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The Journey


Between 1879-1887, our ancestors left Ireland and began their journey to America.  It is difficult to comprehend the uncertainty that they faced, leaving their families and friends to start a new life in a new country.  Often, families would all contribute and collectively pay for one person’s fare.  After the first family member got a job, they would then save their earning to send for additional family members.  Such is the case with the Garveys.  John Garvey died in Ireland at a relatively young age, leaving Ellen to raise her four children.  The oldest daughter Mary left Ireland around 1880, originally stopping either in Meadville (between Philadelphia and Harrisburg) or in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  The Wilkes-Barre connection is interesting in that family legend has said that the Garveys stopped here on their arrival from Ireland and stayed at a relative’s house.  The relative was a doctor named Higgins who was unmarried and lived with his sister, also unmarried.  Searching the 1880 directory for Luzerne County located a Dr. Patrick Higgins in Wilkes-Barre during this time.  Mary Garvey’s godmother was a Mary Higgins, and Catherine’s was a Pat Higgins.  Further research is needed to identify the family connection.

 After spending about 2 years in Pennsylvania, Mary moved to Cleveland.  There was a large settlement of County Mayo Irish in Cleveland, probably including other Garvey or Carney relatives that could help Mary find housing and a job.  She then saved up enough money to pay passage for her mother and three siblings, who arrived in Cleveland probably around 1882-83.  Ellen Garvey was listed in the Cleveland directories as owning a saloon on River Road in the flats with a Martin Garvey (relationship unknown), catering to the Irish working and living near Whiskey Island.  She moved several times before settling on Alger Street (later W. 67th street) near the old Angle.  Many of the ancestors settled in this Irish neighborhood.

John Gill and Bridget Stanton also immigrated from Ireland, John around 1880 and Bridget around 1885.  Their journey is not well documented, although we know that John was a laborer who lived on Pearl Road and worked on the docks.  They took in boarders to supplement their income, a common practice at that time.  Later in the 1920’s, they moved to W. 64th Street.  Interestingly enough, there is the possibility of a Wilkes-Barre connection with the Gills too.  The Island More Gills settled (and their relatives still live) in Wilkes Barre, and one of these Gills came to Cleveland around 1900 to work while the coal mines were shut down due to a strike.

James McCafferty’s journey to Cleveland is also a mystery.  It’s possible that he came in through Canada.  At that time, records were not kept of border crossings, and many Irish settled in the Newfoundland area before migrating to America.  Being from Northern Ireland, James would have probably belonged to a different social circle than the Mayo Irish, as evidenced by a comment attributed to him that “they wouldn’t even sell groceries to a northerner”.  It is not known how James and Catherine came together, although there may have been family conflicts as evidenced by their being married on the East side at Immaculate Conception Church rather than at one of the West side parishes.

With all of the records we have located, we have yet to find any of the immigration records to determine the port of entry for any of the ancestors.  The year of entry into the United States is listed on the census and naturalization papers, but these entries often change.  As more records come online at the Ellis Island project, we may be able to determine exactly when they entered the United States.


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