Sunday, March 26, 2017

New Life in America

Fannie Lockhart King, Anna's cousin and daughter of
Sarah Killen - probably on wedding day - circa 1913
Anna's ancestors left Ireland for America for two reasons: to escape poverty and to live in a land that offered greater opportunity. As one would expect, success in finding and taking advantage of opportunities in America varied greatly among these new Irish-Americans. Here we look at just a sample of their lives.

Beyond the second generation their story melded with the rest of the American population. The first and second generations still carried much of the culture of the old country. For the later generations family history became entwined with life in America and origins from elsewhere in the world.

The two main areas of settlement by this group of Scot-Irish immigrants were Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Schuyler County, New York. There new lives in America will be examined in this same dual manner.

Did they find happiness here? Fulfilling lives? Were they better off than if they stayed in Ireland? No conclusions will be drawn on these subjective terms - just the facts to the extent they can be found.

Occupation can be an indicator of success in America. Our new Americans experienced the full spectrum of occupation from the most rewarding to the lowest level of servitude.  As might be expected in those times, farming was the most common occupation among the men. However, success in farming varied greatly.

Keeping house was crucial to family success before the onset of modern appliances and was entered most frequently on census forms for the wife's occupation. Nevertheless, as an occupation it does not help much with comparison among families.
Of course none of this says anything about happiness. Surviving the diseases so common in those days may have given you more time to enjoy life - whether you found those years to be happy is something else.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Mary Graham Forbes, Anna's great aunt.
In the 1840s, Graham family members were the first to settle in Philadelphia. Three of the sisters (Ellen, Jane and Matilda) remained unmarried and worked as dress makers in that city, living together according to the Census at the same address on Summer street for many years. Their brother James Graham was missing from the records until his death when the address of his sisters on Summer Street was noted.

One sister, Mary Forbes, was widowed young leaving no children. She moved back from Schuyler County, where she and her husband farmed, and lived with her sisters working as a dress maker. She actually returned to Schuyler County before 1900 where she lived with her niece Eliza until her death in 1905 at 91.

Sarah & William Lockhart, circa 1910. Sarah was Anna's Aunt
Ann 'Nancy' Graham Killen was the only one of the five Graham sisters to have children. The Killen children, starting with Eliza, began to leave Ireland toward the end of the American Civil War. Ann crossed the ocean in 1874 after her three oldest daughters had left Ireland, and much later in life than her siblings. All of her children married and all but Eliza ultimately settled in Philadelphia. After working in various Philadelphia homes as a housekeeper, in 1900 the 75 year old Ann Killen was living with daughter Margaret Getty. 

Sarah Killen married a William Lockhart, a carpet and then towel manufacturer, with Sarah keeping house. They had three children. Toward the end of their life they moved in with daughter Fannie who was married to Bart King who is discussed below. Son Andrew Lockhart volunteered in the Spanish-American War. He was employed in civilian life as a Turkish towel manufacturer and later as an accountant with the Pennsylvania Railroad. The other son, Isaac Garfield worked as a road builder and his wife was a shop saleslady. 

Bart King, Circa 1897
Fannie and the Cricket Star - If entry in wikipedia is an indicator of impact on the world, at least one couple did quite well. Fannie Lockhart spent 50 years as the wife of Bart King, the cricket star. Although listed as sportsman in occupation, this is not what is entered in the census forms. The story is that various wealthy benefactors interested in cricket offered Bart jobs whose income would enable him to contribute his skills to the game of cricket with no fear for his financial well being. Looking at the picture of their house, which still stands in Philadelphia, I would say he did quite well. My dad told the story of visiting Bart and Fannie in Philadelphia with his parents right after graduating from college in 1925. Bart had an event that night and invited them along. The event was a bridge game at the home of the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad. According to my father, the wine served was quite good!

