Saturday, November 29, 2014

Emigration/Immigration - the O'Histon/Heston/Hastings/Esthan

Anyone that has done a bit of Irish research know how frustrating it can be if it's pre extant (currently existing) census, and if your kin was Catholic prior to the 1870s. That's because the census that were taken were burnt up in the civil war fire in Ireland, and you weren't counted for civil records prior to 1870 if you were Catholic. Actual Parish Records do exist but they can be spotty at best.
A couple of things that might be helpful for stitching together kin is DNA, which I noted in my last post, and for various families, the Irish had a pretty good chance that if you have the same surname, and were from the same area, you have a good likelihood that you are related. That is a strong patronymic tradition, unlike other places in the world.
So how do I know my kin came from County Mayo? Luck
was on my side in a smattering of records that existed. That is at least for the Hastings (I'll use their anglicized name here). As noted in the previous blog post, there was an Uncle, two sons and a nephew that were in the Civil War. Three of them in a Kansas Regiment, then one very young son (as a musician) and his cousin in a Missouri Regiment. In those regimental records there were several record references to County Mayo, Ireland as their birth location.

Even my own Sarah (Hastings) Hughes, provided additional reference in one of her census to Ireland and "Co Mayo".
One cousin also found a picture of her great grandmother with a reference to "Westport" on the back of the picture. So when I (may) jump to the conclusion that I found a Parish record of the marriage for Michael Hestin and Bridget Stuart in the Westport area, I'll assume that's correct until I find out differently.
Ireland, Mayo, Oughaval, Westport 1823-1904 LDS Film: 979,697
Westport Marriages, Diocese Tuam, Parish: Aughaval (Westport)
Sept 8th, 1826
Mich'l Hestin to Bridget Stuart
sp: Daniel Hestn and Anne Lydon 1.0.0

I actually visited the area in 2010 and believe they are from an area south of Westport in Drummin.

Westport sits on Clew Bay on the upper end of Oughaval parish

As I mentioned, parish records are spotty, and with the exception of the marriage, I was unable to find any of the children's baptisms. Given the number of children they had in the 1820-1845 time frame that is a big disappointment, but then, is in my opening statement, that isn't uncommon.
My big breakthrough was finding one of the children was born in Liverpool which I was able to find the civil birth record, and by some exceptionally creative searching find the family in the 1851 census (identified as "Esthan", try garbling "Heston" and you can see it). The way I found this record is not by looking for the surname I expected, but just looking for "Margaret" of the right age (leaving surname blank), in Liverpool, with the birthplace of Liverpool... bingo... all the given names lined up with what I expected! So don't give up if you've tried the "expected" approach, you may need to get creative.

OK, from there the family apparently took two different routes. The men (except for young James) left for America and the others (except for Edward who stayed behind) left in 1855 from Liverpool

An image from a paper near that time for those emigrants crowding the docks with their meager possessions and the frightening prospects of being stuffed below decks for weeks on end, and to untold hardships to their new home in far flung places.

They then went through New Orleans up the Mississippi and Missouri river before reuniting in Lexington, Missouri.
Wait a minute... say that again? New Orleans? You mean Boston, or New York, or somewhere on the East Coast, right? Well that was another surprise. When searching for the ship that these ancestors came over on, I decided to broaden my expectations to other ports not usually associated with Irish immigration. That lead to finding at least this set of kin landing in America in New Orleans. Lesson learned: don't constrain yourself to what is "usually" or "standard" set of assumptions, if you can't find your kin, start broadening for those "less likely". It may just pay off.

What was fun about that is that I actually located a picture of the ship that brought my ancestor, her Mom, and a sister and brother to America.
The Screamer - Sailed from Liverpool to New Orleans. Found a painting in a Maine Museum. The name was supposedly from the sound created as the storms battered the sails.

This is the record of the Screamer Sailing from Liverpool. What is funny is that the original announcement said it was going to sail on March 17th, (St. Patty's day), I always imagined that the crew was partying too much to leave on time!

I've not been able to locate the ship that brought Michael Hastings or his sons Thomas (and possibly Peter), and daughter Anna (who came separately, too), to America, but assume they did arrive earlier and send for the rest of the family.
Thomas died just after the Civil War and I've never been able to trace Peter and James.

As for Bridget, Sarah, James and Margaret, it must have been a frightening experience to be traveling on that long voyage across the ocean, and then up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
My kin, Bridget, and her daughter Sarah, traveling with James (which is the last record I have of him) and Margaret (she was the one born in Liverpool)

This birds-eye-view panoramic is from just about the time that they arrived in bustling New Orleans!

You can imagine that this trip had to be by steamboat, which could actually be a very perilous way to travel. I visited a museum in Kansas City back in 2010 in a wonderful display of a steamboat that was excavated that would be from around that time frame. Listening to the dangers to getting snagged (impaled) in steaming upstream, the multiple boiler explosions, and other mishaps, it was NOT the Good Ship Lollipop! But what an exciting time for steamboat travel. I saw this in St. Louis and was in awe of the crowded dockside!
These pictorals were done for most major cities and towns and provide a glimpse into the past. Look for them in towns you are researching.

OK, now that I've done the set up to get to Lafayette County, Missouri, we can proceed to look at the families that congregated and what brought them through perilous waters and times to this land in the middle of the U.S.!

Hopefully this detail, although a bit much to trek through, provides a few ticklers for places you may have not looked for ideas on getting information on where your kin came from in Ireland. We'll explore more in future blogs.