The Center for Lowell History

Ethnic Groups

7 Adams Street
  (now 63 Fletcher St)

Liberty Square

..is a part of the Acre where several streets intersect, among them Adams Street and Fletcher Street. In 1896, it looked something like the map at the right. The triangle is Liberty Square (did he say the triangle is a square?) and the "X" marks the building at "7 Adams Street."

The store at 7 Adams looked out over the middle of the square and had to have been a good commercial location. It had grocers for the first few years we know about. After that, it had either a barber shop or a shoe shop for about sixty years, switching back and forth as if it couldn't make up its mind.

This map shows the area of Liberty Square. It is a triangle with long edge on the east and apex pointing to the west. Seven streets enter the square: Fletcher Street from the northwest and southeast, Suffolk Street from northeast and southwest, Adams Street from the north, Heyden Street from the east and Rock Street from the west-northwest. Worthen Street enters Fletcher Street about fifty feet south of the square and so adds to the confusion. The building is on Adams Street at the east side of the triangle, between Heyden and Fletcher.

Grocers

Picture of a man in a grocery store The three buildings on the square with Adams addresses held small businesses at least as early as 1870 when it had competing Irish grocers John Lynch and T.F. Doyle. (There were Lynches in the grocery business at a half dozen locations in the Acre for the next forty years.) 

There appear to have been competing grocers across the square and again in the same block for quite a few years. One of them, a Canadian immigrant Samuel Hebert married to an Irish woman, did well enough to put ads in the city directory in the 80s. Hebert lived upstairs at 7 Adams in 1880 and ran a grocery store at 11 Adams. McDonald Grocery, run by a pair of Irish brothers, was downstairs at 9 Adams about the same time. The morning conversations must have been interesting. In addition to these two, there were two other grocers on the square and at least four more on Adams in the block north of the square.
 

The Ryans and the Ryan Block

In 1891, a pair of Irish brothers, John and Patrick Ryan, purchased the land holding several buildings at the intersection of Adams and Worthen, including 7 Adams. They had already been running a junk dealership at the corner for ten years and simply became their own landlord, continuing the junk dealership and running the small buildings as before. Soon after, they also established the Union Brass Company a short way down Worthen.

The Ryan Block is a four story brick building with shops on the first floor.In 1904, the Ryans tore down their buildings on Adams Street and put up a single large brick building with stores on the ground floor and three floors of apartments above. The building became known as The Ryan Block and Elizabeth Ryan, a sister of the brothers, lived in one of the apartments for many years. The Ryan brothers and the Ryan Block itself is of interest, in addition to the stories of the people in it.

Shoe Repair, Irish Lavery and French Canadian Bergeron

The building had two shoe repair businesses. Edward C. Lavery, born in Ireland, started in the shoe repair business in Lowell in 1887. In 1894, he started Lavery Shoe and Boots at 7 Adams Street, just one block away from his new home on Rock Street. Married to Eliza, with five children, he operated his shop until his death in 1907.

Leon Bergeron and Mary Flora Pepin were both from Quebec. The senior Leon worked as a miller, then a bobbinmaker. Their son, Leon J., was born in Massachusetts.

The Bergerons moved to the Liberty Square area about 1897. We don't know for sure if sixteen year-old Leon J. Bergeron was acquainted with Edward Lavery or not, but unless kids have changed, he did. Living only a block from Liberty Square on Franklin Street, young Leon and his friends were certain to know everything going on in the neighborhood, especially when the shoemaker himself lived only a block away. What we do know is that three years later (1900) Leon was working in a shoe factory and by 1903 described himself as a shoemaker. He married Mary Lyons, born in Maine of English-Canadian immigrants, and the 1910 census found them both working in a shoe shop, him in the packing room and her as a polisher. From 1915 to 1917 he was a foreman at the George Snow shoe factory. When it came time to open his own "Bergeron Shoe Repair" in 1919, Leon did it at the old place, 7 Adams Street. He ran his shoe repair shop there and lived just a block away, practically next to his boyhood home with his wife, his widowed mother, and his sister Flora. After fifteen years, he moved his shop to Middlesex Street but lived on Franklin until the mid 1960's (almost forty years) when he and his wife moved to a retirement apartment not going far, to 145 Gorham Street, about 8-10 blocks away. When he died in 1965, his obituary described him as a "well-known foot and arch supporter."
 

Barbers

The building had barbers. The 1889 city atlas said 7 Adams Street had a barber shop. Edward Lavery had his shoe and boot store at that address from 1894 until 1907. Stephen Doyle, who had been running a barber shop at 11 Adams since 1905, moved to 7 Adams from 1907 to 1912 (establishing a barber there for the second time). In 1914, Doyle moved to another corner of Liberty Square, leaving the storefront vacant for a few years. We then saw that Leon J. Bergeron ran the (second) shoe repair store after that from 1919 to 1935. After Bergeron moved his shoe shop, Edward Beshara (likely a Syrian immigrant) converted 7 Adams back to a barber shop (for a third time) and ran it until the early 1950s. In 1964, it was still a barbershop but by 1975 it wasn't. After eighty years, the alternating regimes came to an end, so the shoes and scissors were finally at peace. The store at 7 Adams Street was occupied briefly by many business for another thirty years (variety store, real estate, home to the Coalition for a Better Acre, an auto parts shop) until now, as it is being renovated for modern apartments.
 

Moving Streets?

The Ryan Block is no longer at "7 Adams Street". Did it move? And does it really have a triangle now? The story is interesting.

Picture of a person at a confusing intersection.
 

373-375 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 373-375 Central Street

395-397 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 395-397 Central Street
 

431-433 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 431-433 Central Street. Sign says Martin's Fish Produce Market.

503 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 503 Central Street.

124 High Street

While these buildings have always served as residences, the part closest to High Street also served as a dressmaking shop and school run by an Armenian woman immigrant in 1918-19. Sirpoohy Bogossian was born in 1887 in Turkish Armenia and came to the United States at the age of 18. She quickly met and married Bagdassar Sookikian, quite likely an arranged marriage. She had arrived in the U.S. in New York on February 5, 1906 and the wedding took place in Boston on February 7.

Her groom had arrived about the turn of the century and first appears living in clip art of align bakerLowell in 1904 above a grocery store at 125 Charles Street. Bagdassar worked there for sixteen years as a baker for fellow countryman Avedis Torigian.

In 1906 he moved briefly to Boston, again working at a bakery, likely spending just enough time in Boston to establish residence for the marriage. After the wedding, he moved back to Lowell with his bride to 48 Elm Street, a couple blocks from Torigian’s store, where they remained for ten years before moving to the address on High Street. Matching their quickness in getting married, the Sookikians had two daughters, Arax and Armenuhy, and a son, Vasha, in 1907, 1908, and 1909.

Picture of 124 High Street

This 2-story wood-frame gable-roof building, with its gable front facing High Street was built ca. 1860 and contains Greek Revival elements.  At the rear is a 2-story wood-frame gable roof building, similarly constructed with Greek Revival elements.

Clip art of a tailor

Sirhoopy was probably the first of her family to arrive in Lowell, Lowell, followed by her mother, Mariam (Arifian) Bogossian in 1909 (traveling alone). She lived with them on Elm Street in 1910. A younger brother, Paul Ardaches Bogossian, arrived most likely in 1909. He first appears in Lowell in 1910, living on Elm Street with the rest of the family, working as a tailor.

In 1912, Paul established the Paul Bogossian Tailor Shop on 25 Palmer Street. The next year, Sirhoopy, in spite of having three children under six and two wage earners in the house (her husband and her brother), joined her brother in his tailor shop. They called themselves Bogossian and Sookikian Tailors and relocated to 225 Gorham Street.

Perhaps Sirhoopy learned from Paul what she needed to know in a year or, more likely, she decided to concentrate on women’s clothes. For whatever reason, they went their separate ways the following year, Paul keeping the Gorham Street location and Sirhoopy opening a dressmaker’s shop a few blocks away at 147 Central Street. Paul remained living with the family, so relations were apparently still good.

Clip art of a dressmaker

Sirhoopy ran her dressmaker’s shop for about three and half years, being successful enough to have several employees and, by 1917, was changing the emphasis of her business. After she did some advertising (see the figure above), a local newspaper interviewed her and tells the story this way: City Business Directory ad for Sookikian School of Designing and Cutting
Mrs. S. Sookikian, who conducts ladies’ dressmaking parlors at Room 218-220 in the Bradley Building, enjoys an enviable reputation among many of the best-dressed women in Lowell. Of excellent taste herself, she has the faculty of obtaining the best possible effect from every garment that she turns out. She has a force of expert cutters and fitters and her work has invariably given the highest satisfaction. She also conducts a popular school of cutting and dressmaking in conjunction with her business.

In late 1917 or in 1918 the Sookikians moved to 124 High Street, renting part of a larger house. Sirpoohy also relocated her business to this address, although it’s unclear whether she had anyone still working for her or whether she still did dressmaking as such. Her school continued through 1919 but by 1920 she had left the business world and was listed only as living with her husband in the city directory, not employed outside the house.

In the meantime, her husband may have been working two jobs. In 1917 he declared to the Lowell World War I Draft Board that he was a baker; in the City Directory he was listed twice that same year, with different spellings of his name, as a baker and as a textile operative. The City Directory has him still baking in 1918 and 1919 but in 1920 he told them he was working in the Massachusetts Cotton Mills, the same as what he told the Census Bureau. With his wife’s business ending, the family was clearly unsettled.

With World War I was an instigator of many changes so it’s not surprising that Paul Bogossian changed careers at this time. He had continued as a tailor until 1917 when he became a chauffeur for the Newton Manufacturing Company. He may have stretched the truth a bit when he told the Lowell World War I Draft Board that he was the sole support of his mother and sister, that he worked for an ammunition company, and that he was requesting a draft exemption because he had a leg injury for the time he was a volunteer in the Armenian Army. The next year he was active in real estate and was apparently successful since he was still at it twelve years later.

The Sookikians left Lowell in 1921 and never returned. After the Sookikians departure, the 124 High Street address was strictly a residence. In 1930, Bagdassar, Sirpoohy, and their son Victor were in Brooklyn, New York, with Bagdassar working as a painter. Paul Bogossian also moved to New York, having left Lowell in 1922. He had married an Armenian immigrant and in 1930 had his wife, three children under 8 years old, and his mother, Mariam, living with him.

By 1952 Bagdassar was probably retired (he was 70) but he and Sirpoohy took a trip to Armenia. On returning home, they headed to Brighton, Massachusetts. After Sirpoohy died (probably 1963), Bagdassar moved in with his son Victor in Waltham, Massachusetts and died there in 1965.


Sticking close to home

All locations mentioned are shown on the map below and are fairly close together. The distance from P to H is less than 1/2 mile and from M to E is 0.6 miles. Immigrants with few resources usually walk to work.

Map showing location of jobs and residences for the people in this story.

B.   9 Bent’s Court: Boarding house of Bagdassar in 1905.

Ch. 123-125 Charles Street. Avedis Torigian’s grocery store at 125, where Bagdassar worked 1904-1920. Residence upstairs at 123 for Bagdassar 1904-1905 and even before that for his brother Karnig Sookikian 1903-1909.

C1. 147-175 Central Street. “The Bradley Block”. Offices for Sirhoopy 1914-1917 and Paul 1918-1921.

C3. 386 Central Street. Boarding house for Karnig 1916-1917.

E.   48 Elm Street/1 Elm Place. Residence of Bagdassar and Sirhoopy 1907-1917, Karnig 1910-1913.

G.   225 Gorham Street. Tailor shop of Paul, 1913-1915; joined by Sirhoopy in 1914 when it was Bogossian & Sookikian Tailors.

H.   124 High Street. Home for Bagdassar and Sirhoopy 1917-1920 and Sookikian School 1918-1919.

M.   Massachusetts Cotton Mills, workplace for Bagdassar in 1920 (and probably 1917-1919).

P.   25 Palmer Street, tailor shop of Paul, 1912.

8.   8 Merrimack Street, tailor shop of Paul, 1916.

181-183 East Merrimack Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 181-183 East Merrimack Street
City Business Directory ad for The Erie Telegraph and Telephone Company
City Business Directory ad for A.C. Sanborn, Broker

191-193-195 East Merrimack Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 191 East Merrimack Street
Picture of the Conant Store, corner of 195 E. Merrimack and High Streets title="Conant Store, corner of 195 E. Merrimack and High Streets"
City Business Directory ad for Taylor ProvisionsCity Business Directory ad  for New Washing Market, A.G. Thompson, proprietor

401-403-405 Bridge Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 401-403-405 Bridge Street

810 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 810 Central Street
Picture of John Norton

11-15-17 Concord Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 11-15-17 Concord Street

163 Merrimack Street

After thirty years with a Yankee owner, this location had ten immigrant proprietors over the next thirty years. None stayed longer than six years but their careers before and after this location, especially their connections to other immigrants, are extensive.

The building

This 3-1/2-story, wood-frame building was erected about 1860 and was later expanded with wood-frame additions. It later acquired a store on the first floor with an entrance located on the corner of East Merrimack and Fayette streets. The entrances on Fayette in the early days were alternate entrances to the store. Most proprietors of the stores in the building lived above the store, through the door on the left.

The building  had addresses initially numbered as 93, 99, and 101 East Merrimack Street until the street renumbering of 1895 when it became 163, 165, and 167. At the same time, the multiple entrances on Fayette Street were renumbered to 100 to 112.

 

Photograph of 163 East Merrimack Street

William E. Somes 1866-1894, Yankee

William E. Somes, a Yankee, was in the bakery business in Lowell as early as 1850 and was running his own business at this property by at least 1866.  The bakery was initially located at the 1 Fayette Street entrance to the building, with his residence and store at the East Merrimack entrance; by 1880 he used the East Merrimack street address consistently.  After about forty-five years in the bakery business, Somes died in 1894, owning four buildings fronting E. Merrimack and Fayette.

Thomas F. Brennan 1895-1899, Irish

Somes was succeeded in the bakery business by Thomas F. Brennan, who arrived in the US from Ireland in 1886 at age 19. He was working as a baker by 1890 and it’s possible that he worked for Somes in 1894 since he lived with his family in a house at 245 Concord Street, four blocks away from the bakery. In any case, in 1895, Brennan took over the business after Somes died. Shortly afterward, like most of his successors, he moved into 167 East Merrimack, the upstairs of the bakery building. Business must have been good at first for he stayed for five years but failure was in the wind the last year – he moved back to 237 Concord Street in 1899 while still running the bakery. He left 163 East Merrimack the next year, 1900. He and his wife, Delia started a grocery store in their residence that year and then Delia’s name was on the store in 1901 while Thomas worked as a baker at the City Farm in 1901-1902, his last years in that profession.

In 1903 Brennan became a clerk at the Elias A. McQuade Liquor Store on Market Street. We can speculate that Brennan made contact with Elias through his next door neighbor on Concord Street, James A. McQuade. James was a policeman in the station across the street from Elias’ liquor store on Market Street, and was likely a relative of Elias. After learning the liquor trade, in 1906, Brennan joined with a man by the name of O’Connell and opened his own liquor store at 224 Middlesex Street, a respectable distance away from his former employer, taking over from James H. Doyle.In 1908 he bought out O’Connell and ran the store himself until he died in 1910. His wife, Delia, having had experience in retail with their grocery store, took over the liquor store but was not publicly acknowledged as proprietor in the City Directory; it was probably considered unseemly for a woman to run a liquor store. Her son, John S. Brennan, was a clerk at the store and the other children probably also served as clerks. She ran it until her death in 1921.

Patrick McCartin 1900-1902, Irish

Another Irish-born baker, Patrick McCartin, was the proprietor of 163 East Merrimack from 1900-1902.  Patrick was the eldest of three brothers (the other two being Michael and Frank) who immigrated successively when they each reached about 21 years of age.

The two older brothers initially got jobs in the mills. Patrick arrived in 1876 and we first find him at his marriage in 1883 to Irish-born Delia Doherty, working as a moulder. They had five children: Francis P, Anne J, James Joseph, Mary Etta (or Marietta), and Catherine A.  Patrick escaped the mills to become a horse car driver for the Lowell Street Railroad (the city trolleys) from 1889-1892. Michael arrived in 1883 and we get our first sight of him working as an operative at the time of his marriage to Irish-born Cecilia Woods. They had six children between 1887 and 1899: Mary Elizabeth, Anna S, Joseph Patrick, James Bartholomew, Cecilia Frances, and Vincent Michael.

Picture from Lowell Sun March 17, 1898, labeled "Frank McCartin, the Popular Baker who Died in Savannah, Ga."Frank, the youngest brother, was the primary entrepreneur of the three. He apparently didn’t like the idea of mill work and stopped in Gloucester upon arrival in this country in 1888. There he found a job as a baker, two years later opened his own shop, and then came to Lowell to live with Patrick in 1892. He had done well in Gloucester and immediately opened two bakeries, at 169 Chapel Street and 107 Gorham Street. In 1894 he married Kate Morrow, daughter of Irish immigrants Hugh and Catherine. Due to Frank’s success, it was a society wedding. The Lowell Sun described it in the typical society style that hasn’t changed in over a century: “The bride was attired in a beautiful dress of white silk trimmed in duchesse lace and carried a bought of bridal roses, the bridesmaid in pink silk with a corsage bouquet of roses.” They moved into a large new house at 71 Dover Street, in the Highlands neighborhood, far (in those days) from the downtown area and almost a mile and a half from the stores: “Mr. McCartin’s new home is elegantly furnished and is fitted up with all the modern conveniences of a first class dwelling.”

Patrick went to work for Frank a year after Frank’s arrival in Lowell (1893) but Michael had just left for Australia in 1892. Upon returning in 1896, Michael joined his brothers, becoming the third McCartin baker. Michael worked at 107 Gorham and Frank added a third bakery that year at 26 Concord Street, where Patrick became the manager. Frank was successful enough by 1897 to close the Chapel Street store and sell Patrick the 26 Concord Street bakery, leaving Frank with just the Gorham store, helped there by Michael. Sadly, Frank died the next year, 1898, only thirty-three years old.  Frank’s wife, Kate, took over proprietorship of the bakery. Michael continued at the Gorham Street store, working for Kate. He was later joined by a son, Joseph Patrick, in 1910-1912.  We don’t know if Kate was just the owner in name or whether she took active part in the store, but when Michael’s son was working there, it’s unlikely the single store needed three bakers. In 1913, Michael started his own bakery at 22 Concord Street, in the same building Frank had expanded to fifteen years earlier. Kate continued by herself for two years but closed the Gorham Street store when she remarried in late 1914.

Michael showed that slow and steady wins the day. His shop on Concord Street continued almost twenty years until he retired about 1931.  Daughter Cecilia worked as a cashier in the store for fifteen years after graduating from high school and Joseph stayed as a baker until 1924, when he moved Syracuse, NY, married, traveled further to Indianapolis, where he became the superintendent of a large bakery. Vincent probably worked in the bakery but it was never full time. He went to college and become a teacher in the Lowell Public Schools. He made his parents extremely proud in 1934 when he became Superintendant of schools in Lowell, the very same school system he had grown up with. Even more to the glory of an Irish family, the other of Michael’s sons became a priest and just as gloriously, Patrick also had a son who became a priest. In the tradition of the day, both these sons had been named after their grandfather, James Bartholomew and James Joseph. Not coincidentally, the priests became assistant pastors of Immaculate Conception parish, diagonally across the corner from 163 East Merrimack Street and served together for many years. The parish was run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a missionary society. In later years, the cousins served as missionaries in the not-so-wild west – Gary, Indiana, during World War II – before returning to Lowell.

We now return our focus to Patrick and 163 East Merrimack. When it became available in 1900, just two blocks away from his shop at 26 Concord, he grabbed it immediately, running both for a year.  He dropped the Concord Street store in 1901 but lasted only one more year on his own. After ten years as a baker, five as his own boss, Patrick quit in 1903.

Lowell electrical trolley (restored)Patrick returned to his last pre-bakery job, the trolleys of Lowell’s Street Railway Company where he had been a horse car driver – but alas, they had converted to electricity by then. Nonetheless, he remained a conductor there until he retired in the mid-1920s.

Patrick’s son, Francis P, or Frank P, as he quickly became known, was the immigrant family’s greatest entrepreneurial success. He started at age 18 in 1905 as a helper and then as an electrician working for Derby & Morse Electrical Contractors (both owners were Yankees) at 64 Middle Street. He started work in Boston in 1911 as an electrician and the next year went into sales. In 1912, he married Margaret P. Walsh, born in North Dakota of a Vermont father and Irish mother. They had fourteen children from 1914 to 1929, one of whom became an Oblate priest and one an Oblate Brother.

Logo for the Frank P. McCartin Co.After five years in sales, in 1917 Frank P became vice-president of R. V. Pettingell Electric Supply Company in Boston, still living in Lowell. After ten years there, in 1927 he started the Frank P. McCartin Company for wholesale electrical supplies in Lowell. It was originally located at 183 Market Street, one block away from where he started as an electrician on Middle Street. For a long time it remained very much a family company. In 1956, five of his children worked for him at the company, three as vice-presidents, one as an accountant, and one as a salesman. The company remains successful, continuing to this day at 149 Congress Street in Lowell, just about a mile from where it started, with son John Peter McCartin still the CEO.

George Watson 1903, Scottish

George Watson ran the bakery at 163 East Merrimack Street for only one year but was a baker in Lowell from 1891 to 1932.

The name Watson was common in Lowell, seventy-seven being found in the 1900 Census in sixteen households, of whom seven were named George. We can, however, distinguish three as the family of our George (we’ll call him George II, born in 1862); his father was George (call him George I, born 1839) and his son was George (George III, 1887).  The father of George I was also a George but he appears to have stayed in Scotland.

The older two Georges came to the US from Scotland in April of 1888, followed in August by George I’s wife Agnes and daughters, Phyllis, Kate, and Marion.  George II’s wife, Agnes (Heap), followed shortly afterwards with their children, George III and Agnes Orr. Once in the US, George II and Agnes had one more child, Jessie A.

The older two Georges were bakers in Scotland and set up their own bakery almost immediately; in 1891, they were in business at 240 Market Street.  Over the years they were quite successful, opening several stores. In 1901, the year George I died at age 62, there were George Watson bakeries at four locations: George I at 553 Gorham and 374 Market, and George II at 186 Lakeview and 353 Bridge. George II inherited his father’s two and added one more in 1902 at 187 Broadway for a very respectable five store chain.

In those days women didn’t inherit from a father when there were sons, but George II was a good guy (or, more likely, managing all those bakeries was too much). A year later, 1903, sister Phyllis, who had been working as a clerk for her father and then her brother, became the proprietor of two of the stores in her own name (Market and Gorham). George II kept the Lakeview store and added our favorite bakery at 163 East Merrimack. Ad for George Watson, Jr, Bakery from 1902 Lowell City Directory

The siblings dropped the Broadway and Bridge stores in 1903 and the East Merrimack store in 1904, leaving George with one store and Phyllis with two for a couple years. George retrieved the Bridge Street store in 1906 for two years and then in 1908, Phyllis dropped her two but took over Bridge Street, leaving them with one store each, George II on Lakeview and Phyllis on Bridge. Phyllis lived just couple blocks away from her store with her sister Marion in houses on Fifth Street, then Seventh Street. George lived on Jewett Street, about five blocks north of his store. Brother, sisters, and both stores were all in five minutes walking distance.

It’s unclear why George II kept the East Merrimack store for only a year since the Watsons continued running multiple bakeries with family help. All three of George’s children worked full time at the stores for a time, the daughters leaving when they got married, Jessie in 1913 and Agnes in 1915. George III worked alternately at his father and aunt’s stores until 1915. Phyllis ran her stores with her sister Marion’s help until 1917. After giving up the bakery, both Phyllis and Marion worked for a while in department stores. Phyllis returned to work for her brother from 1922 until 1928, at which time she stayed home to care for Marion until Marion died and then trained to become a nurse, a major career change at age 45. George retired in 1933. The next year, Phyllis moved in with George and his wife while continuing to work as a nurse at least until 1938.

George III worked in the bakeries of his father and his Aunt Phyllis but was restless. In 1909, at 22, he tried his luck in California but returned the next year, putting in another six years as a baker for his father and aunt. The year 1915 found him painting signs for a company on Middle Street. 

In 1916 he married Annie Ferguson. Annie’s father, Hugh Ferguson came to the US from England in 1886 and worked in Fitchburg as a cook, manager of a pool hall, and proprietor of a hotel/boarding house in Fitchburg.  Her mother worked as a spinner in a Fitchburg mill.  Hugh moved the family to Boston around 1910 and then to Lowell in 1911, where he became the proprietor of the St. James Hotel at 533 Middlesex Street.  Hugh must have made out pretty well with the hotel since he was able to live in the seashore village of Willowdale in the town of Ipswich, Massachusetts.  After the marriage in 1916, George III became co-proprietor with Hugh for the new Cecil Hotel at 532 Middlesex Street, in direct competition to the St. James across the street.  Shortly after, Hugh moved to Florida but George continued as co-proprietor of the hotel with his brother-in-law, William Ferguson.  In 1926 George moved to Florida to be with his mother-in-law after Hugh died in 1923. He was unemployed (or perhaps, rich and didn’t need to work) at the time of the Census of 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression.

Simon A. Cavanagh 1904-1906, Irish

Simon A. Cavanagh was the next baker at 163 East Merrimack from 1904-1906. His parents, Edward and Mary (Flanigan) were both born in Ireland but had moved to Scotland after marriage in 1869 and had six children there (two boys and four girls). In the early 1870s they immigrated to Lowell, where Edward worked as a fireman in the mills starting in 1874 until he died in January 1902.

Simon was born about 1872 in Scotland and, coming to adulthood in Lowell, never moved away from the house his parents bought in 1880 at 98 Andover Street. After they died, Simon and two sisters continued living there.

Simon worked for a furniture retailer until 1902 when he became a partner in a real estate firm, Smith & Cavanagh, located in the Donovan Building at 265 Central Street.  We don’t know where he got the know-how for a bakery but the next year he started the bakery as well. Being in real estate, he probably saw the property come on the market, purchased it as an investment, and hired others to do the work. He gave up the bakery after 1906, but kept on with the real estate business, going entirely on his own in 1910. He died unmarried at age 38 the very next year.

Thomas F. Booth 1907-1912, English2-Irish2

Baker Thomas F. Booth succeeded Cavanagh, remaining at 163 Merrimack Street for six years, the most for a non-Yankee.  His parents were Samuel, an immigrant from England, and Mary Welch, an immigrant from Ireland. They met and married in New Bedford in while Samuel was a mill worker in the mid 1860s and had six children. When Thomas was born in 1876 in Boston, Samuel was working as a pipefitter but was reported to be a simple laborer at other events. By 1900, Samuel had died and Thomas was living with his mother and sister Genevieve in Cambridge, MA, where we first see him at age 24, working as a baker.

Thomas came to Lowell in 1907 to take over the bakery at 163 East Merrimack. For the first three years he lived five blocks away at 179 Stackpole Street. This must have been a desirable address, with no industry nearby and directly overlooking the Merrimack River to a lightly built residential area on the other side. Today the site is in the middle of a new road built for a bridge across that river. In 1910, he moved to 69 High Street, on the corner of East Merrimack on the same block as the bakery; he still lived with his mother and his sister Genevieve. They all left Lowell after 1912, showing up in 1918 living in Belmont, MA, Thomas still a baker. He and his mother were living with his sister Genevieve but now also with Genevieve’s new husband, Irishman John F. Fitzgerald, who was working in a print shop. They stayed in Belmont until at least 1922 and then headed west. 

In 1930, Thomas, Genevieve, and John were living together in Los Angeles. Thomas was still a baker and John still worked in printing. Thomas died in Los Angeles in 1948.

Mrs. Mary J. Carroll 1913, Irish

The tenure of Mrs. Mary J. Carroll was not the shortest of the bakers of 163 East Merrimack Street (there were four others who stayed only one year) but she is the only woman. She became the proprietor, as was often the case in those days, when her husband died. The story of the family is filled with bakers.

William A. Carroll was born in Ireland in 1861, as was Mary J. in 1872. They married in 1888 when she was only 16 and had one child a year for the next three years. William departed for Manchester, New Hampshire in 1891 and Mary followed two years later. There they had four more children before moving to Lowell, where they had another two.

There are two reasons to believe that William had been a baker in Ireland:  he worked as a baker as soon as he got to Manchester in 1892; and his father, who joined him in 1895, was a baker.  In Lowell in 1905, William had a shop at 131 Gorham Street, at the corner of Winter Street, and lived upstairs with his still increasing family.

As is usual in a family business, William’s children helped in the baker but there were too many of them for a single store, especially when they could be earning money from the outside to help the family. In 1909, the two oldest children were at other bakeries, not as bakers, but as clerks who knew the bakery business; Margaret J., 19, worked at the Dudley L. Page Bakery on Merrimack and Mary E., 18, worked at the Anthony Lavery Bakery on Bridge. That same year, William’s father, who had been helping in the family bakery, died, so more help was needed. In 1910, Mary E. returned to her father’s store and the next younger daughter, Elizabeth, now 19, also clerked there. Margaret still worked for Page’s Bakery and the next in line, Patrick, at only 15, worked at Mary’s previous employer, Anthony Lavery, but at his other bakery on Broadway. Interestingly, Patrick was listed as a baker, not a clerk – perhaps it was a male prerogative to be a baker at that time.

Line drawing graphic of where the Carrolls moved from year to year.In 1911, the employment shuffling continued. You may wish to refer to the figure on the right as a scorecard. (t's not that useful but almost seems intelligible if you're sleepy at this point of story.) Patrick came back to his father’s store and Mary E. went to work for Thomas F. Booth at, of all places, 163 East Merrimack Street! Things continued changing in 1912 with Patrick trying to get away from the bakery business by working as a cigar maker. William died late in the year (at 50) and, in 1913, Mary J. became the proprietor of the Gorham Street store. She also took over our East Merrimack bakery when Thomas Booth left that same year, likely to save Mary E.’s workplace. Margaret left Lavery’s to help out at the family store, and Patrick returned to baking (in 1915 he was at the Friend Brothers Bakery at 2 Westford Street, one of the largest in the city).

Mary J. and Mary E. gave up the East Merrimack Street store after one year but kept the Gorham Street store until 1915 with the help of Elizabeth. After that, Mary E. clerked and Patrick baked for a grocery store down the street (James Smith Provisions) in 1916 but that didn’t work. Mary E. and younger sister Catherine tried their hands at dressmaking in 1917. Catherine continued in the mills for a couple years but Mary E. married in 1917 and disappeared from the commercial workforce. Margaret married in 1920, ending her bakery career.

Patrick returned to baking at a Page bakery on Merrimack Street (same owner as the one Margaret had worked at). From 1922 to 1930, he ran his own bakery, first on Broadway then on Gorham (many blocks down from the old family store). Sister Louise apparently helped in 1920 but went to work in the mills after that until she married in 1931. Patrick settled down as a baker working for others from at least 1932 until 1956.

Mary J. moved to 37 Walnut Street in 1916 after giving up baking and most of the family joined her there.  The address was one that further shows the interconnectedness of the baking fraternity. The house was owned by Charles F. Devno, a long-time grocer on Central Street. (He and his son, Charles D. are discussed in the story of 557 Central.) Frederick L. Devno was a son of Charles F. and worked at the Friends Bakery at 2 Westford Street from 1910 to 1916, a span that included the years that Patrick Carroll worked there. The Devnos moved to a much larger house and then rented their old house to a co-worker’s family, the Carrolls.

Patrick J. Cronin 1914, Irish

In 1914, Irish-born Patrick J. Cronin was the owner of the bakery at this location.

Patrick came to the U.S. in 1891 at age 23 and his soon-to-be, Anna C. McMahon, came before December, 1898 since that was when they were married in Lowell. Patrick worked as a baker as soon as he arrived: an unknown place in 1891, the John J. Henley Bakery on Suffolk Street in 1892, and the Louis G. Moss Bakery in 1893. After the marriage, the couple returned to Cork, Ireland to start a family. They had twins a year later, 1899, Patrick John and Thomas Augustus (named after his paternal grandfather), followed by Daniel C. in 1902 (named after the other grandfather), then Josephine W. in 1904 (who was called Mary early in life, likely after her paternal grandmother).  It’s possible the family traveled back and forth between Cork and Lowell, returning to have the children born in the home country. Patrick was in the US in 1902 but after that lived in Cork, working as a baker. He returned for good in May, 1906, followed by Anna and the kids in August, 1908. They had their last child in Lowell, Francis M., born in 1909.

Back in Lowell, Patrick continued baking, getting a job at the D.L. Page Bakery on Merrimack Street, one of the largest in town, while living at three different locations over the next four years. We don’t know what prompted him to try running his own store at 163 East Merrimack Street, but the urge lasted only one year. In 1916 he worked at the James McMahon Bakery at 876 Gorham Street. (It would be surprising if James wasn’t a cousin of Patrick’s wife, Anna.) In 1922, he worked at the George Cornock’s Bakery on Bridge Street and in 1932 he was again running his own bakery at 96 Branch Street until he retired a year later.

Domestically, Patrick and Anna had problems. After 1920, they no longer lived together, although they put up a formal front at first with information published in the City Directory.  After five years residence at 175 Charles Street, the transition year was probably 1917 when none of the family showed up in the directory and in 1918 the family was listed at 34 Gorham Street. However, when the twin boys registered for the World War I draft in 1918, they stated their nearest kin was Anna, not Patrick. More telling is that the twin Patrick John registered under the name John F. and used that name the rest of his life, perhaps indicating some desire to disassociate himself from his father.  By the 1920 Census, the separation was formal. Patrick was living with his sister Nora and her husband Charles Welcome at 5 James Street; his brother, Dennis Cronin, also lived there. Anna and the children were living at 34 Gorham, with Anna listed as head of household. In 1922, Anna was in the City Directory as head of the house on Gorham, working as a housekeeper at a private residence. At the same time, keeping up pretenses, Patrick was also listed as head of the house on Gorham, working at the Cornock Bakery on Bridge Street. However, he was also listed living on John Street, just two short blocks from the bakery.  From 1930 on, there was no pretense -- he was listed as living at the Robitaille lodging house on Central Street.

None of Patrick’s children followed their father’s trade. Josephine worked for a short time as an operative in the mills. Thomas became an electrician and Daniel worked as a machinist. John Cronin (formerly Patrick John) went into retail and opened his own store by 1930, first with cigars and then with liquors; Francis worked as a clerk in his brother’s stores.

John J. Carney 1917, Irish

After languishing vacant for two years, the shop at 163 East Merrimack gained yet another Irish baker, John J. Carney in 1917.  John was born in Ireland in 1865 as was his wife Alice McPartland in 1868.  They married in 1887 and had two children, Catherine in 1888 and Mary A. in 1891. Little Mary was only five months old when they immigrated to the US in July, 1891. Steamships were becoming faster in those days but a seven day voyage on a crowded immigrant ship in “Lower Steerage” at the beginning of July must not have been very pleasant, even before adding a five month old.  The couple had three more children in Lowell: Alice D. in 1893, Bernard J. in 1898, and Robert E. in 1900.

John had been a baker in Ireland and immediately found work as a baker in Lowell. From 1893 the family lived in Belvidere, just across the Concord River from downtown, on Laughlin’s Court, half a block from 163 East Merrimack.  They spent a few years at 122 Fayette, a building originally owned by William Somes, adjacent to his much larger building on the corner at 163 East Merrimack, where Somes had operated his bakery.  For at least three years, 1896-98, John Carney worked next door to where he lived, for the Thomas F. Brennan Bakery (see above) at 163 East Merrimack. The next year, 1899, Carney moved on to bake at the City Farm, a job to which he was followed by Brennan in 1901. In 1904, Carney worked at the Annie T. Gormley Bakery at 876 Gorham Street; this same address became the James McMahon Bakery that Patrick Cronin (see above) worked in for a year in 1916.

In 1909, John opened his own bakery at 243 Fayette Street, just two blocks off East Merrimack. He moved the shop to 28 Pleasant Street, a block further south, for 1910 to 1912.  In 1913, he decided that a grocer’s life was more attractive than a baker’s (didn’t have to get up at 4AM to make the doughnuts) and he opened a grocery across the Merrimack River in the Centralville neighborhood at 152 West Street. A year later he moved it about six buildings down to 204 Coburn Street and lived upstairs at 202.

It might have been pure nostalgia to run a bakery in 1917 at 163 East Merrimack Street where he had worked before.  The Centralville grocery store was clearly doing well – it lasted till at least 1920.  Perhaps he took it over just to liquidate the bakery equipment – this was the last year the location hosted a bakery.  For whatever reason, he had the bakery only one year.

He ran his grocery until 1920 and must have been fairly prosperous since he retired at 55 years old and moved about eight blocks east to the more prestigious Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Like many of his generation, he found retirement boring and at age 59 he went back to work at a bakery until he died in 1929, just under 65 years old. None of his children worked at the stores after becoming adults. All three daughters worked in the mills, first as operatives but by 1930 Alice and Mary were bookkeepers and the Catherine became a housekeeper. His only son who lived, Robert, became a printer for the Lowell Courier-Citizen newspaper; all four were unmarried in 1932, with ages ranging from 32 to 44.

George L. Perham 1919-1921 Yankee

After the 163 East Merrimack store sat idle in 1918, George L. Perham was the next proprietor, turning the place into a grocery store, a role it would play for at least the next thirty-seven years.

George was born in Lowell, his father (Foster Perham) was born in Massachusetts, and his mother (Margaret A Burbank) was born in New Hampshire. Both parents’ parents were also born in New Hampshire and Massachusetts so George’s Yankee credentials are solid. His father was a bookkeeper at a liquor store for over thirty years (working for an Irishman, Patrick Lynch) so there wasn’t a family business to follow. After high school, George worked at the grocery store of Clarence G. Coburn at 11 Mammoth Road, just two blocks away from his childhood home at 100 Riverside Street. In 1899 George married a Yankee girl, Stella Wright and, after a year living on Fourth Street, three blocks from the Riverside home, they moved to 53 Lamb Street, another five blocks away but still in Pawtucketville (the neighborhood across the river and west of downtown Lowell). They lived there the rest of their lives.

George worked for Coburn, a fellow Yankee, for ten years, gaining experience in groceries, meats, and provisions, and then tried opening his own grocery on Pleasant Street in 1909. It was a slightly odd choice for a location, about three miles from home, across the river on the other side of downtown, but Lowell had had an extensive trolley system for years, first horse-drawn, then motorized. That lasted only a year and George returned to working in the provisions business for a while and then tried a totally new occupation in 1912, an insurance agent. Again, that lasted only a year and he went back to working in other people’s grocery stores, both north and south of the river. In 1919 he once again tried his own business at the 163 East Merrimack location and ran it until 1921. We don’t know exactly what happened then, but it appears Stella became sick and George quit to take care of her. He didn’t work for two years (at least he didn’t show up the in City Directory).

