Red Headed Stepchild
(The Barrett family memoir of Navy Life)
by Sophie Ruth Meranski with photos

 

Kate Craig, Annie Mehegan,Eileenn Mehegan Hanson standing. seated Ms. Alberts, Hannah Alberts Mehegan 28#859
p 28-859 Sophie Barrett text +Elvira + Edmund Mehegan + Jessie Fahrbach letters, Hoarde #95 typed 18 May 1998 18:39:54 -0700 (PDT) #95 In l96l we had fish dinner several times with Mollie at 640 East Seventh Street. A plumber named Charles Mehegan was working at the house, and Jack recollected that in l9l2 he had some contacts with Mehegan cousins - and also their aunt Kate Craig who lived on Blossom Street in downtown Boston near Massachusetts General Hospital. After l9l2 Jack did not live in Boston again until l932, and he wondered what had become of these relations.After Mollie died of bowel cancer October ll, l967, Jack and John made an extensive study of materials in the old house and attic, and among these items were three typed pages of family history, unsigned. After considerable detective work we found that the author was writing a letter to his son, who was visiting relatives in San Francisco, and it refers to the young man's grandmother, Ellen Barrett, an immigrant from Ireland to Boston. The date was typed l842, and a handwritten correction changed it to l84l. The date of the letter appeared to be l9l0, or l9ll - sixty-nine years after - evidently calculated from l842 to l9ll. We learned the author was Robert J. Mehegan, a printer at the Boston Herald, whose parents were John Mehegan and Ellen Barrett. His aunt Kate Barrett married his father's brother Charles Mehegan, who worked constructing railroads, including one from Boston to Concord, New Hampshire. We later learned that the Mehegans came from Ballyheedy,Ballinhassig county Cork. Catherine Barrett died of lung disease 1863, and her husband Charles Mehegan died in a railroad accident 1868, leaving Robert 1848, Mary 1852, and Charles W. born 1857. His brother John died 1873 and is buried in Old Calvary Cemetery Mattapan-Dorchester, while his wife Ellen Barrett survived to January 1, 1895. The plumber Charles Mehegan came from neighboring Inishannon about four miles west of Ballinhassig - probably a relative but not close.In the l970's we talked with his wife, his sister, and grandson, Peter Mehegan of Quincy, who became a Boston television newscaster, commentator and personality. ---#95 Elvira Mehegan (p305) From records in Suffolk county probate court Boston Jack learned that Robert Mehegan junior had died in the early l930's and had left a widow Elvira Mehegan and four children; EILEEN JOHN, Edmund, and Paul. He believed Elvira had returned to Evanston Wyoming.I sent a letter to the Catholic church in Evanston to inquire about Mrs. Mehegan,and the priest there forwarded my letter to Elvira in Denver,Colorado.She wrote to me promptly just before her birthday August 26, 1970, explaining that she had settled in Denver after retiring from teaching school in Evanston.Her daughter Eileen Hanson and son John Mehegan were living in Denver, so she decided to take a house in Denver to be near them. LETTER: 3870 E. Wesley Ave, Denver Colorado 80210 Oc 10, l970 Dear Sophie and John, I want to thank you for all the information you have sent me concerning the Mehegan-Barrett family and also apologize for being so slow in replying. I have not been well due to a "flu" session and eye trouble.I expect a call the first of next week from the eye specialist telling me if I am to have a cataract operation. Due to other trouble in the retina there is a question if the operation will solve the problem. You will understand it is not possible for me to answer all your letters in detail..Since I sent you the post card dated l9l5 I found information in an old suitcase of my Bob's. It is an account of his trip to California. It is dated Oct ll, l9ll to Oct. 22. He mentions a Public Lands Convention held in Denver which he attended. He reported for work in the Land Office September 27, l911. He mentioned receiving a letter from Sister Mary Joseph Barrett 2043 Polk Street San Francisco also Miss Kate Barrett was writing to her nephew, who was in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service . Oct. 12 Bob heard from him from New London. I assume that was your husband and father. One thing mentioned that does not apply to the family but was of interest to to me In Evanston Bob paid a dollar a day for room and board in a private family.Bob's trip to San Francisco He left Evanston Sept 5, l911 on the OVERLAND Limited, a coal-burning engine that gave off cinders at Ogden Utah an oil burning engine was substituted.Great Salt Lake was crosssed over a man-made cutoff a big project of fill-in rock. When the train reached Oakland,all had to transfer to ferry to cross the Bay to San Francisco. He visited many places in San Francisco, then on September ninth he went to visit relatives at 2043 Polk St. There he met the Hessions, Barretts and other relatives. Mrs. Hession's home was near Market street. Miss"Auntie" Barrett and Kate Barrett lived with her. The big l906 fire destroyed her property,which had to be rebuilt. Auntie Kate was Robert Senior's first cousin. Besides the three women, he learned about Sister Mary Joseph, the Kerrigans, Colemans, Murphys, Fahrbachs and Rings. Miss Kate Kerrigan was the only one he met.