October 27, 1916: Private Thomas William MacEachern


Date of Birth: March 3, 1896 at Winchester, Massachusetts

Parents: Angus and Mary (MacInnis) MacEachern

Siblings: Brothers Irving Alexander and Lewis; Sisters Isabella, Mary Agnes, and Catherine; predeceased by one sister and one brother, both of whom died in childhood

Marital Status: Single

Occupation: Stenographer

Enlistment: October 29, 1915 at Halifax, NS

Unit: 85th Overseas Battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders)

Service #: 233300

Rank:  Private

Previous Military Service:  3rd USA Field Battery (three years)

Next of Kin:  Miss Bella MacEachern, 7 Hill St., Winchester, MA (sister)

Date of Death: October 27, 1916 at Halifax, NS

Final Resting Place: Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church Cemetery, Cape George, Antigonish County, NS

Thomas William MacEachern was born at Winchester, Massachusetts, but his parents were natives of Cape George, Antigonish County. Thomas’s father, Angus, was the son of Lewis MacEachern and grandson of Donald (Pioneer) MacEachern. His mother, Mary, was the daughter of Hugh and Catherine (Barrett) MacInnis and great-granddaughter of Hugh (Pioneer) MacInnis from the point of the Cape.

Angus and Isabella were married at St. Mary’s Church, Winchester on November 29, 1895. By 1909, their family consisted of six children when tragedy struck—Angus and Mary MacEachern both passed away within 24 hours of one another. Mary died of pneumonia at Woburn Hospital, Winchester on Saturday August 7, 1909. Angus, who had taken ill after visiting Mary in hospital, was admitted to the Homeopathic Hospital, Boston, where he died on Sunday, August 8, 1909. The couple was laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery, St. Mary’s Church, Winchester.

As a result of this sudden catastrophe, the MacEachern children were placed in the care of different relatives. Thomas lived with his aunt, Lillian (MacInnis) Gallagher, in Washington, DC. Her husband, Thomas, was a carpenter from Massachusetts. Thomas’s sister, Isabella “Bella,” remained in Winchester Mass., Thomas later listing her as next of kin on his enlistment papers. Thomas’s brother, Irving Alexander, was sent to Springhill, NS, where he resided with his aunt, Anne (MacEachern) Carrigan. Irving later served with the North Nova Highlanders in the Second World War, and became a noted ball player with the Springhill Fence Busters. He passed away at Springhill in 1975.

Thomas’s sister, Mary Agnes, was also sent to Springhill. She travelled to Antigonish County at times to visit relatives, and later married a Mr. Joseph MacDonald. The couple took up residence at McArras Brook, where Joe was known as “Joe Johnny Joe.”  Another sister, Catherine, was residing with Albert Falkenham’s family at the Cape George lighthouse in 1921. No information is available on Thomas’s brother, Lewis.

Thomas William journeyed north to enlist with the 85th Battalion at Halifax on October 29, 1915. Authorized on September 14, 1915, the unit spent the winter of 1915-16 at the Halifax Armouries and Commons, where its soldiers prepared for overseas deployment. The formation of the Nova Scotia Highland Battalion in January 1916 delayed the unit’s departure for England. Its personnel spent the summer of 1916 training alongside three newly formed battalions at Camp Aldershot, near Kentville.

Thomas remained in the 85th’s ranks until sometime in July 1916, when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and sent to St Martha’s Hospital, Antigonish. He passed away at Antigonish on October 27, 1916, two weeks after his 85th comrades departed for England. Private Thomas William MacEachern was buried in the cemetery to the right of the Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, Cape George. Thomas’s final resting place, marked with an Imperial (Commonwealth) War Graves headstone, is not far from the graves of his maternal grandparents, Hugh and Catherine (Barrett) MacInnis.

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