Friday, February 10, 2012

His Honor Jeremiah Crowley

The newspapers said it was probably the largest funeral the city had seen to date (1901).  The lines outside the family home on Mt. Washington Street had not ceased since the news of his passing.  His suffering had been long, four or five years some said. The cause was listed as Bright’s disease.  Police officers were called to help with the crowds making their way to Saint Patrick’s Church for the funeral.  The church was filled to capacity, clearly over a thousand mourners.  The many societies to which he belonged filled the places of honor along the main aisle.  His fellow politicians with whom he served for decades sat in front.  In the sanctuary over 20 clergy members sat waiting for the requiem to begin.  The Bishop of Mobile, Alabama sat upon his throne.  The 60 choir members prepared to chant the De Profundis as the casket was borne up the steps of the same church his parents brought him to be baptized 69 years before.  Due to the crowds, the funeral began late.  Finally, his nephews carried his remains up the aisle and place the flag draped casket with a spray of flowers on the catafalque.

Following the quartet singing “Nearer My God to Thee, “ the remains of the Honorable Jeremiah Crowley were brought to the Catholic Burial Ground.  The plot chosen was right up front near the new entrance, next to the Office.  The floral tributes were a sight to be seen.  His fellow brothers from the AOH had sent an arch over 4 feet high with clasped hands.  The police sent one about 6 feet high labeled, “Our Friend.”  When Fr. McHugh said the last prayer, the undertaker took the time to arrange the remaining flowers.  The September sun began lowering in the sky. 

Jeremiah Crowley was the ideal of the American success story.  Born of immigrant parents, educated in public school, serving his country during the Civil War, passing the Bar, becoming politically active and rising to the office of Mayor, Crowley represented what America had to offer.

This week’s guest blogger is Eileen Loucraft.  Her work with the recent census of Civil War burials in St. Patrick Cemetery greatly helped with identifying veteran burials.  She maintains her own blog- Lowell Doughboys  Here is her entry-

Jeremiah Crowley was one of the early successful Irish politicians in Lowell. Not that he won every election but boy did he run a lot!

He was born January 12, 1932 in Lowell to Dennis and Mary Connelly Crowley, one of the earliest Irish families. At the age of 13 he left school and worked for the Lawrence Manufacturing Corporation. In 1860 he entered the law office of his cousin, Timothy A. Crowley as a law student. In April of 1861 he answered Lincoln’s call to defend Washington and joined the Massachusetts 6th for three months. He tried to re-enlist but was rejected due to a leg injury. He worked during the Civil War at the Watertown Arsenal until Lincoln was assassinated.

After the war he worked in the law office of John F. McEvoy, Esq. where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1868. A long record of public service as a democrat followed. He was on the Board of Alderman 1873, 1874, 1877, 1878, 1884, 1886, 1893, 1896 and was chairman 1874, 1877 and 1886. He was a State Senator in 1881. His most notable service was Mayor of Lowell in 1899 and 1900.

For many years he was indentified with the cause of temperance. He was a true believer in total abstinence. He was President of the Ernina Temperance Society, Matthew Temperance Institute, Archdiocesan Temperance Union and the Lowell Reform Club.

He was a member of the Lowell Irish Benevolent Society, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Young Men’s Catholic Library Association, Post 42 G.A.R., Knights of Columbus, Franklin Literary Association, Martin Luthers, former President of the Irish Land League and Lowell Trust Company.

He died September 22, 1901 at his home, 52 Mount Washington Street in the Acre of Bright’s disease. He died surrounded by his second wife, Johanna Lyons Crowley and his adopted son Robert. His first wife Kate Dorris predeceased him. An elaborate funeral that was largely attended was held at St. Patrick’s Church. His eight pall bearers were all nephews Sergt. John H. Crowley and Daniel Crowley of Lowell; James T. O’Hearn, Fred Crowley, Lorenzo Crowley, Charles Crowley, all of Boston; and James B. and Timothy A. Crowley of Nashua, NH. Burial was at St. Patrick’s Cemetery.

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