Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Coming to America (continued: from "Sarah's Box"

We didn’t come to America alone, William’s brother Nicholson Peyton O’Brien and his family came also. In fact, several members of our family did leave Ireland. Some went to Canada. Some went to Australia. Some came to America. My brother John stayed in Mount Pleasant with his wife Susan and their family. He became a Justice of the Peace and died in 1878. As I recall, he is the only one who didn’t move out of Strokestown.

Some of the sailing ships which people crossed the Atlantic Ocean on were nicknamed “coffin ships” because so many people died on the crossing. Our three-mast ship was clean. The crew and captain were dedicated to their passengers, but it was not a luxury crossing. We paid about 6 pounds per person for our accommodations that included our first class cabin, food and fresh water. I had to prepare the food for our young family, but the food was provided to us. Many of the other people on the ship were sleeping on bunks with many families in the same room, with no privacy, in the steerage compartment. 

Six weeks on the water in cramped quarters with everything we moved with us was a long time; especially since we were traveling with small children. Our family included William who was 38, our six children and me. I was 32 years old when we came to America. Our son William was 13, Hannah 10, John 8, Robert 6, Nicholson 4, and George was only 2 years old. Six of us in the small cabin were crowded but we were not cramped up with other families.

Brother Nicholson’s family had their own cabin on the ship. We had named our son Nicholson after his uncle. Some years later, William and Nicholson had WORDS and drifted apart. I never really knew what their family fuss was about. There were three girls and five boys in Nicholson’s family. I have always been sorry that my children lost track of their cousins. When they were young the cousins had so much fun together.

Those of us who left Ireland left because we had such a strong desire to survive and give our children a better life. We never gave up hope for the future. Some of the people who came to America went to New York, or Canada, or New Orleans, Harper’s Ferry, Iowa, St. Louis, Texas or Little Rock, but we had family in Ohio. Ohio is where we were headed.

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