I found this a while ago but realized I never posted it here. It is a news clipping entitled “Narrow Escape” which describes a fire at my great-grandparents’ apartment in 1905 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Three children of Mr. and Mrs. John Hegarty, of 80 Howard street, Leo, aged 3 1/2 years, Margaret, 2 1/2, and Joseph, 1 1/2, had a narrow escape from being burned to death Tuesday afternoon. The children were playing in the kitchen, while the mother was upstairs, when the oldest child, with a broom, knocked a lamp off a shelf on to the stove. The burning oil ignited the clothes of the other two children. Margaret was badly burned about the head, arms and chest, and after being attended by Drs. Norton and Joseph Cunningham was sent to the Cambridge hospital. Joseph was burned about the legs. Mrs. Hegarty rescued the two younger children with some difficulty, as the whole room was in flames in an instant. The fire completely destroyed the apartments of the Hegartys, which is the rear one of a four-apartment wooden house. The house is owned by S. J. Kelley. The loss will amount to $1500. An alarm was rung In from box 145 at 1.30 o’clock.
from Cambridge Chronicle, 21 Jan 1905, page 10
I found this article at the Cambridge Public Library’s free searchable database: Historic Cambridge Newspaper Collection. Worth checking out if you have Cambridge connections.
My father died in Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 28th after a long illness. He will be dearly missed. This photo is perhaps ten years old.
It’s been a long week of seeing rarely-seen relatives. (I live out of state, so I rarely see any relatives.) I did make plans to compare genealogy notes with one cousin. There is a lot to catch up with, but eventually there will be more blog posts here.
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.)
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.
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:
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.
Another researcher contacted me on Ancestry.com 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 AmericanAncestors.org that gave her parents’ names, which matched, so now I’m convinced. I added Anne into the Gaule family.
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, Ancestry.com 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.
I added a new page to hold the transcription of my great-grand-uncle’s ledger, which contains a Deasy family history and 3 months worth of a combined budget and diary kept in Cambridge in 1892. I can’t vouch for how reliable he is or isn’t, but it’s an interesting snapshot of an immigrant laborer’s days. Mostly work!
A few notes:
- Cambridgeport is a neighborhood in Cambridge, Mass. It runs roughly between Central Square and MIT.
- Kennedy Biscuit was the factory that made Fig Newtons and Lorna Doones. It is now luxury housing. A family cookie connection!
- According to this Lexington, Mass. history, Lexington had a whole community of immigrant Irish farmers hiring immigrant Irish farmhands in the 1890s.
- The Ivy Leaf was a melodramatic Irish musical theatre production, according to Gerald Bordman’s American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1869-1914. (via Google Books)
- The Palace Theatre was in Scollay Square in Boston. There is a long discussion of the Palace Theatre at the Cinema Treasures site.
If you look at my Hegarty Ancestors page, you see it starts off with John Hegarty. This blog entry is just to record the reasons why I am stuck there. It might help me if not anyone else.
My grandfather was Michael Hegarty (1898-1970) of Cambridge/Somerville, Massachusetts. I knew him personally and have great certainty about his information. His father was John J. Hegarty (1867-1947) of Cork, Ireland who emigrated to Massachusetts in 1888. He was personally known to my father and I have general certainty about his information. I am still seeking details about his military service, but overall, his profile is in good shape.
When I started dabbing in genealogy over a decade ago, my father remembered that his cousin had done a family history years before. He phoned her and she sent me an envelope with various family papers. Included in that package were copies of Irish birth certificates for John J. Hegarty and his wife. Additionally, there were photocopied pages of a notebook in which John J. Hegarty’s daughter Helen had written a profile of each of her parents, listing their parents and siblings. These papers say that John J. Hegarty was the son of Michael and Ellen (Cronin) Hegarty of Cork.
As I went about clumsily researching this, another Hegarty researcher kindly sent me a photocopy of a microfilmed Cork City marriage registration for Michael Hegarty and Ellen Cronin. On that 1866 marriage registration, Michael Hegarty gives his father’s name as John Hegarty. It also says Michael lived on Penrose Lane in Cork.
