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


Sophie Barrett and John l946 Oahu p 53-1069
probably on car ride near Nuuanu Pali with one of the stuffed animal collection ++ Sophie Barrett Black Notebook One text p 283 He attended the Gooch School in Melrose for the first grade and probably for half of the second grade year. His recollection is that he transferred to the South Boston schools on Valentines Day, February 14, 1895 or 1896. Year 1895 seems probable because of the date of his father's second marriage, November 1894. Jack lived a short distance east [south] of Spot Pond, Melrose,and remembered skating there as a child. His Buckley grandparents were very fond of him. His grandmother died in December, 1896, when Jack was eight years old, not long after his move to South Bston. His aunts Minnie and Maggie continued to take an interest in his welfare. An ambiguity in the will of his grandmother created some consternation in his family. Sh left her piano and one hundred or one-hundred-fifty dollars to my grandson, John Berchmans Buckley." She probably meant her grandson John Berchmans Barrett, and the lawyer selected by Jack's uncle may have been responsible for the mistake. Jack's mother is buried with her parents in Old Calvary Cemetery Boston, and the tombstone lists her as Catherine Agnes Buckley, though her married name was Catherine Agnes Barrett. The money went to Jack's cousin John Buckley, whose middle name was not Berchmans.Some coolness developed between Jack's father and the Buckleys. Minnie and Maggie continued to be among Jack's fondest admirers and gave him many books and presents in the period around 1900. They gave him many of the Henty series of boys' adventure tales, of which he was very fond. These include, "With Wolfe in Canada", "With Lee in Virginia", "True to the Old Flag", "The Lion of Saint Mark" and dozens more. Minnie also gave "Gulliver's Travels", "The Collier Encyclopedia", and natural history books. Minnie and Maggie also gave books to Jack's half-brother Bill, of whom they were fond even though he was not a relative of theirs. Minnie and Maggie worked at the Converse Rubber company in Malden. Jack's uncle John Buckley was a pattern maker in shipbuilding many years at the Charlestown Navy Yard. Jack last saw him in June,1921 when the destroyer TOUCEY visited the Navy Yard, with Jack in acting command. The younger Buckley cousins were very fine people, and I wish Jack had known them better. He saw more of his second cousins the Hartigans 284 than he did of his own first cousins the Buckleys, because the Hartigans lived in South Boston from 1890 to 1917. Mr. Hartigan was a newspaperman originally in Philadelphia and Baltimore. His daughter Gertrude was born in Philadelphia and his duaghter Mary [May] in Baltimore in February 1886. After a period in Roslindale he moved to the home of his brother-in-law John Donovan at D and Third Streets South Boston to reduce commuting to the boston Traveler on Newspaper Row downtown near Pi Alley when he developed bone tuberculosis, which killed his oldest sons Jeremiah and James. Jeremiah also had a football injury at Bsotn college. Mr. Hartigan senior died in 1899. Around 1905 Jack Barrett became very friendly with James Hartigan, who was severly crippled but managed to work as a newspaper reporter at various times in Binghamton, New York and in 1907 at Bath Maine. James died in 1912 but their mother born in Ireland 1852 and Gertrude, May born 1886 , the priest Father Edward 1889 and Law John 1893 all lived to good ages. = Father Edward Hartigan attended Boston College High School and played football as a member of the Boston College Class of 1911. He then was appointed to West Point Military Academy and completed freshmen year 1911-12 as a member of the 1915 class, which included World War II Generals Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and James Van Fleet. After the death of his brother James in 1912 he felt needed at home and resigned.He went to St. John's Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts, and was ordained in 1917. He had early duties in Everett, then was pastor in North Weymouth for many years and appointed Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Everett 1953-1970. In 1920s he founded Cedar Crest camp at Green Harbor Marshfield on the shore shore originally for boys and girls of the Everett parish, but children from other areas attended over many decades of operation up to 1960s. It provided an affordable summer change of scene and chance to exercise and develop skills for children of many families of moderate means. His sisters Gertrude and Mary usually spent the summer at Green Harbor, and during the winter while May was teaching mathematics at Washington Irving