Joseph was born in 1819, in the County of Tyrone, Garry De Travy Parish. He sailed from Belfast and landed in New York on his 21st birthday, in the year 1840. He was the youngest member of his family and was accompanied by a cousin. (no record of who this cousin was) Reaching New York, after eight weeks and three days, the twosome set out for Upper Canada to meet his brother and, thereafter, to find land.

He took up a homestead farm at the head of Green Bay in Bedford County, Ontario, a location near the present City of Kingston. Here, it is reported, he literally chopped his farm out of the woods and carried his wheat crop on his back to the Mill. He also chopped great piles of wood for potash burning which was sold in barrels for income.

The family records of Joseph report that his father, a brother of Thomas, had been a landlord in Ireland but had backed a note for a business partner who had failed. As a result the father had been forced to pay, and this broke him. Because of this Joseph had decided to come to Canada to make his own way. His first home was a log cabin which he built, with the staircase on the outside.

He married Charlotte Bell, ( a relative of the Telephone Bell) and they settled on his homestead, where thirteen children were eventually born. Like her husband, Charlotte was of sturdy stock and it is said that she would sometimes walk up to forty miles to visit relatives. Following the death of Charlotte in 1882, Joseph married a Mrs. Kitty Bell, who died in 1897. Joseph passed away in 1904 and is buried in Salem Cemetery.