brothers whose lives were lost in the fire? Between the reports in the newspaper and inscription on the gravestone, I know that Angus McCulloch, John McCulloch and Donald Rose were children of Mrs. Jesse Rose. I also know that Mrs. Rose was married more than once; first to Mr. McCulloch with whom she had two sons and a daughter, whose name was never mentioned by the Eagle, and then to Mr. Rose, who fathered Donald.

I must turn to records in Scotland in order to learn more about Mrs. Rose and her sons. Before I do so, however, it is important to note that images of actual records from Scotland, such as a digital photo of census or birth records, have additional costs. To avoid incurring extra expenses, I opted for transcription of information from records. Although I trust all my sources, any inaccuracies are my own, and are not intentional.

Also, as the inscription on the gravestone suggests, the place of birth for the three brothers was Inverness-shire. The suffix “shire” is used in Scotland and other parts of UK in the same way as the word “county” in the United States. Thus, Inverness-shire refers to the County of Inverness, and Inverness is name of the city within the county of the same name; not unlike New York City in the County of New York in the State of New York.

And lastly, at the end of this blog post there is an image of Mrs. Rose’s family tree. Such diagrams will be featured on all the similar posts and for this one, information was obtained from various records in Scotland and in New York.

John Thompson’s Atlas of Scotland showing Inverness (bottom left) and Croy (top right) in 1832

Jesse McDonald was born sometimes in 1823 in the parish of Croy in Inverness-shire to John McDonald and Ann Dunbar. Not much is known about her parents except for their names, which appear in a record of Jesse’s second marriage. She was first married to Angus McCulloch, who was an affluent man and owned considerable property. According to the old parish records, there were six children born to Jesse McDonald and Angus McCulloch:

1. Mary McCulloch born on February 15, 1844
2. Ann McCulloch born November 19, 1846
3. Angus McCulloch born November 11, 1848
4. Jessie McCulloch born December 23, 1850, died on February 21, 1857 of rheumatic fever
5. John McCulloch born July 15, 1853
6. Baby girl McCulloch, born August 6, 1855, died August 13, 1855 of weakness of system.

The statutory registration of civil acts took effect throughout Scotland on January 1, 1855, so that when Mr. and Mrs. McCulloch had a child on August 6, 1855, the law required detailed information about the parents. The father, who was informant on his daughter’s birth registration provided the date of marriage as April 1844. The fact that he provided only a month and year, indicates that Angus McCulloch did not remember the exact date of being married to Jesse McDonald. If we count back nine months from the date of Mary McCulloch’s birth, their firstborn, we get May 15, 1843 as the date when she was conceived; with few weeks for margin of error, we get late April or early May of 1843 as the approximate date of marriage for Angus and Jesse.

In the 1851 Scotland Census, the McCulloch family were recorded living in Croy, Inverness-shire. At this time, Angus McCulloch’s property consisted of 120 acres of farmland on which he had employed eight men as laborers. Shortly after his last child’s death, Angus McCulloch died of delirium tremens on January 29, 1856. His father-in-law, John McDonald, registered the death, and could only provide Angus’ mother’s name, which was Mary MacPhail.Jesse McCulloch was only 32 years old when she lost her husband and one of her children; and one year after her husband’s death, Jesse lost another child—Jesse Jr.

It is not yet known as to what happened to Mr. McDonald, her father, but on August 21, 1860 Jessie McCulloch married James Rose at her residence on 64 Telford Road, in the city of Inverness. It was this record that provided parents’ names for both Jesse and her second husband. James was a sheep and cattle dealer and was younger than his wife by at least five years. Four months after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Rose had a child; Donald Rose was born on December 30, 1860. The fact that the youngest child of Mrs. Rose was born only four months after her marriage to James may raise some questions, but short of speculations, I have no concrete evidence to explain that. What I do know is that the new family lived together, for a while, the children of Mrs. Rose being too young to object otherwise. In the 1861 Scotland Census, the Rose household consisted of

1. James Rose, aged 31, sheep and cattle dealer
2. Janet Rose, aged 37 (Janet being a variation of Jessie)
3. Donald Rose, aged 0, son
4. Mary McCulloch, aged 16, step-daughter
5. Ann McCulloch, aged 14, step daughter
6. Angus McCulloch, aged 12, step-son
7. John McCulloch, aged 7, step-son

On August 12, 1862, the oldest child of Mrs. Rose, Mary McCulloch, died of consumption. Her death was registered by her step-father, James Rose, who, in turn, died on July 23, 1863 in the same manner as Mrs. Rose’ first husband—delirium tremens. Having lost two husbands and three children, Jesse Rose was now providing for her surviving family all by herself. It is hard to imagine what her life must have been like then, but we can imagine it to be arduous for she made a decision to leave her homeland and move across the ocean to America.