school in Roslindale, they would go down there for Wednesday supper. Gertrude and May and their mother lived at 80 Brown Avenue, Roslindale near Sacred Heart Church on Cummins highway. May often saw the Buckley cousins especially Gertrude and Alice in Melrose, who attended Father Hartigan's fiftieth jubilee in 1967.At the suggestion of Jack's aunt Minnie Buckley in February 1910, May visited Jack at the Revenue Cutter School at Arundel Cove, South Baltimore, where she remembered clamshells in the pavements. Lawyer John Hartigan and his wife and four or five chidren lived across the street from the camp. They were married in 1922, and John Hartigan was a lawyer at 8 Beacon Street in Boston until his death from lip cancer in 1963. Jack Barrett used to see him downtown and at Chelsea Naval Hospital. Picking up the thread of John Robert Barrett now that we have introduced some of his ancestors and devoted some time to his first wife's family, we may note that on being orphaned on the death of his mother in 1863, he preferred to live at the home of the baker Mr. Mchael Thompson at 640 East Seventh Street South Boston rather than go live with his aunt Ellen Barrett Mehegan on East Fourth Street near I St. Ellen had adopted his sisters Mary and Kate in 1862 even before the death of their mother, because she had contagious tuberculosis. Jack used to say there was some resentment of the children being taken from their mother, but it was probably necessary. Their landlord on Goddard Street, which became West Eight Street was Michael A. Ring, dealer in junk, gunny cloth and paper, whose son Thomas was one of the founders of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Boston. There are indications he knew Mrs. Welch, sister of the baker Micahel Thompson. She and Mrs. McGlinchy appeared in John Robert Barrett's family photo album, as did Civil War veteran George Varnum who lived at 640 East Seventh Street at time of 1870 federal census - he appears in civil War uniform in two photos. Others in photos were William S. Locke, the plumber to whom John Robert Barrett was apprenticed and his brother Ned Locke,plumbing inspector Cornelius Crowley, Sidney Bryant, couins Kate and Robert Mehegan, and a frined Wally Sweeney. Mts. McGlinchy was a sister of the Locke plumbers, who lived near the L-M Street neighborhood. Members of the Bukcley family also appeared and included Tom Buckley and one of the women relations in Milford, Massachusetts. John Robert Barrett learned the plumbing business from William S. Locke, a master plumber and member of the Charitable Mechanics Association with an office downstown - he resided in South Boston. After his apprenticship, Jack's father went for a year or so with his older brother in cattle or butchering in mid-West. After he turned twenty-one in November 1875, he began paying annual Boston poll taxes, and we still have his poll tax receipts for 1875, 1876, and 1877 at East Seventh street, his address in those years. He was working as a plumber then. After his marriage in April 1884 he moved frequently renting properties on Thomas Park street on Dorchester Heights and on Sixth Street. In 1890 he began to keep detailed financial records and opened his own plumbing shop on Atlantic Avenue 1890-96 Atlantic Avenue 1897-1905 Harrison Avenue neasr present Tufts Dental 1906-16 Hudson St. 1918-1924 and Tyler Street 1925-6.He gave up his shop in 1926 partly because of high labor costs but continued to do some work particularly for old customers. He had a very thorough knowledge of the underground area in downtown Boston and was often consulted in his old age when there was a leak in the underground mains especially near the subway system. One one occasion he stopped a leak at Park Street station. = In 1888 Sister Mary Joseph selected the middle name Berchmans,which was given to my Jack.Saint John Berchmans was a Belgian child saint, who was canonized in 1887, and aunt Mary Joseph then in Snoma, California, sent pamphlets telling his history.These we still have among a variety of religious objects she sent from the San Francisco Bay area. Apparently she and her sister Kate knew Jack's mother before they left for San Francisco 1871 on the railroad opened 1869. They always took a particular interest in him because of the loss of his mother. They never met their brother's second wife, and they found Jack was more of a letter writer than his brother Bill or his sisters Mollie and Katie. The California aunts followed Jack's Revenue Cutter School summer cruises with great interest and his Latin School studies and Hydrographic office duties and World War I service. He wrote them more regularly than the other nieces and nephews. In the 1890s Sister Mary Joseph was at a Presentation Convent in Sonoma, California and sent newspaper clippings about a fire that destroyed much church property there. 