Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The only American ever executed in Northern Ireland

Eddie Cullens was a Jew born in 1904 in the eastern Mediterranean, different sources say Crete, Cyprus, or Smyrna (Turkey). It is not known what his name at birth was, I think it's unlikely he was born a Cullens. At some point. he moved to the US and was naturalized as an American citizen in 1928 while living in the Bronx, New York. In 1931 he boarded a ship to England and his occupation was listed as "motion-picture projectionist", and he was traveling with a Mr. Zaro Agha, a native of Turkey. According a story from the BBC, Edward Cullens was involved with a circus exhibition of Mr. Agha, the "oldest man in the world" at age 156!

Eddie went to Belfast with another Turkish circus worker, Achmet Musa, who was found shot dead one day. Eddie was convicted of the murder and hanged at Crumlin Road jail, all the while protesting his innocence. As was the custom, he was buried in an unmarked grave on the Crumlin grounds.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/8394309.stm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crumlin_Road_Jail

Because of new construction at the site, the government is planning to allow the bodies of the executed men to be claimed by relatives, identified by DNA testing if necessary, and reburied in cemeteries. The Jewish community of Belfast is interested in burying Eddie in their cemetery, but so far no relative of Eddie has come forward.

I recently received an email from an interested party who is searching for any relatives or information. Eddie is believed to have had a brother who remained in New York. By searching Ancestry.com databases, I was able to find Eddie's 1928 Naturalization index card, where he was listed as single, living at 1709 E. 174th St., and his ship's arrival record in Southhampton, England in 1931. I have not been able to find him in any census.

If you have any ideas or information, please email me at berniecullen@gmail.com

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