From Lowell Doughboys: John Jacobs Rogers

This is a cross-post from “Lowell Doughboys” – the blog of Lowell Historical Society board member Eileen Loucraft. On this blog Eileen posts about World War One and the Greater Lowell area.

Monday, January 23, 2012

John Jacobs Rogers

John Jacob Rogers
born August 18, 1881 Lowell, MA
died March 28, 1925 Washington, DC
John Jacob Rogers was born in Lowell, Massachusetts to Jacob and Mary Howard (Carney) Rogers.  He served for twelve years as the Congressman for the 5th district.  He died at only 44 years of age from complications of appendicitis.
Representative Rogers was a graduate of Lowell High School earning the Carney Medal in 1899.  He was the only grandchild of Carney to earn that honor.  He went on to Harvard University and earned his law degree in 1907.  He was a Lieutenant in the Company K of the Mass 6th.  He volunteered as a private during World War 1 when he was a Congressman. While in France in October 1917, the ocean liner he was on with Mrs. Rogers was attacked by a U-boat.  Shots were fired by the liner and the submarine was unable to fire a torpedo.
His wife continued his work as a champion for veterans when she won a special election for his seat after his untimely death. She continued to represent the district until her death in 1960.  They did not have any children.  They are buried in the Rogers family plot at Lowell Cemetery.
Posted by at 9:40 AM

From LowellIrish ~ Denis Crowley & The Rocky Road to Boston

Over on his LowellIrish blog, Dave McKean tells us the story of one of Lowell’s earliest Irish immigrants – Denis Crowley. Read this exerpt and follow this link for the full tale.

The trip between the towns of Lowell and Boston was a long one, about 45 miles.  Driving it along mostly unpaved roads that were dusty in the summer, muddy in the spring and fall, and frozen in the winter, made the journey arduous no matter what season you were called on.  And if he was carrying a double or triple load, well that just made Denis Crowley’s day.  Sure there were some places where the road was paved and even cobble stoned, but that was the exception. Work was work; it paid the rent. Besides he was performing one of the corporal works of mercy.  Surely the good Lord would look kindly on him when it was his time to meet his maker.  You see it was Denis Crowley’s calling to bring Lowell’s Irish Catholic departed to the consecrated, burial ground of St Augustine’s Cemetery in South Boston.  Sometimes he would have to continue on and drive his wagon up the hills of Charlestown all the way up to Bunker Hill Cemetery where Irish Catholics were just given permission to bury their dead by Boston’s city fathers who had denied burials to Catholics.




Lowell’s Sixth Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment Organized on January 21, 1861

This is a cross-post from Dick Howe’s blog today:

Lowell’s Sixth Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment Organized

by Marie

MassMoments reminds us that on this day – January 21, 1861 – the Sixth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia was formally organized. In early January 1861, as civil war approached, the men of Massachusetts began to form volunteer militia units. Many workers in the textile cities of Lowell and Lawrence were among the first to join a new infantry regiment, the Sixth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, when it was formally locally organized on January 21, 1861. The men met regularly to drill. In March, they were issued uniforms and Springfield rifles and told to be ready to assemble at any time. When Fort Sumter was attacked on April 12th, the men of the Massachusetts Sixth knew their days of drilling were over. And the rest is history – the history that is being remembered now as the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. There have been many posts on this blog about Lowell and the Civil War as part of the remembrance.

On This Day...

…in 1861, the Sixth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia was formally organized. With war approaching, men who worked in the textile cities of Lowell and Lawrence joined this new infantry regiment. They were issued uniforms and rifles; they learned to drill. They waited for the call. It came on April 15th, three days after the attack on Fort Sumter. They were needed to defend Washington, D.C.. The mood when they left Boston was almost festive. When they arrived in the border state of Maryland three days later, everything changed. An angry mob awaited them. In the riot that followed, 16 people lost their lives. Four were soldiers from Massachusetts. These men were the first combat fatalities of the Civil War.
Read the article here at

Mr. Murray of Lowell’s 1830s Irish Middle Class

 See note below.

