Mystery Monday: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: His Roots

1903 (possibly) McClellan Genealogy by Imogene McClellan-002.jpg

Imogene (Everson) McClellan was an avid genealogist. About 1903, several years after her husband George Roderic McClellan disappeared, Imogene began compiling her own genealogy. While doing so, she wrote on a small slip of paper all that she could remember about George McClellan’s immediate family, and gave it to her daughter Lillian McClellan. Lillian’s grandniece Maria McClellan discovered it years later, when she inherited Lillian’s papers. It was the first clue to discovering the origins of George Roderic McClellan.

It reads: McClellan Family

Dougal McClellan, son of Dougal McClellan and Mary Scott, born in Edinburg, Scotland married Christina Cameron, b. I[n]verness, Scotland Oct. 12 1817.Married 1834. Came to Nova Scotia soon after their marriage. Their children: Ellen Cameron McClellan, Mary Catherine McClellan, Annie McClellan (Sherman) born March 23 1840, John Duncan McClellan, William Murdock McClellan, George Roderic McClellan, James McClellan, Alexander Cameron McClellan.

 

1903 (possibly) McClellan Genealogy by Imogene McClellan-001.jpg

McClellan Family Genealogy, written by Imogene (Everson) McClellan for her daughter Lillian McClellan, circa 1903. Image courtesy of the author.

 

George Roderic McClellan was born 8 May 1848 in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, the youngest of eight children born to Dougal McClellan and his wife Christina Anne Cameron, who was also called Christiana Cameron. Dougal died when George was young and the widowed Christina, unable to support all of her children, had to place them in local homes, working as domestic servants or learning trades. While the specifics of George’s childhood are still elusive, he was likely placed in a home where he apprenticed as a mason. By the age of 12 his mother had left Nova Scotia entirely and was working as a domestic servant in the household of Dr. Charles W. Fabyan of Providence, Rhode Island, a wealthy Methodist physician originally from Maine. George’s eldest sister Mary Catherine followed their mother, where she soon found work as a governess in Providence. George’s second eldest sister, Christina Anne “Annie” McClellan, found work in Portland, Maine, where she met merchant John Doane Wells Sherman. They identified themselves as husband and wife in the 1860 Census in Portland, but their wedding was performed 14 January 1863 in Providence, Rhode Island. When George turned 21 he decided to move from Nova Scotia to seek work in New England, arriving in Portland, Maine in September 1869 and then making his way to Boston, Massachusetts. He may have gone to meet up with his sister Annie (McClellan) Sherman, whose husband John worked in Boston. John D. W. and Annie Sherman boarded at Adams House when they stayed in Boston. Together John and brother Thomas B. Sherman operated the trading company Sherman Bros. & Co. at 234 State Street from at least 1867-1870. As of the 1870 census, ‘Geo R. McClellan’ was working as a mason and boarding in Boston, Massachusetts with grocer Martin Godrin (29, b. Ireland).

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George Roderic McClellan in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census,  a 25 [sic, 22] year old bricklayer residing as a boarder in Boston, Massachusetts on 14 July 1870

In the spring of 1872 Barnabas Everson hired George McClellan to help with construction at his South Hanson saw-mill, including a tall brick chimney stack to help reduce the threat of fire from the wood-scrap-drive fires which help fueled the saws. George likely took the Old Colony train from South Station in Boston to the South Hanson train station, located right next to Everson’s mill on Main Street. The train station is still in use today. By 1888 Barnabas Everson had become the fifth-richest man in Hanson, MA, through income derived from his sawmill and from his agricultural produce on his 300+ acres of farmland.  [See my article about Barnabas Everson’s safe, which is held by the Hanson Historical Society]. Everson invited the 24 year old George McClellan home for dinner, where he met Barnabas’s 20 year old daughter Imogene.

 

 

 

Possibly tintype of George R. McClellan? Tintypes common ca 1860s-70s.

Undated tintype of George Roderic McClellan. Probably late 1860s or early 1870s. Courtesy of the author.

Imogene Everson say 1870s?

