It’s that time of year when we all celebrate the Irish in us even if we don’t have any. We here at http://www.UmpquaRiverHaven.com do have a bit of it in us through our ancestor, Mary Maroney. Mary was a brave young woman at the age of 16. She left Ireland on a ship headed to America. En route she met an Englishman on board and they were married when the ship docked in the New York Harbor. At least that’s the story her great-granddaughter told to her grandchildren. And we proudly claim the Irish in us.
That was back east. Here in Oregon, the Irish traveled over the Oregon Trail after saving enough money to finance their journey. They arrived in Oregon during the 1840s and 1850s to take advantage of the Oregon Donation Land Claims. The records list 139 Irish immigrants who held claims during this period of time.
Many Irish were farmers and some of them settled on land between the Long Tom and Willamette Rivers north of Junction City and south of Corvallis not far from Eugene. Irish farmers from the East and California were attracted to the rich soil of Marion County and the Catholic Church in St. Paul.
Many Irish were also laborers and immigrated to Portland in the 1870s to lay railway tracks, work on docks, build roads and dig sewers. Other Irish laborers moved to Morrow and Lake Counties and worked on cattle and sheep ranches. Some earned enough and saved to purchase their own land for ranches, open businesses or to go for a college education to become teachers, lawyers and politicians. By the year 2000, nearly 12 percent of Oregon’s population was of Irish descent.
There were three different periods during which the Irish came to Oregon: from 1820 to 1844; then during the famine years of 1845 to 1855; and after the famine to 1930. Most of the Irish immigrants were poor and left Ireland for financial reasons. Most of them were farmers that had depended on potatoes and other hearty crops that would grow in the tough Irish soil. Even though many Irish left Ireland during the potato famine, most left because of the over-bearing British taxes, loss of land and religious persecution. Many Irish immigrants had relatives and friends in America who told of a better life. About 4.5 million Irish immigrated to the United States between 1820 and 1930. 15.7 percent of the 10 million immigrants in the US were Irish by the year 1900. Most of them didn’t have funds to buy property or start businesses in America. They settled in port cities – Philadelphia, New York, Boston and other New England communities. A few of them reached Portland and the farming country of Oregon.
Information for this article came from: Robert Donnelly and Joshua Binus of the Oregon Historical Society.
We love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Moorhens from Northern Ohio! So, tap your toes, dance, sway or move in your own way. It’s about impossible not to be in motion to their music. If you are in Northern Ohio this Saturday, you can find the Moorhens @ Fort’s Tavern in Wellington from 12 PM to 1 PM and @ the American Legion in Sandusky from 5 PM to 7 PM. Come on out and enjoy some great Irish music with the Moorhens!