After Stella died in 1923 George returned to work as a clerk for the Frank R. Strout Provisions store at 329 Bridge Street, a few blocks from home (Strout was another Yankee). He kept his eye on his old store’s neighborhood and when 195 East Merrimack Street (at the other end of the block from the 163 store) became available in 1926, he seized the opportunity. In partnership with Mrs. Georgia B. Quimby, he opened a meat market under the name G.B. Quimby & Co.  Georgia was married to an electrician (Henry) and ran a lodging house at 90 Chestnut Street (also their home). This was apparently her only fling at retail business. Things went well for three years but it the partnership dissolved in 1929. George had moved to Tyngsboro, just west of Lowell at the same time as opening the Quimby store and he remained there until he died in 1931.

Andrew E. Saba 1922-1923 Syrian

In 1922 Andrew Esper Saba, born October 18, 1892 in Syria, ran a provisions store at 163 East Merrimack Street from 1922 to 1923, apparently the only years he spent in Lowell.  We don’t why he came to town for just that time but there are many family connections to consider before focusing on Andrew.

Shaka Saba may have used a fruit cart like this in modern Marrakech Souk, Morocco. From the Seton Hall Library Gallery, photo by Tamara Hill.There were Saba families in Lowell starting in 1897, and they continue to this day.  Shaka Saba, born in Syria in 1881, operated a fruit market at 335 Middlesex, his third year in Lowell. (In an interesting exercise in anglicizing foreign names, Shaka later was known as Shakra G, then George after 1903.)  In 1900, Shaka’s mother, Mankra, and sister, Manoi, lived with him on Farson’s Court (the side door to the Middlesex store).  He operated the market at that location for three years and then became a peddler and an operative for several years, apparently hawking his fruits on the streets in good weather and working in the mills in the bad. In 1909, Shaka/George re-established a confectionery store at 183 Appleton Street, one street over and two blocks closer to the downtown area. (In those days, fruit and confectionery stores often sold the same kinds of goods, namely, something sweet.)

Esper (or Asber or Esber, as he was called at various times) Saba was born in 1864 in Syria. He immigrated in the 1890s and worked in the mills in Lawrence in 1901-1903. In 1909 Esper came to live with George on Middlesex Street and to work in the Lowell mills. The next year, Esper took over the Appleton store, calling it “A. Saba & Sons” Fruits, declaring the proprietors to be Asber, George, and John Saba (although John was not otherwise listed in the City Directory). George Saba, one of the “sons,” was delisted as a proprietor after 1912 (he disappears from sight) and Peter Saba was added.

Actually, the family relations are a bit confused. There had been another George Saba family in Lowell since 1903, George and Rose, with sons Peter and John Asper Saba (along with others). Given that Esper advertised Peter and John as “sons”, there is a strong possibility that this George was Esper’s brother (Esper was born in 1864, George in 1867), making Peter (born 1887) and John A (born 1890) nephews.  To make it more complicated, Peter and John came to live with Esper.  The wording “and Sons” in the company name would simply indicate that it was a family business (although Shaka/George may well have been Esper’s son).

In any case, Asber ran the store until 1915 and then left Lowell. Peter ran the store for another year, worked in the mills for a while until he married a widow, and then operated her grocery store for several years. John also worked in the mills until starting another confectionary store which he ran for about ten years before opening a restaurant and a liquor store, which he ran for many years. One of John’s sons, George Washington Saba, born February 22, 1926, was an example of the patriotism of children of immigrants during World War II. In a newspaper article "George Washington Saba Wants To Join Navy At 17 [sic]”. The article stated “[He] celebrated Washington's birthday and his own too yesterday by volunteering for service in the navy…. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Saba … [said] 'I have always admired my famous namesake,' he told recruiting officers. 'I don't how any better way to celebrate his birthday and mine than by giving my services to the nation he played such an important part in founding.'"

Returning to Andrew, he is not provably Esper Saba’s son, but there is reason to consider it. There is only one person in the entire 1920 Census (out of 892 Sabas) with a given name of Esper/Esber/Asber.  Esper gave his name to a younger, documented daughter, Naifey Esper Saba, so it seemed to be a family tradition. Andrew would be merely another child to have that same middle name. In any case, Esper is a strong presence in Lowell and in another location in Andrew’s life.

Sistersville at the height of second West Virginia oil boom in the 1890s.Andrew immigrated about 1905 and in 1917, at age 25, was in Sistersville, West Virginia (on the Ohio River, bordering Ohio), living with Ace Cassis and working in a store for Joseph Cassis, who lived next door to Ace. Ace and Joseph were co-owners of the store (wholesale groceries) and two other Cassis family members also worked there.  Since Cassis was Andrew’s mother’s maiden name and both these Cassis men were born in Syria, there is a good chance that Ace (born in 1855) was an uncle and Joseph (born in 1878) was a cousin or another uncle.  (There were also family connections in Lowell: George Saba and Simon Cassis shared a building at 64 Adams Street in 1920.)  After Esper left Lowell, he went to West Virginia. In 1920, both Andrew and Esper were working in the West Virginia oil fields and living in Sistersville, although boarding in separate houses.Esper was still in Sistersville, working the oil fields, in the 1930 Census.

Esper had bought news of the Saba’s Lowell entrepreneurial activity when he moved to Sistersville and Andrew eventually decided it was an attractive place to try business on his own.  He married a second-generation Syrian, Hazel, in 1921 and they had twins in Lowell in February, 1922, at the same time he took over the East Merrimack provisions shop. He ran the shop in 1922 and 1923 then, for some unknown reason, left Lowell. He returned to West Virginia where he ran a tobacco shop in 1930 and worked in a retail store in Charleston during the Second World War. After Hazel died in 1982 he moved to California, where he died in 1986.

Ephraim Favreau 1924 French-Canadian*

Ephraim Favreau ran the grocery store after Saba left but his story is even more of a mystery than Saba’s. All we know for certain is that in 1924 he ran the store, that he lived next door at 120 Fayette Street with his wife Melina, and that a Rose Favreau and a Raoul Favreau also lived there (no occupations given and no indication of relation). It’s only on the basis of his name that we guess a French-Canadian background; three of four Favreau families in the 1920 Lowell Census were of French-Canadian background.

There were several families named Favreau in Lowell at the time, notably one running an electrical contracting firm, but Ephraim has no known connection to them. Neither he, Rose, nor Raoul appear in the city directory before 1924 and they are not in the Census for Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Rhode Island in 1920 or 1930. Ephraim and Raoul disappeared from Lowell after 1924. Rose stayed on, working as an accountant in a furniture store for a couple years until she married a second generation French-Canadian in 1926.

The Chain Stores 1925-1945 (Some Irish)

In 1925 the grocery store was run by the Co-operative Grocery Stores Company. The company started in Lowell in 1916 with a single store and by 1925 owned eleven. It is unknown whether this company was associated with others of a similar name and goal in several other states or whether it was a Massachusetts-only corporation. There were many stores by this name in Massachusetts.

Photo of a wood box contain "Finast Choice Boneless Salt Codfish"In 1926 several of those stores in Lowell were taken over by the Michael O’Keeffe Grocery Company, headquartered in Boston. O’Keeffe, an Irish immigrant born in 1867, immigrated in 1886. By the age of 37 he owned forty-two stores in Boston alone and continued expanding. He had purchased his first store in Lowell in 1905 at 54 Middlesex Street. When he took over the 163 East Merrimack store in 1925, it was his tenth in Lowell. He never lived in Lowell.

In 1925 and 1926, O’Keeffe and two other large northeast grocery chains merged to form the First National Stores Company with 1,644 locations. First National operated the store at least until 1945. It became known as Finast until bought by a Netherlands food conglomerate in the 1990s. O’Keeffe himself retired in 1930, a rich man.

Recently (1955- )

In the mid 1950s, a local French-Canadian grocer, Victor P. Beaudette, moved into the shop vacated by First National Stores.  Beaudette and his wife Claire lived in Dracut and commuted to their grocery in Lowell.  The Beaudettes remained at 163 East Merrimack until the early 1960s.  In 1963, the shop was vacant.  In the mid 1970s, a Spanish-speaking (largely Puerto Rican) Pentecostal group opened a “storefront” church called Iglesia Pentecostal Universal and stayed more than 25 years. It is now a brightly lighted computer showroom for SM Computing.

Thoughts about locations

The ten first or second generation immigrants discussed here (those with headings above, less Somes and Perham, who were Yankees) are summarized in Figure 4. There were six Irish, one second generation son of an English-Irish marriage, one Scot, one Syrian, and one French-Canadian. Some of them worked in the mills before starting their own business, some worked for other bakers, grocers, or furniture dealers, and some immediately open their own shops. Few of them succeeded in the sense of continuing to own their own shops for the rest of their life; indeed, several lasted only one year as an owner.

They worked all over the city. Where they worked before and after their stint at 163 East Merrimack Street is plotted in the figure below. Red dots are locations at which they owned their own businesses; blue are locations at which they worked for other people. (This plots only their retail experience; that is, not mills jobs or the civil service.) We don’t have data on every year for them but more data could only show an even wider distribution. There is a reasonable amount of clumping, given that these locations are all on commercial streets. The only noticeable absences in commercial areas are the Highlands, in the southwest of the city and Pawtucketville, in the northwest.

Booth, Thomas F English2-Irish2
Brennan, Thomas F Irish
Carney, John J Irish
Carroll, Mary J, Mrs. Irish
Cavanagh, Simon A Irish
Cronin, Patrick J Irish
Favreau, Ephraim French-Canadian
McCartin, Patrick Irish
Saba, Andrew E Syrian
Watson, George, II Scottish
Immigrants in business at 163 East Merrimack and their nationalities

Graphic showing locations that proprietors of 163 East Merrimack worked before and after their time there.

573 Lawrence Street
  Focus: The Brothers Greenwood

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 573 Lawrence Street with "Greenwood Bros" stone carving still visible

7 Adams Street
  (now 63 Fletcher St)

Liberty Square

..is a part of the Acre where several streets intersect, among them Adams Street and Fletcher Street. In 1896, it looked something like the map at the right. The triangle is Liberty Square (did he say the triangle is a square?) and the "X" marks the building at "7 Adams Street."

The store at 7 Adams looked out over the middle of the square and had to have been a good commercial location. It had grocers for the first few years we know about. After that, it had either a barber shop or a shoe shop for about sixty years, switching back and forth as if it couldn't make up its mind.

This map shows the area of Liberty Square. It is a triangle with long edge on the east and apex pointing to the west. Seven streets enter the square: Fletcher Street from the northwest and southeast, Suffolk Street from northeast and southwest, Adams Street from the north, Heyden Street from the east and Rock Street from the west-northwest. Worthen Street enters Fletcher Street about fifty feet south of the square and so adds to the confusion. The building is on Adams Street at the east side of the triangle, between Heyden and Fletcher.

Grocers

Picture of a man in a grocery store The three buildings on the square with Adams addresses held small businesses at least as early as 1870 when it had competing Irish grocers John Lynch and T.F. Doyle. (There were Lynches in the grocery business at a half dozen locations in the Acre for the next forty years.) 

There appear to have been competing grocers across the square and again in the same block for quite a few years. One of them, a Canadian immigrant Samuel Hebert married to an Irish woman, did well enough to put ads in the city directory in the 80s. Hebert lived upstairs at 7 Adams in 1880 and ran a grocery store at 11 Adams. McDonald Grocery, run by a pair of Irish brothers, was downstairs at 9 Adams about the same time. The morning conversations must have been interesting. In addition to these two, there were two other grocers on the square and at least four more on Adams in the block north of the square.
 

The Ryans and the Ryan Block

In 1891, a pair of Irish brothers, John and Patrick Ryan, purchased the land holding several buildings at the intersection of Adams and Worthen, including 7 Adams. They had already been running a junk dealership at the corner for ten years and simply became their own landlord, continuing the junk dealership and running the small buildings as before. Soon after, they also established the Union Brass Company a short way down Worthen.

The Ryan Block is a four story brick building with shops on the first floor.In 1904, the Ryans tore down their buildings on Adams Street and put up a single large brick building with stores on the ground floor and three floors of apartments above. The building became known as The Ryan Block and Elizabeth Ryan, a sister of the brothers, lived in one of the apartments for many years. The Ryan brothers and the Ryan Block itself is of interest, in addition to the stories of the people in it.

Shoe Repair, Irish Lavery and French Canadian Bergeron

The building had two shoe repair businesses. Edward C. Lavery, born in Ireland, started in the shoe repair business in Lowell in 1887. In 1894, he started Lavery Shoe and Boots at 7 Adams Street, just one block away from his new home on Rock Street. Married to Eliza, with five children, he operated his shop until his death in 1907.

Leon Bergeron and Mary Flora Pepin were both from Quebec. The senior Leon worked as a miller, then a bobbinmaker. Their son, Leon J., was born in Massachusetts.

The Bergerons moved to the Liberty Square area about 1897. We don't know for sure if sixteen year-old Leon J. Bergeron was acquainted with Edward Lavery or not, but unless kids have changed, he did. Living only a block from Liberty Square on Franklin Street, young Leon and his friends were certain to know everything going on in the neighborhood, especially when the shoemaker himself lived only a block away. What we do know is that three years later (1900) Leon was working in a shoe factory and by 1903 described himself as a shoemaker. He married Mary Lyons, born in Maine of English-Canadian immigrants, and the 1910 census found them both working in a shoe shop, him in the packing room and her as a polisher. From 1915 to 1917 he was a foreman at the George Snow shoe factory. When it came time to open his own "Bergeron Shoe Repair" in 1919, Leon did it at the old place, 7 Adams Street. He ran his shoe repair shop there and lived just a block away, practically next to his boyhood home with his wife, his widowed mother, and his sister Flora. After fifteen years, he moved his shop to Middlesex Street but lived on Franklin until the mid 1960's (almost forty years) when he and his wife moved to a retirement apartment not going far, to 145 Gorham Street, about 8-10 blocks away. When he died in 1965, his obituary described him as a "well-known foot and arch supporter."
 

Barbers

The building had barbers. The 1889 city atlas said 7 Adams Street had a barber shop. Edward Lavery had his shoe and boot store at that address from 1894 until 1907. Stephen Doyle, who had been running a barber shop at 11 Adams since 1905, moved to 7 Adams from 1907 to 1912 (establishing a barber there for the second time). In 1914, Doyle moved to another corner of Liberty Square, leaving the storefront vacant for a few years. We then saw that Leon J. Bergeron ran the (second) shoe repair store after that from 1919 to 1935. After Bergeron moved his shoe shop, Edward Beshara (likely a Syrian immigrant) converted 7 Adams back to a barber shop (for a third time) and ran it until the early 1950s. In 1964, it was still a barbershop but by 1975 it wasn't. After eighty years, the alternating regimes came to an end, so the shoes and scissors were finally at peace. The store at 7 Adams Street was occupied briefly by many business for another thirty years (variety store, real estate, home to the Coalition for a Better Acre, an auto parts shop) until now, as it is being renovated for modern apartments.
 

Moving Streets?

The Ryan Block is no longer at "7 Adams Street". Did it move? And does it really have a triangle now?

Picture of a person at a confusing intersection.
 

557 Central Street
  Focus: Anders Thomasson

In the early 1880s a reporter for one of Lowell’s newspapers sought information on the city’s small, but growing “Swedish colony” and visited the apothecary of Anders Thomasson.  Considered one of the leaders of Swedish community in Lowell, Thomasson pointed out to the reporter that, unlike the larger populations of Irish and French Canadian immigrants, who tended to cluster in neighborhoods with their respective countrymen and women, Swedes numbered only about 250 and had no common “settlement or dwelling place.”  He also noted that in the last “year or two” Swedes “have been coming more rapidly.”  The reporter observed, “It would not be surprising if in the next ten years the Swedish colony here should become quite large and influential.”

While Lowell’s Swedish population never rivaled that of the Irish and French Canadian, the Swedish community became one of several smaller, very visible immigrant communities in the city.  By 1910, over 1,100 Swedes and Swedish-Americans lived in Lowell, with several families residing in a neighborhood called “Swede Village.”  A large number of Swedish women were employed as domestics and some worked in the bunting and woolen mills along the Concord River, near Swede Village.

Photograph of 557 Central Street

557 Central Street.

This one story brick building was built as an attachment in the front yard of a wood-frame duplex in 1879. Thomasson and many of his successors in the business lived in the duplex immediately behind the store (559 Central Street). Picture was taken in 2006.

Of the larger cotton manufacturing corporations in Lowell, Swedish women toiled in the Boott and Massachusetts mills.  While some Swedish men worked as operatives in the woolen mills, a larger number worked as laborers, carpenters, stone cutters, skilled machinists, iron molders, and blacksmiths.  A smaller number worked as clerks in retail establishments and a few, like Thomasson, ran their own businesses.
Newspaper clipping of photograph of Anders Thomasson
Anders Thomasson

As Thomasson recalled, only a handful of Swedish families lived in Lowell when he arrived in 1872.  Born in Malmö, Sweden, in 1844, he served as an apprentice to a druggist in his native land.  After graduating from a pharmacy school in 1868, he worked about four years at large apothecaries in Malmö, a city of 40,000 persons.  He then immigrated to the United States and settled in Lowell in August 1872.  Accompanying him was his fiancé Adelaide Pihl, whose family included a number of the earliest Swedish immigrants in Lowell. 

Thomasson lived with his wife Adelaide in the same building that housed his apothecary.  They had married in Lowell on October 26, 1872, shortly after they arrived in the Spindle City.  He was 28 and she was 29.  The result of this union was a son, Anders Frederic Christian Thomasson, born in June 1873.  Sadly, their boy died from diphtheria at age four and they had no other children.

Prescription and pill bottleUnable to speak English, Thomasson found employment in Stott’s Mill, a small, family-owned woolen mill along the Concord River on Lawrence Street, where he worked about two years. He learned some English while working in the mill and in 1874 he felt his language skills were sufficient enough to operate his own business.  He opened an apothecary on the corner of Central and North streets.  At that time the city had at least twenty-two other apothecaries. Of these, sixteen or seventeen were operated by Yankees, three were run by Irish, one by a Canadian (English), and one of mixed English- and French-Canadian nationality.  (A generation later, of the 54 apothecaries listed in the city directory, Thomasson and Israel Kronberger were the only two Scandinavians operating drugstores.)

Thomasson was assisted in the business by Frans L. Braconier, who in spite of his French sounding name was a fellow Swede. Braconier had immigrated in 1874 and immediately went to work as a druggist clerk in Lowell so we can assume he also had prior training in Sweden. Braconier was the first of three Swedes that Thomasson mentored in owning a drug store business. Thomasson and Braconier became partners but Braconier departed after two years to open his own store. Braconier ran his own drug store for at least two years on Tremont Street in Boston and then moved his store to Brockton until his death in 1907 (after which his son Harry took over). He employed two other Swedes before or after they moved to Lowell to work for Thomasson.

Newspaper clipping of Amykos advertisement

After Braconier’s departure, Thomasson again became sole owner of the business. In 1882, after four years of running his drugstore alone, he recruited another fellow countryman, Johan August Ekengren, to emigrate from Stockholm and join him in a venture to manufacture an elixir called “Amykos.”  Popular in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, Amykos was imported to the United States, largely for the Swedish population.  A high duty on this item, however, led Thomasson and Ekengren to believe they could produce it in Lowell and sell it for less money than the imported article.  By 1883 ads for Amykos appeared in Lowell’s newspapers.  Thomasson called it a “preparation” and claimed that it was “a renowned preventative of infectious diseases, particularly diphtheria.”  Like other cures and patent medicines, of which Lowell was a leading producer in the United States, Amykos allegedly cured a variety of ailments.  Thomasson recommended its daily use as a gargle to prevent throat inflammation, “offensive breath,” and “spongy gums.”  In addition, he pronounced that when used as an “adjunct to the toilet” in which the face is washed, Amykos left skin feeling deliciously refreshed.  As sole producer and vender of Amykos, Thomasson sold each bottle for 75 cents, which in 1883, was more than half the average daily wage of a Lowell textile worker.

The partnership between Ekengren and Thomasson lasted only one year. As the second Swede mentored by Thomasson, Ekengren moved to Boston and took over the drug store of Frans Braconier (Thomasson’s first partner) when Braconier left for Brockton.

Although the two Swedes planned to manufacture other “European specifics for the toilet,” Amykos appears to have been the only one they marketed in the newspapers. Thomasson took over the production and sale of Amykos, reducing its price to 50 cents per bottle.  He continued in the manufacture of elixirs and by 1892, he sold an article called “Zymos.”  In addition to making elixirs and running his drugstore, Thomasson served as steamship agent for the Thingvalla Line, which brought many Swedes to the United States and back to their homeland.

The extent to which Thomasson profited from his sales of Amykos is not known, but by 1889 he had saved enough money to purchase a property on the opposite side of Central Street, one block south of his apothecary.  This property included a wood-frame, two-family house.  After acquiring the property, Thomasson built a small one-story brick addition, extending toward the street, which would house his store.  He hired C. H. Bangs of Boston, a manufacturer of druggists’ fixtures to outfit his new apothecary.  A contemporary description of the shop noted its finer features including a maple floor, and mahogany counters, showcases, and a prescription desk which were “carved around the borders and finished in a high polish.”  Except for four years in 1907-11, Thomasson operated this apothecary from 1889 until 1916.

Ad Feb 18, 1883
from Lowell Morning Times

Clip art of man playing an organThomasson’s standing within Lowell’s Swedish community was enhanced not only by his success and longevity, but also by his involvement with the Swedish Evangelical-Lutheran Church.  The largest of the city’s four Protestant Swedish denominations, the Lutheran congregation was incorporated in 1882 and met in homes and at various locations until 1885, when a new church was built on Meadowcroft Street.  Thomasson was one of seven Lowell Swedes to promote the establishment of this church in which services were conducted in their native tongue.  Devoted to the church, Thomasson served for many years as organist and leader of the singing society.  In 1889 he and his wife donated an altarpiece “The Resurrection” to the church.  Like other churches of immigrant people, the Swedish Lutheran church was a center for social activity and assisted parish members who found themselves in personal and financial difficulty due to sickness or death of the head of a household.

It seems that outside the pharmacy, Anders Thomasson’s life remained centered around the church and his organ music.  Although a number of Swedish fraternal organizations sprang up in the early 1900s, Thomasson was not among their members.  Nor, it appears, did he join the short-lived Swedish Independent Political Club.  He and his countrymen did not seek political office in Lowell, nor did they vote as a bloc for either the Democrats or Republicans.  And like many of his fellow Swedes, Thomasson was naturalized and owned property.

Thomasson’s drugstore was patronized by Scandinavians as well as by many others. When he looked to sell his business in 1907, Thomasson presumably could have passed it on to any number of non-Scandinavian businessmen.  Instead, he turned to a fellow countryman, Hilding C. Petersson, the third of the fellow Swedes he mentored. Petersson had clerked at least eight years in Brockton for Thomasson’s first partner, Frans Ekengren, and was now ready for his own store.

Petersson’s wife, Amelia, purchased the two-family house and attached pharmacy and Hilding ran the business.  After the sale, Anders and Adelaide Thomasson moved to Westford Street in the suburban Highlands neighborhood.  For a few years Thomasson worked for Olie M. Conklin Jones, the city’s only female pharmacist.  In 1911, Petersson failed in his business and he and his wife also defaulted on the mortgage held by Thomasson.  (It appears Petersson didn’t try running his own store again. He moved to Rockland, MA, where he was a drug clerk.)

Thomasson re-assumed ownership of the property on Central Street in1911 and ran the pharmacy again until 1918. Charles D. Devno, mixed French-Canadian and Irish, started clerking with Thomasson in 1912, becoming the fourth person mentored by Thomasson, this time a non-Swede. Apparently, the informal apprenticeship was successful and, in preparation for retirement, the Swede sold the buildings in 1914 to Devno’s mother. Charles D. took over the pharmacy when Thomasson finally retired at age 73 in 1918.

The elderly Swede died in 1919, at the age of 74. While he was remembered for his many years in the city’s pharmacy business, he received a great deal of attention for his role in establishing Lowell’s Swedish Lutheran Church. “He was one of the most prominent [church] members,” his obituary stated, “and his support of this congregation in its infancy was one of the things which helped it along at a time when the Swedish population of the city was small.”

Because the Thomassons only child died quite young, an assessment of the social and cultural changes of subsequent generations of Thomassons is not possible. Yet in a number of ways, their lives reflect the experience of Swedish immigrants in Lowell. First, the city’s Swedes tended to have smaller families than either the Irish or French Canadians. Second, the male children, as they grew to adulthood, frequently followed in their father’s occupational footsteps. While Thomasson had no adult son, he may have developed fatherly relationships with two younger men, fellow Swede Hilding Petersson and mixed French-Canadian/Irish Charles D. Devno, both of whom took over the business from the older Swede. Third, like Thomasson, many Swedish émigrés became naturalized citizens and owned property. Yet, unlike other immigrants, especially the Irish and the French Canadians, who became property-holding United States citizens, Swedes in Lowell never developed into a political force. Fourth, although Swedes could be found living in close proximity to one another, particularly in the area known as “Swede Village,” their neighborhoods were ethnically heterogeneous with Yankees, Irish, and some French Canadians living alongside them. Finally, when the Thomassons moved to the suburban Highlands section of Lowell in 1908, they blazed a path that other émigrés who achieved middle-class status would follow, namely the relocation from the center city to outlying neighborhoods.

  

The business after Thomasson

Charles F. Devno, a third-generation French-Canadian and his Irish-born wife, Catherine (nee Kelley), ran a grocery on Central Street just a five minute walk from the Thomasson store. Their son, Charles D. Devno, started his drugstore career at age twenty at the Johnson Pharmacy at 389 Central Street, a five minute walk from his parents’ store, where he worked from 1907 until 1911. When Thomasson returned to the Central Street store, Devno began clerking for him. Devno took a fling at running his own store, the Pawtucket Pharmacy in 1917-1918 (apparently while still clerking for Thomasson) and then took over from Thomasson when the Swede retired in 1918. It’s unclear whether Devno had any formal training in pharmacy, unlike Thomasson. His World War I draft registration card said he had completed only one year of high school. 

Professional qualifications for pharmacists were not yet required. In a survey of sixteen Lowell drugstores in 1915 (out of forty-one in town), only one proprietor claimed graduation from a pharmacy school, one claimed the title Doctor, and one claimed a year of medical school. 

Devno’s Brother, Frederick L, started as a baker but worked for Charles D first at the Pawtucket Pharmacy 1917-1918 and then at the Thomasson Pharmacy, 1919-1924.

Charles D Devno ran the business (still known as the Thomasson Drugstore, apparently apparently because of the  name’s strong reputation) for six years until he died in 1924. His parents, who still owned the building, kept ownership of the business but brought in Arthur F. Nadeau, a second generation French-Canadian, to be the pharmacist.
 

Newspaper photograph of Frank M Flanagan Newspaper clipping of photograph of Flanagan's store in 1940

Flanagan Drug Store in 1940

In 1929, second generation Irishman Francis M. Flanagan took over the business, with his brother Edward C. clerking for him. Their father, Peter Flanagan, had arrived in the United States in 1880 and spent most of his life in a skilled position as a machinist for Lowell’s largest machine shops.  Francis was born in 1892 and he first appears clerking at the F&E Bailey Pharmacy from 1913-1918. From 1920-1928 he held a variety of jobs. He was a laborer in a steel company, a salesman, back in a drug store for one year (the Liggett Pharmacy), worked as a clerk in a machine shop (same place his father worked), and in sales again. After taking over the Thomasson store, he finally changed its name and the Flanagan Pharmacy had a long, successful run. 

He finally sold it in 1957 to Paul E. and Theresa M Bernard who continued business as Bernard’s Pharmacy. After eight-four years as a pharmacy, the building was sold in 1973, to Eurico E. and Gabriela Duarte, who opened the Casa Portugal Restaurant.

614 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 614 Central Street

11-15-17 Concord Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 11-15-17 Concord Street

163 Merrimack Street

After thirty years with a Yankee owner, this location had ten immigrant proprietors over the next thirty years. None stayed longer than six years but their careers before and after this location, especially their connections to other immigrants, are extensive.

The building

This 3-1/2-story, wood-frame building was erected about 1860 and was later expanded with wood-frame additions. It later acquired a store on the first floor with an entrance located on the corner of East Merrimack and Fayette streets. The entrances on Fayette in the early days were alternate entrances to the store. Most proprietors of the stores in the building lived above the store, through the door on the left.

The building  had addresses initially numbered as 93, 99, and 101 East Merrimack Street until the street renumbering of 1895 when it became 163, 165, and 167. At the same time, the multiple entrances on Fayette Street were renumbered to 100 to 112.

 

Photograph of 163 East Merrimack Street

William E. Somes 1866-1894, Yankee

William E. Somes, a Yankee, was in the bakery business in Lowell as early as 1850 and was running his own business at this property by at least 1866.  The bakery was initially located at the 1 Fayette Street entrance to the building, with his residence and store at the East Merrimack entrance; by 1880 he used the East Merrimack street address consistently.  After about forty-five years in the bakery business, Somes died in 1894, owning four buildings fronting E. Merrimack and Fayette.

Thomas F. Brennan 1895-1899, Irish

Somes was succeeded in the bakery business by Thomas F. Brennan, who arrived in the US from Ireland in 1886 at age 19. He was working as a baker by 1890 and it’s possible that he worked for Somes in 1894 since he lived with his family in a house at 245 Concord Street, four blocks away from the bakery. In any case, in 1895, Brennan took over the business after Somes died. Shortly afterward, like most of his successors, he moved into 167 East Merrimack, the upstairs of the bakery building. Business must have been good at first for he stayed for five years but failure was in the wind the last year – he moved back to 237 Concord Street in 1899 while still running the bakery. He left 163 East Merrimack the next year, 1900. He and his wife, Delia started a grocery store in their residence that year and then Delia’s name was on the store in 1901 while Thomas worked as a baker at the City Farm in 1901-1902, his last years in that profession.

In 1903 Brennan became a clerk at the Elias A. McQuade Liquor Store on Market Street. We can speculate that Brennan made contact with Elias through his next door neighbor on Concord Street, James A. McQuade. James was a policeman in the station across the street from Elias’ liquor store on Market Street, and was likely a relative of Elias. After learning the liquor trade, in 1906, Brennan joined with a man by the name of O’Connell and opened his own liquor store at 224 Middlesex Street, a respectable distance away from his former employer, taking over from James H. Doyle.In 1908 he bought out O’Connell and ran the store himself until he died in 1910. His wife, Delia, having had experience in retail with their grocery store, took over the liquor store but was not publicly acknowledged as proprietor in the City Directory; it was probably considered unseemly for a woman to run a liquor store. Her son, John S. Brennan, was a clerk at the store and the other children probably also served as clerks. She ran it until her death in 1921.

Patrick McCartin 1900-1902, Irish

Another Irish-born baker, Patrick McCartin, was the proprietor of 163 East Merrimack from 1900-1902.  Patrick was the eldest of three brothers (the other two being Michael and Frank) who immigrated successively when they each reached about 21 years of age.

The two older brothers initially got jobs in the mills. Patrick arrived in 1876 and we first find him at his marriage in 1883 to Irish-born Delia Doherty, working as a moulder. They had five children: Francis P, Anne J, James Joseph, Mary Etta (or Marietta), and Catherine A.  Patrick escaped the mills to become a horse car driver for the Lowell Street Railroad (the city trolleys) from 1889-1892. Michael arrived in 1883 and we get our first sight of him working as an operative at the time of his marriage to Irish-born Cecilia Woods. They had six children between 1887 and 1899: Mary Elizabeth, Anna S, Joseph Patrick, James Bartholomew, Cecilia Frances, and Vincent Michael.

Picture from Lowell Sun March 17, 1898, labeled "Frank McCartin, the Popular Baker who Died in Savannah, Ga."Frank, the youngest brother, was the primary entrepreneur of the three. He apparently didn’t like the idea of mill work and stopped in Gloucester upon arrival in this country in 1888. There he found a job as a baker, two years later opened his own shop, and then came to Lowell to live with Patrick in 1892. He had done well in Gloucester and immediately opened two bakeries, at 169 Chapel Street and 107 Gorham Street. In 1894 he married Kate Morrow, daughter of Irish immigrants Hugh and Catherine. Due to Frank’s success, it was a society wedding. The Lowell Sun described it in the typical society style that hasn’t changed in over a century: “The bride was attired in a beautiful dress of white silk trimmed in duchesse lace and carried a bought of bridal roses, the bridesmaid in pink silk with a corsage bouquet of roses.” They moved into a large new house at 71 Dover Street, in the Highlands neighborhood, far (in those days) from the downtown area and almost a mile and a half from the stores: “Mr. McCartin’s new home is elegantly furnished and is fitted up with all the modern conveniences of a first class dwelling.”

Patrick went to work for Frank a year after Frank’s arrival in Lowell (1893) but Michael had just left for Australia in 1892. Upon returning in 1896, Michael joined his brothers, becoming the third McCartin baker. Michael worked at 107 Gorham and Frank added a third bakery that year at 26 Concord Street, where Patrick became the manager. Frank was successful enough by 1897 to close the Chapel Street store and sell Patrick the 26 Concord Street bakery, leaving Frank with just the Gorham store, helped there by Michael. Sadly, Frank died the next year, 1898, only thirty-three years old.  Frank’s wife, Kate, took over proprietorship of the bakery. Michael continued at the Gorham Street store, working for Kate. He was later joined by a son, Joseph Patrick, in 1910-1912.  We don’t know if Kate was just the owner in name or whether she took active part in the store, but when Michael’s son was working there, it’s unlikely the single store needed three bakers. In 1913, Michael started his own bakery at 22 Concord Street, in the same building Frank had expanded to fifteen years earlier. Kate continued by herself for two years but closed the Gorham Street store when she remarried in late 1914.

Michael showed that slow and steady wins the day. His shop on Concord Street continued almost twenty years until he retired about 1931.  Daughter Cecilia worked as a cashier in the store for fifteen years after graduating from high school and Joseph stayed as a baker until 1924, when he moved Syracuse, NY, married, traveled further to Indianapolis, where he became the superintendent of a large bakery. Vincent probably worked in the bakery but it was never full time. He went to college and become a teacher in the Lowell Public Schools. He made his parents extremely proud in 1934 when he became Superintendant of schools in Lowell, the very same school system he had grown up with. Even more to the glory of an Irish family, the other of Michael’s sons became a priest and just as gloriously, Patrick also had a son who became a priest. In the tradition of the day, both these sons had been named after their grandfather, James Bartholomew and James Joseph. Not coincidentally, the priests became assistant pastors of Immaculate Conception parish, diagonally across the corner from 163 East Merrimack Street and served together for many years. The parish was run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a missionary society. In later years, the cousins served as missionaries in the not-so-wild west – Gary, Indiana, during World War II – before returning to Lowell.

We now return our focus to Patrick and 163 East Merrimack. When it became available in 1900, just two blocks away from his shop at 26 Concord, he grabbed it immediately, running both for a year.  He dropped the Concord Street store in 1901 but lasted only one more year on his own. After ten years as a baker, five as his own boss, Patrick quit in 1903.

Lowell electrical trolley (restored)Patrick returned to his last pre-bakery job, the trolleys of Lowell’s Street Railway Company where he had been a horse car driver – but alas, they had converted to electricity by then. Nonetheless, he remained a conductor there until he retired in the mid-1920s.

Patrick’s son, Francis P, or Frank P, as he quickly became known, was the immigrant family’s greatest entrepreneurial success. He started at age 18 in 1905 as a helper and then as an electrician working for Derby & Morse Electrical Contractors (both owners were Yankees) at 64 Middle Street. He started work in Boston in 1911 as an electrician and the next year went into sales. In 1912, he married Margaret P. Walsh, born in North Dakota of a Vermont father and Irish mother. They had fourteen children from 1914 to 1929, one of whom became an Oblate priest and one an Oblate Brother.

Logo for the Frank P. McCartin Co.After five years in sales, in 1917 Frank P became vice-president of R. V. Pettingell Electric Supply Company in Boston, still living in Lowell. After ten years there, in 1927 he started the Frank P. McCartin Company for wholesale electrical supplies in Lowell. It was originally located at 183 Market Street, one block away from where he started as an electrician on Middle Street. For a long time it remained very much a family company. In 1956, five of his children worked for him at the company, three as vice-presidents, one as an accountant, and one as a salesman. The company remains successful, continuing to this day at 149 Congress Street in Lowell, just about a mile from where it started, with son John Peter McCartin still the CEO.

George Watson 1903, Scottish

George Watson ran the bakery at 163 East Merrimack Street for only one year but was a baker in Lowell from 1891 to 1932.

The name Watson was common in Lowell, seventy-seven being found in the 1900 Census in sixteen households, of whom seven were named George. We can, however, distinguish three as the family of our George (we’ll call him George II, born in 1862); his father was George (call him George I, born 1839) and his son was George (George III, 1887).  The father of George I was also a George but he appears to have stayed in Scotland.

The older two Georges came to the US from Scotland in April of 1888, followed in August by George I’s wife Agnes and daughters, Phyllis, Kate, and Marion.  George II’s wife, Agnes (Heap), followed shortly afterwards with their children, George III and Agnes Orr. Once in the US, George II and Agnes had one more child, Jessie A.

The older two Georges were bakers in Scotland and set up their own bakery almost immediately; in 1891, they were in business at 240 Market Street.  Over the years they were quite successful, opening several stores. In 1901, the year George I died at age 62, there were George Watson bakeries at four locations: George I at 553 Gorham and 374 Market, and George II at 186 Lakeview and 353 Bridge. George II inherited his father’s two and added one more in 1902 at 187 Broadway for a very respectable five store chain.

In those days women didn’t inherit from a father when there were sons, but George II was a good guy (or, more likely, managing all those bakeries was too much). A year later, 1903, sister Phyllis, who had been working as a clerk for her father and then her brother, became the proprietor of two of the stores in her own name (Market and Gorham). George II kept the Lakeview store and added our favorite bakery at 163 East Merrimack. Ad for George Watson, Jr, Bakery from 1902 Lowell City Directory

The siblings dropped the Broadway and Bridge stores in 1903 and the East Merrimack store in 1904, leaving George with one store and Phyllis with two for a couple years. George retrieved the Bridge Street store in 1906 for two years and then in 1908, Phyllis dropped her two but took over Bridge Street, leaving them with one store each, George II on Lakeview and Phyllis on Bridge. Phyllis lived just couple blocks away from her store with her sister Marion in houses on Fifth Street, then Seventh Street. George lived on Jewett Street, about five blocks north of his store. Brother, sisters, and both stores were all in five minutes walking distance.

It’s unclear why George II kept the East Merrimack store for only a year since the Watsons continued running multiple bakeries with family help. All three of George’s children worked full time at the stores for a time, the daughters leaving when they got married, Jessie in 1913 and Agnes in 1915. George III worked alternately at his father and aunt’s stores until 1915. Phyllis ran her stores with her sister Marion’s help until 1917. After giving up the bakery, both Phyllis and Marion worked for a while in department stores. Phyllis returned to work for her brother from 1922 until 1928, at which time she stayed home to care for Marion until Marion died and then trained to become a nurse, a major career change at age 45. George retired in 1933. The next year, Phyllis moved in with George and his wife while continuing to work as a nurse at least until 1938.