Undated image of Imogene Lillian Everson.  Photographer A[mos] H. Locke, 16 Main St., Plymouth, Mass. Possibly near the time of her marriage, Locke was a photographer in Plymouth in 1872. Courtesy of the author.

They courted and were quickly married in Barnabas Everson’s home on Indian Head Street in Hanson, 3 June 1872, by East Bridgewater Methodist minister Rev. William Freeman Farrington. The choice of a Methodist minister probably reflected George McClellan’s faith with his Scottish-Canadian roots rather than the Everson family’s religion. Barnabas Everson joined several faith groups throughout his life, as did his children Richard and Imogene Everson. As a child, Imogene was briefly raised in the South Hanson Baptist Church. By the mid-1850s, however, the Eversons became captivated by the Spiritualist movement and remained Spiritualists until the 1890s. In the 1890s Imogene began taking Christian Science courses from Mary Baker Eddy. She remained a member of Church of Christ Scientist until her death.

 

1872 McClellanGeorgeEversonImogeneMarriage-MAVRs - Copy.jpg

Marriage record of George R. McClellan and Imogene L. Everson in Hanson, Mass. on 3 June 1872

Imogene became pregnant immediately following her marriage. Their first child, George Cameron McClellan, was born 5 March 1873 – 9 months and 2 days following their wedding day. His first name honored his father and his middle name was in honor of George’s mother’s surname Cameron.

1873 McClellanGeorgeCameron Birth-MAVRs - Copy.jpg

Birth record of George Cameron McClellan, the first child of George Roderic McClellan and Imogene Lillian Everson, born in Hanson, Mass. 5 March 1873

Having no property and little cash to his name, George and his new wife Imogene McClellan moved into a rent-free house on the east side of Indian Head Street near Maquan Pond in South Hanson owned by Imogene’s mother, Deborah (Bates) Howland Everson. Deborah had lived there with her first husband, Warren Howland, until he died of consumption in 1846, followed shortly thereafter by the death of their infant son and only child Warren Howland Jr. After the 1848 marriage of the widowed Deborah (Bates) Howland to Barnabas Everson they rented out the Howland house for extra income, and Barnabas and Deborah  Everson moved into a newly built house across the road on the west side of Indian Head Street, where they raised their family, including daughter Imogene. In 1873 new father George McClellan was seemingly well situated to step into the family businesses which his father-in-law Barnabas had founded.

Barnabas Everson, like George McClellan, had trained as a mason and trained as a shoemaker, which he worked at when construction opportunities were unavailable or off-season. Barnabas was a talented businessman and soon began acquiring tracts of farmland, woodlots, and cedar swampland in South Hanson, turning his talents to market gardening and selling his agricultural products to larger towns on the South Shore and Boston. He built a sawmill by the South Hanson train station, using lumber from his woodlots and swampland in the cedar swamp in South Hanson, which manufactured box boards and shingles. Everson later sold the sawmill to John Foster and continued to farm until his death.

Everson’s eldest son, Richard A. Everson, two years older than his sister Imogene, followed in his father’s footsteps but also went his own way in business. In his teens, Richard apprenticed and worked as a shoemaker for several years before going to work in Barnabas’s sawmill. Richard then took an interest in cranberry farming and began acquiring a large number of cranberry bogs in Hanson. He invented the “Cape Cod Champion Cranberry Picker” and eventually became the director of the New England Cranberry Sales Company. Richard’s “varied interests are indicative of his enterprise and versatile mind, and the success he has made in his different undertakings shows his executive force,” according to a biography.

Perhaps the career of Richard A. Everson can provide some insight into his brother-in-law George R. McClellan’s next steps. Family stories, you may recall, suggested that George McClellan may have moved to Denver after leaving his family in Hanson, Mass. behind in the 1890s. But it turns out that George went to Denver much earlier than that, and not only once, but two times during his marriage to Imogene.

