Recently, in an exchange of emails with Danny Tobin about a couple of family gatherings he has planned for this summer (click here to read more about the Tobin and Coughlan family gatherings) I learned of the connection between the Sheepshead Peninsula in West Cork and Casper, Wyoming in the United States.
Danny told me that many of the emigrants from Sheepshead had gone to Casper to, naturally, work on the sheep ranches. He suggested I check out History of Casper’s Irish Colony.
What a fantastic recommendation! The site is actually a complete version of the book Register: The Story of Casper’s Irish Colony, written by Harry Arundel Ward. The site includes the full second edition published in 2003, as well as later corrections and additional information compiled since publication.
Register provides a history of Casper, Wyoming and explores the role of Irish immigrants in the foundation and growth of the town. It also includes vast biographical information on each Irish immigrant who made Casper home and presents it all in an easy to search tables (I just used the “find” function to explore the tables.) The tables include over 500 names, many more than the author, Harry Ward, anticipated:
When I undertook the project, I expected to collect 50 or 60 names at the most. Had I realized how large the project would be, I may never have started.
Whenever I read about immigrants who settled the American West – the farmers, the railroad workers, the ranchers, the miners – I marvel at how brave they were. They left their homes for new lives in a place so very different from where they came. In the case of Casper, the Irish who came may have had experience raising sheep, but imagine their thoughts upon first setting foot on a Wyoming ranch. Desolate, dusty, and twenty miles to town.
Click here to read Casper 1887-1987: An Irish Legacy, by Linda L. Doherty.
So, if you are planning a Gathering this year and the old family stories tell you that a relative moved to Wyoming to in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, definitely check out History of Casper’s Irish Colony. The author also includes information on other Irish settlements throughout the Western United States – Nebraska, Montana, and Oregon – click here.
Psst…if you are a native of Casper and claim Irish heritage, drop us a line. Someone may just be looking for you!