George III worked in the bakeries of his father and his Aunt Phyllis but was restless. In 1909, at 22, he tried his luck in California but returned the next year, putting in another six years as a baker for his father and aunt. The year 1915 found him painting signs for a company on Middle Street. 

In 1916 he married Annie Ferguson. Annie’s father, Hugh Ferguson came to the US from England in 1886 and worked in Fitchburg as a cook, manager of a pool hall, and proprietor of a hotel/boarding house in Fitchburg.  Her mother worked as a spinner in a Fitchburg mill.  Hugh moved the family to Boston around 1910 and then to Lowell in 1911, where he became the proprietor of the St. James Hotel at 533 Middlesex Street.  Hugh must have made out pretty well with the hotel since he was able to live in the seashore village of Willowdale in the town of Ipswich, Massachusetts.  After the marriage in 1916, George III became co-proprietor with Hugh for the new Cecil Hotel at 532 Middlesex Street, in direct competition to the St. James across the street.  Shortly after, Hugh moved to Florida but George continued as co-proprietor of the hotel with his brother-in-law, William Ferguson.  In 1926 George moved to Florida to be with his mother-in-law after Hugh died in 1923. He was unemployed (or perhaps, rich and didn’t need to work) at the time of the Census of 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression.

Simon A. Cavanagh 1904-1906, Irish

Simon A. Cavanagh was the next baker at 163 East Merrimack from 1904-1906. His parents, Edward and Mary (Flanigan) were both born in Ireland but had moved to Scotland after marriage in 1869 and had six children there (two boys and four girls). In the early 1870s they immigrated to Lowell, where Edward worked as a fireman in the mills starting in 1874 until he died in January 1902.

Simon was born about 1872 in Scotland and, coming to adulthood in Lowell, never moved away from the house his parents bought in 1880 at 98 Andover Street. After they died, Simon and two sisters continued living there.

Simon worked for a furniture retailer until 1902 when he became a partner in a real estate firm, Smith & Cavanagh, located in the Donovan Building at 265 Central Street.  We don’t know where he got the know-how for a bakery but the next year he started the bakery as well. Being in real estate, he probably saw the property come on the market, purchased it as an investment, and hired others to do the work. He gave up the bakery after 1906, but kept on with the real estate business, going entirely on his own in 1910. He died unmarried at age 38 the very next year.

Thomas F. Booth 1907-1912, English2-Irish2

Baker Thomas F. Booth succeeded Cavanagh, remaining at 163 Merrimack Street for six years, the most for a non-Yankee.  His parents were Samuel, an immigrant from England, and Mary Welch, an immigrant from Ireland. They met and married in New Bedford in while Samuel was a mill worker in the mid 1860s and had six children. When Thomas was born in 1876 in Boston, Samuel was working as a pipefitter but was reported to be a simple laborer at other events. By 1900, Samuel had died and Thomas was living with his mother and sister Genevieve in Cambridge, MA, where we first see him at age 24, working as a baker.

Thomas came to Lowell in 1907 to take over the bakery at 163 East Merrimack. For the first three years he lived five blocks away at 179 Stackpole Street. This must have been a desirable address, with no industry nearby and directly overlooking the Merrimack River to a lightly built residential area on the other side. Today the site is in the middle of a new road built for a bridge across that river. In 1910, he moved to 69 High Street, on the corner of East Merrimack on the same block as the bakery; he still lived with his mother and his sister Genevieve. They all left Lowell after 1912, showing up in 1918 living in Belmont, MA, Thomas still a baker. He and his mother were living with his sister Genevieve but now also with Genevieve’s new husband, Irishman John F. Fitzgerald, who was working in a print shop. They stayed in Belmont until at least 1922 and then headed west. 

In 1930, Thomas, Genevieve, and John were living together in Los Angeles. Thomas was still a baker and John still worked in printing. Thomas died in Los Angeles in 1948.

Mrs. Mary J. Carroll 1913, Irish

The tenure of Mrs. Mary J. Carroll was not the shortest of the bakers of 163 East Merrimack Street (there were four others who stayed only one year) but she is the only woman. She became the proprietor, as was often the case in those days, when her husband died. The story of the family is filled with bakers.

William A. Carroll was born in Ireland in 1861, as was Mary J. in 1872. They married in 1888 when she was only 16 and had one child a year for the next three years. William departed for Manchester, New Hampshire in 1891 and Mary followed two years later. There they had four more children before moving to Lowell, where they had another two.

There are two reasons to believe that William had been a baker in Ireland:  he worked as a baker as soon as he got to Manchester in 1892; and his father, who joined him in 1895, was a baker.  In Lowell in 1905, William had a shop at 131 Gorham Street, at the corner of Winter Street, and lived upstairs with his still increasing family.

As is usual in a family business, William’s children helped in the baker but there were too many of them for a single store, especially when they could be earning money from the outside to help the family. In 1909, the two oldest children were at other bakeries, not as bakers, but as clerks who knew the bakery business; Margaret J., 19, worked at the Dudley L. Page Bakery on Merrimack and Mary E., 18, worked at the Anthony Lavery Bakery on Bridge. That same year, William’s father, who had been helping in the family bakery, died, so more help was needed. In 1910, Mary E. returned to her father’s store and the next younger daughter, Elizabeth, now 19, also clerked there. Margaret still worked for Page’s Bakery and the next in line, Patrick, at only 15, worked at Mary’s previous employer, Anthony Lavery, but at his other bakery on Broadway. Interestingly, Patrick was listed as a baker, not a clerk – perhaps it was a male prerogative to be a baker at that time.

Line drawing graphic of where the Carrolls moved from year to year.In 1911, the employment shuffling continued. You may wish to refer to the figure on the right as a scorecard. (t's not that useful but almost seems intelligible if you're sleepy at this point of story.) Patrick came back to his father’s store and Mary E. went to work for Thomas F. Booth at, of all places, 163 East Merrimack Street! Things continued changing in 1912 with Patrick trying to get away from the bakery business by working as a cigar maker. William died late in the year (at 50) and, in 1913, Mary J. became the proprietor of the Gorham Street store. She also took over our East Merrimack bakery when Thomas Booth left that same year, likely to save Mary E.’s workplace. Margaret left Lavery’s to help out at the family store, and Patrick returned to baking (in 1915 he was at the Friend Brothers Bakery at 2 Westford Street, one of the largest in the city).

Mary J. and Mary E. gave up the East Merrimack Street store after one year but kept the Gorham Street store until 1915 with the help of Elizabeth. After that, Mary E. clerked and Patrick baked for a grocery store down the street (James Smith Provisions) in 1916 but that didn’t work. Mary E. and younger sister Catherine tried their hands at dressmaking in 1917. Catherine continued in the mills for a couple years but Mary E. married in 1917 and disappeared from the commercial workforce. Margaret married in 1920, ending her bakery career.

Patrick returned to baking at a Page bakery on Merrimack Street (same owner as the one Margaret had worked at). From 1922 to 1930, he ran his own bakery, first on Broadway then on Gorham (many blocks down from the old family store). Sister Louise apparently helped in 1920 but went to work in the mills after that until she married in 1931. Patrick settled down as a baker working for others from at least 1932 until 1956.

Mary J. moved to 37 Walnut Street in 1916 after giving up baking and most of the family joined her there.  The address was one that further shows the interconnectedness of the baking fraternity. The house was owned by Charles F. Devno, a long-time grocer on Central Street. (He and his son, Charles D. are discussed in the story of 557 Central.) Frederick L. Devno was a son of Charles F. and worked at the Friends Bakery at 2 Westford Street from 1910 to 1916, a span that included the years that Patrick Carroll worked there. The Devnos moved to a much larger house and then rented their old house to a co-worker’s family, the Carrolls.

Patrick J. Cronin 1914, Irish

In 1914, Irish-born Patrick J. Cronin was the owner of the bakery at this location.

Patrick came to the U.S. in 1891 at age 23 and his soon-to-be, Anna C. McMahon, came before December, 1898 since that was when they were married in Lowell. Patrick worked as a baker as soon as he arrived: an unknown place in 1891, the John J. Henley Bakery on Suffolk Street in 1892, and the Louis G. Moss Bakery in 1893. After the marriage, the couple returned to Cork, Ireland to start a family. They had twins a year later, 1899, Patrick John and Thomas Augustus (named after his paternal grandfather), followed by Daniel C. in 1902 (named after the other grandfather), then Josephine W. in 1904 (who was called Mary early in life, likely after her paternal grandmother).  It’s possible the family traveled back and forth between Cork and Lowell, returning to have the children born in the home country. Patrick was in the US in 1902 but after that lived in Cork, working as a baker. He returned for good in May, 1906, followed by Anna and the kids in August, 1908. They had their last child in Lowell, Francis M., born in 1909.

Back in Lowell, Patrick continued baking, getting a job at the D.L. Page Bakery on Merrimack Street, one of the largest in town, while living at three different locations over the next four years. We don’t know what prompted him to try running his own store at 163 East Merrimack Street, but the urge lasted only one year. In 1916 he worked at the James McMahon Bakery at 876 Gorham Street. (It would be surprising if James wasn’t a cousin of Patrick’s wife, Anna.) In 1922, he worked at the George Cornock’s Bakery on Bridge Street and in 1932 he was again running his own bakery at 96 Branch Street until he retired a year later.

Domestically, Patrick and Anna had problems. After 1920, they no longer lived together, although they put up a formal front at first with information published in the City Directory.  After five years residence at 175 Charles Street, the transition year was probably 1917 when none of the family showed up in the directory and in 1918 the family was listed at 34 Gorham Street. However, when the twin boys registered for the World War I draft in 1918, they stated their nearest kin was Anna, not Patrick. More telling is that the twin Patrick John registered under the name John F. and used that name the rest of his life, perhaps indicating some desire to disassociate himself from his father.  By the 1920 Census, the separation was formal. Patrick was living with his sister Nora and her husband Charles Welcome at 5 James Street; his brother, Dennis Cronin, also lived there. Anna and the children were living at 34 Gorham, with Anna listed as head of household. In 1922, Anna was in the City Directory as head of the house on Gorham, working as a housekeeper at a private residence. At the same time, keeping up pretenses, Patrick was also listed as head of the house on Gorham, working at the Cornock Bakery on Bridge Street. However, he was also listed living on John Street, just two short blocks from the bakery.  From 1930 on, there was no pretense -- he was listed as living at the Robitaille lodging house on Central Street.

None of Patrick’s children followed their father’s trade. Josephine worked for a short time as an operative in the mills. Thomas became an electrician and Daniel worked as a machinist. John Cronin (formerly Patrick John) went into retail and opened his own store by 1930, first with cigars and then with liquors; Francis worked as a clerk in his brother’s stores.

John J. Carney 1917, Irish

After languishing vacant for two years, the shop at 163 East Merrimack gained yet another Irish baker, John J. Carney in 1917.  John was born in Ireland in 1865 as was his wife Alice McPartland in 1868.  They married in 1887 and had two children, Catherine in 1888 and Mary A. in 1891. Little Mary was only five months old when they immigrated to the US in July, 1891. Steamships were becoming faster in those days but a seven day voyage on a crowded immigrant ship in “Lower Steerage” at the beginning of July must not have been very pleasant, even before adding a five month old.  The couple had three more children in Lowell: Alice D. in 1893, Bernard J. in 1898, and Robert E. in 1900.

John had been a baker in Ireland and immediately found work as a baker in Lowell. From 1893 the family lived in Belvidere, just across the Concord River from downtown, on Laughlin’s Court, half a block from 163 East Merrimack.  They spent a few years at 122 Fayette, a building originally owned by William Somes, adjacent to his much larger building on the corner at 163 East Merrimack, where Somes had operated his bakery.  For at least three years, 1896-98, John Carney worked next door to where he lived, for the Thomas F. Brennan Bakery (see above) at 163 East Merrimack. The next year, 1899, Carney moved on to bake at the City Farm, a job to which he was followed by Brennan in 1901. In 1904, Carney worked at the Annie T. Gormley Bakery at 876 Gorham Street; this same address became the James McMahon Bakery that Patrick Cronin (see above) worked in for a year in 1916.

In 1909, John opened his own bakery at 243 Fayette Street, just two blocks off East Merrimack. He moved the shop to 28 Pleasant Street, a block further south, for 1910 to 1912.  In 1913, he decided that a grocer’s life was more attractive than a baker’s (didn’t have to get up at 4AM to make the doughnuts) and he opened a grocery across the Merrimack River in the Centralville neighborhood at 152 West Street. A year later he moved it about six buildings down to 204 Coburn Street and lived upstairs at 202.

It might have been pure nostalgia to run a bakery in 1917 at 163 East Merrimack Street where he had worked before.  The Centralville grocery store was clearly doing well – it lasted till at least 1920.  Perhaps he took it over just to liquidate the bakery equipment – this was the last year the location hosted a bakery.  For whatever reason, he had the bakery only one year.

He ran his grocery until 1920 and must have been fairly prosperous since he retired at 55 years old and moved about eight blocks east to the more prestigious Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Like many of his generation, he found retirement boring and at age 59 he went back to work at a bakery until he died in 1929, just under 65 years old. None of his children worked at the stores after becoming adults. All three daughters worked in the mills, first as operatives but by 1930 Alice and Mary were bookkeepers and the Catherine became a housekeeper. His only son who lived, Robert, became a printer for the Lowell Courier-Citizen newspaper; all four were unmarried in 1932, with ages ranging from 32 to 44.

George L. Perham 1919-1921 Yankee

After the 163 East Merrimack store sat idle in 1918, George L. Perham was the next proprietor, turning the place into a grocery store, a role it would play for at least the next thirty-seven years.

George was born in Lowell, his father (Foster Perham) was born in Massachusetts, and his mother (Margaret A Burbank) was born in New Hampshire. Both parents’ parents were also born in New Hampshire and Massachusetts so George’s Yankee credentials are solid. His father was a bookkeeper at a liquor store for over thirty years (working for an Irishman, Patrick Lynch) so there wasn’t a family business to follow. After high school, George worked at the grocery store of Clarence G. Coburn at 11 Mammoth Road, just two blocks away from his childhood home at 100 Riverside Street. In 1899 George married a Yankee girl, Stella Wright and, after a year living on Fourth Street, three blocks from the Riverside home, they moved to 53 Lamb Street, another five blocks away but still in Pawtucketville (the neighborhood across the river and west of downtown Lowell). They lived there the rest of their lives.

George worked for Coburn, a fellow Yankee, for ten years, gaining experience in groceries, meats, and provisions, and then tried opening his own grocery on Pleasant Street in 1909. It was a slightly odd choice for a location, about three miles from home, across the river on the other side of downtown, but Lowell had had an extensive trolley system for years, first horse-drawn, then motorized. That lasted only a year and George returned to working in the provisions business for a while and then tried a totally new occupation in 1912, an insurance agent. Again, that lasted only a year and he went back to working in other people’s grocery stores, both north and south of the river. In 1919 he once again tried his own business at the 163 East Merrimack location and ran it until 1921. We don’t know exactly what happened then, but it appears Stella became sick and George quit to take care of her. He didn’t work for two years (at least he didn’t show up the in City Directory).

After Stella died in 1923 George returned to work as a clerk for the Frank R. Strout Provisions store at 329 Bridge Street, a few blocks from home (Strout was another Yankee). He kept his eye on his old store’s neighborhood and when 195 East Merrimack Street (at the other end of the block from the 163 store) became available in 1926, he seized the opportunity. In partnership with Mrs. Georgia B. Quimby, he opened a meat market under the name G.B. Quimby & Co.  Georgia was married to an electrician (Henry) and ran a lodging house at 90 Chestnut Street (also their home). This was apparently her only fling at retail business. Things went well for three years but it the partnership dissolved in 1929. George had moved to Tyngsboro, just west of Lowell at the same time as opening the Quimby store and he remained there until he died in 1931.

Andrew E. Saba 1922-1923 Syrian

In 1922 Andrew Esper Saba, born October 18, 1892 in Syria, ran a provisions store at 163 East Merrimack Street from 1922 to 1923, apparently the only years he spent in Lowell.  We don’t why he came to town for just that time but there are many family connections to consider before focusing on Andrew.

Shaka Saba may have used a fruit cart like this in modern Marrakech Souk, Morocco. From the Seton Hall Library Gallery, photo by Tamara Hill.There were Saba families in Lowell starting in 1897, and they continue to this day.  Shaka Saba, born in Syria in 1881, operated a fruit market at 335 Middlesex, his third year in Lowell. (In an interesting exercise in anglicizing foreign names, Shaka later was known as Shakra G, then George after 1903.)  In 1900, Shaka’s mother, Mankra, and sister, Manoi, lived with him on Farson’s Court (the side door to the Middlesex store).  He operated the market at that location for three years and then became a peddler and an operative for several years, apparently hawking his fruits on the streets in good weather and working in the mills in the bad. In 1909, Shaka/George re-established a confectionery store at 183 Appleton Street, one street over and two blocks closer to the downtown area. (In those days, fruit and confectionery stores often sold the same kinds of goods, namely, something sweet.)

Esper (or Asber or Esber, as he was called at various times) Saba was born in 1864 in Syria. He immigrated in the 1890s and worked in the mills in Lawrence in 1901-1903. In 1909 Esper came to live with George on Middlesex Street and to work in the Lowell mills. The next year, Esper took over the Appleton store, calling it “A. Saba & Sons” Fruits, declaring the proprietors to be Asber, George, and John Saba (although John was not otherwise listed in the City Directory). George Saba, one of the “sons,” was delisted as a proprietor after 1912 (he disappears from sight) and Peter Saba was added.

Actually, the family relations are a bit confused. There had been another George Saba family in Lowell since 1903, George and Rose, with sons Peter and John Asper Saba (along with others). Given that Esper advertised Peter and John as “sons”, there is a strong possibility that this George was Esper’s brother (Esper was born in 1864, George in 1867), making Peter (born 1887) and John A (born 1890) nephews.  To make it more complicated, Peter and John came to live with Esper.  The wording “and Sons” in the company name would simply indicate that it was a family business (although Shaka/George may well have been Esper’s son).

In any case, Asber ran the store until 1915 and then left Lowell. Peter ran the store for another year, worked in the mills for a while until he married a widow, and then operated her grocery store for several years. John also worked in the mills until starting another confectionary store which he ran for about ten years before opening a restaurant and a liquor store, which he ran for many years. One of John’s sons, George Washington Saba, born February 22, 1926, was an example of the patriotism of children of immigrants during World War II. In a newspaper article "George Washington Saba Wants To Join Navy At 17 [sic]”. The article stated “[He] celebrated Washington's birthday and his own too yesterday by volunteering for service in the navy…. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Saba … [said] 'I have always admired my famous namesake,' he told recruiting officers. 'I don't how any better way to celebrate his birthday and mine than by giving my services to the nation he played such an important part in founding.'"

Returning to Andrew, he is not provably Esper Saba’s son, but there is reason to consider it. There is only one person in the entire 1920 Census (out of 892 Sabas) with a given name of Esper/Esber/Asber.  Esper gave his name to a younger, documented daughter, Naifey Esper Saba, so it seemed to be a family tradition. Andrew would be merely another child to have that same middle name. In any case, Esper is a strong presence in Lowell and in another location in Andrew’s life.

Sistersville at the height of second West Virginia oil boom in the 1890s.Andrew immigrated about 1905 and in 1917, at age 25, was in Sistersville, West Virginia (on the Ohio River, bordering Ohio), living with Ace Cassis and working in a store for Joseph Cassis, who lived next door to Ace. Ace and Joseph were co-owners of the store (wholesale groceries) and two other Cassis family members also worked there.  Since Cassis was Andrew’s mother’s maiden name and both these Cassis men were born in Syria, there is a good chance that Ace (born in 1855) was an uncle and Joseph (born in 1878) was a cousin or another uncle.  (There were also family connections in Lowell: George Saba and Simon Cassis shared a building at 64 Adams Street in 1920.)  After Esper left Lowell, he went to West Virginia. In 1920, both Andrew and Esper were working in the West Virginia oil fields and living in Sistersville, although boarding in separate houses.Esper was still in Sistersville, working the oil fields, in the 1930 Census.

Esper had bought news of the Saba’s Lowell entrepreneurial activity when he moved to Sistersville and Andrew eventually decided it was an attractive place to try business on his own.  He married a second-generation Syrian, Hazel, in 1921 and they had twins in Lowell in February, 1922, at the same time he took over the East Merrimack provisions shop. He ran the shop in 1922 and 1923 then, for some unknown reason, left Lowell. He returned to West Virginia where he ran a tobacco shop in 1930 and worked in a retail store in Charleston during the Second World War. After Hazel died in 1982 he moved to California, where he died in 1986.

Ephraim Favreau 1924 French-Canadian*

Ephraim Favreau ran the grocery store after Saba left but his story is even more of a mystery than Saba’s. All we know for certain is that in 1924 he ran the store, that he lived next door at 120 Fayette Street with his wife Melina, and that a Rose Favreau and a Raoul Favreau also lived there (no occupations given and no indication of relation). It’s only on the basis of his name that we guess a French-Canadian background; three of four Favreau families in the 1920 Lowell Census were of French-Canadian background.

There were several families named Favreau in Lowell at the time, notably one running an electrical contracting firm, but Ephraim has no known connection to them. Neither he, Rose, nor Raoul appear in the city directory before 1924 and they are not in the Census for Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Rhode Island in 1920 or 1930. Ephraim and Raoul disappeared from Lowell after 1924. Rose stayed on, working as an accountant in a furniture store for a couple years until she married a second generation French-Canadian in 1926.

The Chain Stores 1925-1945 (Some Irish)

In 1925 the grocery store was run by the Co-operative Grocery Stores Company. The company started in Lowell in 1916 with a single store and by 1925 owned eleven. It is unknown whether this company was associated with others of a similar name and goal in several other states or whether it was a Massachusetts-only corporation. There were many stores by this name in Massachusetts.

Photo of a wood box contain "Finast Choice Boneless Salt Codfish"In 1926 several of those stores in Lowell were taken over by the Michael O’Keeffe Grocery Company, headquartered in Boston. O’Keeffe, an Irish immigrant born in 1867, immigrated in 1886. By the age of 37 he owned forty-two stores in Boston alone and continued expanding. He had purchased his first store in Lowell in 1905 at 54 Middlesex Street. When he took over the 163 East Merrimack store in 1925, it was his tenth in Lowell. He never lived in Lowell.

In 1925 and 1926, O’Keeffe and two other large northeast grocery chains merged to form the First National Stores Company with 1,644 locations. First National operated the store at least until 1945. It became known as Finast until bought by a Netherlands food conglomerate in the 1990s. O’Keeffe himself retired in 1930, a rich man.

Recently (1955- )

In the mid 1950s, a local French-Canadian grocer, Victor P. Beaudette, moved into the shop vacated by First National Stores.  Beaudette and his wife Claire lived in Dracut and commuted to their grocery in Lowell.  The Beaudettes remained at 163 East Merrimack until the early 1960s.  In 1963, the shop was vacant.  In the mid 1970s, a Spanish-speaking (largely Puerto Rican) Pentecostal group opened a “storefront” church called Iglesia Pentecostal Universal and stayed more than 25 years. It is now a brightly lighted computer showroom for SM Computing.

Thoughts about locations

The ten first or second generation immigrants discussed here (those with headings above, less Somes and Perham, who were Yankees) are summarized in Figure 4. There were six Irish, one second generation son of an English-Irish marriage, one Scot, one Syrian, and one French-Canadian. Some of them worked in the mills before starting their own business, some worked for other bakers, grocers, or furniture dealers, and some immediately open their own shops. Few of them succeeded in the sense of continuing to own their own shops for the rest of their life; indeed, several lasted only one year as an owner.

They worked all over the city. Where they worked before and after their stint at 163 East Merrimack Street is plotted in the figure below. Red dots are locations at which they owned their own businesses; blue are locations at which they worked for other people. (This plots only their retail experience; that is, not mills jobs or the civil service.) We don’t have data on every year for them but more data could only show an even wider distribution. There is a reasonable amount of clumping, given that these locations are all on commercial streets. The only noticeable absences in commercial areas are the Highlands, in the southwest of the city and Pawtucketville, in the northwest.

Booth, Thomas F English2-Irish2
Brennan, Thomas F Irish
Carney, John J Irish
Carroll, Mary J, Mrs. Irish
Cavanagh, Simon A Irish
Cronin, Patrick J Irish
Favreau, Ephraim French-Canadian
McCartin, Patrick Irish
Saba, Andrew E Syrian
Watson, George, II Scottish
Immigrants in business at 163 East Merrimack and their nationalities

Graphic showing locations that proprietors of 163 East Merrimack worked before and after their time there.

181-183 East Merrimack Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 181-183 East Merrimack Street
City Business Directory ad for The Erie Telegraph and Telephone Company
City Business Directory ad for A.C. Sanborn, Broker

191-193-195 East Merrimack Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 191 East Merrimack Street
Picture of the Conant Store, corner of 195 E. Merrimack and High Streets title="Conant Store, corner of 195 E. Merrimack and High Streets"
City Business Directory ad for Taylor ProvisionsCity Business Directory ad  for New Washing Market, A.G. Thompson, proprietor
 

1018-1022 Gorham Street:
  Focus: Louis G. Stoloff

Morris Stoloff was born about 1876 in Vilna, Russia (now Lithuania) and Annie Moskowitz was a couple years older. They married around 1894, emigrated to England shortly afterwards, and came to the U.S. about 1899. They settled in the Jewish community on Railroad Street and Morris found a job in a junkyard working for a fellow Russian-Jewish immigrant. They had three children, Mildred, Meyer, and Louis. To help make ends meet and send their youngest to college, Annie ran a grocery store out of their home from 1909 to 1917.

Louis attended MIT, studying civil engineering, but his father fell ill with TB (dying in 1925). Louis returned home in 1922 to start a grocery store, probably with the help of his mother, who was familiar with a smaller version of the business. The building at 1018-1022 Gorham Street was three stories, like its neighbors, but a fire in 1934 destroyed the upper two stories. Louis removed them, patched the ceiling, and, showing good marketing sense, notified the newspapers that he was opening a modern, new store at 1022. The following pictures appeared in the newspaper on opening day.

Louis G. Stoloff
Picture of Louis G Stoloff from 1924

Picture of Stoloff's Market in 1924

Stoloff ran the store until 1945 when his other business interests started taking most of his time. His older sister, who had been working there since it opened, ran it for a couple years and then sold it to a World War II veteran. (She moved on to work in retail clothing and department stores, including one started by one of Louis' sons.) In 1957 the store was purchased by a French-Canadian, Ed LeLacheur, who ran it until around 1977 (when he became Lowell's state senator). After that it alternated between a restaurant, a bar, a grocery store again, and a bar again today.


Another Stoloff business: Lowell Trucking Company

Louis Stoloff started the Lowell Trucking Company with his brother Meyer Stoloff, an experienced "truckman,"in 1929 and ran it until about 1957. It was variously located on First Street and Chelmsford Street and moved to 51 Nottingham Street in 1942 (next to the textile mill Louis started -- see below). Meyer was an interesting story by himself. He started in the junk business with his father and started a couple businesses on his own (fruit, junk, trucking with a friend) before settling in to the trucking business with his brother. After the trucking company closed, he switched to the New Knit company. In the meantime, he became a local championship golfer, a bush pilot, and a prize-winning big game hunter in Alaska and the West.

City directory ad for Lowell Trucking Company about 1950 This ad appeared in the Lowell City Directory in 1950.


A third Stoloff business: New Knit Manufacturing Company

In 1935, Louis and some friends took over a knitting mill and renamed it the New Knit Manufacturing Company. This had to be the height of ethnic success in Lowell: entering the business that Yankees began when they started the city! He ran the mill until his retirement about 1970, at which time a son took over. The mill finally closed about 1979, one of the last left in the city.

New Knit had offices and manufacturing facilities in different locations but by 1952 had consolidated at 21 Nottingham Street. These pictures show that mill building in the year 2000. (It is now empty -- immediately below.)

Picture of 21 Nottingham Street

The building still has remnants of the New Knit name on it. It was painted over by a circuit board company but is showing through again.

Picture of the side of 21 Nottingham Street showing New Knit Manufacturing sign, faded

744-746-748 Lakeview Avenue

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 744-746-748 Lakeview Avenue

42-48 Mammoth Road

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 42-48 Mammoth Road

61-613 Merrimack Street
  Focus: Marcopoulos & Johnson

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 611 Merrimack Street -- Sign say Excel Liquors
Picture of Apostolos Johnson Picture of John Marcopoulos

637 Middlesex Street

Information for this address is still being developed. 637 Middlesex Street

195 West Sixth Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 195 West Sixth Street

331-339 W. Sixth St and
    28-30 Aiken Av

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of the corner of West Sixth Street and Aiken Avenue with buildings at 331-399 West Sixth Street and 28-30 Aiken Avenue

289 Westford Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 289 Westford Street

339-349 Westford Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 343 Westford Street

199 Market Street 

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 199 Market Street

343 Market Street

Information for this address is still being developed. 343 Market Street -- sign says Southeast Asia Restaurant

61-613 Merrimack Street
  Focus: Marcopoulos & Johnson

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 611 Merrimack Street -- Sign say Excel Liquors
Picture of Apostolos Johnson Picture of John Marcopoulos

289 Westford Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 289 Westford Street
 

339-349 Westford Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 343 Westford Street

7 Adams Street
  (now 63 Fletcher St)

Liberty Square

..is a part of the Acre where several streets intersect, among them Adams Street and Fletcher Street. In 1896, it looked something like the map at the right. The triangle is Liberty Square (did he say the triangle is a square?) and the "X" marks the building at "7 Adams Street."

The store at 7 Adams looked out over the middle of the square and had to have been a good commercial location. It had grocers for the first few years we know about. After that, it had either a barber shop or a shoe shop for about sixty years, switching back and forth as if it couldn't make up its mind.

This map shows the area of Liberty Square. It is a triangle with long edge on the east and apex pointing to the west. Seven streets enter the square: Fletcher Street from the northwest and southeast, Suffolk Street from northeast and southwest, Adams Street from the north, Heyden Street from the east and Rock Street from the west-northwest. Worthen Street enters Fletcher Street about fifty feet south of the square and so adds to the confusion. The building is on Adams Street at the east side of the triangle, between Heyden and Fletcher.

Grocers

Picture of a man in a grocery store The three buildings on the square with Adams addresses held small businesses at least as early as 1870 when it had competing Irish grocers John Lynch and T.F. Doyle. (There were Lynches in the grocery business at a half dozen locations in the Acre for the next forty years.) 

There appear to have been competing grocers across the square and again in the same block for quite a few years. One of them, a Canadian immigrant Samuel Hebert married to an Irish woman, did well enough to put ads in the city directory in the 80s. Hebert lived upstairs at 7 Adams in 1880 and ran a grocery store at 11 Adams. McDonald Grocery, run by a pair of Irish brothers, was downstairs at 9 Adams about the same time. The morning conversations must have been interesting. In addition to these two, there were two other grocers on the square and at least four more on Adams in the block north of the square.
 

The Ryans and the Ryan Block

In 1891, a pair of Irish brothers, John and Patrick Ryan, purchased the land holding several buildings at the intersection of Adams and Worthen, including 7 Adams. They had already been running a junk dealership at the corner for ten years and simply became their own landlord, continuing the junk dealership and running the small buildings as before. Soon after, they also established the Union Brass Company a short way down Worthen.

The Ryan Block is a four story brick building with shops on the first floor.In 1904, the Ryans tore down their buildings on Adams Street and put up a single large brick building with stores on the ground floor and three floors of apartments above. The building became known as The Ryan Block and Elizabeth Ryan, a sister of the brothers, lived in one of the apartments for many years. The Ryan brothers and the Ryan Block itself is of interest, in addition to the stories of the people in it.

Shoe Repair, Irish Lavery and French Canadian Bergeron

The building had two shoe repair businesses. Edward C. Lavery, born in Ireland, started in the shoe repair business in Lowell in 1887. In 1894, he started Lavery Shoe and Boots at 7 Adams Street, just one block away from his new home on Rock Street. Married to Eliza, with five children, he operated his shop until his death in 1907.

Leon Bergeron and Mary Flora Pepin were both from Quebec. The senior Leon worked as a miller, then a bobbinmaker. Their son, Leon J., was born in Massachusetts.

The Bergerons moved to the Liberty Square area about 1897. We don't know for sure if sixteen year-old Leon J. Bergeron was acquainted with Edward Lavery or not, but unless kids have changed, he did. Living only a block from Liberty Square on Franklin Street, young Leon and his friends were certain to know everything going on in the neighborhood, especially when the shoemaker himself lived only a block away. What we do know is that three years later (1900) Leon was working in a shoe factory and by 1903 described himself as a shoemaker. He married Mary Lyons, born in Maine of English-Canadian immigrants, and the 1910 census found them both working in a shoe shop, him in the packing room and her as a polisher. From 1915 to 1917 he was a foreman at the George Snow shoe factory. When it came time to open his own "Bergeron Shoe Repair" in 1919, Leon did it at the old place, 7 Adams Street. He ran his shoe repair shop there and lived just a block away, practically next to his boyhood home with his wife, his widowed mother, and his sister Flora. After fifteen years, he moved his shop to Middlesex Street but lived on Franklin until the mid 1960's (almost forty years) when he and his wife moved to a retirement apartment not going far, to 145 Gorham Street, about 8-10 blocks away. When he died in 1965, his obituary described him as a "well-known foot and arch supporter."
 

Barbers

The building had barbers. The 1889 city atlas said 7 Adams Street had a barber shop. Edward Lavery had his shoe and boot store at that address from 1894 until 1907. Stephen Doyle, who had been running a barber shop at 11 Adams since 1905, moved to 7 Adams from 1907 to 1912 (establishing a barber there for the second time). In 1914, Doyle moved to another corner of Liberty Square, leaving the storefront vacant for a few years. We then saw that Leon J. Bergeron ran the (second) shoe repair store after that from 1919 to 1935. After Bergeron moved his shoe shop, Edward Beshara (likely a Syrian immigrant) converted 7 Adams back to a barber shop (for a third time) and ran it until the early 1950s. In 1964, it was still a barbershop but by 1975 it wasn't. After eighty years, the alternating regimes came to an end, so the shoes and scissors were finally at peace. The store at 7 Adams Street was occupied briefly by many business for another thirty years (variety store, real estate, home to the Coalition for a Better Acre, an auto parts shop) until now, as it is being renovated for modern apartments.
 

Moving Streets?

The Ryan Block is no longer at "7 Adams Street". Did it move? And does it really have a triangle now? The story is interesting.

Picture of a person at a confusing intersection.

401-403-405 Bridge Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 401-403-405 Bridge Street

419 Bridge Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 419 Bridge Street

512 Central Street
  Focus: John J. Donovan 

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 512 Central Street

557 Central Street
  Focus: Anders Thomasson

In the early 1880s a reporter for one of Lowell’s newspapers sought information on the city’s small, but growing “Swedish colony” and visited the apothecary of Anders Thomasson.  Considered one of the leaders of Swedish community in Lowell, Thomasson pointed out to the reporter that, unlike the larger populations of Irish and French Canadian immigrants, who tended to cluster in neighborhoods with their respective countrymen and women, Swedes numbered only about 250 and had no common “settlement or dwelling place.”  He also noted that in the last “year or two” Swedes “have been coming more rapidly.”  The reporter observed, “It would not be surprising if in the next ten years the Swedish colony here should become quite large and influential.”

While Lowell’s Swedish population never rivaled that of the Irish and French Canadian, the Swedish community became one of several smaller, very visible immigrant communities in the city.  By 1910, over 1,100 Swedes and Swedish-Americans lived in Lowell, with several families residing in a neighborhood called “Swede Village.”  A large number of Swedish women were employed as domestics and some worked in the bunting and woolen mills along the Concord River, near Swede Village.

Photograph of 557 Central Street

557 Central Street.

This one story brick building was built as an attachment in the front yard of a wood-frame duplex in 1879. Thomasson and many of his successors in the business lived in the duplex immediately behind the store (559 Central Street). Picture was taken in 2006.

Of the larger cotton manufacturing corporations in Lowell, Swedish women toiled in the Boott and Massachusetts mills.  While some Swedish men worked as operatives in the woolen mills, a larger number worked as laborers, carpenters, stone cutters, skilled machinists, iron molders, and blacksmiths.  A smaller number worked as clerks in retail establishments and a few, like Thomasson, ran their own businesses.
Newspaper clipping of photograph of Anders Thomasson
Anders Thomasson

As Thomasson recalled, only a handful of Swedish families lived in Lowell when he arrived in 1872.  Born in Malmö, Sweden, in 1844, he served as an apprentice to a druggist in his native land.  After graduating from a pharmacy school in 1868, he worked about four years at large apothecaries in Malmö, a city of 40,000 persons.  He then immigrated to the United States and settled in Lowell in August 1872.  Accompanying him was his fiancé Adelaide Pihl, whose family included a number of the earliest Swedish immigrants in Lowell. 

Thomasson lived with his wife Adelaide in the same building that housed his apothecary.  They had married in Lowell on October 26, 1872, shortly after they arrived in the Spindle City.  He was 28 and she was 29.  The result of this union was a son, Anders Frederic Christian Thomasson, born in June 1873.  Sadly, their boy died from diphtheria at age four and they had no other children.

Prescription and pill bottleUnable to speak English, Thomasson found employment in Stott’s Mill, a small, family-owned woolen mill along the Concord River on Lawrence Street, where he worked about two years. He learned some English while working in the mill and in 1874 he felt his language skills were sufficient enough to operate his own business.  He opened an apothecary on the corner of Central and North streets.  At that time the city had at least twenty-two other apothecaries. Of these, sixteen or seventeen were operated by Yankees, three were run by Irish, one by a Canadian (English), and one of mixed English- and French-Canadian nationality.  (A generation later, of the 54 apothecaries listed in the city directory, Thomasson and Israel Kronberger were the only two Scandinavians operating drugstores.)

Thomasson was assisted in the business by Frans L. Braconier, who in spite of his French sounding name was a fellow Swede. Braconier had immigrated in 1874 and immediately went to work as a druggist clerk in Lowell so we can assume he also had prior training in Sweden. Braconier was the first of three Swedes that Thomasson mentored in owning a drug store business. Thomasson and Braconier became partners but Braconier departed after two years to open his own store. Braconier ran his own drug store for at least two years on Tremont Street in Boston and then moved his store to Brockton until his death in 1907 (after which his son Harry took over). He employed two other Swedes before or after they moved to Lowell to work for Thomasson.

