The Irish in America

Heaps of Love: A message from home

12 Comments

I am always interested to see what internet searches bring people to The Irish in America.  Here are some of the recent search topics:

  • Irish beginnings in America
  • Irish people searching for American relatives
  • What was the life of an Irish immigrant like in America?
  • Irish emigrant letters
  • Irish immigrants able to read and write?

Emigrant letters can be an important tool for Irish seeking information on relatives who came to America.  Many Irish people who have contacted me for assistance on locating relatives have some memory of letters from these emigrants.  Either the actual letter, or stories of the letters received over the years.  Some people still have the letters and can refer to them for details of the relative’s life in America.

In Irish family history research census data, passenger manifests, and birth and death certificates provide the pertinent information you need to complete a family tree.  If you go a little further, obituaries and newspaper clippings will expand your understanding of the individuals you are researching.  Photographs can put faces to the data, but letters can provide intimate glimpses into the lives of your ancestors.  The emigrant letter is fast becoming a treasured source for information on the experiences of Irish emigrants (see this article on a recent donation to the Cork City and County Archive.)

Of course, for those of us researching in America, we won’t find the emigrant letter, but rather, if we are lucky we might find a response to that letter.  I often day-dream of discovering a dusty box of letters in a long-forgotten attic, letters written to one of my ancestors that would provide some insight into the life they left behind in Ireland.  Alas, I have yet to find such a stash, but I do have a little something.

My great-grandmother Annie Hill Regan would have been my best bet for saving such correspondence.  We have many of her things – china, furniture, and photographs – but no letters, only a tidy envelope containing two Christmas cards and several postcards.

Christmas card, Katie Hill Howe to Annie Hill Regan (front)

Christmas card, Katie Hill Howe to Annie Hill Regan (inside)

The card pictured above was sent to Annie in 1930 by her sister Katie from Ireland.  I can only imagine the cards and letters the two sisters exchanged during the thirty years that passed since Annie left County Kildare to begin a new life in Clontarf, Minnesota.  Because people did not often save their correspondence, that makes this small packet of my great-grandmother’s so important to me.  Obviously the contents were important enough to her that she set them aside and saved them.  This tells me much about my great-grandmother, as well as provides a peak at the family she left behind in Ireland.

Katie Hill Howe and family, Johnstown, County Kildare (photo from MJ Harshmann)

I wanted to mention a great little book, The Reynolds Letters: An Irish Emigrant Family in Late Victorian Manchester.  This collection provides a glimpse into an Irish family’s emigration experience – from County Leitrim to Manchester, England and on to Chicago, Illinois.  Great read for anyone interested in the Irish who emigrated to England and America.

Next time I will address another item on the most common searches and how that may contribute to an absence of letters.

Advertisements

Author: Aine

I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota. My heritage pretty much covers the map of Ireland: great-great-grandparents from Cork (Crowley, Foley, Regan), a great-great-grandmother from Clare (Quinn), a great-great-grandfather from Fermanagh (McMahon) and his wife's parents from Mayo (McAndrew), a great-grandmother from Connemara (Hannon) married to my great-grandfather from Laois (McCormack), great-grandparents from Sligo (Flannery), and a great-grandmother from Kildare (Hill). All of those people ended up in Minnesota, where my four grandparents were born. Three and four generations after my people left Ireland for America, I retain all Irish heritage. So much for the melting pot...

12 thoughts on “Heaps of Love: A message from home

  1. I am not worried, because it provides options for the owner
    that will enable him or her is the best coverage! Your policy may include a lot more than
    thhe highest premium charged by the private market would
    havfe to be certain you have enoughh income and assets to
    cover that separately. The correct landlord property insurance that has been researched
    will then be the amount listed for each.

  2. I all the time emailed this website post page to all mmy contacts,
    because if like to read it then my frioends will too.

  3. Great blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog shine.
    Please let me know where you got your design. Appreciate it

  4. What’s Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It absolutely helpful and
    it has aided me out loads. I hope to give a
    contribution & help other customers like its helped me.

    Good job.

  5. When someone writes an piece of writing he/she keeps the
    thought of a user in his/her brain that how a user
    can understand it. So that’s why this article
    is great. Thanks!

  6. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Annie! | The Irish in America

  7. WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for stillwater mn

  8. I¡¦ve recently started a web site, the info
    you offer on this site has helped me tremendously.
    Thank you for all of your time & work.

  9. Pingback: She Liked Nice Things | The Irish in America

  10. This is a thoroughly helpful website. Thanks for the first-rate post! You’ve made some noble points here. And of most natives will agree with you. Enjoyable article.

  11. Your readers might be interested in a new venture in Ireland.It involves providing research on a family crest and then providing a hand painted family crest.

  12. What a great find! I wish I could find a few more pictures.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s