Matilda Killen took passage to America in 1868, the same year as Sarah. In 1878 she married a man named Jacob Seiders, who was a disabled Union Civil War veteran. Following the marriage, they left for California's Bay Area where a daughter Blanche and son William were born in 1881 and 1883, respectfully. They returned east in 1889 when Jacob's health condition deteriorated and he entered residence in the National Home for Disabled Soldiers in Virginia. He died in 1894 leaving Matilda a widow with two children. By 1900 her children had left home and she was working as a servant in Philadelphia. Her daughter married an insurance adjuster with whom she had two children. After four years in the Navy, the son ultimately became a merchant. By 1920 Matilda was no longer a servant and owned her home in Philadelphia, the former home of the Graham sisters.

Margaret Killen married John Getty after arriving in Philadelphia in 1881. They had two children (Robert and Anna), born in California in 1890 and 1892. After returning from California, her husband died in Philadelphia in September 1896. Following John's death, Margaret worked as a carpet weaver in Philadelphia.  A row house at 2134 Monmouth Street. remained the Getty home into the late 1920s. The two children remaining single with Robert working as a druggist and Anna as a bookkeeper. In 1926 Anna married Fred Bleacher, an accountant for an electrical company. They had a daughter. By 1930 Margaret had moved into the new home of her bachelor son Robert on Seventh St.. Robert finally married by 1934, when his son Robert Jr. was born to his wife Anna Halvorsen.

John Killen in the 1890s.
Not my image of a carpet weaver
Carpet Weavers - Carpet weavers were among the skilled workers of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Philadelphia's thousands of modest scale firms linked together through contracts and trade in elaborate ways that made the city a vast workshop. Carpet makers purchased yarn from one firm, had it dyed at a second, bought pattern designs from a third, punched cards to control the weaving process (Jacquard) from a fourth. Wages were high and, although work was cyclical, job opportunities grew. Hundreds became proprietors, "commencing on their own account" in small partnerships, renting "rooms with power" in mills purposely built for hosting a dozen or more newly started enterprises.

John Killen was the youngest child, only son and the last of the Killen children to leave for America. He married a Sarah Lockhart (probably a sister or other relative of his sister Sarah's husband) in 1890 and was employed as a carpet weaver. John was not living with his wife and daughter in 1900 and 1910 when she was listed as family head in the census. In 1910 John was working as a night watchman when he suffered a "fractured skull due to being accidentally struck by a barrel" His wife Sarah was employed as a carpet weaver in a mill. Of their two children, only the daughter Sarah Jane "Jennie" Killen survived. One of Anna Love Graham's fondest memories was of the summer Jennie spent at the family's farm in Schuyler County. Jennie eventually married and according to a family story had a son who attended Girard College in Philadelphia.

Schuyler County, New York

 

Schuyler County is about 250 miles from Philadelphia. Today the interstate highway system connects them. In 1842, when Isaac Graham and his wife Sarah settled in the county, there was not even a railroad connecting the two places.

Isaac farmed his whole life in America. He and Sarah produced six children born in Schuyler County; four boys and two girls. Daughter Eliza never married and died in 1900 in the Willard State Hospital in Seneca County, NY. Daughter Margaret married a John McDermott and had two children. Her husband had various jobs including a fruit farmer, carpenter with a company that made bins and a railroad switchman. All four sons were farmers for their entire lives. The sons were named Joseph, James, William and Robert. Joseph would eventually become Eliza Killen's second husband, and Anna Love's stepfather.

In 1862 the family of Samuel Love and Mary McClintock settled in Schuyler County. Samuel being Isaac Graham's brother-in-law. All of their six children (three of each sex) were born in Ireland. Samuel farmed in the Town of Reading. Their children and grandchildren's lives are described below:

Samuel Love's three daughters were named Matilda, Eliza and Margaret. Matilda died unmarried at age 34. Both Eliza and Margaret married farmers. Eliza had two sons with Daniel Hughey, Joseph and Amasa, who also were farmers in their short lives. Margaret and her husband John Stewart had five children, two boys and three girls. Son Donald died young on the farm. Son John started out in farming, but by 1930 was working as a service manager for an auto distributing company in New Jersey. Margaret's three daughters were Mary, Anna and Blanche. Mary and Anna both married farmers. Blanche was working as a stenographer at a crane and hoist company in 1920.

