Desmond Fitzgerald

13099 Desmond H. Fitzgerald

Photograph contained in an album at the Dorchester Historical Society of about 150 photos kept by Nathaniel R. Perkins, MD, who examined thousands of men who were going into the war, 1914-1918. Given by Mrs N. R. Perkins in accordance with instructions from her late
husband, Dr. Nathaniel P. Perkins of 1122 Adams St, Dorchester. Index catalog has entries for the individuals.

Desmond H Fitzgerald U.S.N. U.S.S. Frederick several trips overseas

Desmond H. Fitzgerald, written by Camille Arbogast.

Desmond Hubert Fitzgerald was born on September 10, 1900, at 23 Old Harbor Street in South Boston. His parents, Michael and Ellen (McNally), known as Nellie, were Irish immigrants. Michael was a barber who eventually owned his own shop; Nellie had been a dressmaker before her marriage. Desmond had an older brother, Edward, and a younger sister, Mary Lucille. By 1910, the family had moved to Dorchester, living on Wolcott Street. Desmond’s maternal aunt, Bertha, also lived with the Fitzgeralds. In 1916, they were living at 721 Norfolk Street in Mattapan.

At age 17, on June 7, 1918, Desmond enrolled as a Seaman 2d Class in the U.S. Naval Reserve Force at the Boston Recruiting Station. On June 25, he was sent to the naval training camp in Hingham. About three weeks later, he was sent to the naval training station on Bumpkin Island in Boston Harbor, where he served on armed guard duty until August 14, when he was relocated to New York City. On August 21, he began serving on the USS Frederick. On his notecard for Desmond Fitzgerald, Dr. Perkins noted that Desmond made “several trips overseas” and that he had “been over in France. Basecamp on second trip.” Desmond served on the Frederick until the Armistice. On January 30, 1919, he was placed on Inactive Duty from the Naval Overseas Transportation Service in New York, New York. He was honorably discharged on September 30, 1921. His service card cited lack of funds as the reason for his discharge.

In 1920, he was living with his parents at the home they owned, 91 Babson Street, Mattapan. He worked as a weigher in the leather industry. His siblings were working, as well: Edward as a wool weigher and Mary as a stenographer. In August 1921, he was appointed for “six weeks during the vacation season in the Bridge Service,” according to a notice in the Boston Globe. In the mid-1920s, the Boston directory listed Desmond’s occupation as clerk. In 1928, the directory stated that Desmond had removed to Miami, Florida.

However, it appears he moved back after only a short time in Miami as Desmond appears on the 1930 census back in Mattapan, living with his parents, at 91 Babson Street. He had begun a career with the New England Telegraph and Telephone company, where he would work for thirty years, rising to the position of supervisor. In 1936, Desmond achieved notoriety when he was pickpocketed twice in the same day. One morning, a thief engaged Desmond in conversation on South Market Street, stealing $15 from his pocket while they spoke. In the afternoon, Desmond was targeted again, this time losing his watch and two dollars while on Northampton Street. The story was picked up by papers around the United States, reported on as far away as Wisconsin and Florida.

On June 24, 1939, Desmond married Julia F. Coyle. They were married in Quincy, Julia’s hometown. They settled at 47 Merrymount Road, Julia’s family home, where the directories list them living into the 1950s. In 1960, they appear in the Boston directory living at 4 Everett Street in Hyde Park but by the end of that year they had moved to Florida. At the end of Desmond’s life, they lived at 8101 Ridge Road in Seminole, Florida.

Desmond died on March 15, 1971, in Pinellas, Florida. Buried in Quincy, he was celebrated in services in Seminole and in Quincy. He was a member of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Seminole; the Sherurn Chapter Telephone Pioneers of Boston; the Telstar Telephone Pioneers of Seminole; Elks Lodge 943 of Quincy; Seminole Ridgewood Civic Association and the Blessed Sacrament Holy Name Society.


Birth Certificates, Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts;

Family Tree,

1916 Boston Directory;

Census Records, Federal, 1910, 1920, 1930;

Service Record; The Adjutant General Office, Archives-Museum Branch, Concord, MA

“Appointments Made by the Mayor in City Hall,” Boston Globe, 3 Aug 1921:18;

“Mattapan Man Victim of Larceny,” Boston Globe, 20 July 1936 :15;

“Robbed Twice in Day,” The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, PA) 31 July 1936: 13 [story also carried in Racine WI; Petersburg FL papers];

“Deaths,” Boston Globe, 18 March 1971: 36;

“Deaths,” Tampa Bay Times (St Petersburg, FL), 17 March 1971: 33;


Posted on

April 3, 2022

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