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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Tommy’s Story

By Walt Grant

Here’s a story about my father. He was born in Quincy, Massachusetts. His parents had immigrated here from Scotland. His father, Alexander, was in the granite business and traveled frequently between Quincy (which then had several large granite quarries) and Barre, Vermont which is still a major granite-producing center.

On one trip, when he was carrying a large sum of money, his body was found on the railroad tracks in White River Junction, Vermont. Robbed and murdered. The crime remains unsolved to this day.

My father and his sister were about two and four years old at the time and were taken back to Scotland by their mother. Shortly thereafter, she also died - of pneumonia. The two kids were raised separately by relatives, my father by his uncle Walter Farrell (which is where I got my name).

My father (an American citizen by birth, of course) returned to the States when he was in his early twenties. He never talked much about his youth.

An interesting aside and somewhat of a mystery: I visited Ireland in the early eighties and was walking down the street in Glenties town (near where my mother had grown up) with one of my Irish cousins. An older woman greeted us on the street and my cousin introduced us. She exclaimed, "You must be Tommy's son."

I told her I was and asked her how she had known Tommy. She said she had grown up on a farm adjacent to the one where Tommy lived with his Uncle Walter. What an amazing coincidence, I thought. She gave me the location of the farm, just a couple of miles outside Glenties. Later that day, I visited the farm and talked briefly to the current owner. She confirmed that the place had belonged to a Walter Farrell many years before.

When I came back home, I asked my mother if she had ever known that Dad had lived within just a few miles of her back in Ireland. She just shook her head and refused to talk about it.

And, to this day, that's all I know about this curious set of facts.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Really interesting. Loved your story. It might be fun to do a search of your ancestry. You never know what you will find there. There have been ancestry type stories on the TV lately and yours sounds like one of them.

What a mystery! I'm surrounded by relatives who do not like to share information that they deem "should remain secret" too. I'd bet you would get more information with a return trip to Ireland. People who are not involved love to tell what they know. Thanks for sharing your story.

As a human being and as an amateur genealogist, this breaks my heart. It's possible there is a paper trail through the census or land records. Would love to see a followup story with some of the mystery dispelled.

When it comes to family history,
what's even worse than relatives who won't tell is not thinking to ask in the first place while they're still alive or forgetting stories that were told while we're young.

What a heartbreaking story...it made me want to go investigate it too. I'm sure those people in that little Irish town know more -- as someone else said. You need to go back!!

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