Hoping to strike it rich in the pioneer town, George McClellan first left for Denver in late 1873, leaving behind his wife Imogene and their infant son George. Gold and silver were mined in Colorado and then filtered through the city of Denver, where business and real estate opportunities abounded in the rough-and-tumble city. After a childhood spent apart from his family, and his adolescence and young adulthood spent moving from place to place in search of employment, he had finally formed roots in Hanson, Massachusetts with his new family. But after one year he was itching to move again, and this time -West.

But what led to such a huge move? A handsome and cocky young man, George likely bumped heads with his father-in-law Barnabas Everson. Although the two men seemingly had much in common, it appears that George McClellan was unwilling to step into his father-in-law’s business and wanted to come into wealth on his own. Barnabas Everson may have been a hard man to work under, since even his own son Richard A. Everson only spent a few years working in Barnabas’ saw mill before starting his own cranberry company in Hanson and building his own success in tandem with his father. However, if Barnabas and his son Richard had disagreements, they nevertheless worked closely together, both on a personal level and physically within the same town. For some reason, however, George McClellan wanted to put 2,000 miles between them. Barnabas himself had an appreciation for risk-taking, having successfully grown his own businesses from small start-ups into large, successful operations. Perhaps George heard about business opportunities from his brother-in-law John D. W. Sherman, whose trading company was also booming in the 1870s. And perhaps at first George even received seed money from Barnabas Everson to support his endeavors in Denver.

But would George McClellan strike it rich in Denver?

 

Up Next: Part Three: George McClellan’s First Adventures in Denver, Colorado

Previously: Part One: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan

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Mystery Monday: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan

McClellanDisappearance

Part One: Family Traditions: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan

My grandmother’s house, the childhood home of my father, has been in the family for several generations. It holds countless memories and stories, and the story of its origin looms large in family lore. My grandmother is a McClellan from Hanson, Mass., but the introduction of the family surname to Hanson was surrounded in a century-old scandal. Built in 1903 for my great-grandmother Imogene Lillian (Everson) McClellan, the house was intended to be a fresh start for Imogene and her three children. Her husband, Nova Scotian-born (with Scottish roots) George Roderic McClellan, had abandoned the family several years previously, and by 1903 Imogene determined to file for divorce in absentia. She sold their house on Main Street in Hanson and built a new one on Phillips Street.

 

The story goes that one day during the 1890s, George said he was taking the train to Boston to purchase a rug for their house, and he never returned. Imogene hired a private investigator who reported a lead that George may have gone to Denver, but the trail ran cold and no further details could be determined. George was an itinerant bricklayer who had been hired by Imogene’s father, Barnabas Everson, one of the wealthiest men in Hanson, to help build a tall brick chimney for Everson’s sawmill. There he met Barnabas’ daughter Imogene, and they married in 1872. They had four children: George Cameron, born the following year who died young, Lillian, born 1876 who never married, Roderic Cameron b. 1882 and Sherman Barnabas b. 1886 who married the Ramsdell sisters Edith and Bessie, respectively. But sometime after Sherman’s birth, the McClellan marriage crumbled, and when Imogene built her new house in 1903, it was on land inherited from her recently deceased father Barnabas Everson, and thus stood in the shadow of the brick chimney that George McClellan had built years ago.

MainStChimney

The Barnabas Everson sawmill chimney stack, built by Barnabas Everson and George R. McClellan ca. 1871-1872, Main Street, South Hanson. Photograph courtesy Mary Blauss Edwards, taken 2010.

 

DononRoof

My grandfather sitting on the roof of the family house, with the Everson chimney in the background. Photograph courtesy Don Blauss.

And that was that, so far as the memories of George McClellan lingered in family stories.  A bit of Scottish pride from the surname itself, but mysteries surrounding the man who introduced it to the family. Many stories are preserved about Imogene, a tiny woman with a big legacy, but George always remained a question mark in the eyes of her grandchildren.

 

Over the past decade I have been trying to unravel the story of George McClellan, his origins, his time in Hanson, and his disappearance. The digitization of records from Canada to New England to Denver have been vital in this research process, and over the years I have pieced together incredible details about his life. It’s a tale filled with broken dreams of striking-it-rich turned to literal smoke, small and large family drama, and public scandals of political corruption involving bribery, gambling and prostitution leading to a tragic and deadly race riot. There were many twists in the process of uncovering the complicated life of George Roderic McClellan and his family left behind in Hanson – as well as discovering that following his disappearance, he went on to have a second family, entirely unknown to his first.