(Sophie Barrett note'-We have since learned that Kate Kerrigan was the daughter of Mary Barrett, a fifth sister who did not leave Ireland with her brother robert and four sisters, Kate, Ellen, Johanna, and Margaret.She married a Mr. Kerrigan of Ballymartle near Kinsale, county Cork, and her daughters Kate Kerrigan and Mrs. John Ring went to San Francisco in l897. Ella Collins of Moskeigh managed to trace these relations as her mother's niece Mrs. Joan Ring Finn of Scart Ballinhassig was a niece of John Ring and remembered corresponding with his wife, a Barrett descendant. There were a number of Ring relations in the Bay area, but of these only Mary Mathews of San Bruno was a surviving Barrett descenant in the l970's. Mrs. Eva Kimbrough of Berkeley was a member of the Ring line and knew much family history. Her daughters attended the Presentation School in Berkeley where Sister Mary Joseph Barrett was mother Superior in l9ll.- end Sophie Barrett note) continuing Elvira Mehegan letter-He had eight meetings with these people. They told him of the western relatives, and he told them of those in ther East. They treated him very well. While Mrs. Hession was elderly and wrinkled, she was very active physically and mentally. She helped her relations and started Mr. Fahrbach in business. Mr. Hession was a highly educated man a civil engineer and surveyor. The Hessions had three children Robert,John and Mrs. Fahrbach. Robert Married but John did not. Both died within six nmonths of each other. John was a letter carrier.Mrs. Fahrbach died about l907. The next person mentioned is Kate Barrett-Robert Mehegan senior's first cousin. She spent her time helping her older relatives. These ladies and Bob went to Berkeley to visit Sister Mary Joseph on September 18. They discussed the eastern relatives.She was very active.There was a discussion of the Kerrigans, Colemans,and Murphys.Bob's last visit at 2043 Polk Street was September tenth.Kate Kerrigan unmarried was the daughter of Bob's grandmother's oldest sister. Kate's sister Johanna had married a Ring. Both Mr. and Mrs. Murphy were dead at the time. Two grown sons survived.They had not kept close to Mrs. Hession.On September 20th Bob took a steamer for Los Angeles.At that time Mrs. Johanna Hession, Kate Kerrigan, the two Murphy boys, and Miss Coleman were the only remaining relatives. On September 25th he left for the return trip to Evanston, Wyoming. Bob wanted to attend college in l9l0 but due to his father's accident when his hand was caught in a press he had to take a business course by correspondence.After passing the Civil Service test he was assigned to the Land ofice in Evanston, Wyoming September 27, l9ll-Elvira Mehegan." On October 16, l970 Mrs. Jessie Fahrbach from from Oakland California" Your letter of October 11, l970 was received and its contents noted with great interest.Strangely enough I know very little about the Fahrbach family, as I shall explain. I was married to Robert Fahrbach senior in l934 having met him in l932.Consequently I know very little about his family previous to that time. Robert and I had a son in l936, who is Robert, junior.I do know that my Robert's father, Emil Fahrbach,married Elizabeth Hession, the daughter of Johanna Barrett Hession.Elizabeth died in l907 when Robert was thirteen years of age.Robert's father remarried after Elizabeth's death.They were deceased when I met Robert.Your mention of Robert Fahrbach having married in l923 is no doubt true.I was not Robert's first wife.Their marriage ended in divorce.Robert's and my marriage also ended in divorce.However, there was no ill feeling, and we kept in touch until he died in l967.Robert's father was hgihly respected in business circles in San Francisco.Robert senior also thought a great deal of his mother.In fact I have a picture of her which was among Robert's personal belongings which I received after his death.She was a very beautiful woman- Jessie Fahrbach" On October 9, l970 Edmund Mehegan of DesPlaines Illinois, son of Robert Mehegan junior, wrote: "My grandfather Robert Mehegan senior and Johanna (Alberts) Mehegan had nine children but only two lived to adulthood.Robert Mehegan junior (my father and his sister Annie, my aunt.I understand that my father's health was somewhat delicate and for that reason he was advised by his doctor to try a Western climate.I think he must also have had some wanderlust judging by therecords you have sent- he came by honestly. At any rate he went to Evanston Wyoming about 1909 or l9l0 where he worked for the Post Office Department. To my knowledge there was no particular reason for choosing Evanston as opposed to any other Western town.He had no friends or relatives there that I ever heard of.He lived in Evanston in l9l0 and l9ll and met my mother at that time. But he returned to Boston until l9l9 or l920(worked at Boston Army Base-note) when he again went to Evanston long enough to be married.They return to Boston, where thirteen years and four children later he died l933. Through the efforts of her sister my mother was able to get a teaching job in Evanston Wyoming and so again a trip was made west. My mother moved to Denver after she reitred about l964. Eileen my sister returned to Boston about l938-l939 to study nursing.As to the famous document written by my grandfather, i find it fascinating not only as a family record but as a historical account of the lives and times of nineteenth