Monday, April 28, 2014



Dorchester, Massachusetts (JFK+50) 86 years ago today, April 28, 1928, President John F. Kennedy's uncle, John Francis Fitzgerald, Jr.* married Catherine O'Hearn at St. Ambrose's Church here in Dorchester.

The groom's father, JFK's grandfather, John F. Fitzgerald, Sr.,** a.k.a. "Honey Fitz," had served two terms as mayor of Boston, from 1906 to 1908 and from 1910 to 1914.  

Honey Fitz had also represented the 10th District of Massachusetts in the United States Congress from 1895 to 1901.

The bride's father, Patrick O'Hearn, who passed away before his daughter's marriage, had been Building Commissioner in Boston.

When John F. Fitzgerald, Jr, known as "Johnny," was 5 years old, his father bought a "palatial Victorian mansion" at 39 Welles Avenue in Dorchester where he lavishly entertained "friends, celebrities and common folk  alike."

By 1903, Honey Fitz and his family moved to Concord Junction (now West Concord) in a house "set back from the road on a little hill."  

It had a wide veranda and a conservatory which was glassed in.  Johnny's older sister, Rose, described these as...

"wonderful years...full of the traditional pleasures and satisfactions of life in a small New England town."

Despite the edict that commanded Catholic parents to send their children to church schools, Honey Fitz and Josie sent theirs to the Concord Public Schools.  

The elder Fitzgerald believed the public schools to be "training grounds for success in the world," and besides West Concord Grammar School was just 3 blocks away.

Boston Chamber of Commerce Post Card
         Mary E. McKee, artist (1907)

In 1906, John F. Fitzgerald, Sr. campaigned for mayor of Boston.  His slogan was "Bigger, Better, Busier Boston!"

After Honey Fitz was elected mayor, Johnny predicted that his father would be Governor of Massachusetts and eventually President of the United States. 

^While HF did make a bid for the 1912 Democratic presidential nomination, he withdrew at the last minute for unknown reasons.

At the inauguration on January 1, 1906, Johnny and his brother Thomas wore "black velvet Eton suits."

In a long inaugural speech, the new Mayor of Boston said...

"What we a reawakening of (Boston) civic pride,"  (along with)
"imagination and risk."

In 1909, Honey Fitz made "Sweet Adeline" his campaign theme song and loved to sing it whenever he had the opportunity.  The tune is a barbershop standard published in 1903.

The lyrics are by Richard H. Gerard and the music by Harry Armstrong.

                        You Tube Video


"The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, An American Saga," by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1987.

*John Francis Fitzgerald, Jr. (1897-1979) was the 4th of 6 children of John F. and Mary Josephine "Josie" Hannon.  He was the younger brother of JFK's mother, Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald. JFF, Jr. was later elected as a Town Meeting Member in Milton, Massachusetts.

**John Francis Fitzgerald, Sr. (1863-1950) was born in Boston, the son of Irish immigrants Thomas Fitzgerald and Rosanne Cox.  Representing the 9th District, he opposed an anti-immigration bill and when it passed, he convinced President Grover Cleveland to veto it.  Immigration would remain unrestricted for the next 25 years.

                            John F. Fitzgerald
                  Library of Congress Image

Honey Fitz helped his grandson, John F. Kennedy, in the 1946 campaign for congress & when he went to the White House in 1961, JFK paid tribute to his grandfather by naming the presidential yacht in his honor.

                       You Tube Video