Green Street, which became a mapped street of Hingham in 1838, had existed as an informal road since early in Hingham’s history. In the late 1800s it was increasingly populated by Irish immigrants and their families, though the name Green Street does not appear to have a direct connection with its Irish community. The immigrants here primarily came from counties in southern Ireland like Cork and Tipperary, although Dan Daly, one of the early Irish of Green Street, had arrived in 1855 from County Armagh, in Northern Ireland, where St. Patrick is said to have founded a Celtic Christian monastery.
In 1900, many in the neighborhood, like Dan Daly, at 19 Green Street –then 72 and still working – had livelihoods tied to nearby estates and the comings and goings at Hingham Harbor. The Gilded Age had increased wealth for some in Hingham while also creating jobs for many Irish immigrants fleeing poverty tied to the Irish potato famine which began in 1845. In addition to Daly, Irish-born estate gardeners included
30-year-old John Connelly and 32-year-old James Donnell, both of whom settled on Green Street to raise families. Also working as a gardener in 1900 was 78-year-old John Magner. He and his wife Bridget Hanley were empty nesters in 1900, after raising 5 children at 23 Green Street. One son, John Magner, Jr., lived with his young family on Martins Lane, where he was head gardener for the Brewer Estate. (The Magner clan would continue to grow in Hingham during the 20th century.)
Another Green Street resident likely employed by a nearby estate was Judith (Barrett) Buttimer, 61, a widow who worked as a laundress. Judith’s husband, John Buttimer, a farm laborer, died young, at only 55, as did many hard-working immigrant laborers. John had emigrated in 1854 with a younger brother, Thomas Buttimer, who in 1900 was a farm foreman in Hingham. Thomas and his wife, Catherine Barrett, had married in 1858 in Randolph–before the building of St. Paul’s, Hingham’s first Catholic church (dedicated in July 1871). One of their six children, Thomas H. Buttimer Jr., who in 1900 had his own family home on Lincoln Street, was a prominent attorney, and in 1902 would be elected as state representative from the 3rd district. Over on Green Street, Aunt Judith must have been quite proud, although in 1902, as a woman, she would not yet have had the right to vote.
The 1900 census identifies some other Irish immigrants on Green Street as “farm hands” or “farm laborers,” including 37-year-old Dennis Long, married with two young children, and 48-year-old James Buckley, married with two teen-agers. Long and Buckley likely were working at one of the farms in north Hingham at the time, perhaps John Brewer’s “gentleman’s farm” – established in the 19th century at World’s End, or the Jordan Farm, then one of the largest farms in Hingham, located on Union Street (now the location of Hingham High School.)
Hingham’s days as a Gilded Age seasonal tourist destination were, in 1900, mostly past. The steamship lines recently had ended their scheduled stops at Hingham Harbor after assessing the damage to the Hingham wharves caused by the 1898 Portland Gale. Melville Garden, the amusement park at Crow Point, had been dismantled in 1896, and the Old Colony House, just up the hill on Summer Street, had burned down in 1872. But Green Street’s location near the harbor gave its residents convenient access to work related to the coal and wood fuel-supply dealers, lumber wharves, and other harbor-related businesses. For many, this proximity to businesses needing carting and other hauling and loading services created jobs as teamsters, or as hostlers. Teamsters living on Green Street in 1900 included the recently married Cornelius Ryan, 31, and William Welch, 33 and married with young children.
William Welch was born here to Irish immigrants John Welch and wife Julia of 6 Green Street. John Welch, 80 years old in 1900, was still working as a laborer according to the census record. He and Julia had eleven children, but only four were still living in 1900. Tuberculosis and pneumonia, along with scarlet fever, were frequent causes of death for children and young adults in the late 19th and early 20th century Irish immigrant community here. Hostlers on Green Street included 27-year-old James Riley, living here with wife Bridget and two young children, along with mother-in-law Bridget Coughlan. James was a recent arrival, emigrating as a teenager in 1890. His 20-year-old wife had come earlier, as a young girl in 1877.