Over the past few months, I’ve been searching the Cork parish registries that have recently been put online. And so my confusion begins: Michael Hegarty and Ellen Cronin are there in the online parish records, having babies at regular intervals. Now, my great-aunt Helen’s notebook had claimed that Michael and Ellen had 15 children, of whom only about 6 survived into adulthood. However, there are not fifteen baptisms in the parish records. I cannot just dismiss the ones that were said in the notebook to have “died young,” because some of their baptisms were recorded. Also, Helen would have been writing about her own aunts and uncles, even if she had never met them. She would have been getting information from her father, I presume. But others of the “died young” siblings are just absent. But surely if the child survived long enough to be named, he or she would have been baptized? As near as I can tell, they were baptizing babies within a week of having them. But then where did Helen get the extra names?
I searched in the online parish records for Michael Hegarty’s baptism, hoping to find his parents listed and his mother named. And I did find a Michael Hegarty, born in 1842, to a John Hegarty, the only Michael Hegarty born to John Hegarty of all the Hegartys in there. But this John Hegarty (and his wife Elizabeth Kelliher) were not in Cork City proper: they were in Tiraveen, a whole different parish (Kilmurry, I think).
OK, it was the Great Famine; people were displaced. Maybe they moved into the city seeking food. But here is a thing that’s bothering me: Griffith’s Valuation lists a Michael Hegarty as a tenant in Penrose Lane in 1852. But that can’t possibly be my Michael Hegarty because a ten year old boy would not have been able to rent property, would he? Could that have been another relative with whom he was staying?
Also, the Tiraveen parish records show that Michael had a brother or uncle (I forget at the moment, but it was clear in the records) named Jeremiah Hegarty who emigrated to Cambridge much earlier. I looked up Massachusetts Vital Records and found this Jeremiah in Cambridge. His death record included his parents’ names and everything. But if this is true, why did my family not know they had ancestors in Cambridge fifty years before my great-grandfather arrived? Or is that in fact why my great-grandfather chose Cambridge, Mass. over all other places he could have settled when he finished his soldiering?
Finally, there is the online version of the Irish census for 1901 and 1911. I can’t find any members of my great-grandfather’s family in that 1901 Irish census. I suppose it’s possible that both of his parents died between when he emigrated in 1885 and when the census was taken in 1901. Several of his brothers and sisters also emigrated. But I can’t find anyone left there. No married sisters, no single brothers lodging with someone. No one. Nor can I find the missing people in the US records, so they didn’t just follow him over. Could they really all have just died?
Well, there was one family in the Irish census that looked like it might be his parents and siblings: Michael and Ellen Hegarty and their grown-up younger children. I was all excited because all the children’s names were the same and everything was age appropriate EXCEPT. Except that one of the children was Julia Hegarty, and she was about 24 and working as a tailor in 1901. But my great-grandfather’s sister Julia was in the 1900 US Federal Census where she was 30, divorced with two young children and working as a laundress. And the date of the divorce and the names of the children match up with my great-aunt Helen’s notebook. And a laundress raising two children alone doesn’t have money to go home to Ireland for a visit, right? Nor can she become younger. So that Irish census family can’t be mine?
I want the census family to be mine, because Michael Hegarty was a harness-maker. And the Cork City directory for 1875 lists only one Michael Hegarty, who was a saddler. And if he’s the only one listed, he has to be mine, right? I want to say that people didn’t really know their right ages. I want to make it work but I feel like I am jamming pieces in where they don’t quite fit.
I feel like I am reaching the point where I need to talk to a professional genealogist. From my poking around the internet, it seems like the uploading of County Cork parish registers is not yet finished, so perhaps I should wait for that process to complete and search again to see if I can find any more clues. I wish that I had more evidence for the Tiraveen location than one record in an online database (albeit an official Irish government database). I need an expert to tell me if this puzzle is even solvable.
So that’s why I’m stuck on my Hegarty research at the moment.
An old ad from Squire’s slaughterhouse/meatpacking plant in Cambridge, site of ancestral employment. This place employed a lot of Cambridge and Somerville people. John P. Squire didn’t live near it though; he lived on Beacon Hill.
One time my great-grandfather Walter Murphy rescued a piglet from the back of the truck and brought it home as a pet. You would think that story would have the terrible “I love bacon” ending, but in the version I heard it did not — the pig lived happily for years and was taken for walks.
The plant burned down in the 1970s in a massive fire fueled by decades of offal and fat and grease soaked into the wooden floors of the brick warehouse. The Somerville Fire Department has a whole webpage about the fire.