USA History

 Immigration to the USA in the 1880’s         

  Sections in this Chapter:

1.     Hugh McTeague (1840) and Mary Mellan family

2.     Leaving Ireland

3.     Immigrant Timeline

4.     Ships Carrying Them to the USA

5.     History of Individual Ships

6.     Classes of Travel

7.     Departing From Home Port in 1847

8.      Port of Entry-Castle Garden in New York City in 1855

9.      An Immigrant’s Story in 1866

10. A Sham Immigran's Voyage in 1888

11. How Did They Get To Wilkes Barre, PA?

12. Immigration Laws and Time Lines

13. Open Questions

Section 1.  Hugh McTeague (1840) and Mary Mellan Family

Hugh Montague (McTeague) was born in 1840 in Disart, County Derry, Ireland.  His parents were James McTeague born in 1797 and Sarah Kelly.  He died in Ireland January 5, 1910 at age 70.  He was a shoemaker/farmer and he was a Catholic.  He resided in Cahore Ireland and married Mary Mellan on Jan 30, 1857 in Ballynascreen and Margaret O’Connor in 1870.  Mary Mellan was born in 1830 and died January 31, 1870 at the age of 40.  There were six children by the first marriage:

 1.  Catherine (Kate) Montague born November 23, 1857.

2.  James Montague born December 3, 1859, he died in Ireland-we don't know when.

3.  John Montague born October 11, 1861 in Disart. 

4.  Patrick Montague baptized September 4, 1863 in Disart. 

5.  Joseph Montague baptized November 6, 1865 in Disart.

6.  Mary Montague born November 8, 1867 in Disart.


Here is a graphic display of what we know so far:

Section 2. Leaving Ireland

Five children immigrated to the USA in the 1880's:  John, Catherine, Patrick, Joseph, and Mary.  These are the USA immigrant generation.  James decided to stay in Ireland.  What made one decide to stay and five decide to leave, we don't know.  It does appear that there was no contact between the immigrants and their immediate family after they left. There was however contact between immigrant Catherine and more distant relatives and friends as you will see in the Correspondence Chapter. For whatever reasons, this information was not passed down to future generations, or future generations simply were not interested.  It did make the genealogical search more difficult.

Why did they leave Ireland?  Was it to pursue the American dream?  Was it to avoid hunger and hardship?  The Irish Famine of 1879 certainly caused both hunger and widespread fear. Was there a family disagreement?  It could be all of these but it is doubtful that we will ever find out for sure.  Or, it could simply be that America asked people from Ireland to come.  From A History of the Irish Settlers in North America, Thomas D'Arcy says the following:

“In 1775, before these United States had existence, - before her stars had lighted her to glory, or her stripes had been felt by her foes,  before the voice of independence had been heard on her mountains, or the shouts of victory had echoed through her valleys,  her statesmen and patriots assembled at her seat of government, in their future Hall of Independence, and, by a public address, made known to the world her grateful and affectionate sympathy and respect for the Parliament and the people of Ireland, kindly inviting her people to come and inhabit 'the fertile regions of America.' Many thousands accepted the invitation and by their toils and their sufferings, their sweat and their blood, assisted to make 'Great, Glorious and Free,' the country which adopted them.”

Continuing from this same book, this may explain why the immigrants thought the “streets were lined with gold” certainly reflecting a flourishing and free country:   “In the spring of 1847, a national meeting was held at Washington, at which Mr. Dallas, Vice-President of the United States, took the chair. Mr. Webster, Mr. Cass, and other eminent senators, spoke. The government placed two vessels of war, "The Macadonian" and "The Jamestown," at the disposal of the committee sitting in Boston and New York. Boston and New England, it is calculated, contributed nearly a quarter of a million dollars, and New York City and state an equal amount. The Protestant as well as the Catholic pulpit resounded with appeals for "aid to Ireland." Sect and party were forgotten, and all-embracing charity ruled the New World, unopposed. America was even more blessed in the giving, than Ireland was in receiving, such assistance.

 It was the noblest site of the century, those ships of war, laden with life and manned by mercy, entering the Irish waters. England's flag drooped above the spoil she was stealing away from the famishing, as the American frigates passed hers, inward bound, deep with charitable freights. Here were the ships of a state but seventy years old, - a state without a consolidated treasury, - a state, but the other day, a group of unconnected struggling colonies. And here, in the fullness of her heart and her harvest, she had come to feed the enslaved and enervated vassals of Victoria, in the very presence of her throne. If public shame or sensibility could localize itself on any individual of so vile and vast a despotism, what must that individual have felt!”

If wanderlust was in their souls, what better place to go then a country who welcomes them, sends food to their aid and has defeated the British Empire to be free. We always refer to the immigrants as the immigrant generation.  Identifying generations is always difficult and for purposes of this book we identify the immigrant generation as just that and we count up each generation born in the USA.  So the children born to the immigrant generation are the first generation; the grandchildren of the immigrants are the second generation etc.

Chapter 5 outlines why they selected Wilkes Barre Pa. to start their new lives, and Chapters 7 to 10 outline the individual families of the immigrants who came to the USA.  There is plenty of mystery in each one of their stories.   There is plenty that we still don't know.  We welcome any information to help us with their stories.

What is clear is that there is a lot of travel going on in this time frame: 1880’s.  We have used stories from other immigrants to describe what might have been the travel experiences of our relatives as they came to a new world where the “streets were lined with gold.”  The Irish diaspora had been in full flight for a long period of time.  In 1880, there were 171 families from County Derry living in Pennsylvania.  It is likely our immigrant relatives knew quite a few of these families and made arrangements with them for their journey to the USA and Pennsylvania in particular.  Indeed, there are records from the American Civil War of soldiers named McTeague serving in the Union Army.

 Read more about Immigration to the USA