Shortly after Mary Ryan married Terrence Sheehan, her brother Andrew Ryan was married to Bridget Hogan at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Palmyra. Four months later, Anna Ryan married Irish immigrant James White at the same church. The first generation of Ryan’s born in the United States was not long in coming. John Sheehan was born in 1856 to Mary and Terrence. The following fall, exactly nine months after her wedding, Anna’s first child was born. Named James White Jr., he was christened at St. Anne’s. Andrew was his godfather, and a woman named Bridget White, probably a relative of James’ was his godmother. Andrew himself became a father that same year with the birth of Cornelius Ryan in 1857. Mary Ryan Sheehan also had a boy named Cornelius in 1857. In 1859, Anna’s daughter Alice was born and shortly after, a daughter was born to Andrew, again named Alice, the naming pattern at work again.
In the summer of 1860, the ship Harvest Queen captained by Edward Young left Liverpool and started down the Mersey on its long voyage to America. The ship’s manifest like most of that era did not clearly list who was traveling with whom. In the column for occupation sometimes the designation “wife” was given, and son or daughter for younger passengers, but often just “child” was written or nothing at all. In the case of older teenagers and young adults just their occupation was listed, making it hard to determine if they were indeed relatives and in what way they might be related. Among those listed aboard the Harvest Queen that August were Cornelius and Alice Ryan along with their son John and their two youngest children Ellen and Cornelius Jr. There was another young Ryan named Johanna and a John Dwyer listed directly below their names on the manifest that may well be related, perhaps Johanna was their son John’s wife or a cousin, there is an outside chance she might even have been Sarah, Ellen’s next older sister.
Names were used much more casually in the 19th century than today, and nicknames were common, probably because of their naming customs. In a large extended family, and most of them were, there could be any number of persons with the same name, no doubt nicknames were needed. Unfortunately the offhand way they changed names around adds to the difficulty in tracing family lines. No Catholic births were registered in Ireland until 1864 and with the laws against the Catholic Church; baptismal records are scarce before the 1830’s. Since many were not educated, few letters or diaries were written; now add the destruction of all early censuses and the fact that the native Irish rarely created deeds or wills and the lineage comes to a halt.
I doubt we will ever know the names of Connor and Ally’s grandparents. Records for that period just do not exist; I only knew their parent’s names from the death records of Connor and Ally in the United States. Even US records can be hard to interpret, in more than a few US censuses older, often illiterate, persons from Ireland could not spell their names or even knew the year of their birth and guessed at their ages. American census takers unfamiliar with Irish brogues and names came up with astounding spellings in some cases.
The Ryans apparently had some resources, for they did not travel in the steerage but Second Cabin. This cabin was under a poop deck that reached forward to the mainmast. Sometimes a few feet of the forward part of this deck was partitioned off and made a second cabin or used for light freight when not carrying passengers. The fittings of the second cabin, not being permanent, had but little to recommend them other than that the occupants had a table to themselves, and were entirely separated from the steerage passengers. Undoubtedly the older Ryan children already in America had sent funds or tickets to bring them over, a common practice among the Irish. The Harvest Queen was a packet ship, built in New York for the Black Ball Line. That fact alone guaranteed a more enjoyable journey than could be expected on a British ship where Irish immigrants were treated more or less the same as any cargo. Unlike England, the Custom House in New York certified how many passengers a US ship was allowed to carry, regulated the quality and quantity of provisions and issued rules concerning cleanliness aboard ship.
The Ryan's arrived in New York Harbor on August 14, 1860. What a joyful scene must have ensued after Conner and Ally and the others made their way to Wayne County, NY, and the family was finally reunited, though sad also to find their daughter Mary now widowed. But how delighted they must have been to meet their new grandchildren, four of whom were named for them. Five years later, the New York State census of Macedon shows Cornelius and Alice Ryan living with Mary Sheehan and her boys; Cornelius at age 66 was working as a farm laborer. By 1870 they all still lived together, now in Palmyra, but Cornelius is listed as an invalid. None of the older Ryan’s could read or write. Of their eight known children, only the two youngest, Ellen and Cornelius Jr. were literate.
Part 5, and end, tomorrow