Family of John Ahern, Jr.
and Lizzie Holmes
John Ahern, born to John Ahern and Catharine Ahern at Cloughlucas in
Mallow, Co. Cork, baptized on Sunday, the 4th of July at
St. Mary's in Mallow (sponsors: Timothy Callaghan and Mary
Sarsfield), worked as a farmer and died due to perotonitis on
Tuesday, 21 May 1889 in Arlington.
John Ahern married Lizzie Holmes (aged 18) 3 January 1869 at St.
Peter's in Cambridge (witnesses: Dennis Fitzpatrick and Hannah
Donnelly). Lizzie had been born in Ireland to Thomas and Lizzie.
They had the following child:
- Mary Ahern, born 28 September 1869 in Arlington, baptized 29
September at St. Peter's in Cambridge (sponsors: Patrick
Ahern and Julia Fitzpatrick), died of unknown causes 6 October 1869.
John Ahern elisted to serve in the Union Army in the Civil War.
- John O'Harran, farmer, resident of Arlington [then West Cambridge]
enlisted 17 Sept. 1862, aged 22 years and was mustered in Company D,
42nd Mass. Vol. Inf. September 20, 1862. Arrested by the Civil Authorities at
Readville, Mass. October 18, 1862 and did not join regiment.
- Arlington War Records, Vol. I, W.P.A. typescript pub. 1937
- Life in camp at Readville [West Roxbury, Mass.] was by no means
monotonous. During August, September, and part of
October, the men were under canvas. Regular routine
duties of camp were performed, and the hours
after duty were passed in social pleasures, which
only those who have a natural taste for the life
of a soldier, or young novices in camp life, know
how to enjoy. The weather for a large portion of
the time, was glorious. The surrounding scenery at
Readville is very fine, as any person who has visited
the ground can testify. As the facilities for
visiting from Boston were very good, via the Boston
and Providence Railroad, also by splendid drives
over excellent roads, all of the troops concentrated
there, over three thousand men, had many visitors
to while away the time when off duty, causing the
various camps to have a gala appearance at all
parades of ceremony, such as guard mounting, dress
parades and reviews. Bands of music were specially
engaged at various times to assist in these parades,
much to the gratification of the men. All day long
the rat-a-tap of the drums was to be heard, as the
newly-organized drum corps attached to the regiment
went on with their practice. It was a continual
scene of excitement, without danger, until orders
came for the various bodies to move.
There were left behind, in the State, the following
officer and enlisted men, on detached service, sick,
or in jail [12 men, including:]
Private John O'Harran, Company D - Confined in
Dedham jail on sentence for manslaughter; killing a
citizen in a drunken brawl at Mill Village, Dedham,
Mass. Never rejoined his company.
Private John Nolan, Company D - Confined in Dedham
jail as a witness in O'Harran's case. Released and
joined the regiment February 4th, 1863.
- History of the Forty-Second Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer
Infantry, by Charles P. Bosson, 1886
Mention of John Ahern in the News
- Dedham Gazette - 25 October 1862
- On Friday, the 17th [October], three soldiers, named
John O'Hearn, John Nolan, and Thomas Burns, all
belonging in West Cambridge, but forming a portion
of Company D, of Roxbury, in the 42nd Regiment,
stationed at Readville, obtained two hours' furlough
from the commander of their company, and started
for Mill Village. Arriving there in the afternoon,
they went into Johnston's saloon, on High street,
and got something to drink, and found a man named
Riley, who worked in Blackstone, but whose wife and
two children lived in Mill Village, in the saloon.
The parties drank together and then separated,
but afterwards met, when Riley began to abuse the
soldiers, and at last struck O'Hearn a severe blow
in the face, which drew blood. He then rushed into a
house near by, where he procured a club and attacked
the soldiers, when a scuffle ensued which resulted
in Riley being knocked down with a billet of wood in
the hands of O'Hearn, which rendered him senseless,
in which condition he remained until his death on
the following afternoon.
