Joseph Joyce, John Joyce, Michael Joyce, Martin Joyce

No. 13112  John Joyce

No. 13113 Michael Joyce

No. 13114 Martin Joyce

No. 13115 Joseph Joyce

Photographs 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.

Joseph Joyce 5 Bearse Ave, enlisted Feb 1918 U.S.N.R.F. Stationed Charlestown Navy Yard Rating 2d class Now discharged

John Joyce 5 Bearse Ave Enlisted Jan 1918 U.S.N.R.F. Rating fireman U.S.S. Vulcan service stripes Been to Virginia, Halifax, West Indies

Michael Joyce 5 Bearse Ave enlisted Sept. 1917 U.S.N.R.F. Rating fireman. On U.S.S. Crest mine sweeper

Martin Joyce Manchester St Mattapan Selected 306 guard and fire co 32d St and 12th Ave Brooklyn NY

Joseph Joyce, John Joyce, Michael Joyce, Martin Joyce. Written by Camille Arbogast.

All four Joyces in the Perkins Collection were born in Cashel, Moyrus, County Galway, Ireland. Joseph, John, and Michael Joyce were sons of Margaret and Joseph Joyce. Martin, son of John and Winnifred Joyce, was probably their cousin. All four grew up in the coastal community Lehanagh South, Moyrus, County Galway, and immigrated to Dorchester in the 1910s. Joseph was born December 10, 1888; John was born May 1 (he sometimes gave a birth year of 1891 and at other times used 1894); Michael James was born March 25, 1895. Martin, like John, did not use the same birth year throughout his life, sometimes using October 1890 and at others October 1893.

Brothers Joseph, John, and Michael had eight siblings, including Mary, Peter, William, and Thomas. Their father was a farmer. In 1901, when Ireland conducted a census, the family of ten lived in a one-room house. By that time, oldest sister Mary had already left home; she arrived in the United States in autumn of that year. Brother Peter, the oldest son, followed in 1906, and became a citizen in 1911. Mary worked as a domestic. In 1909, she married Thomas Keenan, also an Irish immigrant. They purchased a home at 5 Bearse Avenue in Lower Mills, which provided a starting place for her younger brothers as they joined her in Boston.

In 1910, Joseph followed Mary and Peter, sailing from Queenstown on the Cunard Line’s RMS Saxonia, and landing in Boston on May 19. He paid for his own passage and arrived with about $50. Joseph lived at 5 Bearse Avenue and worked as a gardener. About a year and half after his arrival, he declared his intention to become a United States citizen, obtaining citizenship in March 1916. Peter was one of the witnesses on Joseph’s citizenship petition.

Michael arrived in Boston in the spring of 1914. He sailed from Queenstown, a passenger on the White Star Line’s SS Arabic. About a year and a half later, John, too, came to Boston, sailing from Liverpool to New York on American Line’s SS St. Lewis in October 1915. Traveling with John was Martin Joyce, probably a cousin. After arriving in New York, John and Martin headed directly to Dorchester, where Martin’s sister Nora resided at 6 Bearse Avenue, across the street from Mary’s home.

By 1917, Martin boarded with a family at 249 Manchester Street, Mattapan and worked as a chocolate maker at Walter Baker Chocolate. John, too, worked at Walter Baker Chocolate. He, along with Joseph and Michael, still lived at 5 Bearse Avenue. Joseph was a gardener at Milton Academy and Michael worked for the Boston Ice Company of Howe Street, Roxbury.

Michael enrolled in the United States Naval Reserve Force on October 19, 1917. He was a Fireman on the USS Crest, a former fishing trawler chartered by the Navy as a minesweeper, and assigned to patrol the First Naval District, the New England coast. While in the Navy, on September 9, 1918, Michael became an American citizen. He was discharged on July 3, 1919.

John was the next to join the Navy, enrolling in January 1918. He was a Fireman, Second Class, stationed on the USS Vulcan, a collier supplying coal for the fleet. In January 1919, the ship became part of the Overseas Transportation Service. On his notecard for John Joyce, Dr. Perkins noted that by the time he received John’s picture, John had a service stripe and had “been to Virginia, Halifax, West Indies.” John became a United States citizen on December 16, 1918, while still in the Navy. His petition for citizenship was witnessed by two fellow seamen, Starry Matthews, Boilermaker, First Class of Portsmouth, Virginia and Stanley F. Gibbons, Fireman, 1st Class of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Joseph, also joined the Navy, enrolling in February 1918. Little is currently known about his service. Dr. Perkins noted that Joseph was a Seaman Second Class, stationed in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Martin was drafted and served in the 306 Guard and Fire Company. In September 1918, he was one of “2,000 limited service men” sent to Syracuse, New York, for training. On his notecard for Martin Joyce, Dr. Perkins noted that Martin was stationed at “32nd St and 12th Ave. Brooklyn NY.” Martin was probably part of a guard assigned to Bush Terminal, an industrial property used by the military during the war.