Over on Dave McKean’s blog “Lowell Irish” –  guest poster Lowell Historical Society genealogist Walter Hickey proves that while many Lowell Irish of the 1830s  lived in poor conditions, other were decidedly middle-class. Case in point, Samuel Murray, Hugh Cumisky’s business partner. Walter gives us a listing and values of Murray’s goods and properties in an inventory of his estate ordered by the Probate Court as a testament to his conclusion. Check it out here at

Note: For more information on Lowell’s Irish and their living and working conditions check out Brian C. Mitchell’s “The Paddy Camps”  where he shows how the Irish community in Lowell overcame adversity to develop strong religious institutions, an increased political presence, and a sense of common traditions.

More Lowell Post Cards From LHS Gift Shop

The Lowell Historical Society has reprints of vintage post cards from its collection. They are available in some local stores or through the LHS website here. Here are two examples – featuring buildings “then”:

Lowell Depot & Richardson Hotel – Middlesex Street (above)

Telephone Exchange – Central Street (below)

A Man of Influence: James G. Carney (1804-1869)

This is a cross-post from Dick Howe’s blog at

James G Carney, 1804-1869

by DickH

James G Carney is a name that has long been familiar to me because of the Carney Medal, the award annually bestowed on the top three male and top three female students at Lowell High School.  However, recent research disclosed much more about Carney that’s worth sharing.

He was born in Boston in 1804 and moved to Lowell in 1828, just two years after our community’s organization as a town.  That same year, Carney married Clarissa Willett and they settled into a house at 12 Merrimack Street which was just opposite Kirk Street.  Carney was one of the founders of the Lowell Institution for Savings in 1829.  (I had my first passbook savings account at the Cupples Square LIFS branch; unfortunately the bank failed in the real estate collapse of the early 1990s).  In 1844, the Carney family moved to 25 Pawtucket Street, right on the banks of the Merrimack River.  He lived there until his death in 1869 and used to walk back and forth to the downtown branch of the bank twice each day.

Besides his business interests, Carney was very active in the community.  He was one of the founders of the Lowell Cemetery in 1841 and served as its treasurer for many years.  In recognition of the fine education his children received in the Lowell public schools, in 1858 Carney donated $200 to the city of Lowell to be used for (aforementioned) medals to be awarded annually to the top six graduates – three male and three female – at Lowell High School.  Making co-equal awards to men and women in 1858 was quite progressive and completely out of the mainstream of societal thinking at the time.  The Carney Medals continue to be awarded today.

Besides his Lowell interests, Carney also developed ties to the Boston business world, helping to found the Bank of Mutual Redemption in Boston in 1855.  This connection proved fortuitous to the country at the beginning of the Civil War.  When fighting began unexpectedly in April of 1861 and President Lincoln summoned volunteer troops from the North, the militia of Massachusetts was ready to go but since the legislature was not in session, there was no mechanism to appropriate money to finance the journey south.  Lowell’s Benjamin Butler, a general in the Massachusetts militia, was aware of the state’s financial plight and headed to Boston via train to contribute his ideas at the state house.  Aboard the Lowell to Boston train, Butler encountered Carney and explained the situation.  By the time they reached Boston, Carney had pledged a $50,000 loan from his bank and immediately after their arrival, made the rounds to the city’s other banks and secured loan commitments for war expenditures of $4 million.  This permitted units such as the 6th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment to rapidly relocate to Washington in the opening days of the war.  Supposedly, at the same time that Carney delivered the good news about the loan the Governor John Andrew, he also made the strong suggestion that Butler be appointed the overall field commander of the Massachusetts Militia – after all, folks from Lowell have to stick together.  Confronted with an offer he could not refuse, Andrew took the money and appointed Butler.

