Michael Hegarty (1898-1970) and Agnes Murphy (1902-1985)

Cambridge Tribune, XI.9 (5 May 1888) – Agnes Murphy worked here in the 1920s.

Michael Hegarty and Agnes Murphy

Numbers 4 and 5 in my ancestral Ahnentafel are my paternal grandparents, Michael Hegarty and Agnes Murphy, denizens of then-industrial Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Michael John Hegarty was born 11 March 1898 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Irish immigrants John and Margaret (Deasy) Hegarty.[1] Michael married Agnes Murphy 17 January 1926 at St. Catherine of Genoa’s in Somerville, Mass.[2] Michael died 16 October 1970 and is buried at Puritan Lawn Memorial Park in Peabody, Mass.[3]

Agnes Cecelia Murphy was born 23 July 1902 in Cambridge, Mass, the daughter of Irish immigrants Walter Murphy and Anastasia Gaule. [4] She died 23 January 1985 and is buried in Peabody with her husband.[5]

Michael Hegarty abt. 1920

As a young man, Michael worked in various jobs at printing presses that serviced the colleges in Cambridge.[6] As the Depression took hold in 1930, Michael started working on the steam boilers for the Cambridge Electric Company at their Blackstone power plant by the Charles River. [7] His father had already been working there for decades and was probably instrumental in that move. Michael too worked there for decades, for the rest of his working life. In 2003, Harvard University bought and renovated the Blackstone plant to service their campus and a couple of Michael’s grandchildren also worked there in various capacities.

Agnes Murphy abt. 1920

Agnes Murphy, whose father worked at Squire’s meatpacking plant, left school by 1920 and worked as a packer at the Kennedy Biscuit factory. [8] Kennedy Biscuit was the birthplace of Fig Newtons and eventually became the Nabisco corporation. The landmarked original factory is now apartments renting for close to $5000/month.

In her senior years, Agnes was often in poor health and lost a leg to diabetes.

Michael and Agnes had seven children between 1926 and 1942. I’m not including their names here for privacy reasons, but if you think we’re related, get in touch.

Notes:

  1. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “Affidavit and Correction of a Record of Birth” for Michael John Hegarty, 7 July 1914; Massachusetts State Vital Records,1841-1920, database with images, FamilySearch.org. The affidavit was given by Michael’s father John. Michael’s birth was also listed in an 1898 Registry of Births for the City of Cambridge, which appears to have been transcribed in February 1899. See Massachusetts, Birth Records, 1840-1915 (database with images), Ancestry.com. There is other supporting evidence for this birthdate such as Michael’s baptism a week later at St. Paul’s parish in Cambridge. See Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, baptismal registry entry 2775 for Michael John, son of John Hagerty [sic] and Margaret Deasy, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston Records, 1789-1900, database with images, NEHGS.
    N.B. Be careful if researching these people not to confuse Michael John Hegarty with another man named Michael Joseph Hegarty. Michael Joseph Hegarty was also born in Cambridge in 1898 (on May 9th) and died in 1970 (on Dec. 9th) and had a father named John Hegarty and a mother named Margaret (Coakley). I have not found any connection between the two families.
  2. Hegarty-Murphy marriage announcement, Cambridge Tribune, 23 Jan. 1926, p. 10. Cambridge Public Library. This marriage is also annotated in the margin of Michael’s baptism record.
  3. Death notice for Michael J. Hegarty, Boston Globe, 17 Oct. 1970, p. 15. Newspapers.com
  4. Massachusetts, U.S., Birth Records, 1840-1915, database with images, Ancestry.com, accessed 6 Aug 2022, registry image, entry 174 for Agnes Murphy; citing 1902 register of births for the City of Cambridge.
  5. Death notice for Agnes Hegarty, Boston Globe, 24 Jan 1985. Newspapers.com
  6. These jobs are documented in the biannual Greenough’s Cambridge Directories throughout the 1920s. These directories are included in the database U.S., City Directories 1822-1995 on Ancestry.com.
  7. 1930 US Census. Census Place: Somerville, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll: 927; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 416; Image: 928.0. Family of Michael Hegarty.
  8. 1920 US Census. Census Place: Cambridge Ward 5, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll: T625_707; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 48; Family of Walter Murphy.

Google map for Hegartys and Murphys in Cambridge

Relatives still living and/or working in Cambridge expressed curiosity about exactly where our ancestors lived in the early 20th century, so I made a Google map. These home addresses were taken from censuses, birth records, draft registrations, news articles, etc. Both the Hegartys and Murphys immigrated from Ireland to Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Murphys moved over to Somerville and, in their later years, the Hegartys moved to Brighton. Click through and be ready to zoom in or out as necessary.

 

Distant Hegarty aunts and uncles

There was really no family memory of having relatives in New York, but since I’ve moved here I find them fairly often. I’ve known for awhile that my great-grandfather’s sister Julia Hegarty King (1869-1935) is buried on Staten Island. She turned up in a New York  death index on Ancestry.com and I sent away for her death certificate. Today I took advantage of the glorious fall weather and drove out to Ocean View Cemetery to see her gravesite.


Julia shaved a few years off her age once she got to the United States. So there she is with her husband Thomas. Carroll McLoughlin was Julia’s son-in-law. The surprise bonus of going out there is the discovery that Eleanora (Hegarty) Hughes is there too: she’s Julia’s sister and another great-great-aunt. I didn’t even have a death date for her until now.

In Massachusetts, my Hegarty relatives are mostly concentrated in the Cambridge/Somerville area of Middlesex County. I’ve long wondered why my great-grandfather chose that particular area. Today I found one possible reason: he had an uncle already living there. (Most immigration happens in chains; people go where they already know someone.) Since I pushed back that next generation, I’ve been able to better identify which Hegartys are mine. The FamilySearch matching engine brought forth a Massachusetts death certificate for a 3X great-uncle Jeremiah Hegarty, who died in Cambridge in 1905. He was the uncle of the women buried above and of my great-grandfather. So that’s who my great-grandfather knew in Cambridge. I suppose the next question is about who Jerry knew, but I need to actually work on things for my job for a while now.