Also now working as a hostler was Thomas Morrissey Jr., 38, a former shoemaker, married for 17 years to Mary Crehan. For the Morrsisseys, 1900 was just seven years since the tragic loss of three of their young children to scarlet fever. The children’s young lives are memorialized on the family headstone at St. Paul’s Cemetery. Both Thomas and Mary were born in Irish immigrant households in Hingham. Thomas grew up on Elm Street. Mary’s parents earlier had a home on Green Street but after her dad’s death, her mother Ellen Crehan lived with her youngest daughter Catherine’s family here.
Of course, the horses managed by both teamsters and hostlers needed the services of blacksmiths. There were several blacksmith shops in the downtown Hingham area then and one Irish immigrant blacksmith then living on Green Street, Michael Downes, may be one of those shown in this 1900 image of workers at the Huntley Blacksmith shop.
In 1900, Green Street residents also found work for the railroad. The Old Colony line’s South Shore branch through Hingham to Cohasset, built in 1849, created jobs including those held by 40-year-old Irish immigrant Jeremiah Collins, who was supporting his Irish-born wife Margaret and six children born here as a Section Foreman for the railroad, and 39-year-old Irish immigrant Michael Kelly, a track walker for the railroad, whose household included, in addition to wife Margaret and six children, an Irish-born boarder, Michael Wallace, also a railroad worker. Taking in boarders was a common practice in the Irish community here, both to assist newer immigrants and to provide added income for the household. The children in the Kelly household as of 1900 included four daughters and two sons, all under ten years old. Another daughter would be born in 1901. Three of the “Kelly girls” of Green Street would, years later, be among the first women in Hingham to register to vote after the 19th amendment passed in 1920. By that time, their father had left railroad work behind and joined his neighbors working at nearby private estates.
As the new century dawned, both sons and daughters of the Irish of Green Street often left school and began working as teenagers. Many then stayed in their parents’ household into adulthood, perhaps in part to contribute to the family income as their parents aged. These next-generation Green Street residents at work in 1900 included James Buckley, Jr., 19, then working for the Electric Street Railway. (One such street car is show here traveling along Summer Street at the harbor, not far from Green Street.)
Three adult daughters of John and Julia Welch were living with their parents in 1900 and working as: a dry-goods dealer (Mary, 39), a dressmaker (Hannah, 35); and a fringe-maker (Julia, 34). As a fringe-maker, Julia Welch likely worked at the Burr Brown Tassel Factory, nearby on Fearing Road. Julia Buttimer’s daughter, Nellie, 33, worked as a clerk at a shoe and boot store. Dan Daly’s 34-year-old son, Edmund, who lived in his parents’ Green Street home with wife Margaret in 1900, was employed as a clothing dealer.
Before ending our visit to the Green Street of 1900, we’ll note some other residents who, like Thomas Morrissey, had ties to the close-by west Hingham area referred to as an “Irish village” in the 1993 Hingham history, Not All Is Changed, published by the Hingham Historic Commission. James Dower Jr., 33, who in 1900 lived on Green Street with his wife Catherine, their newborn child, and his mother-in-law, Ellen Crehan, was born in Hingham, to Irish immigrants James Dower Sr. and Catherine Bowden, at 135 Hersey Street. This home is still there, near the entrance to St. Paul’s Cemetery, and, like other homes referenced in our visit today, is listed on the Town of Hingham’s Comprehensive Inventory of Historic Assets. In 1900, James Dower Jr. would have walked to work on Hersey Street, where he was a ropemaker in his father, James Dower’s “rope walk,” then adjacent to the family home. (The rope-making mechanism from the Dower ropewalk is on public display at Hingham Town Hall, on loan from the Hingham Historical Society.)
Mary Casey, living on Green Street in 1900, was the widow of ropemaker Jonas Casey, who may have worked at the Dower ropewalk. The Casey home, at 21 Green Street is another vintage highlight of this charming neighborhood. If you have enjoyed this brief visit to Hingham’s Green Street of 1900, consider booking a docent-led tour of Hingham’s Irish Immigrant Neighborhood sometime this spring or summer. The walking tour was created as part of the nine-town South Shore Irish Heritage Trail launched in 2022. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.