287 Later she was Mother Superior of the Presentation Convent and Girls school at Berkeley. She sent much literature about the town of Berkeley, already and educational center and about the convent and girls' school and Presentation order.We have pictures of her and the faculty and school buildings. A photo of Kate is earlier with writing "taken in San Francisco 1871". Kate lived with her aunts Johanna Hession and Margaret Barrett on Polk Street, San Francisco. They had three houses, which were destroyed in the fire following the earthquake in April, 1906. Only one of the houses was rebuilt.The aunts had been quite healthy but were now along in years.Kate's letters are extant only from after 1911.Mary Joseph's go back further but are mainly on religious subjects.She advised the family on a book about the Jesuits and frequently filled her letters with abbreviated Latin quotations such as "AMGD" ad maiorem gloriam Dei. Kate wrote a long letter to Jack while he was at the Hydrographic office in Washington. He attneded the first Woodrow Wilson Inauguration March 1913 and marched in the second March 1917 as officer of D.C. Naval Militia. Aunt Kate was interested that Wilson's press secretary Joseph Tumulty was one of the first Irish Americans appointed to a prominent federal post. Jack hoped to get out west to see his aunts, particularly in 1920, when he crossed the Pacific Panama-Hawaii-Japan-Shanghai-Manila as officer on commercial ship WESTERNER, but his ship did not call at San Francisco, and his aunts died in 1923, Kate in May and Mary in November. Mary wrote from 1404 Mason Street on the death of Kate. She explained complicated wills under which the immigrant Johanna Hession left half her property to her own grandson Roebert Fahrbach and half to her niece Catherine Barrett, who had lived with her over fifty years and helped manage her property. Catherine Barrett and her first cousin Kate Kerrigan, who came from Ballymartle Cork 1897, remained in the Polk Street home until Kate Barrett died 1923 and Kate Kerrigan 1926. Kate Barrett and her sister Mary had been adopted in 1862 by her aunt Ellen Mehegan, and she left half of her property to Ellen's Boston granddaughter Nell Craig - for the remainer of the property a life interest was created for Kate Kerrigan, and a remainder to Jack Barrett. Johanna Hession's widower son-in-law Emil Fahrbach, an executive of Dinkelspiel stores, acted as executor, and Jack received three thousand dollars in 1926. Then for the first time in mid-1923 Sister Mary Joseph was sent south to a Presentation Convent in Los Angeles, where she died and was buried in November.The nuns there wrote the Barrett famiy in Boston and sent a photograph of the grave.She must have had considerable force of character to be selected as a Mother Superior.It was in September-October 1911 that Ellen Mehegan's grandson Robert Mehegan junior visited the Barrett relatives in San Francisco and his father Robert Joseph Mehegan wrote the two and one- half typewritten pages that serve as a basis for the opening pages of Barrett family history. Robert Mehegan junior worked 1910-1911 at the Federal Land office in Evanston, Wyoming and corresponded with Jack and his brother Bill. He lived in Roslindale in 1912 on Seymour Street, and May Hartigan recollects him from her early years in Roslindale. In September 1911 he sent Jack a message suggesting they get together September 22. The card contained a view of the Clarendon Hills between Roslindale and Hyde Park. At this time Mehegan must have retruned home from Wyoming, and Jack Barrett was on leave from the Revenue Cutter School after an abbreviated 1911 ITASCA cruise that visited Marseilles and the Azores but encountered a cholera quarantine at Gibraltar. Mehegan worked during World War I as a cvilian at Boston Army base despite spinal tuberculosis. I He kept in touch with Elvira LaRiviere, whom he had met in Evanston, where her father worked on the railroad, and they were married in 1920 and had four children born in Boston, Eileen, John, Edmund, and Paul between 1920 and his death in 1933. Robert Mehegan junior had a sister Annie of Dorchester, later Arlington, who worked for the telephone company a number of years. Elvira retruend to Evanston Wyoming in 1934 and raised her children while teaching school until 1963. April 27, 1914 the immigrant Johanna Hession, then in her mid-eighties wrote her nephew John Robert Barrett saying he would be surprised to hear from her after many years, and she sent twenty-five dollars for each of her grandnieces, Mollie and Katie. This letter found in 1967 was stolen in 1993. for married John Robert Barrett's second wife Mary