Catherine Walsh has not been seen since March 1951.

Catherine Walsh was born in 1923 or 1924 to James Francis Walsh and Catherine De St. Croix.   Her mother died when she was about three years old, and she, along with her brother Edward, went to live with an aunt and uncle in Cambridge, MA.

In March 1951, at the age of 26, Catherine suddenly disappeared.

A few weeks later, her aunt and uncle received a letter from Catherine, it was postmarked in New York.   The letter stated that she was very ashamed of what she had done, and that she would return if her aunt and uncle inserted a personal ad in a Boston newspaper, indicating that they wanted her back.

Her aunt and uncle immediately contacted the Boston Herald, but learned that the paper did not carry such notices.   They eventually persuaded the newspaper to make an exception and run the ad, but by that time the date specified by Catherine had passed.

Catherine has never been heard from again.

I was unable to locate the personal ad that was published, or the possible article in a New York newspaper mentioned in the first sentence of the article below.


Text of Article:

NEW YORK (AP) – An ailing Cambridge, Mass. couple appealed to a New York newspaper yesterday to help find their niece, who disappeared from home last March.

The uncle, Arthur J Murphy, seriously ill since August, wants “desperately” to see the girl,  Catherine Walsh, 26, who once was the mainstay of his home, the Herald Tribune was told in a letter.

This letter was written for the Murphys by Mrs. Alfred Walsh of Belmont, Mass, another aunt of the young woman. 

Mrs Walsh said Mrs Murphy also was ill.  She described Catherine as “a great home girl” and said the family could not understand why she left.

Catherine’s remaining away so long seemed to be the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding, the way Mrs. Walsh told it.

A few weeks after she left, Catherine wrote of being “thoroughly ashamed” at what she had done.  The letter had a New York postmark. 

She would return, she said, if they wanted her and inserted a personal in a Boston paper. 

But the paper does not carry such notices, the family learned, and by the time the paper heard of their problem and ran a special notice, the date specified by Catherine had passed.

Mrs. Walsh said Catherine went to live with the Murphys when she was three years old, after her mother died.  The Murphys had no children of their own. 

Catherine was working in a Boston department store when she disappeared, leaving a note saying she thought she would be happier if she went away. 

The family had not thought her unhappy,  Mrs. Walsh said.

“We have no idea why she left”, the aunt wrote.  “She was all they had.”

As of 2003, Catherine’s family members were still searching for her.   In a post on Ancestry.com, a relative states that the police and FBI were no help – so I’m assuming that no missing persons report was filed.   The relative also states that there had been rumors of Catherine traveling to the west coast or Hawaii, but these have not been confirmed.

The above photo is from the 1942 Cambridge High yearbook, 9 years before she went missing.  Unfortunately, I cannot enlarge it without it becoming blurry.   I was able to make out the address below her name, and it does match the address where Catherine can be found on the 1940 census, in the Murphy household.

I cannot make out the blurb, but it appears to begin with “If you feel…”

Please respond if you have any information on Catherine’s whereabouts.


Ancestry.com message board

Ancestry.com message board 2nd post


Boston Herald – through Genealogybank (membership required)



3 thoughts on “Catherine Walsh

  1. I’m an ancestry.com member and looked up the yearbook photo at the top of the entry. Here is the full “blurb”:
    “If you feel like having fun,
    Take Catherine and you’ll have some.”
    Old(er) yearbooks often have descriptive quotes pertaining to the person. Not clear who authored the ones in this particular yearbook.
    “Undecided” appears to mean she had no specific future plans, at least none that she was revealing compared to her seemingly more ambitious classmates. That she was described (perceived?) in the newspaper article as “a great home girl” perhaps is telling. Maybe nine years on she decided she wanted more out of life than being a home body and working at a local department store. I hope nothing bad happened to her and she found what she was looking for.
    In doing genealogy research I’ve discovered more than one seemingly forgotten distant female cousin in my tree who appeared to disappear but in fact went on to have very different and interesting lives from where they started and appeared simply not to keep close with family members. When dealing with strictly their facts and statistics the reasons for their distance from family is generally not apparent. Marriages and especially multiple marriages can make women that much harder to track. Also if their age, place of birth, parents’ names, etc., get misstated in various situations where one fills out a form or survey. Throw in creative spelling/misspelling for a name and general personal reinvention.

  2. I hope that is what happened with Catherine. I hope she just went off to live somewhere else. She likely wouldn’t be alive now, but if she had children, maybe someday they will see that Catherine’s family was searching for her and provide some insight.

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