SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

November 12, 2011

Beverly square story comes full circle

(Continued)

Those stories can be compelling. Collins said the city knew virtually nothing about Healey Square, which was marked by a beaten wooden sign that said only, "Healey Square," with no first name and no mention of the conflict in which he died.

Collins and Guilebbe checked plaques at the Memorial Building that list the names of all Beverly veterans who have been killed in wars and found that a "Joseph E. Healey" had died in the Civil War. A further check of records at City Hall showed Healey was killed while serving in the Navy aboard the USS Mound City.

From there, Collins could easily look online for the history of the Union ship, which lost 150 men during the Battle of Saint Charles on the White River in Arkansas in June of 1862. The men were killed when a Confederate rifle round penetrated the stream drum of the ship's boiler, causing a massive steam explosion.

One of the victims was Healey, a mariner who lived on Bartlett Street in Beverly. He was 39, married with children, when he went off to war.

Rojo, who writes a genealogy blog, said she has researched her family back to the 1600s but found little about her great-great-great grandfather. Even though family members had lived in the home on Bartlett Street until the 1940s, Rojo, who lived on Dearborn Avenue as a child, said none of her relatives ever spoke about Healey Square being named for a family member.

During her research, Rojo said she never suspected Healey had served in the Civil War because of his age.

"I was really surprised," she said. "I never heard of the Mound City. I never heard of that battle."

Rojo also learned from Collins that Healey was buried in a family plot in Central Cemetery in Beverly.

"Now I know how he died, what happened," Rojo said. "It's like closure."

Any person or group interested in helping with the Veteran Square Sign Replacement Project can contact Commissioner of Public Services and Engineering Mike Collins at mcollins@beverlyma.gov.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or by e-mail at pleighton@salemnews.com.

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