 

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

 

Up Next: Before arriving in Hanson, Mass. in 1872, where did George McClellan come from? Part Two: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: His Roots

Part Three: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: Success In Denver Turns To Smoke

Part Four: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan:Becoming Officer McClellan, the Farcical Moon Affair, and a Bribery Scandal in Denver

Part Five: The Disappearance of George McClellan: Anti-Chinese Riot and Officer McClellan’s Prostitution Scandal and Resignation from the Denver Police

Part Six: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: George and Imogene’s Life in Hanson

Part Seven: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: Life and Death in Boston

Wishful Wednesday: Seeking the Bible of Rev. Thomas Smith of Pembroke MA

Putting this request out:

I am hoping to locate the Rev. Thomas Smith Bible. The bible of Rev. Thomas Smith (1706-1788) of Pembroke, Massachusetts was mentioned in A Memorial of Rev. Thomas Smith (Second Minister of Pembroke, Mass.) And His Descendants , Compiled by Susan Augusta Smith (Plymouth, MA: Avery & Doten, 1895).

There are many references in the Smith Memorial to this bible, such as:

In the bible of his son, Rev. Thomas Smith, occurs this quaint record, in his own handwriting, now dim with age and almost illegible: “My father died March 4th, 1746, it being on Saturday about Sun Setting in the 80th year of his age, and was buried on Monday – Our Fathers, where are they?”

The bible also records the birth dates and times of his children, which are all included in the book.

However, I am interested in the reference to the two slaves of Rev. Thomas Smith: Joan and her daughter Margaret alias “Peg”. Susan Augusta Smith notes that the deaths of Peg and Joan “are recorded in the family Bible”, however she does not include a transcription of these records.

It seems that as of 1895, the bible was in the possession of Susan Augusta Smith (daughter of Nathaniel Smith, granddaughter of Nathaniel Smith, great-great granddaughter of Rev. Thomas Smith). Susan was born 19 Oct 1843 and had only one brother, Moses Bass Smith, who had died in 1861. In the 1900 Census, Susan Smith’s occupation is listed as “genealogist”. But since she never married nor had children, it is unclear to whom the bible passed down to, or where it is located today.

NEHGS has a bible titled “Bible record for the Rev. Thomas Smith family, 1706-1855. [manuscript]”  however, this is not the same bible referred to in the Smith Memorial. The family records in this bible are all in one hand and detail Rev. Smith’s family with a focus on the families of his son Joseph Smith,  grandson Joshua Smith and wife Saba Drew and great grandson Joseph Smith and wife Helen Estes. The bible therefore may have been written by Joseph Smith or Helen Estes Smith in the 1850s or later (NEHGS’s copy is missing the title page of the bible and therefore does not include a publication date). According to NEHGS’s notes, this bible was found at Clay Eldridge’s Antique shop on Plympton Green, Mass. and was donated by NEHGS member Mrs. Don. Whiston of Upland Meadows, Kingston, Mass on 12 May 1958.

If anyone has details about the whereabouts of Rev. Thomas Smith’s bible today, please let me know!

Surname Saturday: John Everson of Plymouth, Massachusetts

Everson Title Image

As NEHGS celebrates its 170th anniversary, this week the New England Historical and Genealogical Register launched a beautiful new format and style. This Register features my article “Descendants of John Everson of Plymouth, Massachusetts” which identifies and untangles the early Everson family of Plymouth Colony. In the 17th century, John Everson was an unwelcome transient in both Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony, and he ultimately gave up custody of his three young children, who were each taken in and raised by separate Plymouth families. Very little has been published on the family up until now, and the few publications that have included references to them have often confused the early generations – a significantly repeated error being the division of Richard2 Everson into two men, one who married Elizabeth (_) and another who married Penelope Bumpas. However, my research shows that they were in fact the same man.