While Carney passed away in 1869, his descendants remained active in the city of Lowell.  His grandson, John Jacob Rogers represented Lowell in Congress from 1912 until his death in 1925.  He was succeeded in Congress by his widow, Edith Nourse Rogers, who represented Lowell in Congress until her death in 1960.  Another of Carney’s grandchildren, Alice Poor Rogers, married Frederick Arthur Flather in 1898.  The Flather Family owned the Boott Cotton Mills for many years and some members of the family continue to live and remain active in Greater Lowell.

James G. Carney – a man whose legacy continues in Lowell today.

This is a cross-post from Dick Howe’s blog at


Mayor O’Brien of Boston and Mayor Donovan of Lowell

This is a cross-post from Dick Howe’s Blog.

With  the city of Lowell just having elected its youngest mayor and one of Irish descent – Patrick O. Murphy, it’s interesting to read the MassMoments story today about Hugh O’Brien. O’Brien was sworn-in on this day – January 5, 1885 – as the city of Boston’s first Irish-born Mayor. O’Brien’s swearing-in marked the beginning of a new era in Boston politics. The city had long been controlled by native-born Protestants -referred to as we look back as “Yankees” – most of whom had a stereotypical view of Irish immigrants as poor, ignorant, undisciplined and worst of all under the thumb of the Catholic Church. But by 1885, the Irish were over 40% of the city’s population. They were the largest group of foreign-born residents and outnumbered the native-born Yankees – this reality and the families that followed brought about political change in Boston and elsewhere. Lowell voters elected its first Irish Catholic Mayor – John J. Donovan – in 1882. Against the stereotype – Donovan was a successful banker and resident of the Highlands. Donovan and others built a strong Democratic party organization in the city of Lowell. The Donovan administration added buildings to the City Poor Farm, built schools and bridges and made the public library free to all citizens. Other early Irish Mayors of Lowell include: Jeremiah Crowley, James B. Casey, John F. Meehan, James E. O’Donnell and Dennis Murphy.

Back to Boston… On this day:

…in 1885, Hugh O’Brien, the first Irish immigrant elected mayor of Boston, took the oath of office. A new era was beginning. For several decades, the Roman Catholic Irish had outnumbered the native-born Protestants, who were now forced to give up their long domination of Boston politics. As a well-spoken, mild mannered, successful businessman, O’Brien defied all the Yankee stereotypes of Irishmen. During four terms as Mayor, he widened streets, planned the Emerald Necklace park system, and built the new Boston Public Library in Copley Square, all the while cutting taxes. Popular among both native- and Irish-born Bostonians, Hugh O’Brien paved the way for the better known Irish mayors who would follow him — “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald and James Michael Curley.

Read more about Mayor O’Brien here at

For more information about Lowell Mayors – read “The Mills and the Multitudes: A Political History” by Dr. Mary Blewett – a chapter in Cotton Was King: A History of Lowell, Massachusetts edited by Arthur L. Eno and published in 1976 as a project of the Lowell Historical Society.

Lowell’s Chin Lee Restaurant and Some History

This is a cross-post from the blog. Dick had posted on the Facebook page “You Know Your From Lowell If…” asking about favorite local or Lowell Chinese restaurants preferred for New Year’s Eve take-out. This great photo was sent in as a comment! Professor Shehong Chen served a few terms on the Lowell Historical Society’s Board of Directors.

Lowell’s Chin Lee Restaurant and Some History

by Marie

Thanks to reader Maxine Farcus for forwarding this great 1949 holiday-time photo showing Lowell’s first and longtime favorite “downtown” Chinese restaurant Chin Lee’s. The sign is at Kearney Square marking an earlier location. By the time it closed it was located on Merrimack Street upstairs on the 2nd floor adjacent to the 5 and 10 – F.W. Woolworth’s. For more information on the Chinese in Lowell, please link through to the UML/Center for Lowell History and read UML Professor Shehong Chen’s 2003 work – Reconstructing the  Chinese American Experience  in Lowell, Massachusetts,  1870s – 1970s. Here: