Title: Police sergeant
Birthdate: March 31, 1867
Death Date: April 18, 1927
Plot Location: Section 203, Lot 53, southeast quarter


John’s family size was smaller than average for that era, since he had just one sibling, a sister. His parents were Philadelphians, his mother’s parents came from Ireland, and when he was 21, John married an Irish girl named Sarah Jayne Mullen. She was three years older and had arrived in 1880. He had been working a few years as a shoemaker and may have continued at that job a few more years as they grew their family; they had six girls in a row, and then a boy in 1903. They were all raised in the vicinity of 39th and Wallace Streets in the Mantua section of the city.

The first mention of John as a police officer was in the 1894 city directory, although there is evidence he started in 1892 but may not have kept at it. The census at the turn of the century listed him as a day laborer, and in 1910 he was a janitor. That was a rough year because Sarah died of tuberculosis. Mary Ann Little became his second wife in 1915.

But John did keep at it, even if there were interruptions. He reached the rank of sergeant, and was still on the force while celebrating his 60th birthday in 1927. Three weeks later a report of a gas leak sent him to the Haddington section of West Philly where a mother and daughter succumbed to the fumes. He rushed in and carried both out of the building but they had already suffocated, and he later died of gas poisoning in the hospital. 

His children were all adults by then, and Mary may have spent her last years in the Presbyterian Home for Widows and Single Women on 58th Street. John’s first wife, Sarah was probably Catholic, explaining why she and at least three children were buried at Holy Cross Cemetery. From the information available, no one else from John’s family was buried beside him.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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