The article is part of my larger Everson project, a book which documents John Everson’s descendants through to the sixth generation (as yet unpublished). While many Eversons remained in Plymouth County, some lines were a part of the westward migration through New York and beyond, and others to Northern New England and into Canada.

Below is a copy of the article, which can be cited as: Mary Blauss Edwards, “Descendants of John Everson of Plymouth, Massachusetts,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register 169 [2015]:35-50.

EversonArticlePDFTitleImage

Treasure Chest Thursday: The wedding dresses of Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards, 1949-1958

My husband’s grandmother Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards was a talented dressmaker.  From the ages of 14 to 16, she served a two year apprenticeship with a dressmaker in the west end of London.  She spent the majority of her working career as a ladies tailor or dressmaker throughout London. While working as a tailoress, she met her husband William James Stephen Edwards, a fellow tailor, and they married in 1913. In the 1930s she worked for a small couture dressmaker. During World War II, she worked as dressmaker for Debenham’s department store, remaining in London during the Blitz. She was very skilled, and would often make dresses for dowagers which cost thousands of pounds. Years later she shared that Queen Alexandra and later Queen Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon preferred to have “Mrs. Edwards” as their fitter. At Debenhem’s, she quickly learned to write down the women’s statements and measurements exactly, especially if they quarreled over the measurements which Ida had taken (the women claiming they were smaller than their physical measurements had indicated!), so that later Ida could not be in trouble if the women later complained that the dress was too small, since she prided herself on her accuracy. Ida left Debenham’s after World War II and joined St. Francis Hospital in their linen room as a needlewoman where she worked until her retirement in the 1960s. During her time at the hospital, however, she missed dressmaking and therefore after hours would often work for commission or for free to create wedding dresses or other dresses for friends, neighbors, and others. Appreciative brides often sent Mrs. Edwards’ photographs from their wedding of “the dress”, which I have included below:

The dress she made for her niece Doris Fielder’s 1949 wedding:

1949SaundersFredFielderDorisWeddingPhoto-FrontClose

The dress she made for her daughter-in-law Rene Royce’s 1955 wedding:

Chris and Rene Wedding

The dress she made for her neighbor Rosina Newton’s 1956 wedding:

1956McCarthyJohnNewtonRosinaWedding-Front

The dress she made for Edna Dines’ 1957 wedding:

1957DinesEdnaWeddingDress-Front

A dress for an unknown bride’s 1953 wedding:

1953-UnknownBridesDressPhotographerWadex-Front

A dress for an unknown bride’s 1953 wedding:

1953DevilleBrideDress-Front

A dress for an unknown bride’s 1958 wedding:

1958July-BridesDress-Front

A dress for an unknown bride’s wedding during the 1950s:

1950s-UnknownBridesDress-Front

A dress for an unknown bride’s wedding during the 1950s:

1950sBrideDressPhotographerDaborn-Front

A dress for an unknown bride’s wedding during the 1950s:

1950sUnknownBridesDressPhotographerCountyStudios-Front

Amanuensis Monday: The Broken Indenture of Ezekiel Sprague Jr. of Scituate, Mass.

While performing research in Scituate, Massachusetts town records, I came across an unusual record from a town meeting (edited slightly for spelling):

 25 May 1767

Upon the Petition & Request of Ebenezer Mott setting forth that he about four years ago took by indenture an apprentice named Ezekel Sprague to learn the trade of a cordwainer & to provide for him til he should arrive to the age of twenty one years he being now about 13 years old but so it is that yt Ezekel has been for some time troubled with uncommon fits and it is doubtful whether he will ever be cured & as said Ebenezer has been at great charge, he earnestly requests that said town upon the said indenture being vacated that said town would take said boy into their charge & care. Wherefore said town voted that upon the said indentures being exchanged & vacated that ye selectmen of said town should take said boy into their care as one of said town’s poor & do what may be needful for him.

