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

 

John Robert Barrett,detail 1933 at 640East Seventh Street South Boston E-A-G-L-E 19, G-R-A-N-D-P-A
#1212 p 70 -Born November 29, l854 John Robert Barrett was orphaned by age eight 1863 and went to live with unrelated baker Michael Thompson at 640 East Seventh Street east of L St. in City Point section - where he was listed in 1870 United States census. He was apprenticed to master plumber William S. Locke, started his own plumbing shop 1890 to 1926 -and in 1902 bought the house where he had grown up- he lived there till August 21, l942 age 87 years nearly nine months. Commander Jack Barrett was the only child of his first wife Catherine Agnes Buckley married April 1884, deceased June 1889. By his second wife Mary Lane he had son William Joseph Barrett October 24, l895 and two daughter Mollie {Mary Frances] February 11, l898 and Catherine August 12, l900.-----G__R__A___N__D__P__A Barrett John Robert Barretts paternal grandparents were named Robert Barrett and Catherine Sullivan. They remained in Cork, Ireland, as did one daughter Mary, who married Cornelius Kerrigan in the Ballymartyle area near Kinsale.Tax censuses of Cork in 1827 and 1852 show a Robert Barrett on the east bank of the Bandon River, south of Bandon not far from Ballytmartle and Kinsale. The main source of early history is a September 1911 letter by Robert Joseph Mehegan, Boston Herald printer 1857-1925 to his son Robert junior working in land office Evanston Wymong, who was about to visit relative in San Francisco. It tells that a group of five children of the above couple came to Boston in 1841 - Robert, Kate, Ellen, Johanna, and Margaret. Of these Robert the eldest was probably born about 1815, worked as a milkman, married and moved late 1840s to near St. Peter and Paul Church on West Broadway, and had four children that grew up- records suggest a baby named Robert died, Michael may have been born 1850, Mary is definietely l852 while family was near A and West Third or Athens corner Second. The family was on Goddard Street Dochester when John Robert was born November 29, 1854, but the location near old wetlands and Lark Street and Saint Augustine Church was part of the 1855 Washington Village annexation to Boston and a few years later was renamed West Eighth Street. While living in downtown Boston in 1840s Robert Barrett appears to have placed an advertisment in the Irish newspaper "The Pilot" seeking to locate his maternal cousin surnamed Sulllivan, who had emigrated 1846 from Cork to St. John New Brunswick. Of the four sisters who accompanied him to Boston 1841, the older two Kate and Ellen married brothers Charles and John Mehegan from Ballyheedy, Ballinhassig, county Cork. These two families have numerous descendants whose surnames have included Hoarde, Maloney,Carty, Brennan,Soger, Craig, Sullivan. The two younger girls Johanna and Margaret crossed Panama by muleback to Panama 1854 and lived many years at 2023 and 2043 Polk St, -Johanna became Mrs. Hession marrying an engineer- one daughter married Emil Fahrbach, an executive of Dinkelspiel stores. The milkman Robert Barrett had a second daughter Kate in 1855 or 1856 and died December 18, 1859 of lung disease. Little is known of his wife Catherine Daly. Records conflict whether she was born in Masschusetts or Ireland. Daly is a strongly localized West Cork name, especially from around Skibbereen. The Dalys were bards and associated with the powerful O Mahony landowners of the area. Spelling of the name varies in records and often followed the preference of clerks and centsus takers. The Irish form properly should be O Daly or O Dailey. When her grandson John Berchmans Barrett was born August 28, 1888 his godfather was Andrew Dailey at the christening by Rev. Johnson at Gate of Heaven Church at I and East Fourth Streets - possibly some kin. It is not possible to identify him positively in Boston directories - a few years earlier an Andrew Dailey was listed as a cigar maker on West Seventh Street - he does not appear thereafter in boston directories, but John Robert Barrett kept plumbing shop account records 1890 to 1894, and in these D. Dailey of West Seventh Street appears several times as a customer, and another Dailey on Second street was also a customer. Mrs. Robert Barrett nee Catherine Daly died of tuberculosis in 1863. Jack Barrett stated that her sister-in-law Ellen Barrett Mehegan adopted the two daughters Mary and Kate while their mother was still living, but that his father John Robert Barrett preferred to live with a baker Michael Thompson "at City Point" in one of the oldest houses east of L Street, at 640 East Seventh Street. Jack Barrett apparently learned that his father had some resentment on his sisters being taken away while their mother was still alive, but quarantine for tuberculosis was probably the reason. Jack Barrett in later years did much probate and land court legal work and historical research also, and he may have found probate procedings concerning his aunts, with whom he corresponded regularly until their deaths in May and November1923. The trancontinental railroad