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Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Brodericks enter the 20th century

Matthew and Bridget Broderick established themselves in Lynn and raised their family there. Lynn was a growing manufacturing city on the North Shore, noted for, at one time, the production of shoes. The Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn RR brought workers to Lynn from points south, providing a critical service to the economy. It also provided a connection to Boston and its shopping district. Winthrop became a summer resort town and Revere Beach was a huge attraction with its wide beaches, dance halls and amusement park. The railroad provided the transportation to all the communities along its route whether for work or a day at the beach.

My grandfather, Patrick John Broderick, (aka Jack) started as a baggage master on the train when he was about 18 years old. It was on the railroad that Jack met Alvina Chambers as she traveled to and from East Boston to visit relatives. They married, built a house in Winthrop, on Locust St. and raised a family of two girls and one boy. He was very active in the social life of the railroad employees, helping to organize dances, picnics and other activities. He would work for the railroad for 40 years, spending the last 20 or more, as a conductor.

                                                         Jack Broderick about 1912

Jack’s sister, Mary, remained in Lynn, married Larry Keating and had 2 daughters. Larry was a shoe salesman. He died at the age of 45 from TB. Their first daughter died before her 1st birthday, while the youngest daughter, Lillian, lived a long life and was a steadfast friend and cousin to my mother. Mary died in 1930, at the age of 48, of a ruptured appendix.

Jack’s brother, Lawrence, never married and lived his life with virtually no contact with the remainder of his family.

Now, I’ll open the closet door and let the skeleton out. My grandfather was Irish Catholic, raised in a parochial school, observing all the holy days and special days of the church. He was supposed to marry a nice Irish Catholic girl and settle down. But my grandmother was a Baptist. Today we would look at this as no problem to speak of. But at that time it was considered a sin to marry outside the Catholic religion and would, for sure, send you directly to hell. Jack’s mother would have nothing to do with this. Although she had lost her first two sons, she turned her back on her oldest surviving son and never spoke to him again. She made it clear that no one else in the family was to have any contact with him or they would feel her wrath. This must have been difficult for everyone and it must have left raw open wounds. When Jack’s mother died 12 years later, a policeman came to the house to inform them of her death. My mother was already in school when this happened and to her surprise, she now had a grandfather, an aunt, two uncles and a cousin. The family, except for Lawrence, was reunited and spent many happy years together. Lawrence died in 1958, living as a boarder in a rooming house.

Because of this rift, it was difficult to find much information to use as a starting point. We all thought my grandfather was the oldest child and we knew he had two siblings, but there was scarcely anything else. When his mother disowned him, he stopped talking about his family. Researching Irish families is daunting enough as it is, without having the added burden of a family rift.  However, what has been found has revealed a family that none of us knew. Since I was less than a year old when my grandfather died, I now feel as though I know him in a way even my mother never knew.

                                                      Jack Broderick about 1912

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