Newspaper clipping of Amykos advertisement

After Braconier’s departure, Thomasson again became sole owner of the business. In 1882, after four years of running his drugstore alone, he recruited another fellow countryman, Johan August Ekengren, to emigrate from Stockholm and join him in a venture to manufacture an elixir called “Amykos.”  Popular in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, Amykos was imported to the United States, largely for the Swedish population.  A high duty on this item, however, led Thomasson and Ekengren to believe they could produce it in Lowell and sell it for less money than the imported article.  By 1883 ads for Amykos appeared in Lowell’s newspapers.  Thomasson called it a “preparation” and claimed that it was “a renowned preventative of infectious diseases, particularly diphtheria.”  Like other cures and patent medicines, of which Lowell was a leading producer in the United States, Amykos allegedly cured a variety of ailments.  Thomasson recommended its daily use as a gargle to prevent throat inflammation, “offensive breath,” and “spongy gums.”  In addition, he pronounced that when used as an “adjunct to the toilet” in which the face is washed, Amykos left skin feeling deliciously refreshed.  As sole producer and vender of Amykos, Thomasson sold each bottle for 75 cents, which in 1883, was more than half the average daily wage of a Lowell textile worker.

The partnership between Ekengren and Thomasson lasted only one year. As the second Swede mentored by Thomasson, Ekengren moved to Boston and took over the drug store of Frans Braconier (Thomasson’s first partner) when Braconier left for Brockton.

Although the two Swedes planned to manufacture other “European specifics for the toilet,” Amykos appears to have been the only one they marketed in the newspapers. Thomasson took over the production and sale of Amykos, reducing its price to 50 cents per bottle.  He continued in the manufacture of elixirs and by 1892, he sold an article called “Zymos.”  In addition to making elixirs and running his drugstore, Thomasson served as steamship agent for the Thingvalla Line, which brought many Swedes to the United States and back to their homeland.

The extent to which Thomasson profited from his sales of Amykos is not known, but by 1889 he had saved enough money to purchase a property on the opposite side of Central Street, one block south of his apothecary.  This property included a wood-frame, two-family house.  After acquiring the property, Thomasson built a small one-story brick addition, extending toward the street, which would house his store.  He hired C. H. Bangs of Boston, a manufacturer of druggists’ fixtures to outfit his new apothecary.  A contemporary description of the shop noted its finer features including a maple floor, and mahogany counters, showcases, and a prescription desk which were “carved around the borders and finished in a high polish.”  Except for four years in 1907-11, Thomasson operated this apothecary from 1889 until 1916.

Ad Feb 18, 1883
from Lowell Morning Times

Clip art of man playing an organThomasson’s standing within Lowell’s Swedish community was enhanced not only by his success and longevity, but also by his involvement with the Swedish Evangelical-Lutheran Church.  The largest of the city’s four Protestant Swedish denominations, the Lutheran congregation was incorporated in 1882 and met in homes and at various locations until 1885, when a new church was built on Meadowcroft Street.  Thomasson was one of seven Lowell Swedes to promote the establishment of this church in which services were conducted in their native tongue.  Devoted to the church, Thomasson served for many years as organist and leader of the singing society.  In 1889 he and his wife donated an altarpiece “The Resurrection” to the church.  Like other churches of immigrant people, the Swedish Lutheran church was a center for social activity and assisted parish members who found themselves in personal and financial difficulty due to sickness or death of the head of a household.

It seems that outside the pharmacy, Anders Thomasson’s life remained centered around the church and his organ music.  Although a number of Swedish fraternal organizations sprang up in the early 1900s, Thomasson was not among their members.  Nor, it appears, did he join the short-lived Swedish Independent Political Club.  He and his countrymen did not seek political office in Lowell, nor did they vote as a bloc for either the Democrats or Republicans.  And like many of his fellow Swedes, Thomasson was naturalized and owned property.

Thomasson’s drugstore was patronized by Scandinavians as well as by many others. When he looked to sell his business in 1907, Thomasson presumably could have passed it on to any number of non-Scandinavian businessmen.  Instead, he turned to a fellow countryman, Hilding C. Petersson, the third of the fellow Swedes he mentored. Petersson had clerked at least eight years in Brockton for Thomasson’s first partner, Frans Ekengren, and was now ready for his own store.

Petersson’s wife, Amelia, purchased the two-family house and attached pharmacy and Hilding ran the business.  After the sale, Anders and Adelaide Thomasson moved to Westford Street in the suburban Highlands neighborhood.  For a few years Thomasson worked for Olie M. Conklin Jones, the city’s only female pharmacist.  In 1911, Petersson failed in his business and he and his wife also defaulted on the mortgage held by Thomasson.  (It appears Petersson didn’t try running his own store again. He moved to Rockland, MA, where he was a drug clerk.)

Thomasson re-assumed ownership of the property on Central Street in1911 and ran the pharmacy again until 1918. Charles D. Devno, mixed French-Canadian and Irish, started clerking with Thomasson in 1912, becoming the fourth person mentored by Thomasson, this time a non-Swede. Apparently, the informal apprenticeship was successful and, in preparation for retirement, the Swede sold the buildings in 1914 to Devno’s mother. Charles D. took over the pharmacy when Thomasson finally retired at age 73 in 1918.

The elderly Swede died in 1919, at the age of 74. While he was remembered for his many years in the city’s pharmacy business, he received a great deal of attention for his role in establishing Lowell’s Swedish Lutheran Church. “He was one of the most prominent [church] members,” his obituary stated, “and his support of this congregation in its infancy was one of the things which helped it along at a time when the Swedish population of the city was small.”

Because the Thomassons only child died quite young, an assessment of the social and cultural changes of subsequent generations of Thomassons is not possible. Yet in a number of ways, their lives reflect the experience of Swedish immigrants in Lowell. First, the city’s Swedes tended to have smaller families than either the Irish or French Canadians. Second, the male children, as they grew to adulthood, frequently followed in their father’s occupational footsteps. While Thomasson had no adult son, he may have developed fatherly relationships with two younger men, fellow Swede Hilding Petersson and mixed French-Canadian/Irish Charles D. Devno, both of whom took over the business from the older Swede. Third, like Thomasson, many Swedish émigrés became naturalized citizens and owned property. Yet, unlike other immigrants, especially the Irish and the French Canadians, who became property-holding United States citizens, Swedes in Lowell never developed into a political force. Fourth, although Swedes could be found living in close proximity to one another, particularly in the area known as “Swede Village,” their neighborhoods were ethnically heterogeneous with Yankees, Irish, and some French Canadians living alongside them. Finally, when the Thomassons moved to the suburban Highlands section of Lowell in 1908, they blazed a path that other émigrés who achieved middle-class status would follow, namely the relocation from the center city to outlying neighborhoods.

  

The business after Thomasson

Charles F. Devno, a third-generation French-Canadian and his Irish-born wife, Catherine (nee Kelley), ran a grocery on Central Street just a five minute walk from the Thomasson store. Their son, Charles D. Devno, started his drugstore career at age twenty at the Johnson Pharmacy at 389 Central Street, a five minute walk from his parents’ store, where he worked from 1907 until 1911. When Thomasson returned to the Central Street store, Devno began clerking for him. Devno took a fling at running his own store, the Pawtucket Pharmacy in 1917-1918 (apparently while still clerking for Thomasson) and then took over from Thomasson when the Swede retired in 1918. It’s unclear whether Devno had any formal training in pharmacy, unlike Thomasson. His World War I draft registration card said he had completed only one year of high school. 

Professional qualifications for pharmacists were not yet required. In a survey of sixteen Lowell drugstores in 1915 (out of forty-one in town), only one proprietor claimed graduation from a pharmacy school, one claimed the title Doctor, and one claimed a year of medical school. 

Devno’s Brother, Frederick L, started as a baker but worked for Charles D first at the Pawtucket Pharmacy 1917-1918 and then at the Thomasson Pharmacy, 1919-1924.

Charles D Devno ran the business (still known as the Thomasson Drugstore, apparently apparently because of the  name’s strong reputation) for six years until he died in 1924. His parents, who still owned the building, kept ownership of the business but brought in Arthur F. Nadeau, a second generation French-Canadian, to be the pharmacist.
 

Newspaper photograph of Frank M Flanagan Newspaper clipping of photograph of Flanagan's store in 1940

Flanagan Drug Store in 1940

In 1929, second generation Irishman Francis M. Flanagan took over the business, with his brother Edward C. clerking for him. Their father, Peter Flanagan, had arrived in the United States in 1880 and spent most of his life in a skilled position as a machinist for Lowell’s largest machine shops.  Francis was born in 1892 and he first appears clerking at the F&E Bailey Pharmacy from 1913-1918. From 1920-1928 he held a variety of jobs. He was a laborer in a steel company, a salesman, back in a drug store for one year (the Liggett Pharmacy), worked as a clerk in a machine shop (same place his father worked), and in sales again. After taking over the Thomasson store, he finally changed its name and the Flanagan Pharmacy had a long, successful run. 

He finally sold it in 1957 to Paul E. and Theresa M Bernard who continued business as Bernard’s Pharmacy. After eight-four years as a pharmacy, the building was sold in 1973, to Eurico E. and Gabriela Duarte, who opened the Casa Portugal Restaurant.

614 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 614 Central Street

671 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 671 Central Street

789 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 789 Central Street
Newspaper clipping of a picture of Fred H RourkeFred H Rourke

810 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 810 Central Street
Picture of John Norton

886 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 886 Central Street

11-15-17 Concord Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 11-15-17 Concord Street

61-63-65 Concord Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 61-63-65 Concord Street

163 Merrimack Street

After thirty years with a Yankee owner, this location had ten immigrant proprietors over the next thirty years. None stayed longer than six years but their careers before and after this location, especially their connections to other immigrants, are extensive.

The building

This 3-1/2-story, wood-frame building was erected about 1860 and was later expanded with wood-frame additions. It later acquired a store on the first floor with an entrance located on the corner of East Merrimack and Fayette streets. The entrances on Fayette in the early days were alternate entrances to the store. Most proprietors of the stores in the building lived above the store, through the door on the left.

The building  had addresses initially numbered as 93, 99, and 101 East Merrimack Street until the street renumbering of 1895 when it became 163, 165, and 167. At the same time, the multiple entrances on Fayette Street were renumbered to 100 to 112.

 

Photograph of 163 East Merrimack Street

William E. Somes 1866-1894, Yankee

William E. Somes, a Yankee, was in the bakery business in Lowell as early as 1850 and was running his own business at this property by at least 1866.  The bakery was initially located at the 1 Fayette Street entrance to the building, with his residence and store at the East Merrimack entrance; by 1880 he used the East Merrimack street address consistently.  After about forty-five years in the bakery business, Somes died in 1894, owning four buildings fronting E. Merrimack and Fayette.

Thomas F. Brennan 1895-1899, Irish

Somes was succeeded in the bakery business by Thomas F. Brennan, who arrived in the US from Ireland in 1886 at age 19. He was working as a baker by 1890 and it’s possible that he worked for Somes in 1894 since he lived with his family in a house at 245 Concord Street, four blocks away from the bakery. In any case, in 1895, Brennan took over the business after Somes died. Shortly afterward, like most of his successors, he moved into 167 East Merrimack, the upstairs of the bakery building. Business must have been good at first for he stayed for five years but failure was in the wind the last year – he moved back to 237 Concord Street in 1899 while still running the bakery. He left 163 East Merrimack the next year, 1900. He and his wife, Delia started a grocery store in their residence that year and then Delia’s name was on the store in 1901 while Thomas worked as a baker at the City Farm in 1901-1902, his last years in that profession.

In 1903 Brennan became a clerk at the Elias A. McQuade Liquor Store on Market Street. We can speculate that Brennan made contact with Elias through his next door neighbor on Concord Street, James A. McQuade. James was a policeman in the station across the street from Elias’ liquor store on Market Street, and was likely a relative of Elias. After learning the liquor trade, in 1906, Brennan joined with a man by the name of O’Connell and opened his own liquor store at 224 Middlesex Street, a respectable distance away from his former employer, taking over from James H. Doyle.In 1908 he bought out O’Connell and ran the store himself until he died in 1910. His wife, Delia, having had experience in retail with their grocery store, took over the liquor store but was not publicly acknowledged as proprietor in the City Directory; it was probably considered unseemly for a woman to run a liquor store. Her son, John S. Brennan, was a clerk at the store and the other children probably also served as clerks. She ran it until her death in 1921.

Patrick McCartin 1900-1902, Irish

Another Irish-born baker, Patrick McCartin, was the proprietor of 163 East Merrimack from 1900-1902.  Patrick was the eldest of three brothers (the other two being Michael and Frank) who immigrated successively when they each reached about 21 years of age.

The two older brothers initially got jobs in the mills. Patrick arrived in 1876 and we first find him at his marriage in 1883 to Irish-born Delia Doherty, working as a moulder. They had five children: Francis P, Anne J, James Joseph, Mary Etta (or Marietta), and Catherine A.  Patrick escaped the mills to become a horse car driver for the Lowell Street Railroad (the city trolleys) from 1889-1892. Michael arrived in 1883 and we get our first sight of him working as an operative at the time of his marriage to Irish-born Cecilia Woods. They had six children between 1887 and 1899: Mary Elizabeth, Anna S, Joseph Patrick, James Bartholomew, Cecilia Frances, and Vincent Michael.

Picture from Lowell Sun March 17, 1898, labeled "Frank McCartin, the Popular Baker who Died in Savannah, Ga."Frank, the youngest brother, was the primary entrepreneur of the three. He apparently didn’t like the idea of mill work and stopped in Gloucester upon arrival in this country in 1888. There he found a job as a baker, two years later opened his own shop, and then came to Lowell to live with Patrick in 1892. He had done well in Gloucester and immediately opened two bakeries, at 169 Chapel Street and 107 Gorham Street. In 1894 he married Kate Morrow, daughter of Irish immigrants Hugh and Catherine. Due to Frank’s success, it was a society wedding. The Lowell Sun described it in the typical society style that hasn’t changed in over a century: “The bride was attired in a beautiful dress of white silk trimmed in duchesse lace and carried a bought of bridal roses, the bridesmaid in pink silk with a corsage bouquet of roses.” They moved into a large new house at 71 Dover Street, in the Highlands neighborhood, far (in those days) from the downtown area and almost a mile and a half from the stores: “Mr. McCartin’s new home is elegantly furnished and is fitted up with all the modern conveniences of a first class dwelling.”

Patrick went to work for Frank a year after Frank’s arrival in Lowell (1893) but Michael had just left for Australia in 1892. Upon returning in 1896, Michael joined his brothers, becoming the third McCartin baker. Michael worked at 107 Gorham and Frank added a third bakery that year at 26 Concord Street, where Patrick became the manager. Frank was successful enough by 1897 to close the Chapel Street store and sell Patrick the 26 Concord Street bakery, leaving Frank with just the Gorham store, helped there by Michael. Sadly, Frank died the next year, 1898, only thirty-three years old.  Frank’s wife, Kate, took over proprietorship of the bakery. Michael continued at the Gorham Street store, working for Kate. He was later joined by a son, Joseph Patrick, in 1910-1912.  We don’t know if Kate was just the owner in name or whether she took active part in the store, but when Michael’s son was working there, it’s unlikely the single store needed three bakers. In 1913, Michael started his own bakery at 22 Concord Street, in the same building Frank had expanded to fifteen years earlier. Kate continued by herself for two years but closed the Gorham Street store when she remarried in late 1914.

Michael showed that slow and steady wins the day. His shop on Concord Street continued almost twenty years until he retired about 1931.  Daughter Cecilia worked as a cashier in the store for fifteen years after graduating from high school and Joseph stayed as a baker until 1924, when he moved Syracuse, NY, married, traveled further to Indianapolis, where he became the superintendent of a large bakery. Vincent probably worked in the bakery but it was never full time. He went to college and become a teacher in the Lowell Public Schools. He made his parents extremely proud in 1934 when he became Superintendant of schools in Lowell, the very same school system he had grown up with. Even more to the glory of an Irish family, the other of Michael’s sons became a priest and just as gloriously, Patrick also had a son who became a priest. In the tradition of the day, both these sons had been named after their grandfather, James Bartholomew and James Joseph. Not coincidentally, the priests became assistant pastors of Immaculate Conception parish, diagonally across the corner from 163 East Merrimack Street and served together for many years. The parish was run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a missionary society. In later years, the cousins served as missionaries in the not-so-wild west – Gary, Indiana, during World War II – before returning to Lowell.

We now return our focus to Patrick and 163 East Merrimack. When it became available in 1900, just two blocks away from his shop at 26 Concord, he grabbed it immediately, running both for a year.  He dropped the Concord Street store in 1901 but lasted only one more year on his own. After ten years as a baker, five as his own boss, Patrick quit in 1903.

Lowell electrical trolley (restored)Patrick returned to his last pre-bakery job, the trolleys of Lowell’s Street Railway Company where he had been a horse car driver – but alas, they had converted to electricity by then. Nonetheless, he remained a conductor there until he retired in the mid-1920s.

Patrick’s son, Francis P, or Frank P, as he quickly became known, was the immigrant family’s greatest entrepreneurial success. He started at age 18 in 1905 as a helper and then as an electrician working for Derby & Morse Electrical Contractors (both owners were Yankees) at 64 Middle Street. He started work in Boston in 1911 as an electrician and the next year went into sales. In 1912, he married Margaret P. Walsh, born in North Dakota of a Vermont father and Irish mother. They had fourteen children from 1914 to 1929, one of whom became an Oblate priest and one an Oblate Brother.

Logo for the Frank P. McCartin Co.After five years in sales, in 1917 Frank P became vice-president of R. V. Pettingell Electric Supply Company in Boston, still living in Lowell. After ten years there, in 1927 he started the Frank P. McCartin Company for wholesale electrical supplies in Lowell. It was originally located at 183 Market Street, one block away from where he started as an electrician on Middle Street. For a long time it remained very much a family company. In 1956, five of his children worked for him at the company, three as vice-presidents, one as an accountant, and one as a salesman. The company remains successful, continuing to this day at 149 Congress Street in Lowell, just about a mile from where it started, with son John Peter McCartin still the CEO.

George Watson 1903, Scottish

George Watson ran the bakery at 163 East Merrimack Street for only one year but was a baker in Lowell from 1891 to 1932.

The name Watson was common in Lowell, seventy-seven being found in the 1900 Census in sixteen households, of whom seven were named George. We can, however, distinguish three as the family of our George (we’ll call him George II, born in 1862); his father was George (call him George I, born 1839) and his son was George (George III, 1887).  The father of George I was also a George but he appears to have stayed in Scotland.

The older two Georges came to the US from Scotland in April of 1888, followed in August by George I’s wife Agnes and daughters, Phyllis, Kate, and Marion.  George II’s wife, Agnes (Heap), followed shortly afterwards with their children, George III and Agnes Orr. Once in the US, George II and Agnes had one more child, Jessie A.

The older two Georges were bakers in Scotland and set up their own bakery almost immediately; in 1891, they were in business at 240 Market Street.  Over the years they were quite successful, opening several stores. In 1901, the year George I died at age 62, there were George Watson bakeries at four locations: George I at 553 Gorham and 374 Market, and George II at 186 Lakeview and 353 Bridge. George II inherited his father’s two and added one more in 1902 at 187 Broadway for a very respectable five store chain.

In those days women didn’t inherit from a father when there were sons, but George II was a good guy (or, more likely, managing all those bakeries was too much). A year later, 1903, sister Phyllis, who had been working as a clerk for her father and then her brother, became the proprietor of two of the stores in her own name (Market and Gorham). George II kept the Lakeview store and added our favorite bakery at 163 East Merrimack. Ad for George Watson, Jr, Bakery from 1902 Lowell City Directory

The siblings dropped the Broadway and Bridge stores in 1903 and the East Merrimack store in 1904, leaving George with one store and Phyllis with two for a couple years. George retrieved the Bridge Street store in 1906 for two years and then in 1908, Phyllis dropped her two but took over Bridge Street, leaving them with one store each, George II on Lakeview and Phyllis on Bridge. Phyllis lived just couple blocks away from her store with her sister Marion in houses on Fifth Street, then Seventh Street. George lived on Jewett Street, about five blocks north of his store. Brother, sisters, and both stores were all in five minutes walking distance.

It’s unclear why George II kept the East Merrimack store for only a year since the Watsons continued running multiple bakeries with family help. All three of George’s children worked full time at the stores for a time, the daughters leaving when they got married, Jessie in 1913 and Agnes in 1915. George III worked alternately at his father and aunt’s stores until 1915. Phyllis ran her stores with her sister Marion’s help until 1917. After giving up the bakery, both Phyllis and Marion worked for a while in department stores. Phyllis returned to work for her brother from 1922 until 1928, at which time she stayed home to care for Marion until Marion died and then trained to become a nurse, a major career change at age 45. George retired in 1933. The next year, Phyllis moved in with George and his wife while continuing to work as a nurse at least until 1938.

George III worked in the bakeries of his father and his Aunt Phyllis but was restless. In 1909, at 22, he tried his luck in California but returned the next year, putting in another six years as a baker for his father and aunt. The year 1915 found him painting signs for a company on Middle Street. 

In 1916 he married Annie Ferguson. Annie’s father, Hugh Ferguson came to the US from England in 1886 and worked in Fitchburg as a cook, manager of a pool hall, and proprietor of a hotel/boarding house in Fitchburg.  Her mother worked as a spinner in a Fitchburg mill.  Hugh moved the family to Boston around 1910 and then to Lowell in 1911, where he became the proprietor of the St. James Hotel at 533 Middlesex Street.  Hugh must have made out pretty well with the hotel since he was able to live in the seashore village of Willowdale in the town of Ipswich, Massachusetts.  After the marriage in 1916, George III became co-proprietor with Hugh for the new Cecil Hotel at 532 Middlesex Street, in direct competition to the St. James across the street.  Shortly after, Hugh moved to Florida but George continued as co-proprietor of the hotel with his brother-in-law, William Ferguson.  In 1926 George moved to Florida to be with his mother-in-law after Hugh died in 1923. He was unemployed (or perhaps, rich and didn’t need to work) at the time of the Census of 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression.

Simon A. Cavanagh 1904-1906, Irish

Simon A. Cavanagh was the next baker at 163 East Merrimack from 1904-1906. His parents, Edward and Mary (Flanigan) were both born in Ireland but had moved to Scotland after marriage in 1869 and had six children there (two boys and four girls). In the early 1870s they immigrated to Lowell, where Edward worked as a fireman in the mills starting in 1874 until he died in January 1902.

Simon was born about 1872 in Scotland and, coming to adulthood in Lowell, never moved away from the house his parents bought in 1880 at 98 Andover Street. After they died, Simon and two sisters continued living there.

Simon worked for a furniture retailer until 1902 when he became a partner in a real estate firm, Smith & Cavanagh, located in the Donovan Building at 265 Central Street.  We don’t know where he got the know-how for a bakery but the next year he started the bakery as well. Being in real estate, he probably saw the property come on the market, purchased it as an investment, and hired others to do the work. He gave up the bakery after 1906, but kept on with the real estate business, going entirely on his own in 1910. He died unmarried at age 38 the very next year.

Thomas F. Booth 1907-1912, English2-Irish2

Baker Thomas F. Booth succeeded Cavanagh, remaining at 163 Merrimack Street for six years, the most for a non-Yankee.  His parents were Samuel, an immigrant from England, and Mary Welch, an immigrant from Ireland. They met and married in New Bedford in while Samuel was a mill worker in the mid 1860s and had six children. When Thomas was born in 1876 in Boston, Samuel was working as a pipefitter but was reported to be a simple laborer at other events. By 1900, Samuel had died and Thomas was living with his mother and sister Genevieve in Cambridge, MA, where we first see him at age 24, working as a baker.

Thomas came to Lowell in 1907 to take over the bakery at 163 East Merrimack. For the first three years he lived five blocks away at 179 Stackpole Street. This must have been a desirable address, with no industry nearby and directly overlooking the Merrimack River to a lightly built residential area on the other side. Today the site is in the middle of a new road built for a bridge across that river. In 1910, he moved to 69 High Street, on the corner of East Merrimack on the same block as the bakery; he still lived with his mother and his sister Genevieve. They all left Lowell after 1912, showing up in 1918 living in Belmont, MA, Thomas still a baker. He and his mother were living with his sister Genevieve but now also with Genevieve’s new husband, Irishman John F. Fitzgerald, who was working in a print shop. They stayed in Belmont until at least 1922 and then headed west. 

In 1930, Thomas, Genevieve, and John were living together in Los Angeles. Thomas was still a baker and John still worked in printing. Thomas died in Los Angeles in 1948.

Mrs. Mary J. Carroll 1913, Irish

The tenure of Mrs. Mary J. Carroll was not the shortest of the bakers of 163 East Merrimack Street (there were four others who stayed only one year) but she is the only woman. She became the proprietor, as was often the case in those days, when her husband died. The story of the family is filled with bakers.

William A. Carroll was born in Ireland in 1861, as was Mary J. in 1872. They married in 1888 when she was only 16 and had one child a year for the next three years. William departed for Manchester, New Hampshire in 1891 and Mary followed two years later. There they had four more children before moving to Lowell, where they had another two.

There are two reasons to believe that William had been a baker in Ireland:  he worked as a baker as soon as he got to Manchester in 1892; and his father, who joined him in 1895, was a baker.  In Lowell in 1905, William had a shop at 131 Gorham Street, at the corner of Winter Street, and lived upstairs with his still increasing family.

As is usual in a family business, William’s children helped in the baker but there were too many of them for a single store, especially when they could be earning money from the outside to help the family. In 1909, the two oldest children were at other bakeries, not as bakers, but as clerks who knew the bakery business; Margaret J., 19, worked at the Dudley L. Page Bakery on Merrimack and Mary E., 18, worked at the Anthony Lavery Bakery on Bridge. That same year, William’s father, who had been helping in the family bakery, died, so more help was needed. In 1910, Mary E. returned to her father’s store and the next younger daughter, Elizabeth, now 19, also clerked there. Margaret still worked for Page’s Bakery and the next in line, Patrick, at only 15, worked at Mary’s previous employer, Anthony Lavery, but at his other bakery on Broadway. Interestingly, Patrick was listed as a baker, not a clerk – perhaps it was a male prerogative to be a baker at that time.

Line drawing graphic of where the Carrolls moved from year to year.In 1911, the employment shuffling continued. You may wish to refer to the figure on the right as a scorecard. (t's not that useful but almost seems intelligible if you're sleepy at this point of story.) Patrick came back to his father’s store and Mary E. went to work for Thomas F. Booth at, of all places, 163 East Merrimack Street! Things continued changing in 1912 with Patrick trying to get away from the bakery business by working as a cigar maker. William died late in the year (at 50) and, in 1913, Mary J. became the proprietor of the Gorham Street store. She also took over our East Merrimack bakery when Thomas Booth left that same year, likely to save Mary E.’s workplace. Margaret left Lavery’s to help out at the family store, and Patrick returned to baking (in 1915 he was at the Friend Brothers Bakery at 2 Westford Street, one of the largest in the city).

Mary J. and Mary E. gave up the East Merrimack Street store after one year but kept the Gorham Street store until 1915 with the help of Elizabeth. After that, Mary E. clerked and Patrick baked for a grocery store down the street (James Smith Provisions) in 1916 but that didn’t work. Mary E. and younger sister Catherine tried their hands at dressmaking in 1917. Catherine continued in the mills for a couple years but Mary E. married in 1917 and disappeared from the commercial workforce. Margaret married in 1920, ending her bakery career.

Patrick returned to baking at a Page bakery on Merrimack Street (same owner as the one Margaret had worked at). From 1922 to 1930, he ran his own bakery, first on Broadway then on Gorham (many blocks down from the old family store). Sister Louise apparently helped in 1920 but went to work in the mills after that until she married in 1931. Patrick settled down as a baker working for others from at least 1932 until 1956.

Mary J. moved to 37 Walnut Street in 1916 after giving up baking and most of the family joined her there.  The address was one that further shows the interconnectedness of the baking fraternity. The house was owned by Charles F. Devno, a long-time grocer on Central Street. (He and his son, Charles D. are discussed in the story of 557 Central.) Frederick L. Devno was a son of Charles F. and worked at the Friends Bakery at 2 Westford Street from 1910 to 1916, a span that included the years that Patrick Carroll worked there. The Devnos moved to a much larger house and then rented their old house to a co-worker’s family, the Carrolls.

Patrick J. Cronin 1914, Irish

In 1914, Irish-born Patrick J. Cronin was the owner of the bakery at this location.

Patrick came to the U.S. in 1891 at age 23 and his soon-to-be, Anna C. McMahon, came before December, 1898 since that was when they were married in Lowell. Patrick worked as a baker as soon as he arrived: an unknown place in 1891, the John J. Henley Bakery on Suffolk Street in 1892, and the Louis G. Moss Bakery in 1893. After the marriage, the couple returned to Cork, Ireland to start a family. They had twins a year later, 1899, Patrick John and Thomas Augustus (named after his paternal grandfather), followed by Daniel C. in 1902 (named after the other grandfather), then Josephine W. in 1904 (who was called Mary early in life, likely after her paternal grandmother).  It’s possible the family traveled back and forth between Cork and Lowell, returning to have the children born in the home country. Patrick was in the US in 1902 but after that lived in Cork, working as a baker. He returned for good in May, 1906, followed by Anna and the kids in August, 1908. They had their last child in Lowell, Francis M., born in 1909.

Back in Lowell, Patrick continued baking, getting a job at the D.L. Page Bakery on Merrimack Street, one of the largest in town, while living at three different locations over the next four years. We don’t know what prompted him to try running his own store at 163 East Merrimack Street, but the urge lasted only one year. In 1916 he worked at the James McMahon Bakery at 876 Gorham Street. (It would be surprising if James wasn’t a cousin of Patrick’s wife, Anna.) In 1922, he worked at the George Cornock’s Bakery on Bridge Street and in 1932 he was again running his own bakery at 96 Branch Street until he retired a year later.

Domestically, Patrick and Anna had problems. After 1920, they no longer lived together, although they put up a formal front at first with information published in the City Directory.  After five years residence at 175 Charles Street, the transition year was probably 1917 when none of the family showed up in the directory and in 1918 the family was listed at 34 Gorham Street. However, when the twin boys registered for the World War I draft in 1918, they stated their nearest kin was Anna, not Patrick. More telling is that the twin Patrick John registered under the name John F. and used that name the rest of his life, perhaps indicating some desire to disassociate himself from his father.  By the 1920 Census, the separation was formal. Patrick was living with his sister Nora and her husband Charles Welcome at 5 James Street; his brother, Dennis Cronin, also lived there. Anna and the children were living at 34 Gorham, with Anna listed as head of household. In 1922, Anna was in the City Directory as head of the house on Gorham, working as a housekeeper at a private residence. At the same time, keeping up pretenses, Patrick was also listed as head of the house on Gorham, working at the Cornock Bakery on Bridge Street. However, he was also listed living on John Street, just two short blocks from the bakery.  From 1930 on, there was no pretense -- he was listed as living at the Robitaille lodging house on Central Street.

None of Patrick’s children followed their father’s trade. Josephine worked for a short time as an operative in the mills. Thomas became an electrician and Daniel worked as a machinist. John Cronin (formerly Patrick John) went into retail and opened his own store by 1930, first with cigars and then with liquors; Francis worked as a clerk in his brother’s stores.

John J. Carney 1917, Irish

After languishing vacant for two years, the shop at 163 East Merrimack gained yet another Irish baker, John J. Carney in 1917.  John was born in Ireland in 1865 as was his wife Alice McPartland in 1868.  They married in 1887 and had two children, Catherine in 1888 and Mary A. in 1891. Little Mary was only five months old when they immigrated to the US in July, 1891. Steamships were becoming faster in those days but a seven day voyage on a crowded immigrant ship in “Lower Steerage” at the beginning of July must not have been very pleasant, even before adding a five month old.  The couple had three more children in Lowell: Alice D. in 1893, Bernard J. in 1898, and Robert E. in 1900.

John had been a baker in Ireland and immediately found work as a baker in Lowell. From 1893 the family lived in Belvidere, just across the Concord River from downtown, on Laughlin’s Court, half a block from 163 East Merrimack.  They spent a few years at 122 Fayette, a building originally owned by William Somes, adjacent to his much larger building on the corner at 163 East Merrimack, where Somes had operated his bakery.  For at least three years, 1896-98, John Carney worked next door to where he lived, for the Thomas F. Brennan Bakery (see above) at 163 East Merrimack. The next year, 1899, Carney moved on to bake at the City Farm, a job to which he was followed by Brennan in 1901. In 1904, Carney worked at the Annie T. Gormley Bakery at 876 Gorham Street; this same address became the James McMahon Bakery that Patrick Cronin (see above) worked in for a year in 1916.

In 1909, John opened his own bakery at 243 Fayette Street, just two blocks off East Merrimack. He moved the shop to 28 Pleasant Street, a block further south, for 1910 to 1912.  In 1913, he decided that a grocer’s life was more attractive than a baker’s (didn’t have to get up at 4AM to make the doughnuts) and he opened a grocery across the Merrimack River in the Centralville neighborhood at 152 West Street. A year later he moved it about six buildings down to 204 Coburn Street and lived upstairs at 202.

It might have been pure nostalgia to run a bakery in 1917 at 163 East Merrimack Street where he had worked before.  The Centralville grocery store was clearly doing well – it lasted till at least 1920.  Perhaps he took it over just to liquidate the bakery equipment – this was the last year the location hosted a bakery.  For whatever reason, he had the bakery only one year.

He ran his grocery until 1920 and must have been fairly prosperous since he retired at 55 years old and moved about eight blocks east to the more prestigious Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Like many of his generation, he found retirement boring and at age 59 he went back to work at a bakery until he died in 1929, just under 65 years old. None of his children worked at the stores after becoming adults. All three daughters worked in the mills, first as operatives but by 1930 Alice and Mary were bookkeepers and the Catherine became a housekeeper. His only son who lived, Robert, became a printer for the Lowell Courier-Citizen newspaper; all four were unmarried in 1932, with ages ranging from 32 to 44.

George L. Perham 1919-1921 Yankee

After the 163 East Merrimack store sat idle in 1918, George L. Perham was the next proprietor, turning the place into a grocery store, a role it would play for at least the next thirty-seven years.

George was born in Lowell, his father (Foster Perham) was born in Massachusetts, and his mother (Margaret A Burbank) was born in New Hampshire. Both parents’ parents were also born in New Hampshire and Massachusetts so George’s Yankee credentials are solid. His father was a bookkeeper at a liquor store for over thirty years (working for an Irishman, Patrick Lynch) so there wasn’t a family business to follow. After high school, George worked at the grocery store of Clarence G. Coburn at 11 Mammoth Road, just two blocks away from his childhood home at 100 Riverside Street. In 1899 George married a Yankee girl, Stella Wright and, after a year living on Fourth Street, three blocks from the Riverside home, they moved to 53 Lamb Street, another five blocks away but still in Pawtucketville (the neighborhood across the river and west of downtown Lowell). They lived there the rest of their lives.

George worked for Coburn, a fellow Yankee, for ten years, gaining experience in groceries, meats, and provisions, and then tried opening his own grocery on Pleasant Street in 1909. It was a slightly odd choice for a location, about three miles from home, across the river on the other side of downtown, but Lowell had had an extensive trolley system for years, first horse-drawn, then motorized. That lasted only a year and George returned to working in the provisions business for a while and then tried a totally new occupation in 1912, an insurance agent. Again, that lasted only a year and he went back to working in other people’s grocery stores, both north and south of the river. In 1919 he once again tried his own business at the 163 East Merrimack location and ran it until 1921. We don’t know exactly what happened then, but it appears Stella became sick and George quit to take care of her. He didn’t work for two years (at least he didn’t show up the in City Directory).

After Stella died in 1923 George returned to work as a clerk for the Frank R. Strout Provisions store at 329 Bridge Street, a few blocks from home (Strout was another Yankee). He kept his eye on his old store’s neighborhood and when 195 East Merrimack Street (at the other end of the block from the 163 store) became available in 1926, he seized the opportunity. In partnership with Mrs. Georgia B. Quimby, he opened a meat market under the name G.B. Quimby & Co.  Georgia was married to an electrician (Henry) and ran a lodging house at 90 Chestnut Street (also their home). This was apparently her only fling at retail business. Things went well for three years but it the partnership dissolved in 1929. George had moved to Tyngsboro, just west of Lowell at the same time as opening the Quimby store and he remained there until he died in 1931.

Andrew E. Saba 1922-1923 Syrian

In 1922 Andrew Esper Saba, born October 18, 1892 in Syria, ran a provisions store at 163 East Merrimack Street from 1922 to 1923, apparently the only years he spent in Lowell.  We don’t why he came to town for just that time but there are many family connections to consider before focusing on Andrew.

Shaka Saba may have used a fruit cart like this in modern Marrakech Souk, Morocco. From the Seton Hall Library Gallery, photo by Tamara Hill.There were Saba families in Lowell starting in 1897, and they continue to this day.  Shaka Saba, born in Syria in 1881, operated a fruit market at 335 Middlesex, his third year in Lowell. (In an interesting exercise in anglicizing foreign names, Shaka later was known as Shakra G, then George after 1903.)  In 1900, Shaka’s mother, Mankra, and sister, Manoi, lived with him on Farson’s Court (the side door to the Middlesex store).  He operated the market at that location for three years and then became a peddler and an operative for several years, apparently hawking his fruits on the streets in good weather and working in the mills in the bad. In 1909, Shaka/George re-established a confectionery store at 183 Appleton Street, one street over and two blocks closer to the downtown area. (In those days, fruit and confectionery stores often sold the same kinds of goods, namely, something sweet.)

Esper (or Asber or Esber, as he was called at various times) Saba was born in 1864 in Syria. He immigrated in the 1890s and worked in the mills in Lawrence in 1901-1903. In 1909 Esper came to live with George on Middlesex Street and to work in the Lowell mills. The next year, Esper took over the Appleton store, calling it “A. Saba & Sons” Fruits, declaring the proprietors to be Asber, George, and John Saba (although John was not otherwise listed in the City Directory). George Saba, one of the “sons,” was delisted as a proprietor after 1912 (he disappears from sight) and Peter Saba was added.

Actually, the family relations are a bit confused. There had been another George Saba family in Lowell since 1903, George and Rose, with sons Peter and John Asper Saba (along with others). Given that Esper advertised Peter and John as “sons”, there is a strong possibility that this George was Esper’s brother (Esper was born in 1864, George in 1867), making Peter (born 1887) and John A (born 1890) nephews.  To make it more complicated, Peter and John came to live with Esper.  The wording “and Sons” in the company name would simply indicate that it was a family business (although Shaka/George may well have been Esper’s son).

In any case, Asber ran the store until 1915 and then left Lowell. Peter ran the store for another year, worked in the mills for a while until he married a widow, and then operated her grocery store for several years. John also worked in the mills until starting another confectionary store which he ran for about ten years before opening a restaurant and a liquor store, which he ran for many years. One of John’s sons, George Washington Saba, born February 22, 1926, was an example of the patriotism of children of immigrants during World War II. In a newspaper article "George Washington Saba Wants To Join Navy At 17 [sic]”. The article stated “[He] celebrated Washington's birthday and his own too yesterday by volunteering for service in the navy…. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Saba … [said] 'I have always admired my famous namesake,' he told recruiting officers. 'I don't how any better way to celebrate his birthday and mine than by giving my services to the nation he played such an important part in founding.'"

