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Posts Tagged ‘immigrants’

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Sacred to the memory of Alexander Doull, Colonel of Artillery in the Army of the Potomac, previously lieutenant in the Royal British Artillery

The inscription on Colonel Doull’s tombstone reminds us of a fact about the United States Civil War that be forgotten – the important role that immigrants played in the armies. About 25% of the Union army was estimated to be foreign-born immigrants. With the rate of immigration in the 19th century, we also have to assume that there was a significant slice of the United States-born soldiers who had parents or grandparents who were immigrants.

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Cleveland takes St. Patrick’s Day seriously.  Very seriously. We host the largest parade in the state of Ohio, which also ranks among the largest in the United States. And all you have to do is visit some local cemeteries to discover why.

J. Monahan is buried in Erie Street Cemetery, and, like a fair number of Irish immigrants, had that heritage engraved into his headstone.
J. Monahan

Bridget Rogan came to Cleveland from Ireland by way of Ashtabula County, Pennsylvania. She is buried in Harvard Grove Cemetery.

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Michael Raleigh came from County Limerick in Ireland. He rests in Mater Dolorosa Cemetery.

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Here is a monograph on the history of Irish-Americans in Cleveland.

Of course, all the stones I’ve shown you are the ones that proudly proclaim a connection to the Irish homeland. There are also plenty of stones that make no mention of origin but the names engraved there suggest Irish ancestry.

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While I was visiting my family for Christmas, I drove by the church I attended as a child. I had always remembered that someone told me the area where we had our summer picnics and socials was actually a graveyard.

Even now, the area I grew up in is fairly rural, although the rolling fields are slowly being divvied up into housing lots and sold. My father’s property has a chicken farm on the south boundary and a dairy farm to the west. Our township had a fire department but no police force, and our water came from a well. I attended school with kids who had already been up feeding the chickens or milking the cows before they got on the bus. Between my house and my elementary school, the bus sped past working farms, pastures, and at least one roadside produce stand. Those of us who weren’t children of farmers had parents who traded a short commute and convenience for wide open spaces, fresh air, and nights where the only light was the twinkling of stars in the blue-black sky.

When I was about five or six, my mother began attending church a few miles down the road in Allen, called Churchtown by locals. Allen is one of those places that just barely qualifies as a village, by virtue of a higher concentration of residences clustered around an intersection and two churches. It doesn’t have a separate zip code or post office, and I am hard pressed to think of any existing businesses in town. The church we attended was the Mount Zion Lutheran Church, that occupies the northeast quadrant of the intersection. Mount Zion draws its congregation from the cluster of homes and the surrounding farmland, where many of the residents still bear the surnames of the predominantly German immigrants from whom they and the church descended – names like Leib, Gutshall, Hopple, and Weise. One of my clearest impressions of the church, which we stopped attending by the time I was 16, was that we were outsiders – about 3/4s of the people there were related.

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So when I drove by the church lawn with the granite marker with my older eyes, I immediately saw the GAR stars, Spanish-American War cross, and Revolutionary War circular markers at the base. One side of the marker states that it is “in memory of the dead interred here” and informs that the first burial was in 1788 and the last in 1870. The other three sides have plaques with an alphabetical listing of all known burials in the churchyard.

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Now I don’t know if the marker is in the exact spot where the original cemetery on the property was. The single marker actually leads me to believe that  either it is not or that the original cemetery fell into significant disrepair.  If I can ever find out more specifics, I will post an update.

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