March 9, 2021
Written by 
Luke F. McCusker III

Discovering Heroes, and other Niche Projects

Where does one go, and what does one do when the little Museum you work at goes to a "temporary closure " status? Many have wondered...wanting to be effective, and reach out to those who would normally come for a visit, or attend an event. Among our answers was to dive a little bit deeper into our rich collection of artifacts.

The visionaries who launched our Museum in 2002 had tremendous insight into the elements of Irish immigrant life within the neighborhood, and included workplaces, social settings, schools, marketing and religious life among the displays. These provide us modern-day researchers a solid foundation from which to find new discoveries.

Among these is our Photograph and Document Collection from St. Peter's Church, created by Museum Curator and researcher Mary Ellen Hayward, PH.D. She relied on churchmen and photographers for content, and many have come to marvel at a collection that does not exist elsewhere. It remembers Baltimore's first Catholic Church west of Howard Street, where tens of thousands of Irish (and others) worshipped freely, educated their children and socialized.

We decided to refresh the collection, and reached out to clergy and laymen to solve some mysteries. This helped illuminate our community of staff, docents, volunteers and Board members who like to tell our story. One particularly fruitful avenue of research began with a simple comment by former Board Member Tim Harvey, who looked at the above photo and commented, "that's Father Moore". Who, what and why, I said?

Some simple searches in old issues of the Baltimore Sun were a revelation. He's one of our heroes today, but is shown in a rather sedate setting, above. He is celebrating Graduation Day with young women who attended the parishes' Business School. They did the work to develop secretarial skills once grammar school was over, and now had the option to not work as shop girls, or do piece work in nearby sweatshops and factories. A nice, neat office job could be theirs.

The central figure of this photo is Rev. John Carroll Moore, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Church and former chaplain of the Three Hundred Thirteenth Infantry (Baltimore’s Own) in World War I. Father Moore insisted on serving in Europe alongside the young men of the city, and was wounded four times. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his service.

Graduating Class, St. Peter's School 1941

Students in the photo include:

John Harvey Jr.  -  2nd row 7th from the left
Willie Mox   -  Back Row, far right
Francis Smith  -  Back row, third from the left
Anne Budelis  -  Third row, second from the left
Edward Gaffney  -  Back row 2nd from the right

Parade Formations

Father Moore was known as Baltimore’s Hero Priest, and was honored by both Governor O’Conor and Mayor Jackson on May 25, 1941 by their attendance at a Mass of Celebration led by Archbishop Curley. It was held on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his ordination. He served as the pastor at St. Peter’s from 1940-1952. A Baltimore native, John Carroll Moore went to grammar school at St. John the Evangelist Male School in Baltimore’s old 10th Ward.

Father Moore also served as State Chaplain of both the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War, who assembled in parade formation as part of the ceremonies of the day, and are included in this photo along Hollins Street.

Celebration Mass

One does wonder exactly how inspired the graduates of 1941 might have been to serve their country, after all that pomp and circumstance. At least one of the graduates did something about it, in his own mischievous way.

Edward Gaffney(age 15) promptly “borrowed” an older brother’s birth certificate and enlisted in World War II, serving in the South Pacific.

He joined his father, and later his son Edward Jr., among the ranks of veterans.

I guess I'm going to call him a hero, too.

Gaffney men and boys were active in the neighborhood: selling newspapers, delivering ice and even running a bootlegging operation in the Hollins Market neighborhood during prohibition. Many were avid boxers.

The men of the family worked in iconic professions of the day, including running horse stalls for the Arabbers who worked in the neighborhoods surrounding Hollins Market. One became a fireman at nearby Fire Station #14.

Albert Gaffney became known as “Hop”, due to a limp that resulted from getting kicked by a horse. He joined with a group that became involved in various crimes, and proved to be a rather poor lookout and getaway driver. That being said, he was quite the popular guy around the neighborhood once he left the "big house".

This photograph was included in a collection of Gaffney family photographs that came our way a few years ago...unlabeled and without context.

I am guessing that this was the "evidence" the feds gathered after raiding the Gaffney operation during Prohibition....but who knows?

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