Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ryans in Evansville

The question still remains -- why Evansville?  At that time in our American history there was a lot of "chain migration".  One or two brave members of a family would "test the waters" in America.  If they were successful, they would encourage other family members to join them in the new land.  City neighborhoods were often filled with other immigrants having the same heritage, language and customs.

The 1850 U.S. Census lists 8 Ryans living in Evansville, IN.  Michel, age 55. lived with his wife Margarett, age 50, and daughter Margarett, age 20.  Another married couple, Thomas (40) and Dorothy (39) also lived in Pigeon Twp.  Patrick, age 22, lived in a boarding situation as did Hugh, age 24 and Mary, age 14.  I have not been able to determine any relationship among the Ryans but know that Patrick and Mary were witnesses to Hugh and Mary Ellen's wedding.  They are clues to family relationships that may prove helpful in the future.

When Julie Jones and I visited Evansville last fall to research the Ryans, we saw this artist's rendering of what Evansville would have looked like in the 1850s.  Like Cincinnati, Evansville is located on the Ohio River and was very dependent on the steamboat trade of the time.

Working as a "brickmaker" must have been grueling, back-breaking work.  While in Evansville, Julie and I searched the City Directories.  By the 1860s, Hugh was working as a clerk at the E & CRR Freight Office.  Additional Ryans can now be found living in Evansville. most within a few blocks of 6th & Sycamore.  Many were employed by the railroad as switchmen and baggage masters. Others are listed as draymen and laborers.

In the 1860 Census, Hugh and Mary Ellen are listed with three-year old, Richard, and one-year old, John.  (For some reason, Mary, age 7, is listed at the bottom of the page and not with the rest of her family).  When I wrote to the Diocese of Evansville for baptismal records, I found that Mary was born on March 26, 1853.  Their second child, Mathew, was born on August 12, 1854 and apparently died before the 1860 Census.  Hugh was born on May 6, 1861 and my g-grandfather, James Hugh, was born September 27, 1862.

By about 1864 the evidence shows that the family probably relocated to St. Louis, Missouri.  There is a Death Record for a Richard Ryan, age 8, buried in the Mount Holy Trinity Cemetery.  St. Louis, as well as all river cities, were suffering greatly from cholera epidemics at this time.  I wouldn't be surprised if this "plague" was responsible for the deaths of Richard, Mathew, and Hugh.

Here is a sad description of the cemetery:
Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery ([aka Poor Man’s Catholic Cemetery; New Breman Cemetery] N. Broadway and Taylor, adjoining O’Fallon Park, mostly poor, burials moved to Calvary; 1864-1908) (aka Mt. Holy Trinity)
Based on the 1880 Census, the family must have moved to Iowa following Richard's untimely death.  Both Margaret and Ellen are listed in the 1880 Census as being born in Iowa.  Their time in Iowa was short, as Hugh Matthew died in 1870 back in St. Louis.  He also was buried in the "Poor Man's Catholic Cemetery".

By the age of 40, Mary Ellen, was the young widow with five children ages 3 - 17.  The 1870 Census lists the value of Hugh's estate as $250. 

Life was hard.  I can't even imagine the suffering on so many levels.  It's got to get better.

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