Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Irish - To Lafayette County Missouri

A little historical background first: The Irish Potato Famine (was not really a "famine" in that there was plenty to eat in crops (grains in particular), but the subsistence crop, the potato, which sustained the poor tenant farmers failed in a massive blight that lasted from about 1845 to 1852), killed a million or more by starvation or disease (from malnourishment), and drove countless others to flee for their lives. The English used it as an opportunity to drive Irish from their farms. Even before this, and for many more years after a mass exodus was in the making that drove the Irish to all parts of the world, with a large proportion to the U.S..
So in terms of relocating to Lafayette County, Missouri, the movement could have been in direct result of the Potato Famine, or in later years by the opportunity seen through letters home by those that did make the trip earlier. As I've read in places that one draw is that certain groups from locations in Ireland would tend to move to areas of the U.S. that held earlier immigrants of their locale. Can't say that I've been able to establish that for Lafayette County, but then I'm just starting. Maybe that puzzle will come into place eventually.
Where I put my stake in the ground is an 1860 marriage:
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church Records, Lexington, Missouri
married: Aug 1, 1860
James Hughes s/o James Hughes and Bridget Quigley
to: Sarah Hastings d/o Michael Hastings and Bridget Stuart
witness: John Hughes and Bridget Moran / Edward Hamill / 7.50

So my first question... is John Hughes kin to my James Hughes, or is it a common name enough to just be a coincidence? And how is Bridget Moran related, possibly to Sarah? There my guess it that yes, she may be fellow County Mayo countryman, but to date I haven't figured that out. Other than I see quite a few references to common surnames to County Mayo as being Moran.

County Mayo is located in the West of Ireland. One of the very hardest hit by the famine.

So the next question is, who are these fellow Irish that are living near by my Michael Hastings, Bridget and Margaret? Kin, or from County Mayo, in this 1860 census?

I've attempted to go back to the Parish records on the hunch that those that are listed as sponsors or witnesses may be either kin or from similar areas in Ireland. So far other than the direct relationships I can see between the three families, nothing pops up. Even made a little spreadsheet of it:

I've tried to trace as many of these people as I could, but haven't had much luck there. Also have got as many of the death certificates as possible to see if the informant provided more than just "Ireland" for a birth location. No luck either. But I keep trying....

While it is not practical to enumerate all Irish in the various census, hopefully if you have "traveled back" to this time and place we can talk about what we've collectively done to get ourselves "across the pond" and see what common ties we might be able to find.