Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Greeley County, Nebraska

Almost everyone and their dog is familiar with how millions of Irish immigrants came to cities such as New York and Boston.  Many though are unfamiliar with the migration of Irish immigrants to other parts of the United States, save for people from those areas and their descendants.

One such example of this is Greeley County, Nebraska. Every year they have an Irish festival and they are very aware of their late 19th century Irish origins. The vast plains of the mid-west were the destination for the curious settlement experiments of the Irish Catholic Colonization Society (ICCS). This article will just concentrate on Greeley county, with another to focus on the ICCS to come.

Patrick Hynes and Michael McCarthy are credited with establishing this Irish colony in 1877.[1] In the 1880 U.S. Federal census there were approx. 1460 residents in Greeley County. [2] Of these just under 10%, or approx. 136 are listed as born in Ireland.[3] This might seem like a small number but these Irish comprised 45% of non-US born residents in Greeley County.[4] The legacy of these beginnings can still be seen in the streetscape of Greeley today. Wicklow Ave., Curran Ave., North Galway St., and North Shannon St. are just a few of the street names that give a nod to those early Irish settlers.

[1] Author Unknown. History of Greeley Irish Settlement http://greeleyirishfestival.com/greeley_irish_history.htm : accessed 24 July 2013.
[2] Familysearch.org, 1880 U.S. Federal Census; Index of Greeley County, Nebraska residents; online available at https://familysearch.org/search/record/results#count=75&query=%2Bresidence_place%3A%22greeley%2C%20nebraska%22~&collection_id=1417683 : accessed 24 July 2013
[3] Familysearch.org, 1880 U.S. Federal Census; Index of Greeley County, Nebraska residents who were born in Ireland; online available at https://familysearch.org/search/record/results#count=75&query=%2Bbirth_place%3Aireland~%20%2Bresidence_place%3A%22greeley%2C%20nebraska%22~&collection_id=1417683 : accessed 24 July 2013
[4] Approx. 302 of the 1461 residents of Greeley county are listed as being born outside the United States in the 1880 census. Irish born residents account for 146 of these 302 inhabitants.

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