Friday, September 5, 2014

Peter Quinn, Acre Grocer

Rosemary K. Nunnally continues her series on Lowell's notable Irishmen of the 19th century. 

Over the past several weeks, a family of grocers has been in the news due to a dispute over who should run the company.  This family of Greek descent started doing business in Lowell, MA.   Many years earlier an Irish immigrant also ran a grocery store in Lowell.
Peter Quinn had a grocery store at 11 Salem Street.  Along with food, he also sold liquor and cigars.  In the 1860 census, Peter is listed as a 35 year old grocer with a personal estate of $2,000.00, a nice sum in those days.  In the 1870’s Peter had some trouble with the selling of liquor according to the Lowell Sun.  A report on Dec. 29, 1873 states that there was a complaint on Peter Quinn for “illegal keeping”.  He was fined $10 and costs.  In 1875 it was reported that Peter Quinn, grocer, was granted a liquor license.  (He later is an outstanding member of the Mathew Temperance Society. Ed) 

Through the many years of running his store at the same location on Salem St., Peter became well
known in the city.  There were many grocers doing business in Lowell but not all of them survived for over 25 years. An article in the Lowell Sun in June of 1882 commended Peter as one of the pioneer grocers in Lowell.  It mentioned how he was not only able to keep the business going while raising a large family, but also accumulated an independent fortune. “His advantages were such as are within the reach of all – honesty and close application to business”
Map, 1896
In 1883 Peter decided to retire. He was about 60 years old at the time. Peter turned the business over to his son John Quinn.

Peter was born in County Armagh in Ireland.  The index card for his naturalization gave a birthdate of July 22, 1823. He came to the United States about 1844 and was said to have come straight to Lowell. He married Mary Cosgrove. They had several children. Two of the sons became lawyers.

Peter died on March 30, 1899. His obituary stated he was one of Lowell’s oldest and best known citizens.  He was said to be a highly respected member of St. Patrick’s parish. (Peter was given the
honor of carrying the canopy over the Blessed Sacrament procession just a few years before his death.) 

Peter’s funeral was largely attended and was said to show “the esteem in which the deceased was held in the community”.  One of the bearers was his longtime friend Jeremiah Crowley, the mayor of Lowell.  Peter was buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery.

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