Love that dirty water . . . Millers River, Cambridge

I was doing some data entry the other day and paused over the sad fate of Richard Black, who drowned when he was just 7 years old in 1903 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (He is related to me through the Gaule family.)

Death record for Richard Black

But I had never heard of Miller’s River. Turns out I had never heard of it because the river had been filled in as industry in Cambridge waned. Millers River is now just a small waterway between Cambridge and Charlestown, around the Zakim Bridge. Mark Jaquith at Cambridge Community Television has a great article and slideshow about Millers River.

Prior to being filled in, Millers River was heavily polluted by local industry, particularly by the Squires slaughterhouse where some of my relatives worked. The pollution and smell were so bad that it is supposed to have inspired some early Massachusetts waterway regulations. I wonder if poor Richard fell in or if it was so hot in August that he went swimming in the polluted water.

Small updates to Clare, Gaule, and Hegarty pages

I’ve been too busy at work to really delve into my genealogy hobby, but a few new things have come to my attention and I’d like to share them. I’ve made small updates to the following pages:

Clare research

I found a civil death register at Newfoundland Grand Banks that included the death of my great-great-grandfather John Clare in Harbour Grace in 1892. The register also gave his age which allowed me to figure his birth date as about 1836. Best of all, the register included his place of birth as ENGLAND. I don’t know where in England, but at least I have traced another Newfoundland ancestor back to Europe. I remember my grandmother telling me that her grandfather had come from England. Often family stories end up as just stories, so I was pleased to see that one work out.

Gaule research

Another researcher contacted me on to insist that my great-grandmother Anastasia Gaule had a sister named Anne Gaule who also emigrated to Cambridge, MA. I had heard this rumor before, I think back in my days on AOL, but I had dismissed it because the names seemed too similar and I thought my father would have heard of a whole group of relatives living so close. However, this researcher had lots of matching info about Anastasia’s parents whom she claimed were also Anne’s parents. I managed to find a marriage record for Anne on that gave her parents’ names, which matched, so now I’m convinced. I added Anne into the Gaule family.

Hegarty research

There was a family story that my great-grandfather John James Hegarty served in the British Army before emigrating to Massachusetts in 1890. He was supposed to have served in the Boer War with the Royal Munster Fusiliers, but the dates that the RMF were in South Africa didn’t work with John’s age and emigration dates. Recently, though, turned up a record for a Private J. Heggarty serving with the Royal Malta Artillery in the Sudan, with dates that actually work. I am supposing this is him, since it’s a Royal M-word regiment and it’s in Africa. If I find better or different evidence going forward, I’ll revise. Meanwhile, here is a photo from Wikipedia of the campaign medals John would have received after the Suakin Expedition, though his medals would likely not have had a date.

Conundrum resolved: follow-up note

Well, I did a little more thinking, and have discarded the 1920 East Boston census with the Costigan boys from Nova Scotia. First, as noted, it conflicts with the 1920 Seattle census where John Costigan appears with his brother Simon. But another look in my Reunion files revealed that Patrick Costigan was listed in the 1921 Newfoundland Census with his mom, so he hadn’t yet made it down to the States. So I have to let it go. But come on: the same names, the same Maritimes Canada, the same street in East Boston? *sigh*

Costigan census conundrum

I started organizing my materials on the Costigans with an eye towards improving the Costigan page. I opened my grandfather’s page on and realized I didn’t have a 1920 census listing for him, so I did a search.

I found Bernard Costigan, Patrick Costigan, and John Costigan all boarding on Princeton Street in East Boston and working as fishermen.

1920 census, Boston Ward 1, Suffolk County, Massachusetts (Princeton Street)

Unfortunately, this census says they are from Nova Scotia, and has switched Patrick’s and John’s ages, but I am willing to chalk that up to enumerator error. My grandfather lived in and around Princeton Street for decades; these are his stomping grounds, those are his brothers’ names. has indexed the household as the Cannons, but I think the handwriting is bad and it actually says Gorman, a prominent name in Harbour Main. So they are probably boarding with friends of friends from home.

Except that surely friends of friends from home would have known that they were from Newfoundland and not Nova Scotia. But who knows. I still felt good about it until I started attaching the census to my Ancestry tree pages for Patrick and John.

That’s when I saw that I already have a 1920 census for John Costigan, only he’s living in Seattle.

1920 census for Seattle, King County, Washington State

No one really knows what happened to John. There were vague rumors that he had died at sea, but I could never find anything concrete. I was really excited when I found this census, because it lists Simon Costigan as his brother, and my great-uncle Simon definitely lived out in Seattle. So this must be my great-uncle John, right?

So then why did people think he was dead instead of just in Seattle? Unless he died in Seattle?

And who was the John staying on Princeton Street in East Boston?

Is it possible there is another group of Costigan brothers with the same names and ages from Nova Scotia?

I will try to figure it out tomorrow.