OUR IRISH ROOTS
The short version of this portion of the family history is that both our great-grandfathers, Thomas Frain and James J. Haggerty, were born in Ireland and may have spent a good part of their youth there, as both are said (in the 1920 US census) to have spoken Irish, their native language, at home. And while our great-grandmothers, Maggie Duffy Frain and Mary Castles Haggerty, were born in England and Pennsylvania, respectively, both of Maggie’s parents were Irish, and Mary’s father was Irish, while her mother was born in PA. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to discover the particular places in Ireland where the Duffy, Frain, Castles, and Haggerty families lived.
For the Duffys and Frains, I suppose the next step would be to search church archives and perhaps tax documents and legal records in Runcorn. In Mary Kellington’s papers there is a letter of inquiry she sent in 1986 to St. Edward’s Church in Runcorn, apparently because she had in her possession the baptismal certificates issued there for Thomas, Winifred, and James Frain, and because her grandmother Maggie Frain was buried there. Mary was asking if the church had information regarding her grandparents’ and Ann Frain’s place of birth. I don’t know whether she ever received a reply.
Our great-grandfather Thomas Frain provided one bit of information that may prove helpful. On the 1913 ship’s manifest that documents his departure for the US, he cites his birthplace as “Doon Rock.” There are, unfortunately, several possibilities here. It could be that the Doon Rock he was referring to was not a village or any sort of dwelling place, but rather the legendary site of the civil inauguration of the O’Donnell chieftains in Ireland from something like the 13th to the 17th century, in County Donegal. There’s also a “mass rock” there, that is, a secret place in the woods where Catholics worshipped after the British Penal Laws outlawed Catholicism. By citing “Doon Rock” as his birthplace, Thomas Frain may have been patriotically signaling his allegiance to Ireland after living in England for decades. At the same time, he may (or may not) have been alluding to the general region where he was born, for example in the nearby town of Letterkenny in Donegal.
A second possibility is that Thomas Frain was from a place called Rock of Doon in County Roscommon, the part of Ireland in which the Frain name is most commonly found. It apparently derives from the French name “de Freyne,” which dates from the Norman Conquest in 1167 or thereabouts, in Ireland. De Freyne was a landowner whose name was taken by tenants farming on his property.
A third possibility is that Thomas Frain was from Carrickadun (Rock of the *Dun*–“fort” in Irish) in the townland of Corbally, County Waterford. A fourth is that he was from Carrickdun, Kells, County Meath. And of course there may be other places with similar names in Ireland. The question is further complicated by the Irish-language place names and the English translations of those names in colonial times. In other words, “Doon Rock” could be Thomas Frain’s idiosyncratic translation of an Irish place name, or it could be the official English translation, as in the case of the O’Donnell inauguration site in Donegal, which is called “Doon Rock” on websites targeting tourists.
Where the Haggertys are concerned, there is a lead regarding their Irish homeland. Hugh Haggerty indicates, in the 1930 census, that his father James J. Haggerty came from Northern Ireland, the country that had just been established in 1921, along with the Irish Free State, by the partition of Ireland. I have no reason to doubt Hugh on this. In his generation (and beyond) the Irish ethnic identification was very strong among Irish Americans, and many were keenly aware of political developments in Ireland. Most of Hugh’s neighbors in McAdoo also specified the Irish origins of their parents in 1930, differentiating between Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State. So Hugh was not alone in his knowledge and awareness.
This information narrows the Haggerty search to the six counties that comprise Northern Ireland: Antrim, Down, Armagh, Fermanagh, Tyrone, and Derry (now Londonderry). I asked Kathy Cooney of All Saints Church in McAdoo, PA (formerly St. Patrick’s, the town’s “Irish” church) to search in the archives for a reference to James J. Haggerty’s birthplace, but apparently there was none. At some point, I may check records of oaths of allegiance to the US sworn by Irishmen arriving at the port of Philadelphia. However, the website for the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg cautions that these records, like most of their sort dating from the 19th century, usually mention only the immigrant’s country of origin, nothing more specific.
I found no decisive documentation of the Haggertys’ transatlantic voyage from Ireland to the US (assuming that they did in fact travel directly to the US from Ireland as opposed to spending some months or years in England, Scotland, or elsewhere before making their way to the States). I checked the available online passenger lists for the major east coast ports of the 19th century, including Boston, NY, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Orleans. I also examined lists of Irish emigrants who came to the US through Canada, a route that was bureaucratically simpler, and possibly less expensive, since Canada was part of the British Commonwealth in the 19th century, whereas the new US republic was not. Because Britain was a hated colonial power in Ireland, most Irish wanted to be in the US rather than Canada; they admired the US rebellion against Britain and wanted to be free of British control once and for all. Thus, many of those who sailed to Halifax, Nova Scotia or to St. John, New Brunswick promptly made their way by land to the US, if they weren’t quarantined for illness.
I read many historical studies of Irish immigration and the US coal industry, and communicated by e-mail with a historian of Irish America, Kevin Kenny of Boston College, who wrote a wonderful book called Making Sense of the Molly Maguires (Oxford University Press, 1998). Focusing on the 1870s, Kenny looks at Irish labor activism and violence in the anthracite region of Northeastern PA, exactly the area where our family lived from about 1860 to 1910. He even mentions the tiny coal patches of Honey Brook and Audenried, where our family members lived and worked. According to Kenny, Civil War records, various gravestones in Schuylkill County, PA and other information suggest that many of the Irish who migrated to the anthracite region of Northeastern Pennsylvania in the mid-19th century came from County Donegal as well as from North Central Ireland. This seems to be the case for the Haggertys.
Finally, in response to Mary Kellington’s note that either her grandfather, James Haggerty, or his brother fought in the Civil War, I searched a number of online records but was quickly discouraged by several things: the scattershot nature of the musters and lists of the war dead; the number of soldiers named Haggerty, spelled many ways; the number of soldiers named Haggerty who deserted (as did myriad men by many other names); and the Ancestry.com’s shameless ploy to make its users feel that they had discovered an ancestor, whether they had really done so or not. For instance, their database contains (and offers to sell you) a single generic photo of a Union soldier named James Haggerty, who could be anyone and everyone’s forbear! Also, we can’t even know whether our ancestor fought for the Union (although most Pennsylvanians probably did so). Many Irishmen were vehemently opposed to the draft and rioted against it when Lincoln imposed it, notably in NY City. And many Irish dreaded the emancipation of slaves because they imagined that African American freedmen and women would be their keenest economic and social rivals, and would weaken their already-tenuous position in the country. After the Civil War, Irish laborers were generally hostile to the freed blacks migrating north to work in industries such as coal mining in PA.