Lane was one of eight chidren.The family originated in Kenmare in southern Kerry, Ireland.Her mother was one of elevenchildren of the Lynch family.Mrs. Lynch had been a Palmer, and her mother Mrs. Palmer, had been a Sullivan-Christian.The Lane and Lynch families settled in the Portsmouth New Hampshire area in the 1950s, and Jack's stepmother was born there, though some elder brothers were born in Ireland. The Lane family moved to 147 Grove Street, Melrose in 1886 and Mary Lane married John R. Barrett in Melrose November 1894.A letter by elen Lynch give a good synopsis of the Lane and Lynch families. One of Ma Lane's brothers Tate was a very large and strong person who went to the Pacific and was killed on a island there atttempting some prodigious rescue of a team of horses from a ditch.Several of the other brothers were plasterers in Melrose.A brother Bill had five children, - Myles, Francis, John, Bill and Eileen Lane. Myles played baseball for Huntington school played football and hockey at Dartmouth College 1926, played professional hockey with New York Rangers, for a time attended Boston College Law School, served in the navy in World War II, and is now a New York state judge. The other four remained in Melrose. A sister of Ma Barrett, Kate became Mrs. Kernan and had two daughters. My husband was very fond of the Lane family and frequently visited Melrose in his youth and knew John Lambert, a Lynch relative who was a newspaperman and advisor to Calvin Coolidge particularly well. The Lamberts were still resident in Portsmouth New Hampshire in the 1920s and 1930s.289 Jack attended Second and Third grade in South Boston and in fourth through ninth grades 1897-1902 attedned Frederick T. Lincoln School on north side of Broadway between I + K Streets where branch public library was located later.His teachers there included Vodisa Comey in the fifth grade with her distinctive methods of teaching the students to pound their chests at key points as they practiced elocution,Josephine Simonton, Principal Maurice White and master William E. Perry native of Chelsea- later principal also. Ed Illingworth of Emerson Street was a classmate of Jack's both at the Lincoln School and later at Boston Latin. He studied music in Europe with composer Ferruchio Busoni and was an organist, pianist, and teacher. His wife's name was York - she came from L st. The moved to 64 Hastings Street, West Roxbury about 1917 and were neighbors from 1947 to 1967. p 290 Jack received a Sunday School certificate about 1905. He tells a story of a teacher reciting, "God helps those who help themselves." and a student overheard remarking, "And God help those who get caught helping themselves." Jack attended choir but was expelled when his friend Joe Buckley was caught with Jack's water pistol. They both were considered guilty and explelled from the choir. Jack took piano lessons and gave a concert when hewa tne years old. The teacher advocated practicing with a stiff wrist and a coin balanced on top of the hand during practice. Admiral Dewey was something of a hero to the family. After 1898 they had a little book "With Dewey in Manila" which Jack liked. The familya lso admired General Benjamin Butler of Civil War fame and later Governor of Massachusetts 1883. After "General Butler's Book" was published in 1892, John Robert Barrett bought two copies of the book - one for himself and one for his brother-in-law John Buckley. =Jack had three or four formal portraits as a small child and another one when he was about ten years old.One picture is dated April, 1892 and cost $ according to the plumbing shop records. Two tintypes were made in the yard at 634 East Seventh Street around 1901. In one of these grandpa Barrett appears with his four children. in the other are Jack and hiss brother Bill. There are a number of good pictures of Bill, Mollie and Kate around this date. Then there is a 1902 portrait of the ninth grade class at Frederick T. Lincoln School with Jack and Ed Illingworth. At the Boston Latin School Jack appears in three photos, - the 1906 class as seniors, an individual portrait, and their 1908 dinner. -=The area in South Boston where Jack lived is now a densely buiilt-up area of housing. In his youth however, there were apple orchards and open spaces and only about five houses in the three blocks between Seventh Street and the water of the harbor to the south. Jack felt a very fine residential area could have been developed with proper planning to avoid overcrowding. #640 East Seventh Street was one of the oldest houses in the area, going back before 1860. The house next door at #642 was transported to its present site from another location on L Street to make room for a school near Fifth Street. For years it was the home of the