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Posted on March 25, 2021 at 10:33 AM by Melissa Dalton
March is Irish American Heritage Month, and one of the first celebrations of the Irish heritage in America is noted as the 1762 St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City. The Irish heritage dates back centuries, and it is estimated that roughly 4.5 million Irish immigrants came to the United States between 1820 and 1930 in the hopes of a better life. Today, we would like to highlight some of our records that demonstrate the rich Irish heritage in Greene County.
Many of the early Irish immigrants were vital in the efforts to build large infrastructure, including the canals and railroads. Around the mid-nineteenth century, Greene County witnessed a large influx of Irish immigrants as the railroad lines were being built throughout the region. This inflow also had an impact on the religious establishments of the area. As many of the immigrants were Roman Catholic, they were looking to other parishes to celebrate Mass within the community. In 1849, they pushed to have Catholic church built in Xenia – St. Michael’s Church, which is now St. Brigid Catholic Church (Fig 1).
Fig 1. St. Brigid Catholic Church, 1898 (Greene County Archives, 1901 Time Capsule)
As the immigrants settled in the region, many sought to be naturalized as an American citizen. Although many researchers think they will find most naturalization records in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, or the like, they can be found here in Greene County, too! These records are dispersed throughout the Greene County Common Pleas Minutes, Probate records, and dedicated Naturalization records. For example, here are two naturalization records for Irish immigrants from 1860 and 1885. The first is for John Hutchison, a 24-year-old man who settled in Greene County (Fig 2). This entry indicates that on July 12, 1860, the Judge heard the oath of said Hutchison, swearing to support the Constitution and renouncing his allegiance to the Queen.
Fig 2. Naturalization of John Hutchison, Common Pleas Minutes Vol 5, p 56
The second naturalization record is for Thomas McLelland (Fig 3). McLelland was born Dungannon, Ireland and came to the United States in 1880, settling in Xenia. McLelland worked as a farmer after his arrival, and he and his wife, Rachel, started their family. In January 1885, he filed the necessary paperwork for naturalization. In our records, we have his Declaration of Intention and the Facts for Petition for Naturalization.
Fig 3. Declaration of Intention and Facts for Petition for Naturalization of Thomas McLelland (Greene County Archives)
These few snippets barely scratch the surface of the Irish heritage in Greene County. If you’d like to learn a bit more about some of the families and their connections, I suggest you check out my coworker’s blog from 2019!
Until Next Time!
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