was completed in 1869, and they went in 1871 to San Francisco, where Kate lived with the Barrett immigrants on Polk Street, while Mary entered the teaching order of Presentation Nuns 1871 under the name Sister Mary Joseph. She was many years in San Francisco, at Sonoma 1890, where she sent newspaper articles and postcards and a photo in which she was standing in front of the convent with mountains in the background - then for many years she was Mother Superior of the Presentation Girls High School in Berkeley California, where Robert J. Mehegan juinior visited her in 1911. She selected Jack Barett's middle name Berchmans, honoring a Belgian child canonized as a saint 1887. When her sister Kate died May 1923, she wrote Jack Barrett explaining a complex will under which Kate Barrett in 1915 received half of the estate of her immmigrant aunt Johanna Hession, for whom she made a home many years - thye remained stayed in the Hession -Fahrbach family. Then Jack Barrett received a legacy from his aunt Kate Barrett in 1926, after a life estate to her cousin Kate Kerrigan, who came from Ballymartle Cork to San Francsico in 1897. This led to tracing several Kerrigan relations because Kate Kerrigan's sister Johanna Kerrigan had married John Ring from the Ballymartle-Ballinhassig area, and his nieces Mrs. Joan Finn and Peg Ring and their cousin Ella Collins of Moskeigh took an interest and were extremely helpful in 1971. They kept in touch with a Ring descendant Eva Kimbrough of Berkeley, whose daughter had attended the Presentation School there. Nano Nagle was the founder of the Presentation Order in Cork. Interest in this history was whetted because Robert Barrett's landlord 1855-1859 on Goddard Street-West Eighth Street was named Michael A. Ring, and he played an active role in charity and church affairs in the South Boston Irish community. He started out in junk and gunny cloth according to directories, and he had a number of children, including Thomas Ring, who became a trustee of Saint vincent de Paul, which look out for the needs of the poor, especially children. A will of Michael A. Ring some years later lists twenty-four grandchildren. He lived near Vinton Street, across south of Old Colony Boulevard, also in the 1855 Washington Village annexation.In the 1970s John Barrett junior had an extended telephone conversation regarding this history with retired United States House of Representatives Speaker John W. McCormack, who lived on Vinton Street as a child and was most interested in the local history.Directories indicated that one of the Goddard Street neighbors was a Mrs. Welch,who was a sister of the baker Michael A. Thompson who adopted John Robert Barrett 1862. Her photo and that of another sister Mrs. McGlinchy appeared in the oldest Barrett family photo album. John Robert Barrett was listed as a resident at 640 East Seventh Street the Thompson home in the 1870 United States census. For a year or so at some point John Robert went somewhere in the Middle West to live and work with his older brother Michael, but he returned to Boston and was apprenticed to the master plumber William S. Locke in the 1870s, and he later worked for Locke prior to establishing his own plumbing shop first on Atlantic Avenue and Federal Street near South Station and after 1908 to 1922 aT 112 HARRISON AVENUE near present day Tufts Dental and Medical School and Chinatown. JohnRobert Barrett's Boston poll tax payment records from 1875, l876, and 1877 were found in the South Boston home after the death of his daughter Mollie October 11, 1967. John Robert Barrett married Catherine Agnes Buckley April 19, l884 at Gate of Heaven Church - ceremony performed by Reverend Lee. They lived for a time a Thomas Park on dorchester Heights and also at P St City P{oint. Their son John Berchmans Barrett was born August 28, 1888 at 654 East Sixth Street, but his mother died of unknown causes June 8, 1889, when he was less than ten months old. John Robert Barrett went to live with the Buckley in-laws, who had moved to Park Street. Melrose in 1884. Aunts Minnie and Maggie Buckley and grandparents looked after young Jack while his father commuited by train to the plumbing shoip on Boston. Many of John Robert Barrett friends can be identified from old family photo albums. There were at least five photos of his wife Catherine Buckley, and onew of her mother and one dated 1872 or her brother John - a separate locket of her youngest sister Minnie - a tintype of John robert Barrett's older brother Michael, and shots of his sisters Mary and Kate in San Francisco- photos of plumber William S. Locke and his brother Ned - photos of Mrs. Welsh and Mrs. McGlinchy - two Buckley cousins in Milford an older man an younger woman- of Civil War Veteran George Varnum in uniform -Jack Barrett recollected that he was in parades in 1890s- or Con Crowley, whom Jack believed a plumbing inspector and a friend Wally Sweeney.Also cousin [Robert Joseph] "Mehegan" and next to him "Kate" his sister Mrs. Craig who later lived near Blossom Street and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Subject: John Robert Barrett {G}
Year: 1933grandpa