Returning to Andrew, he is not provably Esper Saba’s son, but there is reason to consider it. There is only one person in the entire 1920 Census (out of 892 Sabas) with a given name of Esper/Esber/Asber.  Esper gave his name to a younger, documented daughter, Naifey Esper Saba, so it seemed to be a family tradition. Andrew would be merely another child to have that same middle name. In any case, Esper is a strong presence in Lowell and in another location in Andrew’s life.

Sistersville at the height of second West Virginia oil boom in the 1890s.Andrew immigrated about 1905 and in 1917, at age 25, was in Sistersville, West Virginia (on the Ohio River, bordering Ohio), living with Ace Cassis and working in a store for Joseph Cassis, who lived next door to Ace. Ace and Joseph were co-owners of the store (wholesale groceries) and two other Cassis family members also worked there.  Since Cassis was Andrew’s mother’s maiden name and both these Cassis men were born in Syria, there is a good chance that Ace (born in 1855) was an uncle and Joseph (born in 1878) was a cousin or another uncle.  (There were also family connections in Lowell: George Saba and Simon Cassis shared a building at 64 Adams Street in 1920.)  After Esper left Lowell, he went to West Virginia. In 1920, both Andrew and Esper were working in the West Virginia oil fields and living in Sistersville, although boarding in separate houses.Esper was still in Sistersville, working the oil fields, in the 1930 Census.

Esper had bought news of the Saba’s Lowell entrepreneurial activity when he moved to Sistersville and Andrew eventually decided it was an attractive place to try business on his own.  He married a second-generation Syrian, Hazel, in 1921 and they had twins in Lowell in February, 1922, at the same time he took over the East Merrimack provisions shop. He ran the shop in 1922 and 1923 then, for some unknown reason, left Lowell. He returned to West Virginia where he ran a tobacco shop in 1930 and worked in a retail store in Charleston during the Second World War. After Hazel died in 1982 he moved to California, where he died in 1986.

Ephraim Favreau 1924 French-Canadian*

Ephraim Favreau ran the grocery store after Saba left but his story is even more of a mystery than Saba’s. All we know for certain is that in 1924 he ran the store, that he lived next door at 120 Fayette Street with his wife Melina, and that a Rose Favreau and a Raoul Favreau also lived there (no occupations given and no indication of relation). It’s only on the basis of his name that we guess a French-Canadian background; three of four Favreau families in the 1920 Lowell Census were of French-Canadian background.

There were several families named Favreau in Lowell at the time, notably one running an electrical contracting firm, but Ephraim has no known connection to them. Neither he, Rose, nor Raoul appear in the city directory before 1924 and they are not in the Census for Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Rhode Island in 1920 or 1930. Ephraim and Raoul disappeared from Lowell after 1924. Rose stayed on, working as an accountant in a furniture store for a couple years until she married a second generation French-Canadian in 1926.

The Chain Stores 1925-1945 (Some Irish)

In 1925 the grocery store was run by the Co-operative Grocery Stores Company. The company started in Lowell in 1916 with a single store and by 1925 owned eleven. It is unknown whether this company was associated with others of a similar name and goal in several other states or whether it was a Massachusetts-only corporation. There were many stores by this name in Massachusetts.

Photo of a wood box contain "Finast Choice Boneless Salt Codfish"In 1926 several of those stores in Lowell were taken over by the Michael O’Keeffe Grocery Company, headquartered in Boston. O’Keeffe, an Irish immigrant born in 1867, immigrated in 1886. By the age of 37 he owned forty-two stores in Boston alone and continued expanding. He had purchased his first store in Lowell in 1905 at 54 Middlesex Street. When he took over the 163 East Merrimack store in 1925, it was his tenth in Lowell. He never lived in Lowell.

In 1925 and 1926, O’Keeffe and two other large northeast grocery chains merged to form the First National Stores Company with 1,644 locations. First National operated the store at least until 1945. It became known as Finast until bought by a Netherlands food conglomerate in the 1990s. O’Keeffe himself retired in 1930, a rich man.

Recently (1955- )

In the mid 1950s, a local French-Canadian grocer, Victor P. Beaudette, moved into the shop vacated by First National Stores.  Beaudette and his wife Claire lived in Dracut and commuted to their grocery in Lowell.  The Beaudettes remained at 163 East Merrimack until the early 1960s.  In 1963, the shop was vacant.  In the mid 1970s, a Spanish-speaking (largely Puerto Rican) Pentecostal group opened a “storefront” church called Iglesia Pentecostal Universal and stayed more than 25 years. It is now a brightly lighted computer showroom for SM Computing.

Thoughts about locations

The ten first or second generation immigrants discussed here (those with headings above, less Somes and Perham, who were Yankees) are summarized in Figure 4. There were six Irish, one second generation son of an English-Irish marriage, one Scot, one Syrian, and one French-Canadian. Some of them worked in the mills before starting their own business, some worked for other bakers, grocers, or furniture dealers, and some immediately open their own shops. Few of them succeeded in the sense of continuing to own their own shops for the rest of their life; indeed, several lasted only one year as an owner.

They worked all over the city. Where they worked before and after their stint at 163 East Merrimack Street is plotted in the figure below. Red dots are locations at which they owned their own businesses; blue are locations at which they worked for other people. (This plots only their retail experience; that is, not mills jobs or the civil service.) We don’t have data on every year for them but more data could only show an even wider distribution. There is a reasonable amount of clumping, given that these locations are all on commercial streets. The only noticeable absences in commercial areas are the Highlands, in the southwest of the city and Pawtucketville, in the northwest.

Booth, Thomas F English2-Irish2
Brennan, Thomas F Irish
Carney, John J Irish
Carroll, Mary J, Mrs. Irish
Cavanagh, Simon A Irish
Cronin, Patrick J Irish
Favreau, Ephraim French-Canadian
McCartin, Patrick Irish
Saba, Andrew E Syrian
Watson, George, II Scottish
Immigrants in business at 163 East Merrimack and their nationalities

Graphic showing locations that proprietors of 163 East Merrimack worked before and after their time there.

698-702-704 Gorham Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 698-702-704 Gorham Street

1018-1022 Gorham Street:
  Focus: Louis G. Stoloff

Morris Stoloff was born about 1876 in Vilna, Russia (now Lithuania) and Annie Moskowitz was a couple years older. They married around 1894, emigrated to England shortly afterwards, and came to the U.S. about 1899. They settled in the Jewish community on Railroad Street and Morris found a job in a junkyard working for a fellow Russian-Jewish immigrant. They had three children, Mildred, Meyer, and Louis. To help make ends meet and send their youngest to college, Annie ran a grocery store out of their home from 1909 to 1917.

Louis attended MIT, studying civil engineering, but his father fell ill with TB (dying in 1925). Louis returned home in 1922 to start a grocery store, probably with the help of his mother, who was familiar with a smaller version of the business. The building at 1018-1022 Gorham Street was three stories, like its neighbors, but a fire in 1934 destroyed the upper two stories. Louis removed them, patched the ceiling, and, showing good marketing sense, notified the newspapers that he was opening a modern, new store at 1022. The following pictures appeared in the newspaper on opening day.

Louis G. Stoloff
Picture of Louis G Stoloff from 1924

Picture of Stoloff's Market in 1924

Stoloff ran the store until 1945 when his other business interests started taking most of his time. His older sister, who had been working there since it opened, ran it for a couple years and then sold it to a World War II veteran. (She moved on to work in retail clothing and department stores, including one started by one of Louis' sons.) In 1957 the store was purchased by a French-Canadian, Ed LeLacheur, who ran it until around 1977 (when he became Lowell's state senator). After that it alternated between a restaurant, a bar, a grocery store again, and a bar again, which it is today.

Just for fun, look at the 1934 prices at Stoloff's Market.


Another Stoloff business: Lowell Trucking Company

Louis Stoloff started the Lowell Trucking Company with his brother Meyer Stoloff, an experienced "truckman,"in 1929 and ran it until about 1957. It was variously located on First Street and Chelmsford Street and moved to 51 Nottingham Street in 1942 (next to the textile mill Louis started -- see below). Meyer was an interesting story by himself. He started in the junk business with his father and started a couple businesses on his own (fruit, junk, trucking with a friend) before settling in to the trucking business with his brother. After the trucking company closed, he switched to the New Knit company. In the meantime, he became a local championship golfer, a bush pilot, and a prize-winning big game hunter in Alaska and the West.

City directory ad for Lowell Trucking Company about 1950 This ad appeared in the Lowell City Directory in 1950.


A third Stoloff business: New Knit Manufacturing Company

In 1935, Louis and some friends took over a knitting mill and renamed it the New Knit Manufacturing Company. This had to be the height of ethnic success in Lowell: entering the business that Yankees began when they started the city! He ran the mill until his retirement about 1970, at which time a son took over. The mill finally closed about 1979, one of the last left in the city.

New Knit had offices and manufacturing facilities in different locations but by 1952 had consolidated at 21 Nottingham Street. These pictures show that mill building in the year 2000. (It is now empty -- immediately below.)

Picture of 21 Nottingham Street

The building still has remnants of the New Knit name on it. It was painted over by a circuit board company but is showing through again.

Picture of the side of 21 Nottingham Street showing New Knit Manufacturing sign, faded

165 Lakeview Avenue

Orientation map showing location of Centralville in Lowell and 165 Lakeview Avenue This address in Centralville provided shelter and business success for two Irish families (father and son) and two Polish families (father and son-in-law) but little luck to a French-Canadian printer and a Polish blacksmith. The segregation of Yankees and immigrants, both in business and residence, was almost complete in this neighborhood in the time covered .

Picture of 165 Lakeview Avenue

This three-story, wood-frame building probably replaced an earlier building about 1900. It contained a commercial space on the first floor (left entrance above, 165) and apartments on the upper two floors (right entrance, 161). It has been reconverted to all residential.

The address was originally 77 River Street. The street name was changed and all the houses on the block were renumbered, turning this into 165 Lakeview Avenue (although no lake is in sight).

John McCluskey, Irishman

Did Richard and Margaret McCluskey immigrate to the new world? They came in 1847 when they were about 67 and 58 years old. It's more likely that they were brought along by their children when the children immigrated --  Patrick, Michael, Dennis, Margaret, Ann, and John, ranging in age from 33 to 10.

Richard didn't work after he arrived but most of the children worked in the mills. Even John was working in 1850 when his father told the Census taker that the 13-year-old was a 20-year-old laborer, not at school. John probably wasn't present when the Census taker called so there was no reason to doubt the father. Child labor was common in those days.

John continued in the mills until 1864, when he was 27.  Then he opened a grocery store at 11 River Street, a few doors down from Bridge Street, the main road in Centralville. This area north of the river had been annexed by Lowell from Dracut just recently (1851) and was just starting to grow. There were three grocery stores on Bridge Street within three blocks, all run by Yankees, and one on River Street run by Irishman William Courtney, a block away. The other four stores lasted a while, Courtney's for 30 years, but John's failed quickly. He was back in the mills in 1865.

The area was full of Irish immigrants. The McCluskeys lived at 5 Brown's Court, a private courtyard between two houses on Lakeview. So did Charles Callahan and at least three other Callahan families over the next few years. In 1860, Charles married the girl next door, Ann McCluskey, John's sister. Alas, in a story all too common in those days, Ann died of TB in 1864. The ex-brothers-in-law stayed friends, however. Charles, originally a mill worker, opened a grocery store in 1868. John went to work for him in 1870 at 42 River Street, just a block from his own first store. He stayed until 1880 when he opened his second store at 77 River Street.

Thumbnail map showing grocery locations in Lower Centralville Opening a store only a block from your former employer would be considered unfriendly today but it probably wasn't at the time. Grocery stores must have been different in those days, catering much more to the individual needs of their customers and getting along on low volume. There were four other stores even closer to Callahan than McCluskey. Within three blocks there were 14 stores, one with another Callahan. Look at a larger map to see how close these stores were and which were run by immigrants.

McCluskey married Mary Owens, daughter of James and Margaret, probably another resident of Brown's Court.  Families were close in these days. One of Mary's sisters lived with them for at least ten years before moving into the house next door with another widowed sister for another fifteen. Andrew Owens, likely Mary's nephew, and John's brother, Dennis, both worked in the store and lived with them for a time.

Newspaper picture of Doctor Richard J. McCluskey
Dr.Richard J. McCluskey

John and Mary had three children, Margaret J, James, and Richard J, traditionally named after their grandparents. John's prosperity meant he could see his children educated. Margaret graduated from college and became a teacher at the Lakeview Avenue Primary School, just down the street. She became the principal there for thirty years. James and Richard went to Holy Cross, a Catholic private college in Worcester.

John ran the store until 1898, at which time he turned it over to his son, Richard, recently graduated from Holy Cross. Richard McCluskey was as successful as his father in the business, gaining the respect of many as witnessed by his election to the city's board of aldermen in 1901 and 1902. However, he was an ambitious college graduate and wanted more. In 1903, the McCluskeys moved out of the store to a more stately home half mile north on Methuen Street.  showing grocery stores at this time.) Richard closed the store and went to medical school at Columbia, staying in New York for his internship. He returned in 1910 and set up private practice. He became a staff member of St. John's hospital and met a young nurse, Mary Lee. They married in 1922 when she was 29 and he was 49 and quickly had three children.

Two years after getting married, Richard took his wife, his infant daughter, and his sister to Europe. He indulged his religious enthusiasm by visiting the shrine at Lourdes and gave stereopticon lectures on it upon returning home. The family visited Ireland, land of his forebears, no doubt meeting many relatives before returning from Cobh, the port of city Cork.

The store at 77 River Street, now 165 Lakeview Avenue, led to successful careers for the McCluskeys, father, son, daughter and many family members.

Interim businesses: French-Canadian Nadeau and Polish Czekanski

After the McCluskeys moved away in 1903, the building lay unused except for boarders in the rooms upstairs until a young French-Canadian restarted the grocery store. Camille Nadeau's father had come to Lowell in the 1880s, residing in Centralville in the 1890s and working as a baker. In 1898 Camille was 22 years old and working for a printer. In 1901 he started a grocery store in the heart of "Little Canada." He must have been reasonably successful, staying  there for five years before moving back to Centralville to 165 Lakeview in 1906. It's likely he was just hanging on, however, because he lasted just two more years as a grocer and by 1908 was back working as a printer.

The building was empty again for a year. Anton Czekanski had arrived in Lowell from Poland in 1902 and worked as a blacksmith for several years. He tried his own business exactly one year, 1909, reopening the grocery at 165 Lakeview. In 1910 he was back smithing and didn't try again through 1922, after which we've lost track of him.

Adam Korzeniewski Grocery and Leo Costello Drug Store

Ad from 1909 Lowell City Directory Czekanski's timing was bad. Another Polish immigrant, Adam Korzeniewski had started a grocery store specializing in meat at 169 Lakeview, right next door. After Czekanski failed, Adam bought the 161-165 Lakeview building and ran a grocery store there for 21 years. Korzeniewski was born in 1876 and had immigrated in 1903. His wife, Amelia (Berlach), had four children from a previous marriage and one of them, Oswald Weiser, worked in the grocery store until he left for Detroit. Adam and Amelia had two children of their own, Sofia, and Roman, both of whom clerked in the store when they were old enough.

The area was rapidly changing from Irish to Polish and Adam was an active change agent. He served as president for twenty years of the Lowell Chapter of the Polish National Home Association (Dom Polska). Its meeting hall was just two  buildings down, on the corner of Coburn. By 1932 there was also the Polish-American Citizens Club at 63-73 Lakeview, the Polish Falcon Club at 133 Lakeview, the Polish National Citizens Club at 196 Lakeview, and St Kazmierz Polish National Catholic Church at 250 Lakeview.

Adam's father, Blazej, immigrated in 1911 and lived with Adam in the twenties. He was a source of pride in that Polish neighborhood, having taken part in the Polish Insurrection of 1863, an uprising against Tsarist rule. Adam's sister, Franciszka, arrived in 1913 and settled two blocks away, on the corner of Coburn and West L Street.

Adam's daughter Sophie (as she became known), married Ludwik V Kosztyla, later known as Leo Costello. Leo was born in this country one year after his parents, Josef and Marya, arrived from Poland in 1898. Josef worked in the mills all his life, but Leo started an apprenticeship in a local drug store in 1916. He married Sophie in 1920 and they lived above the store with Adam, Amelia, Ramon, three step-children, and a boarder who made sausage for the store. In 1928 Leo started his own drug store a mile away at 245 Gorham Street, taking it over from a second generation French-Canadian.

Soon after, Roman changed his name to Raymond Adams, possibly at the instigation of his wife Vera (Gerry), whose Yankee credentials were sullied only by an Irish grandfather. It's not certain what the family dynamic was in 1931, but Raymond moved out and Leo took over the store space. Did Leo gain favored status because he was successful with the drug store so he was given the 165 Lakeview storefront, prompting Raymond to move away and start his own? Or did they all agree to let Leo take the store instead of traveling to Gorham Street every day (only a mile) and have Raymond carry on the family grocery nearby? Whatever the case, Ray moved in with his in-laws on Hampshire Street a few blocks north and started his own grocery store in 1931. This store was at 247 Lakeview, a block down from his father’s store and the site of a grocery for at least fifty years (Irish, then Scottish, then Irish), which means it had been a competitor of his father’s since the beginning.

There were only 11 private owners of grocery stores the last year of Adam's ownership, compared to 19 in 1903.  An indicator of future change was the appearance of corporate chain stores, one on Coburn and five on Bridge Street. Chain stores were not owned by the people who managed them. Chains and the Depression reduced grocery stores radically in this part of Centralville, whether owned by immigrants or Yankees. There were only eight stores left by 1938: three immigrant, one Yankee, and four chain.


Picture of Bridge Street at Lakeview Avenue 1931.
Bridge at Lakeview, 1931
Courtesy Center for Lowell History

Apparently Vera died in 1936 because Ray alone moved back to the upper floors of his father’s building in 1937. At about the same time, he moved his grocery store to a prime location just off the bridge, 329 Bridge, site of a long time Yankee grocery, and renamed it Adams Market. After two years living back home, Raymond disappeared from Lowell between 1939 and 1943. One is tempted to think of World War II service in Poland, inspired by his grandfather. Adam came out of retirement and ran Adams Market from 1939-1949.

In 1942 Leo Costello closed up his drugstore at 165 Lakeview and purchased another in a prime location, Noonan’s Drug Store at 305 Bridge, keeping Noonan’s name. This address was two buildings down from Adams Market, on the corner of Bridge and First Streets, the first intersection coming off the bridge over the river.

Raymond came back to Lowell in 1944 with a new wife, Rita B, and started working as a meat cutter in the Acre while living on Worthen Street. A year later, Ray and Rita moved back to live on Lakeview with Adam and the Costellos moved out, first to  Methuen Street, still in Centralville, and later to southeast Lowell. Leo kept the Noonan Drugstore until he died in 1954. Adam retired a second time in 1950 at age 76 and Raymond became proprietor of Adam’s Market again. Adam, even though retired, was clearly the heart of the enterprise. Raymond kept it going only one year after Adam’s death in 1954. Ray and Rita moved to Rea Street, on the far southeast part of town only three blocks away from his widowed sister, Sophie, and took wage-paying jobs.
Ethnic Separation

It is interesting to look at the micro-neighborhood bounded by Lakeview Avenue, Coburn Street, Bridge Street, and West Third Street over the years.

In the 4 years that marked the transitions mentioned above (1864, 1880, 1903, 1930), counting just the local owners, there were 32 grocery stores west of Bridge Street (on Lakeview and Coburn). None were owned by Yankees; all were owned by immigrants or sons. There were 18 stores on Bridge street, 13 Yankees and 5 immigrants.

Clip art showing wall with immigrant on the west side of Bridge Street and Yankees on the right.

The homes of the store owners showed the same separation. Only one Yankee owner ever lived west of Bridge Street; 12 lived on or east of Bridge. Of the 34 immigrant owners, 29 lived west of Bridge; only 5 east.

In this micro-neighborhood and at this time, Yankees just didn’t mix with immigrants.

343 Market Street

Information for this address is still being developed. 343 Market Street -- sign says Southeast Asia Restaurant

509-511 Market Street
  Focus: Patrick Keyes

Information for this address is still being developed. 509-511 Market Street

637 Middlesex Street

Information for this address is still being developed. 637 Middlesex Street

289 Westford Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 289 Westford Street

339-349 Westford Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 343 Westford Street

886 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 886 Central Street

810 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 810 Central Street
Picture of John Norton

886 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 886 Central Street

339-349 Westford Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 343 Westford Street

886 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 886 Central Street

61-63-65 Concord Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 61-63-65 Concord Street

637 Middlesex Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
637 Middlesex Street
 

1018-1022 Gorham Street:
  Focus: Louis G. Stoloff

Morris Stoloff was born about 1876 in Vilna, Russia (now Lithuania) and Annie Moskowitz was a couple years older. They married around 1894, emigrated to England shortly afterwards, and came to the U.S. about 1899. They settled in the Jewish community on Railroad Street and Morris found a job in a junkyard working for a fellow Russian-Jewish immigrant. They had three children, Mildred, Meyer, and Louis. To help make ends meet and send their youngest to college, Annie ran a grocery store out of their home from 1909 to 1917.

Louis attended MIT, studying civil engineering, but his father fell ill with TB (dying in 1925). Louis returned home in 1922 to start a grocery store, probably with the help of his mother, who was familiar with a smaller version of the business. The building at 1018-1022 Gorham Street was three stories, like its neighbors, but a fire in 1934 destroyed the upper two stories. Louis removed them, patched the ceiling, and, showing good marketing sense, notified the newspapers that he was opening a modern, new store at 1022. The following pictures appeared in the newspaper on opening day.

Louis G. Stoloff
Picture of Louis G Stoloff from 1924

Picture of Stoloff's Market in 1924

Stoloff ran the store until 1945 when his other business interests started taking most of his time. His older sister, who had been working there since it opened, ran it for a couple years and then sold it to a World War II veteran. (She moved on to work in retail clothing and department stores, including one started by one of Louis' sons.) In 1957 the store was purchased by a French-Canadian, Ed LeLacheur, who ran it until around 1977 (when he became Lowell's state senator). After that it alternated between a restaurant, a bar, a grocery store again, and a bar again, which it is today.


Another Stoloff business: Lowell Trucking Company

Louis Stoloff started the Lowell Trucking Company with his brother Meyer Stoloff, an experienced "truckman,"in 1929 and ran it until about 1957. It was variously located on First Street and Chelmsford Street and moved to 51 Nottingham Street in 1942 (next to the textile mill Louis started -- see below). Meyer was an interesting story by himself. He started in the junk business with his father and started a couple businesses on his own (fruit, junk, trucking with a friend) before settling in to the trucking business with his brother. After the trucking company closed, he switched to the New Knit company. In the meantime, he became a local championship golfer, a bush pilot, and a prize-winning big game hunter in Alaska and the West.

City directory ad for Lowell Trucking Company about 1950 This ad appeared in the Lowell City Directory in 1950.


A third Stoloff business: New Knit Manufacturing Company

In 1935, Louis and some friends took over a knitting mill and renamed it the New Knit Manufacturing Company. This had to be the height of ethnic success in Lowell: entering the business that Yankees began when they started the city! He ran the mill until his retirement about 1970, at which time a son took over. The mill finally closed about 1979, one of the last left in the city.

New Knit had offices and manufacturing facilities in different locations but by 1952 had consolidated at 21 Nottingham Street. These pictures show that mill building in the year 2000. (It is now empty -- immediately below.)

Picture of 21 Nottingham Street

The building still has remnants of the New Knit name on it. It was painted over by a circuit board company but is showing through again.

Picture of the side of 21 Nottingham Street showing New Knit Manufacturing sign, faded

11-15-17 Concord Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 11-15-17 Concord Street

373-375 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 373-375 Central Street

165 Lakeview Avenue

Orientation map showing location of Centralville in Lowell and 165 Lakeview Avenue This address in Centralville provided shelter and business success for two Irish families (father and son) and two Polish families (father and son-in-law) but little luck to a French-Canadian printer and a Polish blacksmith. The segregation of Yankees and immigrants, both in business and residence, was almost complete in this neighborhood in the time covered .

Picture of 165 Lakeview Avenue

This three-story, wood-frame building probably replaced an earlier building about 1900. It contained a commercial space on the first floor (left entrance above, 165) and apartments on the upper two floors (right entrance, 161). It has been reconverted to all residential.

The address was originally 77 River Street. The street name was changed and all the houses on the block were renumbered, turning this into 165 Lakeview Avenue (although no lake is in sight).

John McCluskey, Irishman

Did Richard and Margaret McCluskey immigrate to the new world? They came in 1847 when they were about 67 and 58 years old. It's more likely that they were brought along by their children when the children immigrated --  Patrick, Michael, Dennis, Margaret, Ann, and John, ranging in age from 33 to 10.

Richard didn't work after he arrived but most of the children worked in the mills. Even John was working in 1850 when his father told the Census taker that the 13-year-old was a 20-year-old laborer, not at school. John probably wasn't present when the Census taker called so there was no reason to doubt the father. Child labor was common in those days.

John continued in the mills until 1864, when he was 27.  Then he opened a grocery store at 11 River Street, a few doors down from Bridge Street, the main road in Centralville. This area north of the river had been annexed by Lowell from Dracut just recently (1851) and was just starting to grow. There were three grocery stores on Bridge Street within three blocks, all run by Yankees, and one on River Street run by Irishman William Courtney, a block away. The other four stores lasted a while, Courtney's for 30 years, but John's failed quickly. He was back in the mills in 1865.

The area was full of Irish immigrants. The McCluskeys lived at 5 Brown's Court, a private courtyard between two houses on Lakeview. So did Charles Callahan and at least three other Callahan families over the next few years. In 1860, Charles married the girl next door, Ann McCluskey, John's sister. Alas, in a story all too common in those days, Ann died of TB in 1864. The ex-brothers-in-law stayed friends, however. Charles, originally a mill worker, opened a grocery store in 1868. John went to work for him in 1870 at 42 River Street, just a block from his own first store. He stayed until 1880 when he opened his second store at 77 River Street.

Thumbnail map showing grocery locations in Lower Centralville Opening a store only a block from your former employer would be considered unfriendly today but it probably wasn't at the time. Grocery stores must have been different in those days, catering much more to the individual needs of their customers and getting along on low volume. There were four other stores even closer to Callahan than McCluskey. Within three blocks there were 14 stores, one with another Callahan. Look at a larger map to see how close these stores were and which were run by immigrants.

McCluskey married Mary Owens, daughter of James and Margaret, probably another resident of Brown's Court.  Families were close in these days. One of Mary's sisters lived with them for at least ten years before moving into the house next door with another widowed sister for another fifteen. Andrew Owens, likely Mary's nephew, and John's brother, Dennis, both worked in the store and lived with them for a time.

Newspaper picture of Doctor Richard J. McCluskey
Dr.Richard J. McCluskey

John and Mary had three children, Margaret J, James, and Richard J, traditionally named after their grandparents. John's prosperity meant he could see his children educated. Margaret graduated from college and became a teacher at the Lakeview Avenue Primary School, just down the street. She became the principal there for thirty years. James and Richard went to Holy Cross, a Catholic private college in Worcester.

John ran the store until 1898, at which time he turned it over to his son, Richard, recently graduated from Holy Cross. Richard McCluskey was as successful as his father in the business, gaining the respect of many as witnessed by his election to the city's board of aldermen in 1901 and 1902. However, he was an ambitious college graduate and wanted more. In 1903, the McCluskeys moved out of the store to a more stately home half mile north on Methuen Street. Richard closed the store and went to medical school at Columbia, staying in New York for his internship. He returned in 1910 and set up private practice. He became a staff member of St. John's hospital and met a young nurse, Mary Lee. They married in 1922 when she was 29 and he was 49 and quickly had three children.

Two years after getting married, Richard took his wife, his infant daughter, and his sister to Europe. He indulged his religious enthusiasm by visiting the shrine at Lourdes and gave stereopticon lectures on it upon returning home. The family visited Ireland, land of his forebears, no doubt meeting many relatives before returning from Cobh, the port of city Cork.

The store at 77 River Street, now 165 Lakeview Avenue, led to successful careers for the McCluskeys, father, son, daughter and many family members.

Interim businesses: French-Canadian Nadeau and Polish Czekanski

After the McCluskeys moved away in 1903, the building lay unused except for boarders in the rooms upstairs until a young French-Canadian restarted the grocery store. Camille Nadeau's father had come to Lowell in the 1880s, residing in Centralville in the 1890s and working as a baker. In 1898 Camille was 22 years old and working for a printer. In 1901 he started a grocery store in the heart of "Little Canada." He must have been reasonably successful, staying  there for five years before moving back to Centralville to 165 Lakeview in 1906. It's likely he was just hanging on, however, because he lasted just two more years as a grocer and by 1908 was back working as a printer.

The building was empty again for a year. Anton Czekanski had arrived in Lowell from Poland in 1902 and worked as a blacksmith for several years. He tried his own business exactly one year, 1909, reopening the grocery at 165 Lakeview. In 1910 he was back smithing and didn't try again through 1922, after which we've lost track of him.

Adam Korzeniewski Grocery and Leo Costello Drug Store

Ad from 1909 Lowell City Directory Czekanski's timing was bad. Another Polish immigrant, Adam Korzeniewski had started a grocery store specializing in meat at 169 Lakeview, right next door. After Czekanski failed, Adam bought the 161-165 Lakeview building and ran a grocery store there for 21 years. Korzeniewski was born in 1876 and had immigrated in 1903. His wife, Amelia (Berlach), had four children from a previous marriage and one of them, Oswald Weiser, worked in the grocery store until he left for Detroit. Adam and Amelia had two children of their own, Sofia, and Roman, both of whom clerked in the store when they were old enough.

The area was rapidly changing from Irish to Polish and Adam was an active change agent. He served as president for twenty years of the Lowell Chapter of the Polish National Home Association (Dom Polska). Its meeting hall was just two  buildings down, on the corner of Coburn. By 1932 there was also the Polish-American Citizens Club at 63-73 Lakeview, the Polish Falcon Club at 133 Lakeview, the Polish National Citizens Club at 196 Lakeview, and St Kazmierz Polish National Catholic Church at 250 Lakeview.

Adam's father, Blazej, immigrated in 1911 and lived with Adam in the twenties. He was a source of pride in that Polish neighborhood, having taken part in the Polish Insurrection of 1863, an uprising against Tsarist rule. Adam's sister, Franciszka, arrived in 1913 and settled two blocks away, on the corner of Coburn and West L Street.

Adam's daughter Sophie (as she became known), married Ludwik V Kosztyla, later known as Leo Costello. Leo was born in this country one year after his parents, Josef and Marya, arrived from Poland in 1898. Josef worked in the mills all his life, but Leo started an apprenticeship in a local drug store in 1916. He married Sophie in 1920 and they lived above the store with Adam, Amelia, Ramon, three step-children, and a boarder who made sausage for the store. In 1928 Leo started his own drug store a mile away at 245 Gorham Street, taking it over from a second generation French-Canadian.

Soon after, Roman changed his name to Raymond Adams, possibly at the instigation of his wife Vera (Gerry), whose Yankee credentials were sullied only by an Irish grandfather. It's not certain what the family dynamic was in 1931, but Raymond moved out and Leo took over the store space. Did Leo gain favored status because he was successful with the drug store so he was given the 165 Lakeview storefront, prompting Raymond to move away and start his own? Or did they all agree to let Leo take the store instead of traveling to Gorham Street every day (only a mile) and have Raymond carry on the family grocery nearby? Whatever the case, Ray moved in with his in-laws on Hampshire Street a few blocks north and started his own grocery store in 1931. This store was at 247 Lakeview, a block down from his father’s store and the site of a grocery for at least fifty years (Irish, then Scottish, then Irish), which means it had been a competitor of his father’s since the beginning.

There were only 11 private owners of grocery stores the last year of Adam's ownership, compared to 19 in 1903. An indicator of future change was the appearance of corporate chain stores, one on Coburn and five on Bridge Street. Chain stores were not owned by the people who managed them. Chains and the Depression reduced grocery stores radically in this part of Centralville, whether owned by immigrants or Yankees. There were only eight stores left by 1938: three immigrant, one Yankee, and four chain.


Picture of Bridge Street at Lakeview Avenue 1931.
Bridge at Lakeview, 1931 (bigger picture available)
Courtesy Center for Lowell History

Apparently Vera died in 1936 because Ray alone moved back to the upper floors of his father’s building in 1937. At about the same time, he moved his grocery store to a prime location just off the bridge, 329 Bridge, site of a long time Yankee grocery, and renamed it Adams Market. After two years living back home, Raymond disappeared from Lowell between 1939 and 1943. One is tempted to think of World War II service in Poland, inspired by his grandfather. Adam came out of retirement and ran Adams Market from 1939-1949.

In 1942 Leo Costello closed up his drugstore at 165 Lakeview and purchased another in a prime location, Noonan’s Drug Store at 305 Bridge, keeping Noonan’s name. This address was two buildings down from Adams Market, on the corner of Bridge and First Streets, the first intersection coming off the bridge over the river.

Raymond came back to Lowell in 1944 with a new wife, Rita B, and started working as a meat cutter in the Acre while living on Worthen Street. A year later, Ray and Rita moved back to live on Lakeview with Adam and the Costellos moved out, first to  Methuen Street, still in Centralville, and later to southeast Lowell. Leo kept the Noonan Drugstore until he died in 1954. Adam retired a second time in 1950 at age 76 and Raymond became proprietor of Adam’s Market again. Adam, even though retired, was clearly the heart of the enterprise. Raymond kept it going only one year after Adam’s death in 1954. Ray and Rita moved to Rea Street, on the far southeast part of town only three blocks away from his widowed sister, Sophie, and took wage-paying jobs.
Ethnic Separation

It is interesting to look at the micro-neighborhood bounded by Lakeview Avenue, Coburn Street, Bridge Street, and West Third Street over the years.

In the 4 years that marked the transitions mentioned above (1864, 1880, 1903, 1930), counting just the local owners, there were 32 grocery stores west of Bridge Street (on Lakeview and Coburn). None were owned by Yankees; all were owned by immigrants or sons. There were 18 stores on Bridge street, 13 Yankees and 5 immigrants.

Clip art showing wall with immigrant on the west side of Bridge Street and Yankees on the right.

The homes of the store owners showed the same separation. Only one Yankee owner ever lived west of Bridge Street; 12 lived on or east of Bridge. Of the 34 immigrant owners, 29 lived west of Bridge; only 5 east.

In this micro-neighborhood and at this time, Yankees just didn’t mix with immigrants.

172 Lakeview Avenue
  Focus: Emil Banas

Emil Banas was born in 1887 in Kozlowek, Galicia, which was part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire then and is southwest Poland now. He followed his brother Izydor to the U.S. about 1906 (Izydor arrived in 1903), coming through Ellis Island along with many immigrants of the time. Emil settled in Lowell, going a bit further east than his brother, who settled in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.

Map showing the location of Kozlowek in Southern Poland, just north of Slovakia

Line drawing of a photographer under the hood of an old style camera

Emil learned the trade of photographer (probably from a Norwegian) and started his own business by 1909 at 90 Bridge Street, a building with dozens of business. It was an old boarding house converted a few years previously to businesses and three upper floors of apartments.

Modern picture of the Sirk Block on Bridge Street after renovation

Along the way, Emil met and married Anna Magierowicz, who also came from Poland and who was working as a dressmaker. Anna had immigrated in 1903 with, or shortly after, a brother named Andrew (Andrezej), who became a baker for many years in Lowell. Emil and Anna had two children.


City Business Directory ad for Banas Studio

Together, Emil and Anna provided a unique photographic service at the time. Emil took and enlarged pictures and Anna used her dressmaker expertise to transfer them to pillows. It would be very interesting if we could find one of those pillows and compare the ubiquitous product in U.S. malls, modern photographic transfers onto T-shirts, to her "...Water Color Pillow Tops, Silk, Satin, and Sateen...."


In 1911, Emil invested in a three-story boarding house on Lakeview Avenue, just north of downtown, across the Merrimack River, in a neighborhood called Centralville. It was a Polish section of town, directly across from a Polish grocer, Adam Korzeniewski, at 165 Lakeview Avenue, also one of the locations in this project. Also across the street was Dom Polski, the Polish National Home Association, and down one block was St. Kazmierz Polish Catholic Church. In 1917, Emil transferred his photography business there and also started a variety store, later concentrating on dry goods (probably under Anna's direction). Over the years, they also added shoes. The family lived in a building behind the store and the upper floors were still apparently rented out.


Lakeview Avenue was an important street at the time. It was the major road next to the river on that side, had many shops, and had a trolley line. This is a 1931 picture of Lakeview Avenue looking west toward Emil's three-story building with a mansard roof. You can see the most of the Banas name on the second floor side of the store, "anas". With a magnifying glass you can see "Naklad Fotograficzny," roughly "photographic impressions" or "artistic photography" at the bottom right. It looks as if it was repeated in English at top left. The sign above the display window says "Kitchen Wares" (in English).

Picture of Lakeview Avenue in 1931 showing Banas building

Newspaper clipping of picture of Janina Banas

Unfortunately, success in business doesn't guarantee good health. Anna died in July 1933 and their younger daughter, Janina, died six months later at age 19. The older daughter, Emilia, started medical school at Tufts but only got as far as her third year, when.she, too, grew sick. Her obituary gives a hint of the problem: "She spent most of the last five years in the sanitarium" before coming come to die in December 1942, at age 30. Emil spent the next fifteen years alone until his retirement. He probably had a clue that he wasn't going to live much longer and he married a widow living one of his buildings behind the store, Leokadja Galej Piekarski, perhaps to leave his estate to a fellow countryman.


After Emil retired, the store was turned into a "Emile's Food Market", run by Emile Garboski. It was then occupied by the Lowell Window Shade Company for many years, lasting through Leokadja's death and the store's subsequent sale to another landlord. When this picture was taken in 2000, it was occupied by La Reinita, a Spanish-American grocery.

Picture of 172 Lakeview Avenue in 2000, with La Reinita Market awning sign

In 2003, the buildings behind the store were demolished and the store now stands gutted and stripped of its siding, awaiting completion of its latest renovation.

Picture of 172 Lakeview Avenue during renovation in 2003

92-98 Gorham Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 92-98 Gorham Street

395-397 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 395-397 Central Street

373-375 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 373-375 Central Street

181-183 East Merrimack Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 181-183 East Merrimack Street
City Business Directory ad for The Erie Telegraph and Telephone Company
City Business Directory ad for A.C. Sanborn, Broker

42-48 Mammoth Road

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 42-48 Mammoth Road

163 Merrimack Street

After thirty years with a Yankee owner, this location had ten immigrant proprietors over the next thirty years. None stayed longer than six years but their careers before and after this location, especially their connections to other immigrants, are extensive.

