Lewis Hine caption: Pack boys in Pacific Mill, George Driscoll, 14 years, Mike Foley, 15 years. Been working 1 1/2 years. Location: Lawrence, Massachusetts, November 1910.
In November 1910, Lewis Hine took about 15 photographs in Lawrence, most of child workers at the Pacific Mills. He would return to the city to take another 55 pictures the following September.
Pacific Mills was built in Lawrence in 1853, by the Essex Company, and enlarged over the years to five buildings covering an area of 700,000 square feet. The first president of the company was Abbot Lawrence. The city is named after him. The company started as a producer of women’s dress clothing, and expanded in the 1890s, to include the manufacture of calicos and other products. It is now the home of over 60 businesses, including craftsmen and the manufacture of fur fabrics for the entertainment industry.
In his caption, Hine did not tell us which boy was George Driscoll. But I managed to locate one of George’s great-nephews, who positively identified George as the boy on the right. Unfortunately, I have not been able to identify who Mike Foley is, or the identities of the unnamed boys. The great-nephew did not know George, and knew only that he worked as a chef and lived for a time in Boston. So I had to rely entirely on census and military records, and newspaper archives. His obituary did not list a spouse or children among the survivors.
George Joseph Driscoll was born in Lawrence on February 28, 1896 or 1895, depending on which records you go by. His parents were Laurence Driscoll, a native of Prince Edward Island; and Margaret Driscoll, born in Massachusetts. Laurence came to the US in 1883. They married in 1892. George and his twin sister Margaret were the second and third of seven children. Laurence worked for many years as a water inspector for Pacific Mills. In 1900, they were living in a rented house at 7 Dana Street, which was built in 1860. It is still there. George’s mother died about 1938, and his father died in 1943.
According to the 1920 census, George was still living with his parents, and still worked at Pacific Mills. But after 1920, I was unable find much information on where he lived. He does not appear in the 1930 census, or in any city or town directories.
According to his 1942 draft registration, he lived in Worcester, and worked for Ernest Secino in Fitchburg. The archives of the Fitchburg Sentinel show that Secino was the owner of a restaurant called Castle Arms, so it’s likely that George was a chef there.
George died on August 5, 1980, at the age of 84 or 85. He was a patient at Tewksbury State Hospital. His residence was given as 7 Dana Street, Lawrence. The great-nephew told me that there is no one else in the family who would know anything more about him.
*Story published in 2012.