Monday, May 10, 2010

If you're going to emigrate, why not take your all of your friends, family and neighbours with you?

(NB: If you're reading this on Facebook, you can read this post in full on my blog). That's exactly what happened around Millisle in the mid-1800s, when an entire community just upped and left, and settled at Rock Island in Illinois, USA:

“…Mr M’Auley was beloved as few ministers have been beloved… when he came as minister to the congregation and district, he found the sad state of poverty and need that followed the potato famine of the years 1846 and 1847… during these years of hardship and distress many members of the congregation from Millisle emigrated to America. Most of these settled in and around Rock Island, a city of western Illinois, USA, on the Mississippi River. A strong colony of settlers from Ballymacruise, Drumfad, Ballyhaskin, Ballywhiskin and adjoining townlands was established here, and that colony still exists. The descendants of those early emigrants differ in speech from the surrounding farmers and tradespeople, and they still like to have news about Millisle and the old folks whose names are so familiar to them…”

from Millisle and Ballycopeland Presbyterian Church – a Short History by Rev T Kilpatrick MA (Newtownards 1934)