On hearing of the disturbance, Constable Charles
Coburn, Jr., of Mill Village, proceeded to the scene
of the assault, when the soldiers stated that they
had been engaged in a row, and gave themselves up.
Mr. Coburn at once conveyed them to the Provost
Guard at the camp, where they remained until the
death of Riley, when they were taken to the jail.
The Selectmen, on being notified of the homicide,
proceeded to Mill Village, and after investigating
the circumstances attending the death of Riley,
decided that the case should be passed upon by a
Coroner's Jury. John Cox, Jr., a Justice of the
Peace and Acting Coroner, thereupon issued his warrant,
and a jury was summoned and sworn on Saturday
afternoon. The following gentlemen comprise the jury:
Charles Coburn, Jr., Foreman, Jeremiah Crehore,
Reuben S. Thompson, James Trefry, Nathaniel S.
Shephard, and Henry Bottomley.
A part of the Jury's investigation was conducted
in the Dedham Jail, where Nolan and Burns were
examined. The evidence was somewhat conflicting.
After a full and patient hearing of quite a number
of witnesses, the Jury terminated their labors by
rendering the following verdict:
"That said William Riley came to his death about
half-past one o'clock in the afternoon of Saturday,
now last past, from the effect of a blow upon the
head, inflicted with a billet of wood, between
three and four o'clock on Friday afternoon, now
last past, at Mill Village in Dedham aforesaid
blow causing a compound fracture of the skull.
"And the jury do further find that said blow was
inflicted at the hands of John O'Hearn, a soldier,
in a drunken brawl in the public streets. And the
jury do further say, that the existence of numerous
drinking saloons in a populous village, within one
mile of an encampment where between three and four
thousand soldiers were stationed, is a fruitful
source of riotous and lawless proceedings, and a
nuisance which at ought at once to be abated. And
we respectfully commend the matter to the immediate
attention of the town authorities."
The deceased enlisted in the quota of Dedham for
nine months' service in August last, and was round
there some time, almost always intoxicated, and
when the men were ordered to camp, he refused to
go. He had the reputation of being one of the most
abusive and violent men in the neighborhood, and
very little regret is felt at his untimely end.
The three soldiers are between 19 and 22 years old,
and appear to be smart, intelligent young fellows,
all having been employed on farms in West Cambridge
prior to their enlistment.
Drs. H. F. Aten and J. F. Higgins, of this town,
made a post-mortem examination, and found that death
resulted from a compound fracture of the frontal
bone. The body was taken to Blackstone for burial by
the brother of the deceased.
In connection with the above affair, we cannot
refrain from expressing our hearty thanks, as a
citizen of Dedham, to the Jury of Inquest, who have
called the attention of the town authorities to the
open and unrebuked violation of the laws against the
sale of liquor. It is disgraceful that this inhuman
and illegal traffic should thus be tolerated in a
decent community, and it is quite time that this
growing evil should be stopped. We hope, however,
that the town authorities, if they do anything,
will not confine their researches to Mill Village,
but will at least look at establishments within a
stone's throw of their own homes.
- Dedham Gazette - 20 December 1862
- Superior Court-December Term, Judge Brigham
Presiding. The December term of the Superior Court
for Norfolk County commenced its session in this
town, on Tuesday. On Thursday morning the Grand
Jury returned into court with the following indictments,
which were read, the prisoners having been previously arraigned:
John O'Hearn of West Cambridge, indicted for
manslaughter of William Riley, in this town, on
the 17th of October, plead guilty, and on motion
of his counsel, his case was specially assigned for
consideration at 9 o'clock A.M., on Monday next.
- Dedham Gazette - 3 January 1863
- Superior Court-December Term, Judge Brigham Presiding.
The following is the summary of the Criminal
business of the term:
John O. Hern, late of Cambridge, indicted for the
manslaughter of William Riley, of Dedham, plead
guilty and was sentenced to three years in House of
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