The building

This 3-1/2-story, wood-frame building was erected about 1860 and was later expanded with wood-frame additions. It later acquired a store on the first floor with an entrance located on the corner of East Merrimack and Fayette streets. The entrances on Fayette in the early days were alternate entrances to the store. Most proprietors of the stores in the building lived above the store, through the door on the left.

The building  had addresses initially numbered as 93, 99, and 101 East Merrimack Street until the street renumbering of 1895 when it became 163, 165, and 167. At the same time, the multiple entrances on Fayette Street were renumbered to 100 to 112.

 

Photograph of 163 East Merrimack Street

William E. Somes 1866-1894, Yankee

William E. Somes, a Yankee, was in the bakery business in Lowell as early as 1850 and was running his own business at this property by at least 1866.  The bakery was initially located at the 1 Fayette Street entrance to the building, with his residence and store at the East Merrimack entrance; by 1880 he used the East Merrimack street address consistently.  After about forty-five years in the bakery business, Somes died in 1894, owning four buildings fronting E. Merrimack and Fayette.

Thomas F. Brennan 1895-1899, Irish

Somes was succeeded in the bakery business by Thomas F. Brennan, who arrived in the US from Ireland in 1886 at age 19. He was working as a baker by 1890 and it’s possible that he worked for Somes in 1894 since he lived with his family in a house at 245 Concord Street, four blocks away from the bakery. In any case, in 1895, Brennan took over the business after Somes died. Shortly afterward, like most of his successors, he moved into 167 East Merrimack, the upstairs of the bakery building. Business must have been good at first for he stayed for five years but failure was in the wind the last year – he moved back to 237 Concord Street in 1899 while still running the bakery. He left 163 East Merrimack the next year, 1900. He and his wife, Delia started a grocery store in their residence that year and then Delia’s name was on the store in 1901 while Thomas worked as a baker at the City Farm in 1901-1902, his last years in that profession.

In 1903 Brennan became a clerk at the Elias A. McQuade Liquor Store on Market Street. We can speculate that Brennan made contact with Elias through his next door neighbor on Concord Street, James A. McQuade. James was a policeman in the station across the street from Elias’ liquor store on Market Street, and was likely a relative of Elias. After learning the liquor trade, in 1906, Brennan joined with a man by the name of O’Connell and opened his own liquor store at 224 Middlesex Street, a respectable distance away from his former employer, taking over from James H. Doyle.In 1908 he bought out O’Connell and ran the store himself until he died in 1910. His wife, Delia, having had experience in retail with their grocery store, took over the liquor store but was not publicly acknowledged as proprietor in the City Directory; it was probably considered unseemly for a woman to run a liquor store. Her son, John S. Brennan, was a clerk at the store and the other children probably also served as clerks. She ran it until her death in 1921.

Patrick McCartin 1900-1902, Irish

Another Irish-born baker, Patrick McCartin, was the proprietor of 163 East Merrimack from 1900-1902.  Patrick was the eldest of three brothers (the other two being Michael and Frank) who immigrated successively when they each reached about 21 years of age.

The two older brothers initially got jobs in the mills. Patrick arrived in 1876 and we first find him at his marriage in 1883 to Irish-born Delia Doherty, working as a moulder. They had five children: Francis P, Anne J, James Joseph, Mary Etta (or Marietta), and Catherine A.  Patrick escaped the mills to become a horse car driver for the Lowell Street Railroad (the city trolleys) from 1889-1892. Michael arrived in 1883 and we get our first sight of him working as an operative at the time of his marriage to Irish-born Cecilia Woods. They had six children between 1887 and 1899: Mary Elizabeth, Anna S, Joseph Patrick, James Bartholomew, Cecilia Frances, and Vincent Michael.

Picture from Lowell Sun March 17, 1898, labeled "Frank McCartin, the Popular Baker who Died in Savannah, Ga."Frank, the youngest brother, was the primary entrepreneur of the three. He apparently didn’t like the idea of mill work and stopped in Gloucester upon arrival in this country in 1888. There he found a job as a baker, two years later opened his own shop, and then came to Lowell to live with Patrick in 1892. He had done well in Gloucester and immediately opened two bakeries, at 169 Chapel Street and 107 Gorham Street. In 1894 he married Kate Morrow, daughter of Irish immigrants Hugh and Catherine. Due to Frank’s success, it was a society wedding. The Lowell Sun described it in the typical society style that hasn’t changed in over a century: “The bride was attired in a beautiful dress of white silk trimmed in duchesse lace and carried a bought of bridal roses, the bridesmaid in pink silk with a corsage bouquet of roses.” They moved into a large new house at 71 Dover Street, in the Highlands neighborhood, far (in those days) from the downtown area and almost a mile and a half from the stores: “Mr. McCartin’s new home is elegantly furnished and is fitted up with all the modern conveniences of a first class dwelling.”

Patrick went to work for Frank a year after Frank’s arrival in Lowell (1893) but Michael had just left for Australia in 1892. Upon returning in 1896, Michael joined his brothers, becoming the third McCartin baker. Michael worked at 107 Gorham and Frank added a third bakery that year at 26 Concord Street, where Patrick became the manager. Frank was successful enough by 1897 to close the Chapel Street store and sell Patrick the 26 Concord Street bakery, leaving Frank with just the Gorham store, helped there by Michael. Sadly, Frank died the next year, 1898, only thirty-three years old.  Frank’s wife, Kate, took over proprietorship of the bakery. Michael continued at the Gorham Street store, working for Kate. He was later joined by a son, Joseph Patrick, in 1910-1912.  We don’t know if Kate was just the owner in name or whether she took active part in the store, but when Michael’s son was working there, it’s unlikely the single store needed three bakers. In 1913, Michael started his own bakery at 22 Concord Street, in the same building Frank had expanded to fifteen years earlier. Kate continued by herself for two years but closed the Gorham Street store when she remarried in late 1914.

Michael showed that slow and steady wins the day. His shop on Concord Street continued almost twenty years until he retired about 1931.  Daughter Cecilia worked as a cashier in the store for fifteen years after graduating from high school and Joseph stayed as a baker until 1924, when he moved Syracuse, NY, married, traveled further to Indianapolis, where he became the superintendent of a large bakery. Vincent probably worked in the bakery but it was never full time. He went to college and become a teacher in the Lowell Public Schools. He made his parents extremely proud in 1934 when he became Superintendant of schools in Lowell, the very same school system he had grown up with. Even more to the glory of an Irish family, the other of Michael’s sons became a priest and just as gloriously, Patrick also had a son who became a priest. In the tradition of the day, both these sons had been named after their grandfather, James Bartholomew and James Joseph. Not coincidentally, the priests became assistant pastors of Immaculate Conception parish, diagonally across the corner from 163 East Merrimack Street and served together for many years. The parish was run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a missionary society. In later years, the cousins served as missionaries in the not-so-wild west – Gary, Indiana, during World War II – before returning to Lowell.

We now return our focus to Patrick and 163 East Merrimack. When it became available in 1900, just two blocks away from his shop at 26 Concord, he grabbed it immediately, running both for a year.  He dropped the Concord Street store in 1901 but lasted only one more year on his own. After ten years as a baker, five as his own boss, Patrick quit in 1903.

Lowell electrical trolley (restored)Patrick returned to his last pre-bakery job, the trolleys of Lowell’s Street Railway Company where he had been a horse car driver – but alas, they had converted to electricity by then. Nonetheless, he remained a conductor there until he retired in the mid-1920s.

Patrick’s son, Francis P, or Frank P, as he quickly became known, was the immigrant family’s greatest entrepreneurial success. He started at age 18 in 1905 as a helper and then as an electrician working for Derby & Morse Electrical Contractors (both owners were Yankees) at 64 Middle Street. He started work in Boston in 1911 as an electrician and the next year went into sales. In 1912, he married Margaret P. Walsh, born in North Dakota of a Vermont father and Irish mother. They had fourteen children from 1914 to 1929, one of whom became an Oblate priest and one an Oblate Brother.

Logo for the Frank P. McCartin Co.After five years in sales, in 1917 Frank P became vice-president of R. V. Pettingell Electric Supply Company in Boston, still living in Lowell. After ten years there, in 1927 he started the Frank P. McCartin Company for wholesale electrical supplies in Lowell. It was originally located at 183 Market Street, one block away from where he started as an electrician on Middle Street. For a long time it remained very much a family company. In 1956, five of his children worked for him at the company, three as vice-presidents, one as an accountant, and one as a salesman. The company remains successful, continuing to this day at 149 Congress Street in Lowell, just about a mile from where it started, with son John Peter McCartin still the CEO.

George Watson 1903, Scottish

George Watson ran the bakery at 163 East Merrimack Street for only one year but was a baker in Lowell from 1891 to 1932.

The name Watson was common in Lowell, seventy-seven being found in the 1900 Census in sixteen households, of whom seven were named George. We can, however, distinguish three as the family of our George (we’ll call him George II, born in 1862); his father was George (call him George I, born 1839) and his son was George (George III, 1887).  The father of George I was also a George but he appears to have stayed in Scotland.

The older two Georges came to the US from Scotland in April of 1888, followed in August by George I’s wife Agnes and daughters, Phyllis, Kate, and Marion.  George II’s wife, Agnes (Heap), followed shortly afterwards with their children, George III and Agnes Orr. Once in the US, George II and Agnes had one more child, Jessie A.

The older two Georges were bakers in Scotland and set up their own bakery almost immediately; in 1891, they were in business at 240 Market Street.  Over the years they were quite successful, opening several stores. In 1901, the year George I died at age 62, there were George Watson bakeries at four locations: George I at 553 Gorham and 374 Market, and George II at 186 Lakeview and 353 Bridge. George II inherited his father’s two and added one more in 1902 at 187 Broadway for a very respectable five store chain.

In those days women didn’t inherit from a father when there were sons, but George II was a good guy (or, more likely, managing all those bakeries was too much). A year later, 1903, sister Phyllis, who had been working as a clerk for her father and then her brother, became the proprietor of two of the stores in her own name (Market and Gorham). George II kept the Lakeview store and added our favorite bakery at 163 East Merrimack. Ad for George Watson, Jr, Bakery from 1902 Lowell City Directory

The siblings dropped the Broadway and Bridge stores in 1903 and the East Merrimack store in 1904, leaving George with one store and Phyllis with two for a couple years. George retrieved the Bridge Street store in 1906 for two years and then in 1908, Phyllis dropped her two but took over Bridge Street, leaving them with one store each, George II on Lakeview and Phyllis on Bridge. Phyllis lived just couple blocks away from her store with her sister Marion in houses on Fifth Street, then Seventh Street. George lived on Jewett Street, about five blocks north of his store. Brother, sisters, and both stores were all in five minutes walking distance.

It’s unclear why George II kept the East Merrimack store for only a year since the Watsons continued running multiple bakeries with family help. All three of George’s children worked full time at the stores for a time, the daughters leaving when they got married, Jessie in 1913 and Agnes in 1915. George III worked alternately at his father and aunt’s stores until 1915. Phyllis ran her stores with her sister Marion’s help until 1917. After giving up the bakery, both Phyllis and Marion worked for a while in department stores. Phyllis returned to work for her brother from 1922 until 1928, at which time she stayed home to care for Marion until Marion died and then trained to become a nurse, a major career change at age 45. George retired in 1933. The next year, Phyllis moved in with George and his wife while continuing to work as a nurse at least until 1938.

George III worked in the bakeries of his father and his Aunt Phyllis but was restless. In 1909, at 22, he tried his luck in California but returned the next year, putting in another six years as a baker for his father and aunt. The year 1915 found him painting signs for a company on Middle Street. 

In 1916 he married Annie Ferguson. Annie’s father, Hugh Ferguson came to the US from England in 1886 and worked in Fitchburg as a cook, manager of a pool hall, and proprietor of a hotel/boarding house in Fitchburg.  Her mother worked as a spinner in a Fitchburg mill.  Hugh moved the family to Boston around 1910 and then to Lowell in 1911, where he became the proprietor of the St. James Hotel at 533 Middlesex Street.  Hugh must have made out pretty well with the hotel since he was able to live in the seashore village of Willowdale in the town of Ipswich, Massachusetts.  After the marriage in 1916, George III became co-proprietor with Hugh for the new Cecil Hotel at 532 Middlesex Street, in direct competition to the St. James across the street.  Shortly after, Hugh moved to Florida but George continued as co-proprietor of the hotel with his brother-in-law, William Ferguson.  In 1926 George moved to Florida to be with his mother-in-law after Hugh died in 1923. He was unemployed (or perhaps, rich and didn’t need to work) at the time of the Census of 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression.

Simon A. Cavanagh 1904-1906, Irish

Simon A. Cavanagh was the next baker at 163 East Merrimack from 1904-1906. His parents, Edward and Mary (Flanigan) were both born in Ireland but had moved to Scotland after marriage in 1869 and had six children there (two boys and four girls). In the early 1870s they immigrated to Lowell, where Edward worked as a fireman in the mills starting in 1874 until he died in January 1902.

Simon was born about 1872 in Scotland and, coming to adulthood in Lowell, never moved away from the house his parents bought in 1880 at 98 Andover Street. After they died, Simon and two sisters continued living there.

Simon worked for a furniture retailer until 1902 when he became a partner in a real estate firm, Smith & Cavanagh, located in the Donovan Building at 265 Central Street.  We don’t know where he got the know-how for a bakery but the next year he started the bakery as well. Being in real estate, he probably saw the property come on the market, purchased it as an investment, and hired others to do the work. He gave up the bakery after 1906, but kept on with the real estate business, going entirely on his own in 1910. He died unmarried at age 38 the very next year.

Thomas F. Booth 1907-1912, English2-Irish2

Baker Thomas F. Booth succeeded Cavanagh, remaining at 163 Merrimack Street for six years, the most for a non-Yankee.  His parents were Samuel, an immigrant from England, and Mary Welch, an immigrant from Ireland. They met and married in New Bedford in while Samuel was a mill worker in the mid 1860s and had six children. When Thomas was born in 1876 in Boston, Samuel was working as a pipefitter but was reported to be a simple laborer at other events. By 1900, Samuel had died and Thomas was living with his mother and sister Genevieve in Cambridge, MA, where we first see him at age 24, working as a baker.

Thomas came to Lowell in 1907 to take over the bakery at 163 East Merrimack. For the first three years he lived five blocks away at 179 Stackpole Street. This must have been a desirable address, with no industry nearby and directly overlooking the Merrimack River to a lightly built residential area on the other side. Today the site is in the middle of a new road built for a bridge across that river. In 1910, he moved to 69 High Street, on the corner of East Merrimack on the same block as the bakery; he still lived with his mother and his sister Genevieve. They all left Lowell after 1912, showing up in 1918 living in Belmont, MA, Thomas still a baker. He and his mother were living with his sister Genevieve but now also with Genevieve’s new husband, Irishman John F. Fitzgerald, who was working in a print shop. They stayed in Belmont until at least 1922 and then headed west. 

In 1930, Thomas, Genevieve, and John were living together in Los Angeles. Thomas was still a baker and John still worked in printing. Thomas died in Los Angeles in 1948.

Mrs. Mary J. Carroll 1913, Irish

The tenure of Mrs. Mary J. Carroll was not the shortest of the bakers of 163 East Merrimack Street (there were four others who stayed only one year) but she is the only woman. She became the proprietor, as was often the case in those days, when her husband died. The story of the family is filled with bakers.

William A. Carroll was born in Ireland in 1861, as was Mary J. in 1872. They married in 1888 when she was only 16 and had one child a year for the next three years. William departed for Manchester, New Hampshire in 1891 and Mary followed two years later. There they had four more children before moving to Lowell, where they had another two.

There are two reasons to believe that William had been a baker in Ireland:  he worked as a baker as soon as he got to Manchester in 1892; and his father, who joined him in 1895, was a baker.  In Lowell in 1905, William had a shop at 131 Gorham Street, at the corner of Winter Street, and lived upstairs with his still increasing family.

As is usual in a family business, William’s children helped in the baker but there were too many of them for a single store, especially when they could be earning money from the outside to help the family. In 1909, the two oldest children were at other bakeries, not as bakers, but as clerks who knew the bakery business; Margaret J., 19, worked at the Dudley L. Page Bakery on Merrimack and Mary E., 18, worked at the Anthony Lavery Bakery on Bridge. That same year, William’s father, who had been helping in the family bakery, died, so more help was needed. In 1910, Mary E. returned to her father’s store and the next younger daughter, Elizabeth, now 19, also clerked there. Margaret still worked for Page’s Bakery and the next in line, Patrick, at only 15, worked at Mary’s previous employer, Anthony Lavery, but at his other bakery on Broadway. Interestingly, Patrick was listed as a baker, not a clerk – perhaps it was a male prerogative to be a baker at that time.

Line drawing graphic of where the Carrolls moved from year to year.In 1911, the employment shuffling continued. You may wish to refer to the figure on the right as a scorecard. (t's not that useful but almost seems intelligible if you're sleepy at this point of story.) Patrick came back to his father’s store and Mary E. went to work for Thomas F. Booth at, of all places, 163 East Merrimack Street! Things continued changing in 1912 with Patrick trying to get away from the bakery business by working as a cigar maker. William died late in the year (at 50) and, in 1913, Mary J. became the proprietor of the Gorham Street store. She also took over our East Merrimack bakery when Thomas Booth left that same year, likely to save Mary E.’s workplace. Margaret left Lavery’s to help out at the family store, and Patrick returned to baking (in 1915 he was at the Friend Brothers Bakery at 2 Westford Street, one of the largest in the city).

Mary J. and Mary E. gave up the East Merrimack Street store after one year but kept the Gorham Street store until 1915 with the help of Elizabeth. After that, Mary E. clerked and Patrick baked for a grocery store down the street (James Smith Provisions) in 1916 but that didn’t work. Mary E. and younger sister Catherine tried their hands at dressmaking in 1917. Catherine continued in the mills for a couple years but Mary E. married in 1917 and disappeared from the commercial workforce. Margaret married in 1920, ending her bakery career.

Patrick returned to baking at a Page bakery on Merrimack Street (same owner as the one Margaret had worked at). From 1922 to 1930, he ran his own bakery, first on Broadway then on Gorham (many blocks down from the old family store). Sister Louise apparently helped in 1920 but went to work in the mills after that until she married in 1931. Patrick settled down as a baker working for others from at least 1932 until 1956.

Mary J. moved to 37 Walnut Street in 1916 after giving up baking and most of the family joined her there.  The address was one that further shows the interconnectedness of the baking fraternity. The house was owned by Charles F. Devno, a long-time grocer on Central Street. (He and his son, Charles D. are discussed in the story of 557 Central.) Frederick L. Devno was a son of Charles F. and worked at the Friends Bakery at 2 Westford Street from 1910 to 1916, a span that included the years that Patrick Carroll worked there. The Devnos moved to a much larger house and then rented their old house to a co-worker’s family, the Carrolls.

Patrick J. Cronin 1914, Irish

In 1914, Irish-born Patrick J. Cronin was the owner of the bakery at this location.

Patrick came to the U.S. in 1891 at age 23 and his soon-to-be, Anna C. McMahon, came before December, 1898 since that was when they were married in Lowell. Patrick worked as a baker as soon as he arrived: an unknown place in 1891, the John J. Henley Bakery on Suffolk Street in 1892, and the Louis G. Moss Bakery in 1893. After the marriage, the couple returned to Cork, Ireland to start a family. They had twins a year later, 1899, Patrick John and Thomas Augustus (named after his paternal grandfather), followed by Daniel C. in 1902 (named after the other grandfather), then Josephine W. in 1904 (who was called Mary early in life, likely after her paternal grandmother).  It’s possible the family traveled back and forth between Cork and Lowell, returning to have the children born in the home country. Patrick was in the US in 1902 but after that lived in Cork, working as a baker. He returned for good in May, 1906, followed by Anna and the kids in August, 1908. They had their last child in Lowell, Francis M., born in 1909.

Back in Lowell, Patrick continued baking, getting a job at the D.L. Page Bakery on Merrimack Street, one of the largest in town, while living at three different locations over the next four years. We don’t know what prompted him to try running his own store at 163 East Merrimack Street, but the urge lasted only one year. In 1916 he worked at the James McMahon Bakery at 876 Gorham Street. (It would be surprising if James wasn’t a cousin of Patrick’s wife, Anna.) In 1922, he worked at the George Cornock’s Bakery on Bridge Street and in 1932 he was again running his own bakery at 96 Branch Street until he retired a year later.

Domestically, Patrick and Anna had problems. After 1920, they no longer lived together, although they put up a formal front at first with information published in the City Directory.  After five years residence at 175 Charles Street, the transition year was probably 1917 when none of the family showed up in the directory and in 1918 the family was listed at 34 Gorham Street. However, when the twin boys registered for the World War I draft in 1918, they stated their nearest kin was Anna, not Patrick. More telling is that the twin Patrick John registered under the name John F. and used that name the rest of his life, perhaps indicating some desire to disassociate himself from his father.  By the 1920 Census, the separation was formal. Patrick was living with his sister Nora and her husband Charles Welcome at 5 James Street; his brother, Dennis Cronin, also lived there. Anna and the children were living at 34 Gorham, with Anna listed as head of household. In 1922, Anna was in the City Directory as head of the house on Gorham, working as a housekeeper at a private residence. At the same time, keeping up pretenses, Patrick was also listed as head of the house on Gorham, working at the Cornock Bakery on Bridge Street. However, he was also listed living on John Street, just two short blocks from the bakery.  From 1930 on, there was no pretense -- he was listed as living at the Robitaille lodging house on Central Street.

None of Patrick’s children followed their father’s trade. Josephine worked for a short time as an operative in the mills. Thomas became an electrician and Daniel worked as a machinist. John Cronin (formerly Patrick John) went into retail and opened his own store by 1930, first with cigars and then with liquors; Francis worked as a clerk in his brother’s stores.

John J. Carney 1917, Irish

After languishing vacant for two years, the shop at 163 East Merrimack gained yet another Irish baker, John J. Carney in 1917.  John was born in Ireland in 1865 as was his wife Alice McPartland in 1868.  They married in 1887 and had two children, Catherine in 1888 and Mary A. in 1891. Little Mary was only five months old when they immigrated to the US in July, 1891. Steamships were becoming faster in those days but a seven day voyage on a crowded immigrant ship in “Lower Steerage” at the beginning of July must not have been very pleasant, even before adding a five month old.  The couple had three more children in Lowell: Alice D. in 1893, Bernard J. in 1898, and Robert E. in 1900.

John had been a baker in Ireland and immediately found work as a baker in Lowell. From 1893 the family lived in Belvidere, just across the Concord River from downtown, on Laughlin’s Court, half a block from 163 East Merrimack.  They spent a few years at 122 Fayette, a building originally owned by William Somes, adjacent to his much larger building on the corner at 163 East Merrimack, where Somes had operated his bakery.  For at least three years, 1896-98, John Carney worked next door to where he lived, for the Thomas F. Brennan Bakery (see above) at 163 East Merrimack. The next year, 1899, Carney moved on to bake at the City Farm, a job to which he was followed by Brennan in 1901. In 1904, Carney worked at the Annie T. Gormley Bakery at 876 Gorham Street; this same address became the James McMahon Bakery that Patrick Cronin (see above) worked in for a year in 1916.

In 1909, John opened his own bakery at 243 Fayette Street, just two blocks off East Merrimack. He moved the shop to 28 Pleasant Street, a block further south, for 1910 to 1912.  In 1913, he decided that a grocer’s life was more attractive than a baker’s (didn’t have to get up at 4AM to make the doughnuts) and he opened a grocery across the Merrimack River in the Centralville neighborhood at 152 West Street. A year later he moved it about six buildings down to 204 Coburn Street and lived upstairs at 202.

It might have been pure nostalgia to run a bakery in 1917 at 163 East Merrimack Street where he had worked before.  The Centralville grocery store was clearly doing well – it lasted till at least 1920.  Perhaps he took it over just to liquidate the bakery equipment – this was the last year the location hosted a bakery.  For whatever reason, he had the bakery only one year.

He ran his grocery until 1920 and must have been fairly prosperous since he retired at 55 years old and moved about eight blocks east to the more prestigious Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Like many of his generation, he found retirement boring and at age 59 he went back to work at a bakery until he died in 1929, just under 65 years old. None of his children worked at the stores after becoming adults. All three daughters worked in the mills, first as operatives but by 1930 Alice and Mary were bookkeepers and the Catherine became a housekeeper. His only son who lived, Robert, became a printer for the Lowell Courier-Citizen newspaper; all four were unmarried in 1932, with ages ranging from 32 to 44.

George L. Perham 1919-1921 Yankee

After the 163 East Merrimack store sat idle in 1918, George L. Perham was the next proprietor, turning the place into a grocery store, a role it would play for at least the next thirty-seven years.

George was born in Lowell, his father (Foster Perham) was born in Massachusetts, and his mother (Margaret A Burbank) was born in New Hampshire. Both parents’ parents were also born in New Hampshire and Massachusetts so George’s Yankee credentials are solid. His father was a bookkeeper at a liquor store for over thirty years (working for an Irishman, Patrick Lynch) so there wasn’t a family business to follow. After high school, George worked at the grocery store of Clarence G. Coburn at 11 Mammoth Road, just two blocks away from his childhood home at 100 Riverside Street. In 1899 George married a Yankee girl, Stella Wright and, after a year living on Fourth Street, three blocks from the Riverside home, they moved to 53 Lamb Street, another five blocks away but still in Pawtucketville (the neighborhood across the river and west of downtown Lowell). They lived there the rest of their lives.

George worked for Coburn, a fellow Yankee, for ten years, gaining experience in groceries, meats, and provisions, and then tried opening his own grocery on Pleasant Street in 1909. It was a slightly odd choice for a location, about three miles from home, across the river on the other side of downtown, but Lowell had had an extensive trolley system for years, first horse-drawn, then motorized. That lasted only a year and George returned to working in the provisions business for a while and then tried a totally new occupation in 1912, an insurance agent. Again, that lasted only a year and he went back to working in other people’s grocery stores, both north and south of the river. In 1919 he once again tried his own business at the 163 East Merrimack location and ran it until 1921. We don’t know exactly what happened then, but it appears Stella became sick and George quit to take care of her. He didn’t work for two years (at least he didn’t show up the in City Directory).

After Stella died in 1923 George returned to work as a clerk for the Frank R. Strout Provisions store at 329 Bridge Street, a few blocks from home (Strout was another Yankee). He kept his eye on his old store’s neighborhood and when 195 East Merrimack Street (at the other end of the block from the 163 store) became available in 1926, he seized the opportunity. In partnership with Mrs. Georgia B. Quimby, he opened a meat market under the name G.B. Quimby & Co.  Georgia was married to an electrician (Henry) and ran a lodging house at 90 Chestnut Street (also their home). This was apparently her only fling at retail business. Things went well for three years but it the partnership dissolved in 1929. George had moved to Tyngsboro, just west of Lowell at the same time as opening the Quimby store and he remained there until he died in 1931.

Andrew E. Saba 1922-1923 Syrian

In 1922 Andrew Esper Saba, born October 18, 1892 in Syria, ran a provisions store at 163 East Merrimack Street from 1922 to 1923, apparently the only years he spent in Lowell.  We don’t why he came to town for just that time but there are many family connections to consider before focusing on Andrew.

Shaka Saba may have used a fruit cart like this in modern Marrakech Souk, Morocco. From the Seton Hall Library Gallery, photo by Tamara Hill.There were Saba families in Lowell starting in 1897, and they continue to this day.  Shaka Saba, born in Syria in 1881, operated a fruit market at 335 Middlesex, his third year in Lowell. (In an interesting exercise in anglicizing foreign names, Shaka later was known as Shakra G, then George after 1903.)  In 1900, Shaka’s mother, Mankra, and sister, Manoi, lived with him on Farson’s Court (the side door to the Middlesex store).  He operated the market at that location for three years and then became a peddler and an operative for several years, apparently hawking his fruits on the streets in good weather and working in the mills in the bad. In 1909, Shaka/George re-established a confectionery store at 183 Appleton Street, one street over and two blocks closer to the downtown area. (In those days, fruit and confectionery stores often sold the same kinds of goods, namely, something sweet.)

Esper (or Asber or Esber, as he was called at various times) Saba was born in 1864 in Syria. He immigrated in the 1890s and worked in the mills in Lawrence in 1901-1903. In 1909 Esper came to live with George on Middlesex Street and to work in the Lowell mills. The next year, Esper took over the Appleton store, calling it “A. Saba & Sons” Fruits, declaring the proprietors to be Asber, George, and John Saba (although John was not otherwise listed in the City Directory). George Saba, one of the “sons,” was delisted as a proprietor after 1912 (he disappears from sight) and Peter Saba was added.

Actually, the family relations are a bit confused. There had been another George Saba family in Lowell since 1903, George and Rose, with sons Peter and John Asper Saba (along with others). Given that Esper advertised Peter and John as “sons”, there is a strong possibility that this George was Esper’s brother (Esper was born in 1864, George in 1867), making Peter (born 1887) and John A (born 1890) nephews.  To make it more complicated, Peter and John came to live with Esper.  The wording “and Sons” in the company name would simply indicate that it was a family business (although Shaka/George may well have been Esper’s son).

In any case, Asber ran the store until 1915 and then left Lowell. Peter ran the store for another year, worked in the mills for a while until he married a widow, and then operated her grocery store for several years. John also worked in the mills until starting another confectionary store which he ran for about ten years before opening a restaurant and a liquor store, which he ran for many years. One of John’s sons, George Washington Saba, born February 22, 1926, was an example of the patriotism of children of immigrants during World War II. In a newspaper article "George Washington Saba Wants To Join Navy At 17 [sic]”. The article stated “[He] celebrated Washington's birthday and his own too yesterday by volunteering for service in the navy…. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Saba … [said] 'I have always admired my famous namesake,' he told recruiting officers. 'I don't how any better way to celebrate his birthday and mine than by giving my services to the nation he played such an important part in founding.'"

Returning to Andrew, he is not provably Esper Saba’s son, but there is reason to consider it. There is only one person in the entire 1920 Census (out of 892 Sabas) with a given name of Esper/Esber/Asber.  Esper gave his name to a younger, documented daughter, Naifey Esper Saba, so it seemed to be a family tradition. Andrew would be merely another child to have that same middle name. In any case, Esper is a strong presence in Lowell and in another location in Andrew’s life.

Sistersville at the height of second West Virginia oil boom in the 1890s.Andrew immigrated about 1905 and in 1917, at age 25, was in Sistersville, West Virginia (on the Ohio River, bordering Ohio), living with Ace Cassis and working in a store for Joseph Cassis, who lived next door to Ace. Ace and Joseph were co-owners of the store (wholesale groceries) and two other Cassis family members also worked there.  Since Cassis was Andrew’s mother’s maiden name and both these Cassis men were born in Syria, there is a good chance that Ace (born in 1855) was an uncle and Joseph (born in 1878) was a cousin or another uncle.  (There were also family connections in Lowell: George Saba and Simon Cassis shared a building at 64 Adams Street in 1920.)  After Esper left Lowell, he went to West Virginia. In 1920, both Andrew and Esper were working in the West Virginia oil fields and living in Sistersville, although boarding in separate houses.Esper was still in Sistersville, working the oil fields, in the 1930 Census.

Esper had bought news of the Saba’s Lowell entrepreneurial activity when he moved to Sistersville and Andrew eventually decided it was an attractive place to try business on his own.  He married a second-generation Syrian, Hazel, in 1921 and they had twins in Lowell in February, 1922, at the same time he took over the East Merrimack provisions shop. He ran the shop in 1922 and 1923 then, for some unknown reason, left Lowell. He returned to West Virginia where he ran a tobacco shop in 1930 and worked in a retail store in Charleston during the Second World War. After Hazel died in 1982 he moved to California, where he died in 1986.

Ephraim Favreau 1924 French-Canadian*

Ephraim Favreau ran the grocery store after Saba left but his story is even more of a mystery than Saba’s. All we know for certain is that in 1924 he ran the store, that he lived next door at 120 Fayette Street with his wife Melina, and that a Rose Favreau and a Raoul Favreau also lived there (no occupations given and no indication of relation). It’s only on the basis of his name that we guess a French-Canadian background; three of four Favreau families in the 1920 Lowell Census were of French-Canadian background.

There were several families named Favreau in Lowell at the time, notably one running an electrical contracting firm, but Ephraim has no known connection to them. Neither he, Rose, nor Raoul appear in the city directory before 1924 and they are not in the Census for Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Rhode Island in 1920 or 1930. Ephraim and Raoul disappeared from Lowell after 1924. Rose stayed on, working as an accountant in a furniture store for a couple years until she married a second generation French-Canadian in 1926.

The Chain Stores 1925-1945 (Some Irish)

In 1925 the grocery store was run by the Co-operative Grocery Stores Company. The company started in Lowell in 1916 with a single store and by 1925 owned eleven. It is unknown whether this company was associated with others of a similar name and goal in several other states or whether it was a Massachusetts-only corporation. There were many stores by this name in Massachusetts.

Photo of a wood box contain "Finast Choice Boneless Salt Codfish"In 1926 several of those stores in Lowell were taken over by the Michael O’Keeffe Grocery Company, headquartered in Boston. O’Keeffe, an Irish immigrant born in 1867, immigrated in 1886. By the age of 37 he owned forty-two stores in Boston alone and continued expanding. He had purchased his first store in Lowell in 1905 at 54 Middlesex Street. When he took over the 163 East Merrimack store in 1925, it was his tenth in Lowell. He never lived in Lowell.

In 1925 and 1926, O’Keeffe and two other large northeast grocery chains merged to form the First National Stores Company with 1,644 locations. First National operated the store at least until 1945. It became known as Finast until bought by a Netherlands food conglomerate in the 1990s. O’Keeffe himself retired in 1930, a rich man.

Recently (1955- )

In the mid 1950s, a local French-Canadian grocer, Victor P. Beaudette, moved into the shop vacated by First National Stores.  Beaudette and his wife Claire lived in Dracut and commuted to their grocery in Lowell.  The Beaudettes remained at 163 East Merrimack until the early 1960s.  In 1963, the shop was vacant.  In the mid 1970s, a Spanish-speaking (largely Puerto Rican) Pentecostal group opened a “storefront” church called Iglesia Pentecostal Universal and stayed more than 25 years. It is now a brightly lighted computer showroom for SM Computing.

Thoughts about locations

The ten first or second generation immigrants discussed here (those with headings above, less Somes and Perham, who were Yankees) are summarized in Figure 4. There were six Irish, one second generation son of an English-Irish marriage, one Scot, one Syrian, and one French-Canadian. Some of them worked in the mills before starting their own business, some worked for other bakers, grocers, or furniture dealers, and some immediately open their own shops. Few of them succeeded in the sense of continuing to own their own shops for the rest of their life; indeed, several lasted only one year as an owner.

They worked all over the city. Where they worked before and after their stint at 163 East Merrimack Street is plotted in the figure below. Red dots are locations at which they owned their own businesses; blue are locations at which they worked for other people. (This plots only their retail experience; that is, not mills jobs or the civil service.) We don’t have data on every year for them but more data could only show an even wider distribution. There is a reasonable amount of clumping, given that these locations are all on commercial streets. The only noticeable absences in commercial areas are the Highlands, in the southwest of the city and Pawtucketville, in the northwest.

Booth, Thomas F English2-Irish2
Brennan, Thomas F Irish
Carney, John J Irish
Carroll, Mary J, Mrs. Irish
Cavanagh, Simon A Irish
Cronin, Patrick J Irish
Favreau, Ephraim French-Canadian
McCartin, Patrick Irish
Saba, Andrew E Syrian
Watson, George, II Scottish
Immigrants in business at 163 East Merrimack and their nationalities

Graphic showing locations that proprietors of 163 East Merrimack worked before and after their time there.

624 Gorham Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 624 Gorham Street
 
 

557 Central Street
  Focus: Anders Thomasson

In the early 1880s a reporter for one of Lowell’s newspapers sought information on the city’s small, but growing “Swedish colony” and visited the apothecary of Anders Thomasson.  Considered one of the leaders of Swedish community in Lowell, Thomasson pointed out to the reporter that, unlike the larger populations of Irish and French Canadian immigrants, who tended to cluster in neighborhoods with their respective countrymen and women, Swedes numbered only about 250 and had no common “settlement or dwelling place.”  He also noted that in the last “year or two” Swedes “have been coming more rapidly.”  The reporter observed, “It would not be surprising if in the next ten years the Swedish colony here should become quite large and influential.”

While Lowell’s Swedish population never rivaled that of the Irish and French Canadian, the Swedish community became one of several smaller, very visible immigrant communities in the city.  By 1910, over 1,100 Swedes and Swedish-Americans lived in Lowell, with several families residing in a neighborhood called “Swede Village.”  A large number of Swedish women were employed as domestics and some worked in the bunting and woolen mills along the Concord River, near Swede Village.

Photograph of 557 Central Street

557 Central Street.

This one story brick building was built as an attachment in the front yard of a wood-frame duplex in 1879. Thomasson and many of his successors in the business lived in the duplex immediately behind the store (559 Central Street). Picture was taken in 2006.

Of the larger cotton manufacturing corporations in Lowell, Swedish women toiled in the Boott and Massachusetts mills.  While some Swedish men worked as operatives in the woolen mills, a larger number worked as laborers, carpenters, stone cutters, skilled machinists, iron molders, and blacksmiths.  A smaller number worked as clerks in retail establishments and a few, like Thomasson, ran their own businesses.
Newspaper clipping of photograph of Anders Thomasson
Anders Thomasson

As Thomasson recalled, only a handful of Swedish families lived in Lowell when he arrived in 1872.  Born in Malmö, Sweden, in 1844, he served as an apprentice to a druggist in his native land.  After graduating from a pharmacy school in 1868, he worked about four years at large apothecaries in Malmö, a city of 40,000 persons.  He then immigrated to the United States and settled in Lowell in August 1872.  Accompanying him was his fiancé Adelaide Pihl, whose family included a number of the earliest Swedish immigrants in Lowell. 

Thomasson lived with his wife Adelaide in the same building that housed his apothecary.  They had married in Lowell on October 26, 1872, shortly after they arrived in the Spindle City.  He was 28 and she was 29.  The result of this union was a son, Anders Frederic Christian Thomasson, born in June 1873.  Sadly, their boy died from diphtheria at age four and they had no other children.

Prescription and pill bottleUnable to speak English, Thomasson found employment in Stott’s Mill, a small, family-owned woolen mill along the Concord River on Lawrence Street, where he worked about two years. He learned some English while working in the mill and in 1874 he felt his language skills were sufficient enough to operate his own business.  He opened an apothecary on the corner of Central and North streets.  At that time the city had at least twenty-two other apothecaries. Of these, sixteen or seventeen were operated by Yankees, three were run by Irish, one by a Canadian (English), and one of mixed English- and French-Canadian nationality.  (A generation later, of the 54 apothecaries listed in the city directory, Thomasson and Israel Kronberger were the only two Scandinavians operating drugstores.)