 

This was Ezekiel Sprague Jr., born in Scituate 16 May 1755 [sic, 1754] and baptized at the Scituate Second Church (now Norwell) on 29 September 1754 to Ezekiel and Priscilla Sprague. Ezekiel Sprague Sr. married Priscilla Totman in Scituate in 1753. They later had children Abigail, Rebecca Prouty, and Samuel Sprague, all born and baptized in Scituate. Ezekiel Sr. had also been raised as an apprentice or indentured servant, and on 8 March 1729/30, he was baptized at the Hanover Congregational Church, “his master, James Tory, publickly promising to take care he should have a religious education”. There are no Scituate death or probate records for Ezekiel Sr. and Priscilla, so it is uncertain if they were dead by the time that Ezekiel Jr. was taken on by the Scituate selectmen as one of the town’s poor. Does anyone know what happened to Ezekiel Sprague Jr.’s parents?

Thankful Thursday: Boston Firefighter James M. Gibbons (1949-1981)

James M. Gibbons Medal of Valor. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/citation1981gibbons.jpg

James M. Gibbons Medal of Valor. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/citation1981gibbons.jpg

 

This week the city of Boston mourns and honors Boston firefighters Lt. Edward J. Walsh Jr., 43, and Michael R. Kennedy, 33, who were trapped in a fire in a brownstone at 298 Beacon Street in the Back Bay. The era of the internet has been a remarkable force, garnering community support, thoughts and prayers, as well as encouraging donations to help the firefighters’ families.

Three decades ago a similar fire took the lives of my mother’s cousin Jimmy Gibbons, 31, and his friend Lt. Paul M. Lentini of Engine Company 37, in a brownstone at 0 Newbury St. in the Back Bay. The Boston Fire Historical Society reports that just after 3 p.m. on 6 January 1981, a fire was discovered in a historic retail brownstone building by the entrance to the Boston Public Gardens, and fire “spread through an open-cage elevator shaft to the upper floors, which housed several offices, including that of the Boston School Volunteers and former Governor Francis Sargent [who] was able to escape the building unharmed… after the fire had been knocked down and overhauling operations had begun, a partial collapse of the upper floors occurred (an event similar to the tragic Vendome Fire of 1972). The third floor gave way, with the fourth floor crashing down on top of the firefighters… Twelve firefighters were trapped in the rubble. The body of Fire Lieutenant Paul M. Lentini of Engine Company 37 was located, trapped by a fallen beam. Beneath Lentini were several firefighters, who were trapped but alive. Searches continued for other missing firefighters, until all were accounted for except for Firefighter James M. Gibbons of Engine 37. After many hours of searching, his body was recovered at 10:30 p.m at the bottom of the collapse area”.

 

Firefighter James Michael Gibbons was born in Boston in 1949, the son of James J. Gibbons, a newspaperman for the Boston Herald, and Mary Joan Granville. He was married with two young sons at the time of his death. The Gibbons were a large Boston Irish family. His great-grandparents, James and Celia (Doherty) Gibbons had emigrated from County Donegal, Ireland, then married and started a large family in Boston. Their eldest son, Charles James Joseph Gibbons (1884-1945) married Margaret E. Duff(e)y and had four children, including my Nana, Marie Gibbons, and her younger brother James J. Gibbons – the father of Firefighter James “Jimmy” M. Gibbons. Jimmy Gibbons became a Boston firefighter in July 1974 at the age of 25 and had served with Brighton Ladder 22 and Dorchester Ladder 6 before his assignment in December 1976 to Engine Company 37 on Huntington Ave.

 

I inherited a small collection of family papers from Marie (Gibbons) Buckley Marotta, including the following newspaper clippings she held onto. She would sometimes reflect upon her nephew’s tragic death and describe his bravery and sense of humor, and how awestruck the family was when thousands of firefighters came to pay their respects.

