The Irish in America


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Family Album: Manchester Connection

We have several photographs in our collection that were taken in Manchester, England. These fall into the “Your Grandpa’s People” and remain, to this day, mostly unidentified.

Over the weekend I was working on my Ancestry.com family tree and took another look at our Manchester photos. Frustrated by all the “unknowns” in the captions, I decided to put my best guess IDs on the photos. We will see if they stick.

I will start with one I am fairly certain about. This is my great-grandmother Annie Hill Regan’s only brother, John Hill. John was born on April 7, 1870, near Kill, County Kildare, Ireland. He was baptized two days later on April 9th. John was five years older than Annie.

John and his wife, Clara lived in Broughton, Manchester, England.

Clara and John Hill (Private Family Collection)

John’s youngest sister, Bridget “Delia” Hill Reynolds, and her husband John and family also lived in Broughton. I connected with a DNA match cousin whose grandma was Delia. He shared with me that her brother John lived with the Reynolds family.

Youngest Reynolds son, John Hill, John and Delia Reynolds (Private Family Collection)

There is one problem. Mary Hill O’Brien’s daughter Mamie had an album with a photo of the trio (minus John Hill) labeled, “Aunt Maggie and family.” I am pretty sure it is Delia. For a number of reasons, it just makes sense to me. I know nothing about Maggie. Once the Hill girls hit age fifty, they look very similar. I have positive IDs on Mary, Katie, and Annie, so I’ll just keep digging…


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What’s Whit Week?

Whit Week Procession (postcard sent to Annie Hill Regan)

Whit Week is here and that can mean only one thing…hmmmm…I wonder what that could be?  If this was the early twentieth-century in Manchester, England, odds are it would mean donning a new white dress and marching in a Whit week procession like the ladies pictured above.

Since the demise of the Whit Monday bank holiday in the UK in 1967 and Ireland in 1973, I am not sure how much attention is  paid to the week following Pentecost (read more about Whitsun by clicking here.)

This photo of a Whit Week parade appears on a postcard from the early twentieth century, and survives in a small collection of photos and cards that belonged to my great-grandmother Annie Hill Regan (born in Kildare, emigrated to Minnesota 1899.)  With no postmark, no address, and rather ambiguous greeting and signature (both are Push), this little card is a bit puzzling.  My best guess is that the card came to Annie from her younger sister Bridget Hill Reynolds of Manchester, England.  From what I have read, processions like this were more popular in England, and the postcard mentions “our Maggie” – Bridget had a daughter named Maggie, who eventually emigrated to America joining her Aunt Annie in Minnesota.

The card mentions looking forward to a visit “next year.”  I wonder if Annie ever did travel from Minnesota to Manchester, England to visit her sister’s family?  Did she return home to Ireland on this visit?  I have searched for possible documentation of such a journey, but so far have come up empty.  I will have to keep at it and see what I can find.

Reverse of postcard

Maybe you can help me figure this photo out…

  • Have you seen Push as a nickname or slang in correspondence from the early 20th century?
  • Do the dresses provide a more concrete date to this photo?
  • Is Whitsun or Whit Week still observed in Ireland and England?

Any ideas?  Please leave a comment!

Have a good week!