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The Car-Barn Murder

One of the questions in the trivia contest was, What was Waltham's most notorious murder? The answer we wanted was the Clarence Glover murder in 1909 at the Waltham Laundry. One contestant's answer was the Waltham car-barn murder of 1925. That murder was famous because three men were executed for murdering a Waltham man during a robbery. It was Massachusetts first triple execution.

It all started in October 1925. James Ferneaux was a night watchman at the car-barns of the Middlesex and Boston Street Railway, 1040 Main Street, when five men drove up in a dark-colored automobile. Two climbed upstairs to the office while the others kept watch below. When the pair reached the top of the stairs, they busted into the tiny office where Ferneaux and conductor William P. Baker of Waltham were counting the day's receipts.

The two robbers produced guns and the cash was handed over to them. They stuffed it into their pockets and carefully backed out, making their way to the get-away car. James Ferneaux who was the oldest of the holdup victims and near retirement age, pursued the robbers. Later Ferneaux was found on the ground with a bullet in his leg. The medical examiner reported that Ferneaux had not died of the bullet wound, but because of repeated blows to his head by the butt of the pistol.

Several days later the police arrested the men in Brookline and on January 6, 1927, three of the men, John J. Devereaux, John J. McLaughlin, and Edward J. Heinlein were executed although it was Devereaux who actually committed the murder.

Waltham Training School for Nurses

The museum got a call from Lois Lagerman of the Woman’s Memorial, 28 Meadow Lane in Glenhead, NY l1545. She is seeking any information on Dora Elizabeth Thompson, a 1905 graduate of the Waltham Training School for Nurses. Dora (possibly Isadora) was the 4th Chief of Nurses and Superintendent of the Army Nurses Corp. during World War I. Thompson died in 1954 and there is no information on her or her husband. If anybody knows anything about her, please contact the museum or write directly to the address above.

     Note: There have been a number of graduates from the Waltham Training School for Nurses who became well known. Mary Phinney, Beatrice DeVeber, Charlotte MacLeod to name a few. One, Elinor D. Gregg, is in the Waltham Museum Hall-of-Fame. She graduated in 1911 and became a Red Cross nurse. She posed for the famous World War I poster. After serving as a nurse in the English army during World War I she became a nurse on various Indian reservations for the federal government. In 1924 she was made Supervisor of Nurses for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She later became a member of the Red Cross National Advisory Committee.

 Another Haunted House in Waltham

Ernest R. Fioelli visited the Waltham Museum and gave us a firsthand account of a haunted house he lived in on Duddy Avenue in 1918.

In 1918 Earnest was about six years old and he had three younger brothers. He remembers his mother scolding him and his brothers for bringing the sack of potatoes upstairs. She would bring them downstairs but something would bring them back up again. Later the family could hear, but not see, pitter- patter steps on the stairs. In each room the sign of the cross was laid out by using loose rivets the family had laying around.

Enrico, the father, worked for the Stark Tool Company on Moody Street while he and his family rented this house. Then tragedy struck the family when 4-year-old Alfred was run over by a Ferguson Truck on Felton Street. Later his other two brothers died of Influenza during the epidemic of 1918. Within six months after moving in, the Fioelli family moved out.

Several years later, new residents improving their basement found three bodies that were buried there many years ago.

 The Ghost at Duddy Avenue

In our September 1995 newsletter we told about the ghost on Duddy Avenue as it was told to us by Ernest R. Fioelli who lived in the house in 1918 at the age of six. His mother kept blaming him and his younger brothers for bringing a bag of potatoes upstairs. After the potatoes were brought downstairs something would bring them upstairs again. Joe Cleary, a new member of the Friends of the Waltham Museum, lived in the house during the 30's. He reminded us that the Duddy’s were the original homeowners on Duddy Avenue in the 19th Century. They came to America because of the potato famine in Ireland. Need we say more.

 Mount Feake Cemetery/Pumping Station

Cemeteries and Society

Last spring the Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery and the National Endowment for the Humanities had three distinguish scholars explore the relationship between cemeteries and society as part of Mount Auburn's interpretive planning.

In our May 1996 newsletter the Waltham Museum tells about its long-range plans to relocate in an area between the Mount Feake Cemetery and the Charles River. We are pleased to see that others are exploring the relationship between cemeteries and society. We believe that museums will play a big role in this relationship and hope that others will soon agree.

In 1971, the City of Waltham wanted to tear down the historical cotton mill and replace it with high-rise apartments. The Waltham Museum wrote how this was wrong and the mill should be saved. Fortunately our message was heard and the mill was saved.

We hope that those in power take the time to reevaluate their position and policies on cemeteries and its relationship to society before its too late.


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