After the war, Martin returned to 249 Manchester Street and his job as a chocolate maker. In April 1920, he became an American citizen, his petition witnessed by Michael and Peter. Martin remained at 249 Manchester through 1922, appearing in the Boston directory as a chocolate maker and mill hand.

Michael and Joseph returned to 5 Bearse Avenue, where the household also included Mary and her husband’s two young sons. In 1920, Joseph was a fireman, or stoker, in a gas plant; Michael was a chocolate maker in a chocolate mill, probably Walter Baker Chocolate. In October 1921, Joseph obtained a passport to return to Ireland and visit their parents. The next year, the Boston directory listed Joseph as removed to Ireland. When he returned to Boston in May 1922 on the Cunard ship RMS Samaria, number 5 Bearse Avenue was listed as his address. In late 1923, Joseph renewed his American passport, reporting he was returning to Ireland to settle property. On the passport application, he stated that he planned to return to the United States within six months, but it is unclear if he did so. After this point, Joseph is difficult to trace and as of this writing nothing further is known about his later life. According to an Ancestry family tree, Joseph died in Ireland in 1960.

John had left 5 Bearse by late 1917, and had moved to Peter’s home at 18 Oak Street in Milton. After the war, John, then a construction worker, again boarded with Peter. Peter, who was married with four children, had relocated to 15 Groveland Street in Mattapan. Also living at 15 Groveland was youngest brother Thomas, who had recently arrived in Boston. It appears Peter and his family moved again in 1921. That year the Boston directory lists a John Joyce, laborer, at 14 Groveland. After that it is difficult to pinpoint John in the historic record. As of this writing, little is known about John’s later life. According to an Ancestry family tree, around 1930 John returned to Ireland and was a cattle dealer in Galway, dying in Ireland in 1970.

Michael married Anna J. King, of 257 E 9th Street, South Boston on September 26, 1920. Anna, a telephone operator, was from Connemara, a town not far from Lehanagh. They were married in Boston by William F. McGrail of St. Augustine’s Church on Dorchester Street in South Boston. Michael and Anna had eight daughters: Margaret, Catherine, Anna, Elizabeth, Gertrude, Patricia, Dorothy, and Veronica. At the time of his marriage, Michael worked in a gas plant as a gas maker. In 1930, Michael’s profession was reported on the census as “Laborer, Buildings,” though he was unemployed. At that time, Michael and his family lived at 5 Lilly Street in South Boston, which they rented for $26 a month. Boarding with the family were three Irish immigrants who had arrived in the United States within the last ten years. By 1942, Michael was a patient at the Long Island Hospital, on Long Island in Boston Harbor. He died on December 3, 1944.

Martin married Margaret Manning, an Irish immigrant living in Milton, on September 3, 1924. They had three children: Margaret, John, and Winnifried. In 1927, they lived at 4 Houghton Street, Dorchester. By 1940, they made their home at 15 Gibson Street. The census that year reported that Martin was an employee of the Boston City Paving Department. In 1958, Martin lost both his wife and his brother who lived with them, when they died a day apart. Martin died on June 23, 1977, and was buried in New Calvary Cemetery.

Researched and written by Camille Arbogast.


Family Trees;

1901, 1911 Irish Census; The National Archives of Ireland;

Marriage Record, Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts;

Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, 1891-1943, National Archives, Washington, D.C.;

Naturalization Records. National Archives at Boston, Waltham, Massachusetts;

New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration;

“USS Crest (SP-339),”, last edited 24 February 2018, <>

“USS Vulcan (AC-5),”, last edited 26 July 2019,

“Over 2000 Go for Limited Service,” Boston Globe, 6 Sept 1918: 9;

US Federal Census 1920, 1930, 1940;

Selected Passports. National Archives, Washington, D.C.;

Marriage Record, “Massachusetts State Vital Records, 1841-1920,”

The Official Catholic Directory for the Year of Our Lord 1921, NY: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1921: 30;

Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. National Archives and Records Administration;

“United States, Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940,” database,

88th Annual Town Report of Milton Mass for the Year Ending December 31, 1924, Compiled by the Auditors. Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Company, 1925: 84;

Deaths, Boston Globe, 18 February 1958: 33;

Deaths, Boston Globe, 26 June 1977: 46;



Posted on

April 5, 2022

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