Thomasson was assisted in the business by Frans L. Braconier, who in spite of his French sounding name was a fellow Swede. Braconier had immigrated in 1874 and immediately went to work as a druggist clerk in Lowell so we can assume he also had prior training in Sweden. Braconier was the first of three Swedes that Thomasson mentored in owning a drug store business. Thomasson and Braconier became partners but Braconier departed after two years to open his own store. Braconier ran his own drug store for at least two years on Tremont Street in Boston and then moved his store to Brockton until his death in 1907 (after which his son Harry took over). He employed two other Swedes before or after they moved to Lowell to work for Thomasson.

Newspaper clipping of Amykos advertisement

After Braconier’s departure, Thomasson again became sole owner of the business. In 1882, after four years of running his drugstore alone, he recruited another fellow countryman, Johan August Ekengren, to emigrate from Stockholm and join him in a venture to manufacture an elixir called “Amykos.”  Popular in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, Amykos was imported to the United States, largely for the Swedish population.  A high duty on this item, however, led Thomasson and Ekengren to believe they could produce it in Lowell and sell it for less money than the imported article.  By 1883 ads for Amykos appeared in Lowell’s newspapers.  Thomasson called it a “preparation” and claimed that it was “a renowned preventative of infectious diseases, particularly diphtheria.”  Like other cures and patent medicines, of which Lowell was a leading producer in the United States, Amykos allegedly cured a variety of ailments.  Thomasson recommended its daily use as a gargle to prevent throat inflammation, “offensive breath,” and “spongy gums.”  In addition, he pronounced that when used as an “adjunct to the toilet” in which the face is washed, Amykos left skin feeling deliciously refreshed.  As sole producer and vender of Amykos, Thomasson sold each bottle for 75 cents, which in 1883, was more than half the average daily wage of a Lowell textile worker.

The partnership between Ekengren and Thomasson lasted only one year. As the second Swede mentored by Thomasson, Ekengren moved to Boston and took over the drug store of Frans Braconier (Thomasson’s first partner) when Braconier left for Brockton.

Although the two Swedes planned to manufacture other “European specifics for the toilet,” Amykos appears to have been the only one they marketed in the newspapers. Thomasson took over the production and sale of Amykos, reducing its price to 50 cents per bottle.  He continued in the manufacture of elixirs and by 1892, he sold an article called “Zymos.”  In addition to making elixirs and running his drugstore, Thomasson served as steamship agent for the Thingvalla Line, which brought many Swedes to the United States and back to their homeland.

The extent to which Thomasson profited from his sales of Amykos is not known, but by 1889 he had saved enough money to purchase a property on the opposite side of Central Street, one block south of his apothecary.  This property included a wood-frame, two-family house.  After acquiring the property, Thomasson built a small one-story brick addition, extending toward the street, which would house his store.  He hired C. H. Bangs of Boston, a manufacturer of druggists’ fixtures to outfit his new apothecary.  A contemporary description of the shop noted its finer features including a maple floor, and mahogany counters, showcases, and a prescription desk which were “carved around the borders and finished in a high polish.”  Except for four years in 1907-11, Thomasson operated this apothecary from 1889 until 1916.

Ad Feb 18, 1883
from Lowell Morning Times

Clip art of man playing an organThomasson’s standing within Lowell’s Swedish community was enhanced not only by his success and longevity, but also by his involvement with the Swedish Evangelical-Lutheran Church.  The largest of the city’s four Protestant Swedish denominations, the Lutheran congregation was incorporated in 1882 and met in homes and at various locations until 1885, when a new church was built on Meadowcroft Street.  Thomasson was one of seven Lowell Swedes to promote the establishment of this church in which services were conducted in their native tongue.  Devoted to the church, Thomasson served for many years as organist and leader of the singing society.  In 1889 he and his wife donated an altarpiece “The Resurrection” to the church.  Like other churches of immigrant people, the Swedish Lutheran church was a center for social activity and assisted parish members who found themselves in personal and financial difficulty due to sickness or death of the head of a household.

It seems that outside the pharmacy, Anders Thomasson’s life remained centered around the church and his organ music.  Although a number of Swedish fraternal organizations sprang up in the early 1900s, Thomasson was not among their members.  Nor, it appears, did he join the short-lived Swedish Independent Political Club.  He and his countrymen did not seek political office in Lowell, nor did they vote as a bloc for either the Democrats or Republicans.  And like many of his fellow Swedes, Thomasson was naturalized and owned property.

Thomasson’s drugstore was patronized by Scandinavians as well as by many others. When he looked to sell his business in 1907, Thomasson presumably could have passed it on to any number of non-Scandinavian businessmen.  Instead, he turned to a fellow countryman, Hilding C. Petersson, the third of the fellow Swedes he mentored. Petersson had clerked at least eight years in Brockton for Thomasson’s first partner, Frans Ekengren, and was now ready for his own store.

Petersson’s wife, Amelia, purchased the two-family house and attached pharmacy and Hilding ran the business.  After the sale, Anders and Adelaide Thomasson moved to Westford Street in the suburban Highlands neighborhood.  For a few years Thomasson worked for Olie M. Conklin Jones, the city’s only female pharmacist.  In 1911, Petersson failed in his business and he and his wife also defaulted on the mortgage held by Thomasson.  (It appears Petersson didn’t try running his own store again. He moved to Rockland, MA, where he was a drug clerk.)

Thomasson re-assumed ownership of the property on Central Street in1911 and ran the pharmacy again until 1918. Charles D. Devno, mixed French-Canadian and Irish, started clerking with Thomasson in 1912, becoming the fourth person mentored by Thomasson, this time a non-Swede. Apparently, the informal apprenticeship was successful and, in preparation for retirement, the Swede sold the buildings in 1914 to Devno’s mother. Charles D. took over the pharmacy when Thomasson finally retired at age 73 in 1918.

The elderly Swede died in 1919, at the age of 74. While he was remembered for his many years in the city’s pharmacy business, he received a great deal of attention for his role in establishing Lowell’s Swedish Lutheran Church. “He was one of the most prominent [church] members,” his obituary stated, “and his support of this congregation in its infancy was one of the things which helped it along at a time when the Swedish population of the city was small.”

Because the Thomassons only child died quite young, an assessment of the social and cultural changes of subsequent generations of Thomassons is not possible. Yet in a number of ways, their lives reflect the experience of Swedish immigrants in Lowell. First, the city’s Swedes tended to have smaller families than either the Irish or French Canadians. Second, the male children, as they grew to adulthood, frequently followed in their father’s occupational footsteps. While Thomasson had no adult son, he may have developed fatherly relationships with two younger men, fellow Swede Hilding Petersson and mixed French-Canadian/Irish Charles D. Devno, both of whom took over the business from the older Swede. Third, like Thomasson, many Swedish émigrés became naturalized citizens and owned property. Yet, unlike other immigrants, especially the Irish and the French Canadians, who became property-holding United States citizens, Swedes in Lowell never developed into a political force. Fourth, although Swedes could be found living in close proximity to one another, particularly in the area known as “Swede Village,” their neighborhoods were ethnically heterogeneous with Yankees, Irish, and some French Canadians living alongside them. Finally, when the Thomassons moved to the suburban Highlands section of Lowell in 1908, they blazed a path that other émigrés who achieved middle-class status would follow, namely the relocation from the center city to outlying neighborhoods.

  

The business after Thomasson

Charles F. Devno, a third-generation French-Canadian and his Irish-born wife, Catherine (nee Kelley), ran a grocery on Central Street just a five minute walk from the Thomasson store. Their son, Charles D. Devno, started his drugstore career at age twenty at the Johnson Pharmacy at 389 Central Street, a five minute walk from his parents’ store, where he worked from 1907 until 1911. When Thomasson returned to the Central Street store, Devno began clerking for him. Devno took a fling at running his own store, the Pawtucket Pharmacy in 1917-1918 (apparently while still clerking for Thomasson) and then took over from Thomasson when the Swede retired in 1918. It’s unclear whether Devno had any formal training in pharmacy, unlike Thomasson. His World War I draft registration card said he had completed only one year of high school. 

Professional qualifications for pharmacists were not yet required. In a survey of sixteen Lowell drugstores in 1915 (out of forty-one in town), only one proprietor claimed graduation from a pharmacy school, one claimed the title Doctor, and one claimed a year of medical school. 

Devno’s Brother, Frederick L, started as a baker but worked for Charles D first at the Pawtucket Pharmacy 1917-1918 and then at the Thomasson Pharmacy, 1919-1924.

Charles D Devno ran the business (still known as the Thomasson Drugstore, apparently apparently because of the  name’s strong reputation) for six years until he died in 1924. His parents, who still owned the building, kept ownership of the business but brought in Arthur F. Nadeau, a second generation French-Canadian, to be the pharmacist.
 

Newspaper photograph of Frank M Flanagan Newspaper clipping of photograph of Flanagan's store in 1940

Flanagan Drug Store in 1940

In 1929, second generation Irishman Francis M. Flanagan took over the business, with his brother Edward C. clerking for him. Their father, Peter Flanagan, had arrived in the United States in 1880 and spent most of his life in a skilled position as a machinist for Lowell’s largest machine shops.  Francis was born in 1892 and he first appears clerking at the F&E Bailey Pharmacy from 1913-1918. From 1920-1928 he held a variety of jobs. He was a laborer in a steel company, a salesman, back in a drug store for one year (the Liggett Pharmacy), worked as a clerk in a machine shop (same place his father worked), and in sales again. After taking over the Thomasson store, he finally changed its name and the Flanagan Pharmacy had a long, successful run. 

He finally sold it in 1957 to Paul E. and Theresa M Bernard who continued business as Bernard’s Pharmacy. After eight-four years as a pharmacy, the building was sold in 1973, to Eurico E. and Gabriela Duarte, who opened the Casa Portugal Restaurant.

188 Branch Street

Harold Horndahl was born in 1865 in Sweden and immigrated to the United States in 1887. By 1888 he was living in Lowell and working as a laborer and in 1893 was a clerk. His most frequent early occupation was coachman for two of the rich and powerful men in town. In 1890 he was coachman for Benjamin F Sargent. From 1895 to 1903 he was coachman to George F. Penniman, “living in” with Clip art of horse and buggy his wife and family at Penniman’s home at 268 Liberty St for seven out of those nine years.

Horndahl married Hulda Johanson in 1890 in Lowell, She was a fellow Swede, born in 1868 and immigrating in 1887. They had three children, Harry E in 1892, Emmy Linnea in 1897, and Raymond in 1906.

Photograph of 188 Branch Street

This one-story wood-frame building with a flat roof has been greatly altered since its original construction. Behind it is a three story building at 190, on the corner of whose lot 188 was built in the early 1900s.

Photograph of the Lucania
Horndahls took the Lucania for 1897 trip Liverpool to New York
Keeping their ties to Sweden must have been very important to them. Hulda traveled to Sweden for the birth of the first two children. Ship’s records show Hulda, Harry, and Emmy returning to the US in 1897 immediately after Emmy’s birth (she’s reported as age six months) and then Harold, Hulda, Harry, and Emmy returning in 1903. We can speculate that a child was expected and died in 1903 since Hulda reported having four children with only three still living in the Census of 1910. It’s quite possible Hulda made other trips on her own. The census of 1900 shows Harold living alone. When Hulda returned in 1897, she brought along two sisters: Freda Johanson, 21, and Anna Johanson, 19. Anna often lived with the Horndahls until at least 1930 and worked as a servant or housekeeper.

Clip art of painterAfter 1903, Harold worked as an inspector, janitor, hostler, collector, and dryer through 1927. He lived on 276 Walker Street, two blocks away from his coachman job, from 1910-1919. In 1898-1899 and 1909-1910 an Otto Horndahl was a lodger with Harold. It’s reasonable to assume that Otto was a relative but it’s not clear how close. Otto was a painter and this apparently influenced Harold. He reported being a painter working in a cotton mill in the 1920 census and in 1930 he claimed he was a painter with his own business. Until 1939 he took painting jobs operating from his home.

In 1920 Harold Horndahl purchased a two-family home on Viola Street. He had saved enough money to purchase this property without having to secure a mortgage.  Hulda died in 1917 at age 39 and Emmy followed in 1919 at only 22. Raymond died, also at 25, in 1930 so only Harry was left to carry on the family.

In 1909, at 17 years of age, Harry started work as a clerk at the Fitzpatrick Grocery at 343 Westford, about a three minute walk from the Horndahl residence around the corner at 407 Walker. Edward S. Fitzpatrick was a second generation Irishman who ran a rather large store (judging by the ads in the City Directory) with “provisions, grocery, and meats.” After three years there, Harry moved to the Charles Merrill Grocery at 2 Dover Street, staying there from 1912 to 1917. From 1918 to 1920 he was a driver and a laborer at a shoe factory but then returned to Merrill from and again 1921 to 1923.

In 1922, Harry married 22-year-old Esther W. Wogander, Massachusetts born daughter of Swedish immigrants. Harry had lived all his life with his father and now moved with his bride downstairs to the first floor flat of the two family house on Viola Street. They lived there until 1943 when they moved upstairs to take care of his father when he could no longer live alone (Harold died in 1944). The couple had a son, Russell E. in 1925.

Clip art of grocery clerk In 1924, Harry started his own grocery at 188 Branch Street.A new building was erected on the corner of the lot of 190 Branch Street, a house at which his father had worked as a coachman thirty years before. His old employer no longer owned the place but it must have been interesting for Harold. Harry employed his brother Raymond as a clerk at the store for three at least three years (1924-1926).
Harry Horndahl ran this grocery and meat business almost twenty years, until 1942, at which time he became a machinist for at least 1943-1945. Since machinists were much in demand during the World War, we might speculate that a machinist’s job might have been more attractive and profitable than a small retail store. Clip art of machinist
Although the elder Horndahl worked only menial jobs early on, the immigrant couple saved and were successful enough to make return trips to Sweden so that their first two children could be born there. By 1920, Harold could buy a large house for cash. Their children lived with them their whole lives and Harry, also Swedish-born and the only surviving child, ran a successful business for almost twenty years. Harold’s grandson, Russell, became a pharmacist and continued living downstairs from his mother in the family home.

Afterwards

The building at 188 Branch Street was briefly vacant until 1946 when Maurice L. Neustadter located his home contracting business there.  A succession of businesses followed Neustadter when he moved out in 1953.  In recent years a Southeast Asian music and video rental enterprise has operated at this address.

121 Moore Street

Olof A. Berntson was born in Bohusland, Sweden, in 1868 and immigrated to the United States when he was 19 years old, settling in Lowell. He joined the city’s growing Swedish community, many of whose members were employed in the smaller woolen mills along the Concord River, in the cartridge factory, or in small artisanal shops near the Lowell Bleachery.

Initially Berntson worked a wage-earning job as a box maker and attended the Lowell Commercial College in the evenings. While attending the college, Berntson boarded on B Street in the Highlands neighborhood. He may have worked at James A. Thompson’s box-making shop on Chambers Street, one of eight box manufacturers in Lowell. Between 1889 and 1896 he boarded at three different houses on B Street.

Naturalized in 1893, he graduated from the Lowell Commercial College in the following year and in the fall of 1896 he opened a small shop, selling books and stationary. In addition, Berntson served as a ticket agent for a steamship company and started a newspaper called “Scandinavia.” His shop, located at 780 Gorham Street, was also his residence. The lot backed onto part of the Lowell Bleachery, was a block away from the Lowell Waste Company, and practically across the street from a fire station – not a prime property.

Picture of 121 Moore Street

This two-story, wood-frame building, erected after the turn of the 20th century, has a projecting bay, an off-center entrance capped by a pedimented gable roof, which is supported by ornamented wood brackets.  A brick veneer and slender rectangular window on the first floor were probably installed in the late 1950s.


Living with him and three other families in this relatively large building was Anders Berntson, possibly a brother but almost certainly a relative, who worked as an iron moulder. Two years later, Olof changed his business into a grocery. Listed at 788 Gorham Street, the grocery was in a wood-frame building near the corner of Livingston Street. He rented this property and continued to live there with Anders Berntson until 1899.

Picture of Ida K. Peterson
Ida K. Peterson, 1921
(passport photo)

In September 1896, Olof married Ida (Peterson), who had immigrated to the United States in 1891. By 1904 their children included Robert W., born in 1897, Agnes Elvira in 1899, Esther A. in 1902, Edith Marie in 1903, and Mildred O. in 1904. In 190 Berntson moved his business and residence to 125 Andrews Street, near Moore Street. This was largely a residential street and an Irishman named Lynch owned the small one-story frame building in which he was located. The Berntson family had just grown to five in 1903 so his growing family may have prompted this move. He remained at Andrews Street for two years before purchasing a property close by on Moore Street; the family was now at six.

This two-story frame building would serve as his store and residence for many years. It was probably still in breathing distance of the Lowell Bleachery but the neighborhood was strongly Swedish, with the First Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church on the corner and the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran church a few steps around that corner. The residential part of the building was numbered 123 Moore Street, while the store’s address was 121 Moore.

Picture of Olaf Berntson
Olof A. Berntson, 1933

(Newspaper photo
on retiring from the
post office after
24 years)


In 1909 Berntson obtained a coveted job as clerk in the city’s post office, where he worked for 24 years. With the help of his wife, however, he maintained the grocery business on Moore Street. After finishing high school in 1916, Robert, their son, started clerking at the store. He continued even a little after he also obtained a clerkship at the post office. Of course, he was probably helping at the store well before then, as his younger sisters, but the City Directory lists only “adults”.

In addition to his postal work and the family grocery, Olof Berntson maintained close ties with his native land. It appears that at least three members of his family made trips to Sweden by 1921.

Picture of Agnes Berntson
Agnes Berntson, 1920

(passport photo)

This is Olof’s translation of a letter to Agnes from her grandmother urging the 21-year old to visit. It would be surprising if Olof didn’t himself.

Photocopy of typed letter to Agnes from grandmother in Sweden.

Berntson wrote about the Swedish community in Lowell. He served over 50 years as a contributor to the Swedish newspaper Svea and produced a history of Lowell’s Swedes. In the 1890s, soon after a brass band composed of Swedish men was organized in the city, he played tuba. Berntson, who had become a citizen of the United States when he was a young man, taught English to immigrants in Americanization classes in the city in the late 1910s and early 1920s. He also taught Swedes in evening classes, which were originally established at the Butler School in the 1880s. After he left the post office in 1933, Berntson resumed the grocery business full time. He continued to reside on Moore Street, operating the grocery until he retired at age 78 in 1946. He remained there one more year, until 1947. He may have gone to live with son Robert, who had married Elsa C. Anderson in 1931 and who owned a house on Pentucket Avenue, or he may have gone into nursing care then. He was a patient in 1949 at Delaney Private Hospital (Nursing Home) on Varnum Avenue, not far from Lowell General Hospital, when he died. He was survived by his son Robert W. Berntson, and four daughters, each of whom had married a Swedish émigré.


Newspaper article showing picture of three postal employees 
                                  retiring, including Robert Bernstrom. title="Copy of newspaper article describing picture of three postal employees retiring. It states "Bob, the Voice of the Postoffice... 45 years service.""> Robert served as a clerk at the post office for a total of forty-five years, retiring in 1966. (The picture at right is from a newspaper article about his retirement party.) His obituary states: “A well known trumpet player, he played in many dance bands in the 1920s and 30s… he was the oldest member of the Lowell Musicians Union #83, which he belong to for more than 70 years. During World War I, he served in the US Naval Reserve…” He was an officer of the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church but, showing an ecumenical spirit, also played trumpet at the St. John’s Episcopal Church Easter service one year. Every parent will understand his wife’s Elsa’s dedication as an active volunteer to the PTA.


Adolph A. Gauthier, of French-Canadian descent, operated a variety store at 121 Moore Street after Berntson’s departure and lived there as well. In 1951 Frederick F. Downs took over the Gauthier’s store, renaming it Downs’ Variety Store. He lived on Cosgrove Street, while Gauthier continued to reside at 123 Moore Street. Downs continued to run the store until the early 1960s. By 1964 the building was solely into a residence, which it is today.

 

163 Merrimack Street

After thirty years with a Yankee owner, this location had ten immigrant proprietors over the next thirty years. None stayed longer than six years but their careers before and after this location, especially their connections to other immigrants, are extensive.

The building

This 3-1/2-story, wood-frame building was erected about 1860 and was later expanded with wood-frame additions. It later acquired a store on the first floor with an entrance located on the corner of East Merrimack and Fayette streets. The entrances on Fayette in the early days were alternate entrances to the store. Most proprietors of the stores in the building lived above the store, through the door on the left.

The building  had addresses initially numbered as 93, 99, and 101 East Merrimack Street until the street renumbering of 1895 when it became 163, 165, and 167. At the same time, the multiple entrances on Fayette Street were renumbered to 100 to 112.

 

Photograph of 163 East Merrimack Street

William E. Somes 1866-1894, Yankee

William E. Somes, a Yankee, was in the bakery business in Lowell as early as 1850 and was running his own business at this property by at least 1866.  The bakery was initially located at the 1 Fayette Street entrance to the building, with his residence and store at the East Merrimack entrance; by 1880 he used the East Merrimack street address consistently.  After about forty-five years in the bakery business, Somes died in 1894, owning four buildings fronting E. Merrimack and Fayette.

Thomas F. Brennan 1895-1899, Irish

Somes was succeeded in the bakery business by Thomas F. Brennan, who arrived in the US from Ireland in 1886 at age 19. He was working as a baker by 1890 and it’s possible that he worked for Somes in 1894 since he lived with his family in a house at 245 Concord Street, four blocks away from the bakery. In any case, in 1895, Brennan took over the business after Somes died. Shortly afterward, like most of his successors, he moved into 167 East Merrimack, the upstairs of the bakery building. Business must have been good at first for he stayed for five years but failure was in the wind the last year – he moved back to 237 Concord Street in 1899 while still running the bakery. He left 163 East Merrimack the next year, 1900. He and his wife, Delia started a grocery store in their residence that year and then Delia’s name was on the store in 1901 while Thomas worked as a baker at the City Farm in 1901-1902, his last years in that profession.

In 1903 Brennan became a clerk at the Elias A. McQuade Liquor Store on Market Street. We can speculate that Brennan made contact with Elias through his next door neighbor on Concord Street, James A. McQuade. James was a policeman in the station across the street from Elias’ liquor store on Market Street, and was likely a relative of Elias. After learning the liquor trade, in 1906, Brennan joined with a man by the name of O’Connell and opened his own liquor store at 224 Middlesex Street, a respectable distance away from his former employer, taking over from James H. Doyle.In 1908 he bought out O’Connell and ran the store himself until he died in 1910. His wife, Delia, having had experience in retail with their grocery store, took over the liquor store but was not publicly acknowledged as proprietor in the City Directory; it was probably considered unseemly for a woman to run a liquor store. Her son, John S. Brennan, was a clerk at the store and the other children probably also served as clerks. She ran it until her death in 1921.

Patrick McCartin 1900-1902, Irish

Another Irish-born baker, Patrick McCartin, was the proprietor of 163 East Merrimack from 1900-1902.  Patrick was the eldest of three brothers (the other two being Michael and Frank) who immigrated successively when they each reached about 21 years of age.

The two older brothers initially got jobs in the mills. Patrick arrived in 1876 and we first find him at his marriage in 1883 to Irish-born Delia Doherty, working as a moulder. They had five children: Francis P, Anne J, James Joseph, Mary Etta (or Marietta), and Catherine A.  Patrick escaped the mills to become a horse car driver for the Lowell Street Railroad (the city trolleys) from 1889-1892. Michael arrived in 1883 and we get our first sight of him working as an operative at the time of his marriage to Irish-born Cecilia Woods. They had six children between 1887 and 1899: Mary Elizabeth, Anna S, Joseph Patrick, James Bartholomew, Cecilia Frances, and Vincent Michael.

Picture from Lowell Sun March 17, 1898, labeled "Frank McCartin, the Popular Baker who Died in Savannah, Ga."Frank, the youngest brother, was the primary entrepreneur of the three. He apparently didn’t like the idea of mill work and stopped in Gloucester upon arrival in this country in 1888. There he found a job as a baker, two years later opened his own shop, and then came to Lowell to live with Patrick in 1892. He had done well in Gloucester and immediately opened two bakeries, at 169 Chapel Street and 107 Gorham Street. In 1894 he married Kate Morrow, daughter of Irish immigrants Hugh and Catherine. Due to Frank’s success, it was a society wedding. The Lowell Sun described it in the typical society style that hasn’t changed in over a century: “The bride was attired in a beautiful dress of white silk trimmed in duchesse lace and carried a bought of bridal roses, the bridesmaid in pink silk with a corsage bouquet of roses.” They moved into a large new house at 71 Dover Street, in the Highlands neighborhood, far (in those days) from the downtown area and almost a mile and a half from the stores: “Mr. McCartin’s new home is elegantly furnished and is fitted up with all the modern conveniences of a first class dwelling.”

Patrick went to work for Frank a year after Frank’s arrival in Lowell (1893) but Michael had just left for Australia in 1892. Upon returning in 1896, Michael joined his brothers, becoming the third McCartin baker. Michael worked at 107 Gorham and Frank added a third bakery that year at 26 Concord Street, where Patrick became the manager. Frank was successful enough by 1897 to close the Chapel Street store and sell Patrick the 26 Concord Street bakery, leaving Frank with just the Gorham store, helped there by Michael. Sadly, Frank died the next year, 1898, only thirty-three years old.  Frank’s wife, Kate, took over proprietorship of the bakery. Michael continued at the Gorham Street store, working for Kate. He was later joined by a son, Joseph Patrick, in 1910-1912.  We don’t know if Kate was just the owner in name or whether she took active part in the store, but when Michael’s son was working there, it’s unlikely the single store needed three bakers. In 1913, Michael started his own bakery at 22 Concord Street, in the same building Frank had expanded to fifteen years earlier. Kate continued by herself for two years but closed the Gorham Street store when she remarried in late 1914.

Michael showed that slow and steady wins the day. His shop on Concord Street continued almost twenty years until he retired about 1931.  Daughter Cecilia worked as a cashier in the store for fifteen years after graduating from high school and Joseph stayed as a baker until 1924, when he moved Syracuse, NY, married, traveled further to Indianapolis, where he became the superintendent of a large bakery. Vincent probably worked in the bakery but it was never full time. He went to college and become a teacher in the Lowell Public Schools. He made his parents extremely proud in 1934 when he became Superintendant of schools in Lowell, the very same school system he had grown up with. Even more to the glory of an Irish family, the other of Michael’s sons became a priest and just as gloriously, Patrick also had a son who became a priest. In the tradition of the day, both these sons had been named after their grandfather, James Bartholomew and James Joseph. Not coincidentally, the priests became assistant pastors of Immaculate Conception parish, diagonally across the corner from 163 East Merrimack Street and served together for many years. The parish was run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a missionary society. In later years, the cousins served as missionaries in the not-so-wild west – Gary, Indiana, during World War II – before returning to Lowell.

We now return our focus to Patrick and 163 East Merrimack. When it became available in 1900, just two blocks away from his shop at 26 Concord, he grabbed it immediately, running both for a year.  He dropped the Concord Street store in 1901 but lasted only one more year on his own. After ten years as a baker, five as his own boss, Patrick quit in 1903.

Lowell electrical trolley (restored)Patrick returned to his last pre-bakery job, the trolleys of Lowell’s Street Railway Company where he had been a horse car driver – but alas, they had converted to electricity by then. Nonetheless, he remained a conductor there until he retired in the mid-1920s.

Patrick’s son, Francis P, or Frank P, as he quickly became known, was the immigrant family’s greatest entrepreneurial success. He started at age 18 in 1905 as a helper and then as an electrician working for Derby & Morse Electrical Contractors (both owners were Yankees) at 64 Middle Street. He started work in Boston in 1911 as an electrician and the next year went into sales. In 1912, he married Margaret P. Walsh, born in North Dakota of a Vermont father and Irish mother. They had fourteen children from 1914 to 1929, one of whom became an Oblate priest and one an Oblate Brother.

Logo for the Frank P. McCartin Co.After five years in sales, in 1917 Frank P became vice-president of R. V. Pettingell Electric Supply Company in Boston, still living in Lowell. After ten years there, in 1927 he started the Frank P. McCartin Company for wholesale electrical supplies in Lowell. It was originally located at 183 Market Street, one block away from where he started as an electrician on Middle Street. For a long time it remained very much a family company. In 1956, five of his children worked for him at the company, three as vice-presidents, one as an accountant, and one as a salesman. The company remains successful, continuing to this day at 149 Congress Street in Lowell, just about a mile from where it started, with son John Peter McCartin still the CEO.

George Watson 1903, Scottish

George Watson ran the bakery at 163 East Merrimack Street for only one year but was a baker in Lowell from 1891 to 1932.

The name Watson was common in Lowell, seventy-seven being found in the 1900 Census in sixteen households, of whom seven were named George. We can, however, distinguish three as the family of our George (we’ll call him George II, born in 1862); his father was George (call him George I, born 1839) and his son was George (George III, 1887).  The father of George I was also a George but he appears to have stayed in Scotland.

The older two Georges came to the US from Scotland in April of 1888, followed in August by George I’s wife Agnes and daughters, Phyllis, Kate, and Marion.  George II’s wife, Agnes (Heap), followed shortly afterwards with their children, George III and Agnes Orr. Once in the US, George II and Agnes had one more child, Jessie A.

The older two Georges were bakers in Scotland and set up their own bakery almost immediately; in 1891, they were in business at 240 Market Street.  Over the years they were quite successful, opening several stores. In 1901, the year George I died at age 62, there were George Watson bakeries at four locations: George I at 553 Gorham and 374 Market, and George II at 186 Lakeview and 353 Bridge. George II inherited his father’s two and added one more in 1902 at 187 Broadway for a very respectable five store chain.

In those days women didn’t inherit from a father when there were sons, but George II was a good guy (or, more likely, managing all those bakeries was too much). A year later, 1903, sister Phyllis, who had been working as a clerk for her father and then her brother, became the proprietor of two of the stores in her own name (Market and Gorham). George II kept the Lakeview store and added our favorite bakery at 163 East Merrimack. Ad for George Watson, Jr, Bakery from 1902 Lowell City Directory

The siblings dropped the Broadway and Bridge stores in 1903 and the East Merrimack store in 1904, leaving George with one store and Phyllis with two for a couple years. George retrieved the Bridge Street store in 1906 for two years and then in 1908, Phyllis dropped her two but took over Bridge Street, leaving them with one store each, George II on Lakeview and Phyllis on Bridge. Phyllis lived just couple blocks away from her store with her sister Marion in houses on Fifth Street, then Seventh Street. George lived on Jewett Street, about five blocks north of his store. Brother, sisters, and both stores were all in five minutes walking distance.

It’s unclear why George II kept the East Merrimack store for only a year since the Watsons continued running multiple bakeries with family help. All three of George’s children worked full time at the stores for a time, the daughters leaving when they got married, Jessie in 1913 and Agnes in 1915. George III worked alternately at his father and aunt’s stores until 1915. Phyllis ran her stores with her sister Marion’s help until 1917. After giving up the bakery, both Phyllis and Marion worked for a while in department stores. Phyllis returned to work for her brother from 1922 until 1928, at which time she stayed home to care for Marion until Marion died and then trained to become a nurse, a major career change at age 45. George retired in 1933. The next year, Phyllis moved in with George and his wife while continuing to work as a nurse at least until 1938.

George III worked in the bakeries of his father and his Aunt Phyllis but was restless. In 1909, at 22, he tried his luck in California but returned the next year, putting in another six years as a baker for his father and aunt. The year 1915 found him painting signs for a company on Middle Street. 

In 1916 he married Annie Ferguson. Annie’s father, Hugh Ferguson came to the US from England in 1886 and worked in Fitchburg as a cook, manager of a pool hall, and proprietor of a hotel/boarding house in Fitchburg.  Her mother worked as a spinner in a Fitchburg mill.  Hugh moved the family to Boston around 1910 and then to Lowell in 1911, where he became the proprietor of the St. James Hotel at 533 Middlesex Street.  Hugh must have made out pretty well with the hotel since he was able to live in the seashore village of Willowdale in the town of Ipswich, Massachusetts.  After the marriage in 1916, George III became co-proprietor with Hugh for the new Cecil Hotel at 532 Middlesex Street, in direct competition to the St. James across the street.  Shortly after, Hugh moved to Florida but George continued as co-proprietor of the hotel with his brother-in-law, William Ferguson.  In 1926 George moved to Florida to be with his mother-in-law after Hugh died in 1923. He was unemployed (or perhaps, rich and didn’t need to work) at the time of the Census of 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression.

Simon A. Cavanagh 1904-1906, Irish

Simon A. Cavanagh was the next baker at 163 East Merrimack from 1904-1906. His parents, Edward and Mary (Flanigan) were both born in Ireland but had moved to Scotland after marriage in 1869 and had six children there (two boys and four girls). In the early 1870s they immigrated to Lowell, where Edward worked as a fireman in the mills starting in 1874 until he died in January 1902.

Simon was born about 1872 in Scotland and, coming to adulthood in Lowell, never moved away from the house his parents bought in 1880 at 98 Andover Street. After they died, Simon and two sisters continued living there.

Simon worked for a furniture retailer until 1902 when he became a partner in a real estate firm, Smith & Cavanagh, located in the Donovan Building at 265 Central Street.  We don’t know where he got the know-how for a bakery but the next year he started the bakery as well. Being in real estate, he probably saw the property come on the market, purchased it as an investment, and hired others to do the work. He gave up the bakery after 1906, but kept on with the real estate business, going entirely on his own in 1910. He died unmarried at age 38 the very next year.

Thomas F. Booth 1907-1912, English2-Irish2

Baker Thomas F. Booth succeeded Cavanagh, remaining at 163 Merrimack Street for six years, the most for a non-Yankee.  His parents were Samuel, an immigrant from England, and Mary Welch, an immigrant from Ireland. They met and married in New Bedford in while Samuel was a mill worker in the mid 1860s and had six children. When Thomas was born in 1876 in Boston, Samuel was working as a pipefitter but was reported to be a simple laborer at other events. By 1900, Samuel had died and Thomas was living with his mother and sister Genevieve in Cambridge, MA, where we first see him at age 24, working as a baker.

Thomas came to Lowell in 1907 to take over the bakery at 163 East Merrimack. For the first three years he lived five blocks away at 179 Stackpole Street. This must have been a desirable address, with no industry nearby and directly overlooking the Merrimack River to a lightly built residential area on the other side. Today the site is in the middle of a new road built for a bridge across that river. In 1910, he moved to 69 High Street, on the corner of East Merrimack on the same block as the bakery; he still lived with his mother and his sister Genevieve. They all left Lowell after 1912, showing up in 1918 living in Belmont, MA, Thomas still a baker. He and his mother were living with his sister Genevieve but now also with Genevieve’s new husband, Irishman John F. Fitzgerald, who was working in a print shop. They stayed in Belmont until at least 1922 and then headed west. 

In 1930, Thomas, Genevieve, and John were living together in Los Angeles. Thomas was still a baker and John still worked in printing. Thomas died in Los Angeles in 1948.

Mrs. Mary J. Carroll 1913, Irish

The tenure of Mrs. Mary J. Carroll was not the shortest of the bakers of 163 East Merrimack Street (there were four others who stayed only one year) but she is the only woman. She became the proprietor, as was often the case in those days, when her husband died. The story of the family is filled with bakers.

William A. Carroll was born in Ireland in 1861, as was Mary J. in 1872. They married in 1888 when she was only 16 and had one child a year for the next three years. William departed for Manchester, New Hampshire in 1891 and Mary followed two years later. There they had four more children before moving to Lowell, where they had another two.

There are two reasons to believe that William had been a baker in Ireland:  he worked as a baker as soon as he got to Manchester in 1892; and his father, who joined him in 1895, was a baker.  In Lowell in 1905, William had a shop at 131 Gorham Street, at the corner of Winter Street, and lived upstairs with his still increasing family.

As is usual in a family business, William’s children helped in the baker but there were too many of them for a single store, especially when they could be earning money from the outside to help the family. In 1909, the two oldest children were at other bakeries, not as bakers, but as clerks who knew the bakery business; Margaret J., 19, worked at the Dudley L. Page Bakery on Merrimack and Mary E., 18, worked at the Anthony Lavery Bakery on Bridge. That same year, William’s father, who had been helping in the family bakery, died, so more help was needed. In 1910, Mary E. returned to her father’s store and the next younger daughter, Elizabeth, now 19, also clerked there. Margaret still worked for Page’s Bakery and the next in line, Patrick, at only 15, worked at Mary’s previous employer, Anthony Lavery, but at his other bakery on Broadway. Interestingly, Patrick was listed as a baker, not a clerk – perhaps it was a male prerogative to be a baker at that time.

Line drawing graphic of where the Carrolls moved from year to year.In 1911, the employment shuffling continued. You may wish to refer to the figure on the right as a scorecard. (t's not that useful but almost seems intelligible if you're sleepy at this point of story.) Patrick came back to his father’s store and Mary E. went to work for Thomas F. Booth at, of all places, 163 East Merrimack Street! Things continued changing in 1912 with Patrick trying to get away from the bakery business by working as a cigar maker. William died late in the year (at 50) and, in 1913, Mary J. became the proprietor of the Gorham Street store. She also took over our East Merrimack bakery when Thomas Booth left that same year, likely to save Mary E.’s workplace. Margaret left Lavery’s to help out at the family store, and Patrick returned to baking (in 1915 he was at the Friend Brothers Bakery at 2 Westford Street, one of the largest in the city).

Mary J. and Mary E. gave up the East Merrimack Street store after one year but kept the Gorham Street store until 1915 with the help of Elizabeth. After that, Mary E. clerked and Patrick baked for a grocery store down the street (James Smith Provisions) in 1916 but that didn’t work. Mary E. and younger sister Catherine tried their hands at dressmaking in 1917. Catherine continued in the mills for a couple years but Mary E. married in 1917 and disappeared from the commercial workforce. Margaret married in 1920, ending her bakery career.

Patrick returned to baking at a Page bakery on Merrimack Street (same owner as the one Margaret had worked at). From 1922 to 1930, he ran his own bakery, first on Broadway then on Gorham (many blocks down from the old family store). Sister Louise apparently helped in 1920 but went to work in the mills after that until she married in 1931. Patrick settled down as a baker working for others from at least 1932 until 1956.

Mary J. moved to 37 Walnut Street in 1916 after giving up baking and most of the family joined her there.  The address was one that further shows the interconnectedness of the baking fraternity. The house was owned by Charles F. Devno, a long-time grocer on Central Street. (He and his son, Charles D. are discussed in the story of 557 Central.) Frederick L. Devno was a son of Charles F. and worked at the Friends Bakery at 2 Westford Street from 1910 to 1916, a span that included the years that Patrick Carroll worked there. The Devnos moved to a much larger house and then rented their old house to a co-worker’s family, the Carrolls.

Patrick J. Cronin 1914, Irish

In 1914, Irish-born Patrick J. Cronin was the owner of the bakery at this location.

