From Ireland to An Unmarked Grave

In Norwood, Massachusetts, in Highland Cemetery, there are two unmarked graves.  The office can give you a map and show you where they are. They hold John and Mary Caulfield who passed away quite young and left three children in the 1920s.

Sounds a bit incomplete, doesn’t it. John Caulfield arrived in the United States on November 1, 1910 from Londonderry on the Furnessia. He gave his previous residence as Fivemiletown, County Tyrone, Ireland. His occupation was Millwright. Perhaps he would be called a Machinist today.

He went directly to Norwood from Ellis Island. He presumably had a friend or a job there. Many arrivals on the same boat were from County Tyrone. At any rate, more sleuthing needed. My father and uncles claimed to have records from Norwood, but I have never seen them.

But, of course, the unmarked grave! That’s the point, isn’t it. How did he get there.

In the 1920s, John Caulfield met and married one Mary Ellis. This did not go over well with Mary’s family. They were what was called, at that time, an “English” Family and Mary was an “English” girl. That sounds quaint, but it masks a level of bigotry that we today can only believe of the rural south and New York slums.

Bad enough that Mary wanted to marry an immigrant, but worse: an Irishman. She was cut off from the family and went to live in one small upstairs room on Walpole St. in Norwood.

John and Mary had three children: John, George and William. The names are very Caulfield and very Tyrone. The early Earls  of Tyrone were the likes of William and James Caulfield. Of course, John was not related to those Caulfields.

…and then they died. In their 40s and no record of how they went. Three children went out for adoption. The Ellis family deigned to have them buried in their plot at Highland Cemetery. No marker, to this day.

So…on this St. Patrick’s Day of 2017, I’m thinking a bit about my family history. There’s a gap there that needs to be filled. Everything picks up again when my father joins the Navy towards the end of WWII. He had been living with the Murphys of Boston (I know) who had adopted him to make nine boys in the family.

I have been back to Ireland, stayed in the Caulfield Bed & Breakfast, walked up and down the street in Fivemiletown and visited Castlecaulfield. I have been to Norwood and seen the plot. Is that enough? Should I contact Norwood city hall or to fill in some of the gaps?

I haven’t yet, so probably never will. Enough to know that my Grandfather came over on a boat; worked, married and died in obscurity; left three sons, including my father. Thanks for that, John and Mary Caulfield.


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Know lots of stuff about (mostly) meaningless things.

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