Kinnaly family. Mr. Kinnaly was also a plumber, and his three children Edward, Dan, and Katherine Kinnaly were close friends of the Barretts from 1912 although somewhat younger. All through the years Katherine Kinnaly was one of Mollie Barrett's closest friends. Danny Kinnaly frequently visited us here in West Roxbury and visited Bill Barrett in Darien, CT. Eddie Kinnaly was a merchant seaman, away from Boston most of the time.The property at #640 had facilities for a considerable number of horses during Mr. Thompson's occupancy 1860-1902. When the Barretts finally moved to #640 from #634 in May, 1903, they made considerable additions to the house, enlarging it perhaps a third, with bay windows on the front and a new kitchen and rear steps at the back of the house. East Seventh Street runs precisely east-west, and the house is on the north - inland side. The downstairs flat was rented, and the Baretts occupied the second floor. Jack slept in a small front room near the front stairs in an area only partially heated. He studied there, and in the attic, which had two rooms, unheated.= Jack enjoyed handball at the old L Street bath house. He lived about [one-third] 1/3 block east of L Street, three blocks from the shore and Columbia Road.He and his friend Joe Buckley enjoyed rowing in a dory, which they jointly owned. A newspaper had a contest for a story to be entitled, "The Best Meal I Ever Ate" - Jack wrote up an adventure in which he and Joe Buckley had rowed for hours to get to a forest fire where they planned to volunteer their services for pay a long way from home. They had started out on the expedition with one nickel belonging to Jack, which he spent for a box of Uneeda biscuits. Joe Buckley got cold feet because of the length of the expedition and bcause his father would be furious. They were hungry and caught a fish, pulled up on shore, and cooked the fish over an open fire and ate it with the Uneeda biscuits. Then they went home. Apparently the big fire was put out without their assistance. When Jack read of the newspaper contest, he submitted his fish and crackers story and won the prize. = After Boston Latin Jack worked as a checker for newspaper deliveries for the Boston Traveler going around the city making sure deliveries were properly completed. He started in December 1906 and kept a notebook that lists his travel and all sorts of personal jottings such as football scores, swimming, addresses, and phone numbers. At some point he went swimming at L Street every morning for a whole year, winter and summer. Someone bet him that he would never make more than eighteen dollars per week.His father was not interested in having him work for the plumbing business, although Jack would have liked to learn the trade. At certain times Jack did work on bill collecting for his father. + In 1907 or 1908 Jack played a certain amount of informal football with a local South Boston group. In one of the games his neighbor and Boston Latin School friend Dr. Jim Moloney then only about fifteen years old fractured his collar bone (clavicle) but played the rest of the game. Jack broke his nose on one occasion but was told to"snuff it up." He also liked to play catcher in baseball until required to wear a face mask, which took all the fun out of the game in his opinion. He suffered several finger injuries as a catcher. He and Joe Buckley challenged all comers at handball and beat some well known players. As far as fights were concerned, Jack had two contradictory comments, - he sometimes said, "The little guy always gets the worst of it", but on other occasions he said, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." I don't think he ever quite made up his mind which side was correct. He used to say, "It never ccurred to me that size was an advantage." At some point he worked briefly for Jordan Marsh Company but either was fired when they heard he made inquiry about employment elsewhere or else he quit one day planning to go elsewhere and was told the next day it was too late to reconsider.In 1912,after the Revenue Cutter School he worked for George d. Emerson Company wholelsalers. This was probably the place where he told of enjoying the smell of the coffee but quit for fear of hurting his back carrying the heavy sacks. Jack was the alternate candidate for the Naval Academy in his district one year around 1907. He had fully qualified for adission and expect to attend, when at the last moment the first choice candidate changed his mind and decided to accept the appointment. We recollect a story that Jack then went to see Congressman James M. Curley at his Fenway residence where he was treated with grat courtesy although Curley a member of the opposition party could not obtain an appointment for him.
Year: 1946