Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Robert A. Edson - Federal Prohibition Agent

Ellen Sophia Bills and Robert Edson - circa 1897
Used by permission of Chirstina Kraus


  Robert Adams Edson, was born in West Brookfield, on January 21, 1894.  His parents were Charles O'Meara Edson and Cora Richards.  Robert was a chemist by trade, and at the time of the 1920 census, was living in Hackensack, New Jersey. has a  record collection entitled, U. S., Identification Card Files of Prohibition Agents, 1920-1925.    I entered the search term, "West Brookfield, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA," in the locations box, and found a copy of the Photo ID for Robert A. Edson.   The ID dated Mar. 9 '21 bears the number 7799 in red, and says, "The United States Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service.  This Certifies that Robert A. Edson of W. Brookfield, Mass. is a duly employed as a Federal Prohibition Agent and is hereby authorized to execute and perform all the duties delegated to such officers by law."  It is signed by John F. Kramer Federal Prohibition Commissioner and Wm. M. Williams, Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
    Prohibition Agents were responsible for eliminating the sale and consumption of alcohol by closing speakeasies, destroying stills, and apprehending bootleggers and gangsters.  Jeffrey H. Fiske, mentions two prohibition raids in town, on page 151 of A History of West Brookfield: 1675-1990. The "Uwanta Lunch" was raided by unnamed prohibition officers in October of 1923.  Twelve bottles of whiskey and brandy were seized. The "Happy Rest Eat Shoppe" owned by Sheick Masoonaian was fined $150 for selling liquor in September of 1927.  The location of both establishments was on Route 9; and in fact, may have been identical
   I do not know how long Robert worked as a prohibition agent.  He was living in the Brighton section of Boston by 1930, and working as a chemist in a glue factory.  He married Elizabeth Gunther sometime between 1930 and 1940.  The couple lived together in Boston until June of 1954 when Robert jumped from the Harvard Bridge into the Charles River and drowned.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hannah Joice - Four sons survived her

   Hanora Callahan was born probably about 1811 in Ireland, daughter of David and Hannah Callahan.  She married John Joyce and gave birth to sons Michael and William early in the 1830's.  The family arrived in the United States sometime in the late 1830's or early 1840's, and sons George and Thomas were born somewhere in Massachusetts.  Census records show that the family was living in West Brookfield by September of 1850.  John Joyce died in July of 1860 in West Brookfield, and Hannah died there the following year.  
   Hannah's will, transcribed below, is dated just eight days before her death. Documents found in her probate file indicate that all four sons were living in town at the time of her death.  Son William married and raised his family in town.  George may have stayed in town for a time, as well.  What became of Michael and Thomas?  Further research is needed.
   Will of Hannah Joice

                        Be it remembered that I, Hannah Joice of West Brookfield, in the  county of Worcester, and the state of Massachusetts, Widow, being of sound and disposing mind do make and publish and declare this my last will and testament.
First                  I give and bequeath to my son Michael Joise, one dollar to be paid out of my estate within one year of after my decease.
Secondly           I give and bequeath to my son Wm Joise, one dollar to be paid out of my estate within one year after my decease
Thirdly              I give and bequeath to my two minor sons Thomas Joise, and George Joise, all my real estate, and all my personal property, after paying the above bequests, and all my honest debts.
Finally               I hereby appoint William Joise to be the sole executor of this my last will and testament, hereby revokeing[sic], all other and former wills by me made and declaring this and this only to be my last will and testament.
                         In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this fifth day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty one

                                                            Hannah Joice [her mark]

                         Signed published and declared by the said Hannah Joise, her last will and testament in the presence of us, who in her presence and in the presents[sic] of each other, have hereunto set our hands as witnesses.

                                                            Joseph A. Sprague

                                                            John Ducy

                                                            Phillip Harrington