Andrew Love family - Effie Jane and Andrew sitting. Standing
left to right: William, David, Hebe, Andrew & Mary Amelia.
Andrew Love was Samuel Love's second oldest son and a farmer his entire life. He married Effie Jane Wasson, a cousin of Thomas Watson (Watson's father changed the spelling of the last name) founder of IBM. They had five children (three boys and two girls). Sons David and Andrew were farmers. Andrew's wife Lola was a high school teacher. Son William Thomas worked in sales for the National Cash Register company. Andrew's daughters Mary Amelia and Hebe Bell both married farmers, Walter Ellison and Irving Wilbur, respectively. (Hebe Bell Love Ellison was best friends with her cousin Anna Love Graham. They roomed together at Starkey Seminary where they received their high school education. Starkey was a boarding school in Yates County which adjoins Schuyler County to the north on the west side of Seneca Lake.)

Samuel's son John T. Love never married, finding work as a farmer when he was younger. Anna took in her Uncle John and gave him a place to stay during the 1920s when he was older and could no longer work.

Sam and Nell Love in buggy with mother Eliza standing in front of their house
Circa 1912
William Love, Samuel's oldest son, married Eliza Jane Killen (mother of Anna Love Graham) in 1871. William's first wife, Anna Caldwell, had died along with their infant child. William Love died of spinal meningitis in the year 1885. He was only 41 years old.

Two of  Eliza and William's four children survived; Sam and Anna. Son Sam Love became a farmer and also the assessor for the Town of Dix. He and his wife Nell Buck had two children. Anna's story is told in the first post of this blog. 

An Epidemic Tragedy

 

This story of the Irish Diaspora, as illustrated by the lives of one extended family, began with the Great Famine in Ireland. The story ends with another tragedy that had an even more devastating impact on family members. 

I first became aware of the tragedy when I noticed that a lot of these ancestors were dying in 1919 - most of them young and in the prime of their lives. It seemed more than coincidence and I wondered if there was a common cause to these deaths. As luck would have it, I discovered the existence of a digitized edition of a newspaper in the area accessible from the internet - The Telegram in Elmira, NY. The newspaper provided information not found on the gravestones; the immediate cause of the deaths. 

The first to occur was the death of Clayton Graham on March 3, 1919 at the age of 26. Clayton was the son of Isaac Graham's son James. Next to follow were Donald (age 24) and James Stewart (age 64) on the 10th and 12th of March 1919, respectively. Donald and James were the son and husband of Samuel Love's daughter Margaret. Finally this March of sorrow brought the deaths of two brothers Joseph (age 32) and Amasa Hughey (age 34). They were the sons and only children of Eliza Hughey, also the daughter of Samuel Love. They died March 3 and March 17 of 1919. Pneumonia was the immediate cause of death in all five victims.

As may have been guessed by those familiar with the times, all the deaths were related to the Great Pandemic of 1918/1919. This influenza pandemic has been described as "the greatest medical holocaust in history" and may have killed as many people as the Black Death. This huge death toll was caused by an extremely high infection rate of up to 50% and the extreme severity of the symptoms. The majority of deaths were from bacterial pneumonia, a secondary infection caused by the influenza.

The unusually severe disease killed between 2 and 20% of those infected, in contrast with the more usual flu epidemic mortality rate of 0.1%. Another unusual feature of this pandemic was that it mostly killed young adults, with 99% of pandemic influenza deaths occurring in people under 65, and more than half in young adults 20 to 40 years old. This is unusual since influenza is normally most deadly to the very young (under age 2) and the very old (over age 70).

These characteristics of the epidemic clearly were present in 1919 as the disease wreaked havoc in these descendants of Irish immigrants.



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