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:

  1. 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 Correction.

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