Portion of 1870  passenger list of the Steamship Anglia arriving in the port of New York City.

First to leave Scotland was Angus McCulloch, who arrived at the port of New York aboard the SS Anglia on October 6, 1870. The steamship traveled from Glasgow, with a short stop in Moville, Ireland to pick up additional passengers before embarking on a month long voyage to New York. Mrs. Rose with her daughter Ann McCulloch and son Donald Rose arrived in New York on June 14, 1872 aboard the same steamship as her son Angus. As for John McCulloch, his arrival record is yet to be found, but it must have been sometimes after the 1871 Scotland Census in which he appeared living with his mother, sister and step-brother. I know he did not live in New York at the time of his death, as the Eagle reported him a resident of Buffalo; perhaps John McCulloch traveled to that city directly from Scotland.

According to the New York State Census, enumerated on June 8, 1875 for the inhabitants of the Third Ward in the City of Brooklyn, Mrs. Rose and her family were living at 302 Pacific Street. Their names and other vitals were recorded as:

  • Jessy [sic] Rose, 50 years old, female, mother, born in Scotland, widow
  • Anny [sic] Rose, 23 years old, female, child, born in Scotland, single, works at coffee store
  • Angus Rose, 21 years old, female [sic], child, born in Scotland, single, works as clerk in coffee store
  • Donald Rose, 14 years old, male, child, born in Scotland, single, clerk in dry goods store
  • Isac Jentilaman [sic], 23 years old, male, boarder, born in New York, single, blacksmith

The enumerator, unaware that Mrs. Rose was married more than once, recorded all of her children under the same surname.  Despite the different surnames, we find confirmation that this is the same family in the occupation listed for Angus and his sister, both of whom worked in a coffee store.

As the Eagle reported, the body of Angus McCulloch was recognized by items found on his person; these were business cards of the firm where he worked, the Arbuckle Brothers & Co. The Arbucklebrothers were Charles and John, natives of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, who began their ventures as wholesale grocers. In 1871, Charles and John Arbuckle moved to Brooklyn where they established a factory that specialized in roasting and grounding coffee. Eventually, the brothers would also be in the business of refining sugar, but that would have happened many years after the fire.


Immediately after the Brooklyn Theater burned, a relief committee, presided by Mayor Frederick A. Schroeder, was formed to assist all the afflicted families. Community leaders, such as pastors and assemblymen, wrote to the Brooklyn Theater Fire Relief Association on behalf of the families; some directly addressed their letters to the mayor himself. These letters along with reports, provided by “volunteers [who] visited the homes of families in need and certified their worthiness for assistance” allowed dispensation of funds by the relief association.

One such volunteer, had visited the home of Mrs. Rose, whose report was filed as follows:

No. 194 Pacific St.
Name and address of deceased

Angus McCulloch 28
John McColloch – 23
Donald Rose 15

If employed at time of death, where? At Metropolitan Mills under Mr. Phelps, 181 & 183 Chambers St N. York

What, if any wages received? 14 Dollars Per Week
Names and ages of those depending on deceased
John McCollock Employed at Buffalo Sternbergs Grain Elevator at 400 Dollars Per Season.
Daniel Rose Employed at Arbucles Printing Office, Front St. N.Y.

Was the body identified?   2 Bodys Identified, the 3rd Daniel Rose Not Found

By whom buried?   Dr. Storrs Church Paid the Funeral Expense

Was funeral expenses paid by the city?   No.

What, if any, wages received by surviving members of the family?
One Sister, Aged 30. Amount Not Known

Are there any unemployed members of the family who are willing to work? If so, give occupation
They leave A Widowed Mother Aged 53
Whose sons was her Sole Support
She is very Deaf & Infirm

Remarks and recommendations of visitors
This Family will Certainly Require Assistance

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society,
Brooklyn Theater Fire Relief Association Records, 1876-1879, Case Notes (M)

It is important to note the discrepancies in records when it comes to spelling of names. The above report has several errors; to begin, the address was written incorrectly, as the family lived at 294 Pacific Street. Also, Mrs. Rose’s youngest son was first named Donald Rose and then, few lines later, Daniel Rose. Lastly, the place of employment for Donald Rose was listed as Arbucles Printing Office, Front St. N.Y., but in my research, I found no such business entity had ever existed in New York. In any case, some errors were corrected as later reports were submitted to the Relief Association, while others kept being perpetuated.

Here is a copy of Mayor Schroeder’s notes on the family of Mrs. Rose:

Angus McCulloch        28                     294 Pacific St.   
John McCulloch          23                 Victims of the Fire          Scotch
Donald Rose              15          Step Brother to the above  

These Sons was supporting their Widowed Mother
Who is very Deaf & Feeble in Health.
Dr. Storrs, and the Church of the Pilgrims,
Have Borne the Funeral Expenses.