century America..After seeing the copy of the typewritten original which you sent, may I venture that A. You do have the original- and other pages with the salutation and signature were removed because they pertained to matters other than family history. B. the second and more logical conclusion is that when my father returned to Boston he made typewriter copies of the original to preserve the information and pass it on to other relatives. He would have no need to add a salutation or a signature since he was copying (his father's) own letter.I am quite sure he knew how to type.Were the handwritten corections on the original when you found it (typed date l842 is changed in pen to l841) I have tried to compare them with my father's handwriting on the post cards,but I cannot tell - the "M" in Margaret seems similar but there are differences.I want to thank both of you for your letters.Aunt Annie had some chairs of my grandmother's that I told her I wanted her to will to me. My sister was in Boston with her when she was dying and telephoned me about the chairs.Annie passed on a few days later.Eileen called but in her opinion the chairs dated only from the late l890's and the cost would have been prohibitive to have them crated and shipped. Eileen salvaged a few old vases and pictures and divided them between us, but the letters are gone forever.My mother has very few relics from Boston as it was not practical in the depression to ship them- Edmund Mehegan. " In his research on the Barrett family John learned that the girl referred to in the 19ll document as the daughter of Robert Mehegan who had lost her husband and her child had been named Elizabeth Peiper. He found that she had remarried in l9l2 to Joseph hoarde, and that a family of Joseph Hoarde had lived in Waltham, Massachusetts.He wrote to the son, -also Joseph Hoarde, who telehponed to John early in October l970 saying his mother was to celebrate her ninetieth birthday the next day October 8. She had three living children - his sister Mrs. Julia Maloney of Brighton, his sister Mary Brooks of Burlington, and himself, the baby of the family, born in l920.He mother was living with Julia Maloney and her husband :"Chick" (Charles) at 9 Bostonia Avenue in brighton.That evening John had a three hour telephone conversation with Mrs. Hoarde and her daughter Julia.Mrs. Hoarde was keen and gave him a lot of family historya nd information about South Boston.Subsequently john called on his third cousins and stayed for dinner and a hockey evening.On Easter Sunday l971 he wenbt to visit Julia's daughter Janice's family the Bagnalls where they had a reunion of about twenty-five members of the family.John gave Mrs. Hoarde an Irish shamrock whch he had raised from seed.She enjoyed the plant very much, as it bloomed for her last summer. She recently celebrated her ninety-first birthday.John also located three of the children of the "Charlie" Mehegan referred to in the document.Charlie became a Boston letter carrier and had five children.,of whom three still survive l97l Dorothy Brooks in Washington D.C. , Leonora Carty in Milton, and Eileen Brennan in west Quincy. John also located ninety year old Richard Barry Sullivan the son of Mary Mehegan l852-l884 who married Barry Sullivan and had three surviving children by him. Richard Barry Sullivan lives in Reseda, California where he has been active in real estate for years. John had a letter from his son Roger a lawyer for one of the railroads (later for Los Angeles Catholic diocese). John also talked with Richard Barry Sullivan and his wife. Richard lost his parents in l884 and l892 played baseball for a time in Philadelphia and spent some years in Laramie, Wyoming.His two unmarried sisters lived in Jamaica Plain. Mrs. Hoarde had a vivid memory that her aunt Mary Theresa Mehegan Sullivan died in childbirth when she herself was three years old l884. Mrs. Hoarde's mother was a member of the large Freeman family of West Bolton Street South Boston. Several of the Freemans were glassblowers. One group of her Freeman cousins lived near Mattapan.Her father had an accident involving a coal chute in South Boston but lived until l9l6.His skull was damaged, and his brain sensitive to possible injury. Her mother lost several babies, buther twin sisters born in l889 lived into their eighties, though separated by adoption after their mother's death of tuberculosis in l894. After visiting her uncle Charlie in South boston and Coughlin relations in Maynard, -where she was corrected for picking an apple blossom in the family's productive orchard -Elizabeth, the eldest child, born October 8, l880, worked as a housekeeper and cook in Waltham, where she met her second husband Joseph Hoarde a butcher in l9l2. They were married fifty-seven years until he passed away inl969 at age ninety-two. Around l911 Boston Mayor Fitzgerald helped Elizabeth find her sister who had been adopted by a family in Salem. Elizabeth was often called "Lil." In her later years, she punned on James Fenimore Cooper's novel and referred to herself as "the last of the Mehegans." She was proficient at crocheting and an enthusiastic baseball fan, though her great-grandchildren played hockey. One of her sisters Mrs. Bussiere had a son and two daughter and lived near Manchester New Hampshire until she passed away January 5, l97l.
Subject: Mehegan-Alberts-Craig group
Year: 1938Mehegan