Patrick came to the U.S. in 1891 at age 23 and his soon-to-be, Anna C. McMahon, came before December, 1898 since that was when they were married in Lowell. Patrick worked as a baker as soon as he arrived: an unknown place in 1891, the John J. Henley Bakery on Suffolk Street in 1892, and the Louis G. Moss Bakery in 1893. After the marriage, the couple returned to Cork, Ireland to start a family. They had twins a year later, 1899, Patrick John and Thomas Augustus (named after his paternal grandfather), followed by Daniel C. in 1902 (named after the other grandfather), then Josephine W. in 1904 (who was called Mary early in life, likely after her paternal grandmother).  It’s possible the family traveled back and forth between Cork and Lowell, returning to have the children born in the home country. Patrick was in the US in 1902 but after that lived in Cork, working as a baker. He returned for good in May, 1906, followed by Anna and the kids in August, 1908. They had their last child in Lowell, Francis M., born in 1909.

Back in Lowell, Patrick continued baking, getting a job at the D.L. Page Bakery on Merrimack Street, one of the largest in town, while living at three different locations over the next four years. We don’t know what prompted him to try running his own store at 163 East Merrimack Street, but the urge lasted only one year. In 1916 he worked at the James McMahon Bakery at 876 Gorham Street. (It would be surprising if James wasn’t a cousin of Patrick’s wife, Anna.) In 1922, he worked at the George Cornock’s Bakery on Bridge Street and in 1932 he was again running his own bakery at 96 Branch Street until he retired a year later.

Domestically, Patrick and Anna had problems. After 1920, they no longer lived together, although they put up a formal front at first with information published in the City Directory.  After five years residence at 175 Charles Street, the transition year was probably 1917 when none of the family showed up in the directory and in 1918 the family was listed at 34 Gorham Street. However, when the twin boys registered for the World War I draft in 1918, they stated their nearest kin was Anna, not Patrick. More telling is that the twin Patrick John registered under the name John F. and used that name the rest of his life, perhaps indicating some desire to disassociate himself from his father.  By the 1920 Census, the separation was formal. Patrick was living with his sister Nora and her husband Charles Welcome at 5 James Street; his brother, Dennis Cronin, also lived there. Anna and the children were living at 34 Gorham, with Anna listed as head of household. In 1922, Anna was in the City Directory as head of the house on Gorham, working as a housekeeper at a private residence. At the same time, keeping up pretenses, Patrick was also listed as head of the house on Gorham, working at the Cornock Bakery on Bridge Street. However, he was also listed living on John Street, just two short blocks from the bakery.  From 1930 on, there was no pretense -- he was listed as living at the Robitaille lodging house on Central Street.

None of Patrick’s children followed their father’s trade. Josephine worked for a short time as an operative in the mills. Thomas became an electrician and Daniel worked as a machinist. John Cronin (formerly Patrick John) went into retail and opened his own store by 1930, first with cigars and then with liquors; Francis worked as a clerk in his brother’s stores.

John J. Carney 1917, Irish

After languishing vacant for two years, the shop at 163 East Merrimack gained yet another Irish baker, John J. Carney in 1917.  John was born in Ireland in 1865 as was his wife Alice McPartland in 1868.  They married in 1887 and had two children, Catherine in 1888 and Mary A. in 1891. Little Mary was only five months old when they immigrated to the US in July, 1891. Steamships were becoming faster in those days but a seven day voyage on a crowded immigrant ship in “Lower Steerage” at the beginning of July must not have been very pleasant, even before adding a five month old.  The couple had three more children in Lowell: Alice D. in 1893, Bernard J. in 1898, and Robert E. in 1900.

John had been a baker in Ireland and immediately found work as a baker in Lowell. From 1893 the family lived in Belvidere, just across the Concord River from downtown, on Laughlin’s Court, half a block from 163 East Merrimack.  They spent a few years at 122 Fayette, a building originally owned by William Somes, adjacent to his much larger building on the corner at 163 East Merrimack, where Somes had operated his bakery.  For at least three years, 1896-98, John Carney worked next door to where he lived, for the Thomas F. Brennan Bakery (see above) at 163 East Merrimack. The next year, 1899, Carney moved on to bake at the City Farm, a job to which he was followed by Brennan in 1901. In 1904, Carney worked at the Annie T. Gormley Bakery at 876 Gorham Street; this same address became the James McMahon Bakery that Patrick Cronin (see above) worked in for a year in 1916.

In 1909, John opened his own bakery at 243 Fayette Street, just two blocks off East Merrimack. He moved the shop to 28 Pleasant Street, a block further south, for 1910 to 1912.  In 1913, he decided that a grocer’s life was more attractive than a baker’s (didn’t have to get up at 4AM to make the doughnuts) and he opened a grocery across the Merrimack River in the Centralville neighborhood at 152 West Street. A year later he moved it about six buildings down to 204 Coburn Street and lived upstairs at 202.

It might have been pure nostalgia to run a bakery in 1917 at 163 East Merrimack Street where he had worked before.  The Centralville grocery store was clearly doing well – it lasted till at least 1920.  Perhaps he took it over just to liquidate the bakery equipment – this was the last year the location hosted a bakery.  For whatever reason, he had the bakery only one year.

He ran his grocery until 1920 and must have been fairly prosperous since he retired at 55 years old and moved about eight blocks east to the more prestigious Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Like many of his generation, he found retirement boring and at age 59 he went back to work at a bakery until he died in 1929, just under 65 years old. None of his children worked at the stores after becoming adults. All three daughters worked in the mills, first as operatives but by 1930 Alice and Mary were bookkeepers and the Catherine became a housekeeper. His only son who lived, Robert, became a printer for the Lowell Courier-Citizen newspaper; all four were unmarried in 1932, with ages ranging from 32 to 44.

George L. Perham 1919-1921 Yankee

After the 163 East Merrimack store sat idle in 1918, George L. Perham was the next proprietor, turning the place into a grocery store, a role it would play for at least the next thirty-seven years.

George was born in Lowell, his father (Foster Perham) was born in Massachusetts, and his mother (Margaret A Burbank) was born in New Hampshire. Both parents’ parents were also born in New Hampshire and Massachusetts so George’s Yankee credentials are solid. His father was a bookkeeper at a liquor store for over thirty years (working for an Irishman, Patrick Lynch) so there wasn’t a family business to follow. After high school, George worked at the grocery store of Clarence G. Coburn at 11 Mammoth Road, just two blocks away from his childhood home at 100 Riverside Street. In 1899 George married a Yankee girl, Stella Wright and, after a year living on Fourth Street, three blocks from the Riverside home, they moved to 53 Lamb Street, another five blocks away but still in Pawtucketville (the neighborhood across the river and west of downtown Lowell). They lived there the rest of their lives.

George worked for Coburn, a fellow Yankee, for ten years, gaining experience in groceries, meats, and provisions, and then tried opening his own grocery on Pleasant Street in 1909. It was a slightly odd choice for a location, about three miles from home, across the river on the other side of downtown, but Lowell had had an extensive trolley system for years, first horse-drawn, then motorized. That lasted only a year and George returned to working in the provisions business for a while and then tried a totally new occupation in 1912, an insurance agent. Again, that lasted only a year and he went back to working in other people’s grocery stores, both north and south of the river. In 1919 he once again tried his own business at the 163 East Merrimack location and ran it until 1921. We don’t know exactly what happened then, but it appears Stella became sick and George quit to take care of her. He didn’t work for two years (at least he didn’t show up the in City Directory).

After Stella died in 1923 George returned to work as a clerk for the Frank R. Strout Provisions store at 329 Bridge Street, a few blocks from home (Strout was another Yankee). He kept his eye on his old store’s neighborhood and when 195 East Merrimack Street (at the other end of the block from the 163 store) became available in 1926, he seized the opportunity. In partnership with Mrs. Georgia B. Quimby, he opened a meat market under the name G.B. Quimby & Co.  Georgia was married to an electrician (Henry) and ran a lodging house at 90 Chestnut Street (also their home). This was apparently her only fling at retail business. Things went well for three years but it the partnership dissolved in 1929. George had moved to Tyngsboro, just west of Lowell at the same time as opening the Quimby store and he remained there until he died in 1931.

Andrew E. Saba 1922-1923 Syrian

In 1922 Andrew Esper Saba, born October 18, 1892 in Syria, ran a provisions store at 163 East Merrimack Street from 1922 to 1923, apparently the only years he spent in Lowell.  We don’t why he came to town for just that time but there are many family connections to consider before focusing on Andrew.

Shaka Saba may have used a fruit cart like this in modern Marrakech Souk, Morocco. From the Seton Hall Library Gallery, photo by Tamara Hill.There were Saba families in Lowell starting in 1897, and they continue to this day.  Shaka Saba, born in Syria in 1881, operated a fruit market at 335 Middlesex, his third year in Lowell. (In an interesting exercise in anglicizing foreign names, Shaka later was known as Shakra G, then George after 1903.)  In 1900, Shaka’s mother, Mankra, and sister, Manoi, lived with him on Farson’s Court (the side door to the Middlesex store).  He operated the market at that location for three years and then became a peddler and an operative for several years, apparently hawking his fruits on the streets in good weather and working in the mills in the bad. In 1909, Shaka/George re-established a confectionery store at 183 Appleton Street, one street over and two blocks closer to the downtown area. (In those days, fruit and confectionery stores often sold the same kinds of goods, namely, something sweet.)

Esper (or Asber or Esber, as he was called at various times) Saba was born in 1864 in Syria. He immigrated in the 1890s and worked in the mills in Lawrence in 1901-1903. In 1909 Esper came to live with George on Middlesex Street and to work in the Lowell mills. The next year, Esper took over the Appleton store, calling it “A. Saba & Sons” Fruits, declaring the proprietors to be Asber, George, and John Saba (although John was not otherwise listed in the City Directory). George Saba, one of the “sons,” was delisted as a proprietor after 1912 (he disappears from sight) and Peter Saba was added.

Actually, the family relations are a bit confused. There had been another George Saba family in Lowell since 1903, George and Rose, with sons Peter and John Asper Saba (along with others). Given that Esper advertised Peter and John as “sons”, there is a strong possibility that this George was Esper’s brother (Esper was born in 1864, George in 1867), making Peter (born 1887) and John A (born 1890) nephews.  To make it more complicated, Peter and John came to live with Esper.  The wording “and Sons” in the company name would simply indicate that it was a family business (although Shaka/George may well have been Esper’s son).

In any case, Asber ran the store until 1915 and then left Lowell. Peter ran the store for another year, worked in the mills for a while until he married a widow, and then operated her grocery store for several years. John also worked in the mills until starting another confectionary store which he ran for about ten years before opening a restaurant and a liquor store, which he ran for many years. One of John’s sons, George Washington Saba, born February 22, 1926, was an example of the patriotism of children of immigrants during World War II. In a newspaper article "George Washington Saba Wants To Join Navy At 17 [sic]”. The article stated “[He] celebrated Washington's birthday and his own too yesterday by volunteering for service in the navy…. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Saba … [said] 'I have always admired my famous namesake,' he told recruiting officers. 'I don't how any better way to celebrate his birthday and mine than by giving my services to the nation he played such an important part in founding.'"

Returning to Andrew, he is not provably Esper Saba’s son, but there is reason to consider it. There is only one person in the entire 1920 Census (out of 892 Sabas) with a given name of Esper/Esber/Asber.  Esper gave his name to a younger, documented daughter, Naifey Esper Saba, so it seemed to be a family tradition. Andrew would be merely another child to have that same middle name. In any case, Esper is a strong presence in Lowell and in another location in Andrew’s life.

Sistersville at the height of second West Virginia oil boom in the 1890s.Andrew immigrated about 1905 and in 1917, at age 25, was in Sistersville, West Virginia (on the Ohio River, bordering Ohio), living with Ace Cassis and working in a store for Joseph Cassis, who lived next door to Ace. Ace and Joseph were co-owners of the store (wholesale groceries) and two other Cassis family members also worked there.  Since Cassis was Andrew’s mother’s maiden name and both these Cassis men were born in Syria, there is a good chance that Ace (born in 1855) was an uncle and Joseph (born in 1878) was a cousin or another uncle.  (There were also family connections in Lowell: George Saba and Simon Cassis shared a building at 64 Adams Street in 1920.)  After Esper left Lowell, he went to West Virginia. In 1920, both Andrew and Esper were working in the West Virginia oil fields and living in Sistersville, although boarding in separate houses.Esper was still in Sistersville, working the oil fields, in the 1930 Census.

Esper had bought news of the Saba’s Lowell entrepreneurial activity when he moved to Sistersville and Andrew eventually decided it was an attractive place to try business on his own.  He married a second-generation Syrian, Hazel, in 1921 and they had twins in Lowell in February, 1922, at the same time he took over the East Merrimack provisions shop. He ran the shop in 1922 and 1923 then, for some unknown reason, left Lowell. He returned to West Virginia where he ran a tobacco shop in 1930 and worked in a retail store in Charleston during the Second World War. After Hazel died in 1982 he moved to California, where he died in 1986.

Ephraim Favreau 1924 French-Canadian*

Ephraim Favreau ran the grocery store after Saba left but his story is even more of a mystery than Saba’s. All we know for certain is that in 1924 he ran the store, that he lived next door at 120 Fayette Street with his wife Melina, and that a Rose Favreau and a Raoul Favreau also lived there (no occupations given and no indication of relation). It’s only on the basis of his name that we guess a French-Canadian background; three of four Favreau families in the 1920 Lowell Census were of French-Canadian background.

There were several families named Favreau in Lowell at the time, notably one running an electrical contracting firm, but Ephraim has no known connection to them. Neither he, Rose, nor Raoul appear in the city directory before 1924 and they are not in the Census for Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Rhode Island in 1920 or 1930. Ephraim and Raoul disappeared from Lowell after 1924. Rose stayed on, working as an accountant in a furniture store for a couple years until she married a second generation French-Canadian in 1926.

The Chain Stores 1925-1945 (Some Irish)

In 1925 the grocery store was run by the Co-operative Grocery Stores Company. The company started in Lowell in 1916 with a single store and by 1925 owned eleven. It is unknown whether this company was associated with others of a similar name and goal in several other states or whether it was a Massachusetts-only corporation. There were many stores by this name in Massachusetts.

Photo of a wood box contain "Finast Choice Boneless Salt Codfish"In 1926 several of those stores in Lowell were taken over by the Michael O’Keeffe Grocery Company, headquartered in Boston. O’Keeffe, an Irish immigrant born in 1867, immigrated in 1886. By the age of 37 he owned forty-two stores in Boston alone and continued expanding. He had purchased his first store in Lowell in 1905 at 54 Middlesex Street. When he took over the 163 East Merrimack store in 1925, it was his tenth in Lowell. He never lived in Lowell.

In 1925 and 1926, O’Keeffe and two other large northeast grocery chains merged to form the First National Stores Company with 1,644 locations. First National operated the store at least until 1945. It became known as Finast until bought by a Netherlands food conglomerate in the 1990s. O’Keeffe himself retired in 1930, a rich man.

Recently (1955- )

In the mid 1950s, a local French-Canadian grocer, Victor P. Beaudette, moved into the shop vacated by First National Stores.  Beaudette and his wife Claire lived in Dracut and commuted to their grocery in Lowell.  The Beaudettes remained at 163 East Merrimack until the early 1960s.  In 1963, the shop was vacant.  In the mid 1970s, a Spanish-speaking (largely Puerto Rican) Pentecostal group opened a “storefront” church called Iglesia Pentecostal Universal and stayed more than 25 years. It is now a brightly lighted computer showroom for SM Computing.

Thoughts about locations

The ten first or second generation immigrants discussed here (those with headings above, less Somes and Perham, who were Yankees) are summarized in Figure 4. There were six Irish, one second generation son of an English-Irish marriage, one Scot, one Syrian, and one French-Canadian. Some of them worked in the mills before starting their own business, some worked for other bakers, grocers, or furniture dealers, and some immediately open their own shops. Few of them succeeded in the sense of continuing to own their own shops for the rest of their life; indeed, several lasted only one year as an owner.

They worked all over the city. Where they worked before and after their stint at 163 East Merrimack Street is plotted in the figure below. Red dots are locations at which they owned their own businesses; blue are locations at which they worked for other people. (This plots only their retail experience; that is, not mills jobs or the civil service.) We don’t have data on every year for them but more data could only show an even wider distribution. There is a reasonable amount of clumping, given that these locations are all on commercial streets. The only noticeable absences in commercial areas are the Highlands, in the southwest of the city and Pawtucketville, in the northwest.

Booth, Thomas F English2-Irish2
Brennan, Thomas F Irish
Carney, John J Irish
Carroll, Mary J, Mrs. Irish
Cavanagh, Simon A Irish
Cronin, Patrick J Irish
Favreau, Ephraim French-Canadian
McCartin, Patrick Irish
Saba, Andrew E Syrian
Watson, George, II Scottish
Immigrants in business at 163 East Merrimack and their nationalities

Graphic showing locations that proprietors of 163 East Merrimack worked before and after their time there.

181-183 East Merrimack Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 181-183 East Merrimack Street
City Business Directory ad for The Erie Telegraph and Telephone Company
City Business Directory ad for A.C. Sanborn, Broker

395-397 Central Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 395-397 Central Street

139 East Merrimack Street

Information for this address is still being developed. Picture of 139 East Merrimack Street

181-183 East Merrimack Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 181-183 East Merrimack Street
City Business Directory ad for The Erie Telegraph and Telephone Company
City Business Directory ad for A.C. Sanborn, Broker

191-193-195 East Merrimack Street

Information for this address is still being developed.
Picture of 191 East Merrimack Street
Picture of the Conant Store, corner of 195 E. Merrimack and High Streets title="Conant Store, corner of 195 E. Merrimack and High Streets"
City Business Directory ad for Taylor ProvisionsCity Business Directory ad  for New Washing Market, A.G. Thompson, proprietor

138 Middlesex Street
  Focus: David Evpak

Ethnic Entrepreneurs, Radical Politics, and Lowell’s Red Scare:
David A. Evpak, Shoe Repairer

Written by Gray Fitzsimons
Historian, Lowell NHP
May 2002

Often overlooked in the dynamics of socialist politics in American industrial cities of the late 19th and early 20th century is the role of immigrant business men and women who provided not only their ideas, passion, and energy to left-wing movements, but also their financial support. While the majority of socialists were either skilled artisans or industrial workers, a small percentage hailed from the small business classes. In cities such as Lowell, Massachusetts, which contained only small socialist and radical left-wing communities, the actions of leaders and rank-and-file were frequently met with fierce resistance from industrialists, political elites, and the clergy.

Picture of 138 Middlesex Street -- Sign says United Shoe Repair

This is a one-story wood-frame, brick-faced building with a flat roof that was built in the 1890s with the sole purpose of a retail store. Its address was 134 until about 1962 when it was changed to 138.

The experiences of David Evpak, a Ukranian émigré who settled in Lowell around 1910, opened a cobbler shop, and engaged but briefly in leftist politics, shed light on the relationship between “penny capitalists” and socialist movement, as well as the challenges they faced when the state attacked suspected radical immigrants during the Red Scare of 1919-1920.

In 1910, at the age of 18, David A. Evpak, a Ukranian immigrant, arrived in the United States. Although it is not known if Evpak came directly from Russia to Lowell, by 1916 he was listed in the city directory. His occupation was noted as shoemaker at the Goodyear Shoe rep. A Swedish-American, Ernest Lundgren, owned Goodyear Shoe in Lowell and operated two shops in the city, the main store on 122 Central Street, and a branch shop on Appleton Street, where David Evpak worked. Evpak rented a room in a tenement on Cushing Street, which extended through a poor and working-class area adjacent to an industrial district.

Map of downtown Lowell showing the location of 138 Middlesex Street and 11 Post Office Avenue. Adapted from City of Lowell GIS service.After a year at Goodyear Shoe, Evpak opened his own cobbler shop at 11 Post Office Square. He named it “United Shoe Repairing Shop.” Apparently the business prospered, for Evpak’s shop soon “doubled its force to take care of its rapidly increasing shoe repairing business.” A local newspaper noted, “Here a customer is assured of prompt work neatly done by modern machinery with best selected stock at reasonable prices and a guarantee of satisfaction.”

Evpak operated his business in a small one-story shop. From city maps of this period, United Shoe Repairing was located in a block that extended along an alleyway, across from the city’s central post office. This was likely a very favorable location as it received a large volume of pedestrian traffic and was almost on the corner of Central Street, one of the city’s busiest commercial thoroughfares. Given the size of the shop, however, Evpak was probably able to employ at most two or three workers, two of whom were Onufrio Kulbach and Stephen Agnatovech, fellow Russian émigrés.

About three years after Evpak settled in the United States, he married a Ukranian émigré Daisy Blaken, who came to America as a young woman in 1913. After their marriage, the Evpaks lived in the “Acre” neighborhood at 62 LaGrange Street. This was largely a working-class community that was home to Greeks, Irish, French Canadians, and a smattering of other European immigrants. Many wage earners rented rooms in the numerous two and three-story, wood-frame tenements that lined the neighborhood’s streets. The Evpaks rented their residence on LaGrange Street, but by late 1919 they had saved enough money to buy land on Gibson Street in the more suburban Highlands neighborhood and were planning to build a house.

Evpak’s arrival in Lowell coincided with the growth of leftwing politics in Lowell. The influx of Russians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and Poles boosted the vitality of the city’s small, but vigorous socialist movement. As a result of the 1912 textile strike, which brought the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) to Lowell, the Socialist Party gained additional support among other immigrant groups and Socialist Hall on Middle Street in the downtown became the center of left-wing political activity.

The socialist movement in Lowell in the 1910s built upon the work of an earlier generation of political organizers. While the city’s first socialist meeting occurred in the 1880s, it was not until the late 1890s that a formal party emerged in Lowell. Unlike Haverhill’s socialist organization, which boasted several hundred party members and worked to elect a Socialist mayor, Lowell’s Socialist Party remained quite small. Party leaders included skilled workers and trolleymen, as well as shopkeepers, property holders, and even an inventor. Their social and economic standing in the community reflected the middle-class status of party leaders and activists in Massachusetts. Although most of the city’s trade union leaders eschewed socialist politics, a few actively participated in the Socialist party and some, like street railway worker William E. Sproul, ran for alderman and state representative.

Though never very large, the city’s Socialist Party grew to such an extent that by 1902, for the first time in Lowell’s history, it fielded a slate of candidates for mayor and aldermen. The mayoral candidate received just over 600 of the nearly 13,500 total votes cast. Again in 1903 and 1904, Lowell’s socialists put up a slate of candidates, but again few voters cast ballots for these men. Eugene Debs’ visit to Lowell and his appeal to working men on the eve of the elections in 1909 boosted the prestige of the city’s Socialist Party. Most of the working-class districts, however, continued to support Democrats. Despite the steady stream of meetings, local campaigns, and the occasional presence of nationally known Socialist politicians and lecturers, Lowell’s Socialist candidates never received more than four percent of the total vote.

It was the Eastern European and Russian immigrants who infused the city with a more radical Socialist program. As the decade of the 1910s came to a close, some of Lowell’s socialists joined with the nascent Communist party. Meetings at Socialist Hall were attended largely by Poles, Lithuanians, Russians, and a handful of French Canadians, Greeks, and Ukrainians. Few of these men and women were naturalized citizens. While a number of radical socialists and communists worked in the textile industry, the most were employed in Lowell’s leather tanneries or were involved like Evpak in the shoe business or other small enterprises.

As historian Dexter Arnold has pointed out, opposition to foreign-born “reds” arose in the Merrimack Valley’s textile cities in the late 1910s, reflecting a growing fear nationwide of a “red revolution” in America. These fears intensified in the fall of 1919 in the wake of May Day riots, a series of bombings targeted at government officials by unknown “anarchists,” massive labor unrest and IWW actions on the West Coast, the nationally conducted steel strike, and the Boston police strike. In Lowell, state officials, newspaper editors, textile mill officials, and clergy campaigned fervently against bolshevism, labor strikes, and anarchism. “Hoodlums and radicals!” thundered Reverend Chauncey J. Hawkins at the city’s First Congregational Church. “Shall they rule America? No! But they are challenging and the life of America and they must be suppressed.” In an address before members of the First Baptist Church, Massachusetts Labor Commissioner Edwin T. Mulready waved copies of the Communist party platform and the declaration of rights of Massachusetts and proclaimed, “As oil and water cannot mix, so bolshevism and good Americanism cannot mix, nor even continue in the same country, for the one lives only through the destruction of the other.” As a means for promoting “Americanism” the state increased funding for Americanization classes, a series of which were held in public schools around Lowell, as well as in the city’s Massachusetts Mills. Large posters commanding workers to “Learn English” were placed in the Massachusetts, Merrimack, and Lawrence mills.

As state elections approached in November 1919, many native-born Lowellians, along with a number of the city’s prominent naturalized citizens, joined the campaign against the left. In the minds of many, bolshevists, anarchists, trade unionists, and alien immigrants were indistinguishable and all posed a grave threat to American society. Commenting on the upcoming election in Massachusetts, the Reverend C. E. Fisher of Lowell’s First Universalist Church declared, “God save America if Calvin Coolidge is defeated next Tuesday.” His sermon titled, “The Red Flag or the Stars and Stripes—Which?” called for patriotic Americans to rally around Coolidge and “be true to law, order, righteousness, and justice.” As for those people “who do not like America,” Fisher suggested, “why don’t they go to Russia, where beautiful conditions prevail.” He added, “I should not invite them [to go], I should compel them. Until we can do that we are going to have trouble.”

The Reverend Fisher’s call for deporting those “men coming here who come simply to cause unrest” was a strategy that the United States Justice Department and state law enforcement officials were beginning to implement in late 1919. In New York City, federal and local law enforcement officials carried out a sweep of suspected radicals and arrested 37 men, including “Big Jim” Larkin head of the Irish Transport Workers. In Massachusetts, investigations into the activities of suspected “Reds” netted the Socialist Party’s candidate for lieutenant governor, Marion E. Sproul of Lowell, wife of William Sproul. Two weeks after the election state police arrived in Lowell looking for more “Reds.” Working with Lowell’s police superintendent and local officers, the state arrested two Polish brothers, Constanty and Felix Dobrowolski, who owned a grocery on Lakeview Avenue in the Centreville neighborhood, and charged them with violating the anti-anarchy law for displaying in their store window a poster of a murdered female labor organizer with the words “Rise and avenge her.”

In December, as part of the continuing statewide “anti-Red” campaign, Lowell police sought those responsible for distributing communist leaflets throughout the city. Sergeant Samuel J. Bigelow, along with patrolmen Michael Winn and Patrick B. Clark posed as “radical characters” and infiltrated meetings at Socialist Hall. Their investigation culminated in the arrest of a young Lithuanian immigrant, Fabian Piekarski, who worked as a weaver at the Merrimack Mills. Like the Dobrowolski brothers, Piekarski was charged with violating the anti-anarchy law. Piekarski’s crime was selling “radical literature and books written in the Russian language during a meeting of Poles at Socialist Hall” on Middle Street. Police also found on Piekarski a card showing he was a member of the Socialist Party. At his hearing before Judge Thomas J. Enright in Lowell’s Police Court, Piekarski through his counsel Dennis J. Murphy pled not guilty. Judge Enright set bail at $5,000, an amount that Piekarski, who made about $20 per week at the textile mill, was unable to secure. He was then committed to the city jail.

The rounding up of Piekarski and another factory worker, Mike Belida, who lived in North Chelmsford and who was also charged with distributing revolutionary “propaganda,” preceded a much larger federally led raid. That raid was directed by Attorney General Mitchell Palmer and encompassed 33 cities nationwide, including several in New England. Launched in early January 1920, the “Palmer” raids were carried out by federal agents, as well as state officials and local police. In Lowell, city police organized into special units and on Friday evening, January 2, they raided Socialist Hall and numerous homes of suspected reds throughout the city. About 30 men and women, all of foreign birth, were hauled into the police station and questioned for nearly three hours. According to one report, the detainees were asked about their political affiliations and their involvement with radical groups, but “little could be learned from the majority of the men and they denied [any] revolutionary intentions.” Of the 30 “radicals” rounded up in the raid, five were transferred to a federal facility at Deer Island in Boston Harbor, while the rest were released.

Headline of an article from January 3, 1920 Lowell Sun "FIVE MEN ARE SENT TO BOSTON". Follow the link for the full article. Among the five alleged radicals arrested and sent to Deer Island was David Evpak, whose shoe repair shop was located around the corner from Socialist Hall. Evpak’s case, similar to the other Lowell suspects held at Deer Island, remains a mystery. On the afternoon of the raid, an FBI agent named Henderson met with Police Superintendent Welch, presented him with about 30 warrants, and outlined the plan for arresting the suspects. Apparently an informant or a federal infiltrator had fingered Evpak during a meeting at Socialist Hall for his name appeared on a list of “radicals” who were “either directly or indirectly identified with the Communist party.” That evening police officers surrounded the building and several quietly entered the hall. Inside they found 25 people in attendance. An officer ordered everyone to stay put. The police then rummaged through the hall and collected scores of documents. Officers searched each person, after which they escorted them to the police station. Other suspects were arrested in their homes and brought to the station for questioning. One exchange between an officer and detainee, as reported in a local newspaper, captured the murkiness of the state’s accusations, as well as the confused responses of the accused “radicals.” “You belong to the Communist party and you previously was [sic] a radical Socialist,” proclaimed one policeman. “No, no not me,” the accused retorted. “Oh yes you are and we know it. You are not fooling us any [sic].”

Among the other four Lowell men who were similarly accused of being “reds” and were taken to Deer Island was Stephen Agnatovech, whom Evpak employed in his cobbler shop. Agnatovech had come to this country from Moscow in 1908 and settled in Lowell by 1909, working as a shoemaker from the first. He married Bronislawa (later Blanch) Apolia in 1909 and lived on Lakeview Avenue and nearby, an area changing from Irish to Polish at the time. By 1911 he was working at Lundgren’s Goodyear Shoe Repairing Company, where he met Evpak. Unlike Evpak who was living in a working-class area, however, in 1912 Agnatovech was living in an affluent neighborhood, Christian Hill, which overlooked the city’s downtown on the opposite side of the Merrimack River.

The other men arrested and shipped to Deer Island lived in working-class neighborhoods. This included Benjamin Chaluda, a 36-year-old Lithuanian immigrant who worked as a comber in a woolen mill, Joseph Lescarbeau, a 79-year-old French Canadian who had immigrated to the United States in 1900 and worked as a textile operative and laborer, and William Matchas, who was apparently a Swedish immigrant and had no fixed address at the time of his arrest.

Two days after the “Red” raid, Lowell police arrested another suspect, Onufrio Kulbach, another of Evpak’s cobblers. A Lithuanian who came from Russia to the United States in 1912, Kulbach and his wife Helen, a Polish émigré, boarded with a large Polish family on Abbott Street, which was located in a working-class neighborhood of Irish, Polish, and Portuguese residents. Officers searched Kulbach’s home and found a large amount of radical literature. Like Evpak, Kulbach was sent to prison on Deer Island for further questioning. Another man, John Zarowski, also a Lithuanian immigrant, was arrested in a bowling alley, allegedly drunk and loudly proclaiming he was a bolshevist and that the Communist Party was “justified” in its actions. Police brought Zarowski before Judge Enright who ordered him held in the city jail. At a second hearing, the following morning, Zarowski professed his allegiance to the United States, stating, “I like this country and I want to live here all the time.” After Zarowski promised to demonstrate his “liking for the country in his actions and speech,” the judge put him on probation for six months.

The arrests of suspected communists in the city continued into mid-January. Two more men were picked up on federal warrants and sent to Deer Island. One was Joseph Nadworny, secretary of the Polish Communists of Lowell. The investigation into his background and his subsequent apprehension reveals the tragic and farcical dimensions of the Palmer raids of 1920. Nadworny, a Russian Pole, had immigrated to the United States in 1909 and was living in Lowell by 1919. Initially employed at the U.S. Cartridge Company, a large munitions manufacturer, Nadworny then obtained a job as an edge trimmer at a shoe factory in Lawrence. He lived with his wife Amelia, five-year-old son John, and a 12-year old lodger, Olga Mazik, on High Street in a lower middle-class and working class neighborhood. At the time of the raids police officers visited Nadworny’s home expecting to uncover radical literature, but instead found “a generous display of American flags, and red, white, and blue displayed on all sides.” Believing that authorities were mistaken they left Nadworny undisturbed. Police superintendent Welch, however, was convinced that Nadworny was a “red” and when he received word that a “radical,” who had been arrested in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was carrying a Nadworny-signed letter concerning financial support for leftist activities, he ordered police to pick him up. Nadworny was then sent to Deer Island.

A number of prominent Lowellians, fraternal organizations, and opinion shapers voiced their approval of the Palmer raids and suppression of socialist dissent. Editors of the city’s two major English-language newspapers applauded the arrests of radical “aliens.” The Democratic paper, the Lowell Sun, called the actions of the Justice Department “commendable” and warned that aliens who “preach overthrow of government and violence, or who indulge in inflammatory utterances against American laws and institutions, will come immediately under the surveillance of agents of the government and will be arrested whenever their activities reach a point where they are regarded as inimical to the public welfare.” “Several hundred malcontents of the more vehement kind,” the Courier-Citizen observed, “were seized without warning and have been brought to the question. By no means all will be held we suppose—but the drag-net must have got some very needful fish.”

Among the charges hurled at Evpak and other unnaturalized “aliens” who were arrested during the raids was that they were anti-American bent on the “overthrow of law and order.” An Americanization campaign, which included state-sponsored English-language classes and civics courses aimed at immigrants, had been underway in Lowell and in other Massachusetts cities before the Palmer raids, but intensified in the aftermath. Among the statewide leaders in the Americanization effort was Lowell resident and probate judge John E. Leggat. As members of the Massachusetts branch of the American Legion, Leggat and a group of Legion delegates announced that they were going to “help Americanize the alien and actively combat any Bolshevist or other radical movement … in the state.” Much of this Americanization effort, they believed, needed to be aimed at that state’s public schools, especially the teaching of history. Delegates recommended a substantial revision of the history curriculum that would give far greater attention to American history. One delegate went so far as to urge that European history be stricken entirely from the public school curriculum.

For the families of suspected “radicals” arrested during the “Red” raid in Lowell, the Americanization speeches and anti-alien rhetoric likely added to confusion and anxiety they were experiencing. Officials at Deer Island released little information concerning the condition of those held in the prison. Only later was it learned that prisoners had been taken to the immigration office in Boston where, after questioning, they were forced to march in chains the to dock, from which they were taken to the Deer Island prison. As historian Robert Murray observed, the conditions at Deer Island were “deplorable; heat was lacking, sanitation was poor, and restrictions holding [the prisoners] incommunicado were rigidly enforced.” One man committed suicide, while another went insane. Two prisoners subsequently died of pneumonia.

Headline for newspaper article Lowell Sun January 10, 1920: "Back from Deer Island". Follow the link for the full article. David Evpak’s incarceration at Deer Island was one of the briefest of any prisoner. Despite an early report that “New England’s radical crew” had met as a group and decided to “accept deportation without legal battle,” Evpak and many others obtained legal counsel to contest the accusations brought against them. Evpak hired Lowell attorney Edward J. Tierny, who represented him at a hearing before the federal deputy commissioner of immigration, James Sullivan. According to one report, Evpak testified that “America was a mighty good country to live in” and that he wanted to live here and “bring up his family as good American citizens.” Further, Evpak “denied any connection with radical societies.” Sullivan declared that Evpak was “in no way connected with radical activities” in Lowell and ordered his release.

After spending nearly a week on Deer Island, Evpak returned to Lowell, accompanied by his attorney. As he got off the train, he was overheard stating emphatically to Tierney, “It’s certainly nice to be back in Lowell.” In public he made no comment critical of the actions that had been taken against him, his employees, or his fellow prisoners. In fact, Evpak said he had no complaints about his confinement at Deer Island. He stated that the men were “well treated” and, “while they didn’t, of course, have the comforts of home, they were comfortably sheltered and always got ‘three-squares” a day. Evpak also told a reporter that he was going to apply “immediately” for citizenship.

His public statements aside, Evpak’s arrest was undoubtedly a harrowing experience for him, his wife, and his fellow prisoners. His employee Onufrio Kulbach was released a week after him, and within a few weeks almost all of the captives were let go. Like Evpak, none of the ex-prisoners spoke out publicly against the government, the police actions, or violations of their civil liberties. Many of those who were arrested from Lowell did not remain city residents for long never returned to Lowell. Kulbach stayed a few months, in time for the Federal Census conducted in June, then moved to Wakefield, Mass., where he opened his own shop under the name Oscar’s Shoe Repair. Others like Joseph Nadworny, stayed for a year and then departed.

As seen through the experience of one individual, David Evpak, the Palmer raids were not only emotionally wrenching to those swept up in it, but they also led to financial hardship. While Evpak was incarcerated on Deer Island, his creditors in Lowell placed attachments on his real estate and personal property. It appears that he had to sell the parcel of land he owned in the Highlands neighborhood and he, Daisy Evpak, and their infant daughter, Anna, boarded in a two-family house on Broadway. Eventually they purchased the dwelling and they continued to live there until the early 1970s.

Like Evpak, Stephan Agnatovech stayed in Lowell but suffered financially with the arrests. He moved from affluent Christian Hill to 103 Tremont Street, a corner house with large mills on two sides. After the arrest in early 1920, he obviously felt fearful of the federal government when the census was taken a few months later, reporting his name as Stanley Steves. He also reverted to using Ignatowicz with given name Staniswof for the city directory. By 1926, when he opened his own shop, he was comfortable enough to again use the name Stephen Agnatovech.

Evpak and his wife became American citizens and continued to live and run their shoe repair business in the Spindle City. He continued to operate United Shoe Repairing at the Post Office Square location until 1963, when he moved a block away to the store on 138 Middlesex Street. His business remained small and for a few years his son, David A., Jr., worked with him. In 1972 he retired from his cobbler shop. He and Daisy then moved to the Sacramento, California area. Their adult children, David and Anna, subsequently moved to the same part of California. David, Sr., died in November 1972 and his wife died September 1976.

The extent to which David Evpak was involved in radical politics in Lowell in the late 1910s likely never will be known. It appears that after his release from Deer Island he remained aloof from politics altogether. The effect of the “Red” raids on the Socialist Party and radical politics in Lowell is equally hard to determine. While Socialist Hall closed down and never reopened, radical left-wing groups periodically attempted to organize in Lowell. In 1924, the IWW returned briefly to the Spindle City, but their effort to interest textile workers in radical unionism proved a failure. Ten years later, during the general textile strike, the American Communist Party surfaced in Lowell. The Communist textile organizer, Ann Burlak, known as the “Red Flame,” campaigned energetically in the city. And yet she too found that, in the Spindle City, the seeds of radical politics fell on barren soil. The high-water mark of Socialist politics in Lowell that had risen three decades earlier was never exceeded. Ironically, in the predominately working-class city of Lowell, it was a small segment of the artisanal and entrepreneurial classes that had led the way in radical politics.

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