N.B. This Family are Not in Want of Immediate Relief

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society,
Brooklyn Theater Fire Relief Association Records, 1876-1879, Mayor Schroeder’s Case Notes

Mrs. Rose and her daughter were the only survivals of the family, and as the mayor had noted, they did not require immediate assistance. The Church of the Pilgrims, to which the family belonged, had paid all the funerary expenses. However, as the above two records from the Relief Association indicate, Mrs. Rose was deaf and had poor health; adding to her conditions, she now suffered from the pain of losing three of her sons on one night. One consolation was her daughter, Ann, who according to record below was able to work and provide for her mother. Mayor Schroeder’s final notes indicate that Mrs. Rose, whose case was no. 72, received financial assistance from the Relief Association.

No. 72
Rose Mrs. no 294 Pacific St. widow – lost three sons – has unmarried daughter working earning from $2 to $5 weekly – place has a very neat and tidy appearance but nothing extravagant – receives $12 semi monthly, formerly received $20 – conversed with Mrs. Rose.

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society,
Brooklyn Theater Fire Relief Association Records, 1876-1879, Mayor Schroeder’s Case Notes

Following in the footsteps of Mrs. Rose’s daughter, we find her as Annie McCulloch on October 21, 1879, when she married William Winter. By 1880, when the Tenth United States census was conducted, we find the newlyweds living with Mrs. Jesse Rose at 294 Pacific Street in Brooklyn. All the subsequent census records of 1892, 1900 and 1910 add only residential addresses that changed from decade to decade; these records also indicate that the couple had a total of three children, of whom one died early. It is once again, within the pages of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle where we find some additional information about our family. In the March 11, 1898 issue of the newspaper, a simple notice was published announcing the death of Jessie Rose in her 75th year. Nothing else. But almost nineteen years later, the following obituary was published pertaining to her daughter:
Mrs. Anna MacCulloch Winter.

Mrs. Anne MacCulloch Winter, 70 years old, wife of William Winter of 98 South Oxford street, died yesterday after a long illness. Her husband is a well-known builder of Brooklyn, and she had been a resident here for forty-four years. Mrs. Winter was an active member of the Reformed Church on the Heights, of which her two sons are deacons, and belongs to its Women’s Guild and the missionary societies. The pastor, the Rev. Frederick S. Shannon will conduct her funeral services tomorrow evening, and interment , on Monday, will be in Greenwood Cemetery. Mrs. Winter was born in Invernessshire, Scotland. She had three brothers, Angus, John and Donald MacCulloch, who were all lost in the Brooklyn Theater fire. Mrs. Winter is survived, besides her husband, by two sons, Angus MacCuloch Winter and William David Winter.

Mrs. Winter was laid to rest in The Green-Wood Cemetery, next to her mother, Mrs. Rose, and a two year old daughter—Mary Ogilvie Winter—in Lot 24906, Section 138. The fact that Anna MacCulloch Winter’s obituary has details about the Brooklyn Theater Fire, at least to me, indicates that she kept the memory of her brothers’ alive. I am hopeful that this blog post will only add to the memory of Mrs. Rose and her family, memory of her children who died young in Scotland, and three sons who perished in the fire on that fateful night on December 5, 1876. I end this post with three images: one is an obituary from The Troy Daily Times that gives a glimpse into the state of Mrs. Rose at the time of fire, the second is image of headstone marking the resting place of Mrs. Rose and her daughter’s family, and the last image is a family tree which I created using all the records, from New York City and Scotland, as mentioned in this blog.

Lot 24906, Section 138

Mrs. Rose’s family


Name:   Donald Rose (McCullough)

Age:  15

Native of:  Scotland

Resident of this City:  4 years

Occupation:   Clerk

Marital Status:  Single

Father’s Birthplace:  Scotland

Mother’s Birthplace:  Scotland

Certificate of Death:  Body not Found


Browse for Victims by:


  1. Paul Lanning

    The Arbuckle brothers were actually relations of Jessie McDonald…Charles and John Arbuckle’s mother was also a McDonald, and they hailed from the same region of Scotland. I have this relation noted in my great-grandfather’s memoirs (he was William Winter, son of Anne McCulloch). John Arbuckle arranged for work at the mills for Angus and John McCulloch, which brought them to America, and their mother and siblings followed a couple years afterward…a prime example of chain migration in the 1860s-70s.

    • Jahongir Usmanov

      Dear Paul.
      Thank you for your input. Somehow, your original comment was lost in my spam.
      I really appreciate the information on Arbuckle brothers. If you want to share more information with details, i will gladly incorporate it within the above text.


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