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Manifest Destiny: Remembering on St. Patrick's Day

One Hundred and Twenty-Five Years ago this week...
A branch of my family tree arrives in the United States.

ss celtic.pngSteam Ship Celtic (Manifest)
Arrival, Port of New York: 13 JUN 1881
Port of Embarkation:  Liverpool and Queensland

Name:     Age:     Sex:   

Hanora     50        F     Widow
Mary        23        F     Spinster
James      20        M    Laborer
Margaret  17        F     Spinster
Bridget     16        F     Spinster
Patrick     14        M     Laborer
Arthur     11        M
Timothy    8        M
Peter        7        M     Child
John         6        M     Child
Catherine  5       F       Child
Honora     4       F       Child
Ann         3       F        Child

The Ballylanders Baker's Dozen

This Baker's Dozen from Ballylanders hit the Battery at Castle Garden; four years to the month ahead of the Statue of Liberty; 11 years before Ellis Island was opened.  How it must have looked!

366478-367076-thumbnail.jpgJohn, my Great Grandfather, was known as Jack, as he was the  second son to bear the name.  The first boy christened John was among two older siblings who died in infancy.  So Jack was one of 12 (of 15) surviving children who, with their widowed mother, first set foot on American soil 125 years ago this week. 

The following is an account of his sister Nora (Honora), who later became a Nun at the age of 36.  She died in November 1947, which is interesting to keep in mind as you read her account of life then, and "now."


"My father died in 1977, that left my mother with fifteen (two had died in infancy) in the midst of very hard times.  Hard times were caused by the failure of low market prices for all farm products.  Four years after my father's death, having sustained the loss of four coes and with the poor crops and bad times generally, my mother became discouraged.  In strong opposition to her father's will, she decided to sell out and come to America.

"When my mother had won her battle with her father about immigrating with her family, she set to work to sell out the farm, farm implements, cattle, and on a certain day everything was sold at auction.  The times were so bad and everyone around us so poor, no one who wanted the place could afford to buy it, so it went to Richard Oliver, a miller in Kilfinane from whom my mother bought flour and feed for the cattle.

"My Oliver didn't want the place, but he bought it to help my mother.  He got the place for a very low price.

366478-367086-thumbnail.jpg"The business disposed of, my mother secured passage for us in the steamship Celtic.  After a voyage of nine days, we landed in New York.  My mother planned to go to Boston, but during the voyage some of the passengers who took an interest in the big family questioned her about her destination; advised her to go to Waterbury in preference to boston, so to Waterbury we came.  Some relatives took us in.  I remember five or six of us young ones with blankets around us.  They couldn't supply beds for us all.

'My God they'll pull down the house!'

"In a short time, we found a tenement about half big enough.  The landlord was greatly worried about the damage we were likely to do to this property; my mother worked for its safety.  While we lived in the tenement, the other tenants used to be scared, especially old Peggy Shearow.  When the huskies downstairs begahn to dance, poor Peggy would run and hold her little stove pipe, and screech, "My God, they'll pull down the house!" 

My mother wat treated with great respect by everyone, but all looked suspiciously on the "Kids."  No wonder.  We had to see and handle everything; we were like bees around.  The older ones who danced and caused Peggy some anxious moments, promised themselves to dance as much in their new house, which they did faithfully.

85 Charles Street

"As soon as possible, she bought a building lot and our new house began to take shape.  It was ready for occupancy within a few months.  We arrived in this country in June and moved into our new home in late October 1881. 

"My mother was young and vigorous at that time, so she took up the task of furnishing the house with the ardor of her nature; beds, tables, dishes, a big cooking stove and all the pots and rattles that go with it were soon assembled.  She had brought from Ireland enough feathers for six beds, besides the heavy home made quilts, sheets, and bolster covers.  She had selected a beautiful set of china dishes; cups, saucers, plates, and a large beautiful platter, all which were common enough to be broken now and then.  We got a red table cloth with fancy figures on it for the sitting room table and a hanging lamp with prisms around it; we felt sure no one else had one like it.  When she bought a parlor set and carpet for the "Front" room, our pride and joy knew no bounds.

"Waterbury was then a city of about 30,000 inhabitants.  There were six policemen, a Mayor, alderman, and Common Council.  There was a high school and a convent, Notre Dame.  There were five fire companies and a hook and ladder company.  At that time, where were a number of small industries owned by families; there was the button shop, buckle shop, ring shop, jewelry shop, pin shop, clock and watch shop.  It was all brass industry.  It was a growing city and soon the population was over 100,000.  It is much more now.

"Looking back now and considering the many great improvements in our standard of lving, it must be admitted that conditions were quite primitive here at the time we came to the country.  We thgoutht it a great advance over conditions in Ireland that we didn't have to use candles for light.  There were several lamps to be taken around for lighting; we never saw candles used in the homes here, they had progressed beyond Ireland in discarding candles.  It was some function for the one who took care of the lamps, a long row of them on a shelf to be cleaned and filled every day.  In the matter of toilet facilities, one had to go out to the back to a little house, such things as bathtubs were quite unknown.  When compared with all the conveniences we enjoy today, it must be admitted that living conditions in the homes have come up one hundred percent before our eyes."

'Qui transtulit sustinet'

366478-367094-thumbnail.jpgIn April, we took the kids to Castle Garden, and as I walked I strained to listen and see through the wrinkle of time.  Quite a bit has changed.  There's a green lady in the Harbor, Ellis Island has opened, closed, and opened again as a museum.  And amid a skyline that still bears the scars of September 11, and in a City that I've only begun to discover, I found the first few steps of the Ballylanders Baker's Dozen. 

And chose Father's Day to pay tribute to my Great-Great Grandmother, who defied her own father to transplant our family tree... in a state whose motto is "He who transplants still sustains."


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