 

GIBBONS-In Quincy, January 6, in the line of duty, Boston Firefighter James M., Engine Company 37; beloved husband of Marie E. (Foley); devoted father of Sean and Dennis; beloved son of James J. and Mary (Granville) Gibbons of Hyde Park; brother of Joan Gibbons of Quincy, Mrs. Barbara Crawford of East Bridgewater, and Mrs. Maureen Devin of Somerville. Funeral from the John J. O’Connor Funeral Home, 740 Adams St. (near Gallivan Boulevard), DORCHESTER, Saturday morning at 11:15. Funeral Mass in Our Lady of Good Counsel Church at 12:30. Relatives and friends respectfully invited. Visiting hours Thursday evening 7-9, Friday 2-4 and 7-9. Member Local 718, Society of St. Florian, B.F.D. Drill Team. Interment St. Joseph’s Cemetery. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in his memory to the Jimmy Fund.

Mass in Quincy on Saturday

A Mass for Pvt. James Gibbons, 31, of Quincy, a member of Engine Co. 37 of the Boston Fire Department, will be celebrated at 12:30 Saturday in Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Quincy. Gibbons was killed Tuesday while fighting an eight-alarm fire at Arlington and Newbury Streets, Back Bay. He was appointed to Boston Fire Department in July, 1974, and was assigned to Ladder 22 in Brighton. In September, 1975, he was transferred to Ladder 6, Morton Street, Dorchester, and on December 1, 1976, he was assigned to Engine Co. 37, Huntington Avenue and Ruggles Street, Roxbury, from where he responded to the fire. He was a member of Local 718 of the International Association of Firefighters, Society of St. Florian and the Fire Department’s Drill Team. He leaves his wife, Marie E. (Foley); two sons, Sean and Dennis, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James J. Gibbons of Hyde Park. His father is a printer in the composing room of the Herald American. He also leaves three sisters, Joan Gibbons of Quincy, Mrs. Barbara Crawford of East Bridgewater and Mrs. Maureen Devin of Somerville. Interment will be in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, West Roxbury. Arrangements are by the John J. O’Connor and Son Funeral Home, Dorchester.

 

Years later I attended grad school on Huntington Avenue and often walked by Engine No. 37, where a memorial plaque is placed in honor of their fallen firefighters. My mother, brother and I later visited the firehouse specifically to read the plaque and chat with some of the firefighters to thank them and remember. At the time I was working on Newbury Street just a block away from 0 Newbury St., which has since been completely rebuilt and today houses a Burberry retail shop. A quieter place for reflection is at the beautiful Vendome Fire Memorial on Commonwealth Ave. and Dartmouth St.

Memorials at the Engine 37 Firehouse at 560 Huntington Ave., including a Lentini-Gibbons plaque. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/activefirehouseengine37.html

Memorials at the Engine 37 Firehouse at 560 Huntington Ave., including a Lentini-Gibbons plaque. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/activefirehouseengine37.html

In addition to the memorial plaques at Engine 37, they also had Boston University students paint a mural on the station wall memorializing their fallen firefighters as well as celebrating their unit. There is also a Lentini-Gibbons Memorial Baseball Diamond at East Second & N Streets in South Boston and a Fire Fighter Memorial at Florian Hall which commemorates all Boston Local 718 members who died in the line of duty, including James M. Gibbons. All these years later, we still remember, celebrate, and are so very thankful the bravery of all our firefighters.

The Fire Lt. Paul M. Lentini & Fire Fighter James M. Gibbons Memorial Baseball Diamond at East Second & N Streets, South Boston. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/firefightermemorials.html

The Fire Lt. Paul M. Lentini & Fire Fighter James M. Gibbons
Memorial Baseball Diamond at East Second & N Streets, South Boston. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/firefightermemorials.html

Fire Fighter Memorial at Florian Hall, IAFF Local 718 Headquarters, Hallet St., Dorchester, Mass. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/firefightermemorials.html

Fire Fighter Memorial at Florian Hall, IAFF Local 718 Headquarters, Hallet St., Dorchester, Mass. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/firefightermemorials.html

Right Tablet at the Florian Hall Firefighters Memorial, including James M. Gibbons. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/firefightermemorials.html

Right Tablet at the Florian Hall Firefighters Memorial, including James M. Gibbons. Courtesy of the Boston Fire Historical Society. http://www.bostonfirehistory.org/firefightermemorials.html