My father’s mother was the last of my ancestors to emigrate to the States.
She was barely 20 when she kissed her parents goodbye forever, traveled the 150 miles (242 km.) south to Queenstown (now Cobh), and boarded the S.S. Carmania for Boston. Was she sad? Scared? Excited? Was there a big going-away party? Did her brother or father go with her to the port? Those details, those emotions are lost in history.
There are only the facts on the ship’s passenger manifest and they tell a story.
She traveled steerage (third class), although by 1914 this was not the ordeal it was in the 1850s. The trip lasted a week, arriving on 23 April 1914. The Great War was brewing in Europe and the fight for independence from Britain was kicking up at home.
Her traveling companions included Cooloo neighbor Katie Murphy (age 22, daughter of Thomas Murphy) and Michael Lohan (age 20, from Ballygar, son of Mary Lohan). Those two were planning to stay in Massachusetts.
About Bridget, from the manifest
Age: 20 years [her birthday was April 11, 1894]
Birthplace: Ballyduff [Ballaghduff], Ireland
Last Residence: Moylough, Ireland
Nearest Relative: Father, Michael Dunne. Address: Cooloo, Moylough, County Galway
Final Destination: St. Louis, Mo.
Ticket to final destination? YES
By whom was passage paid? Sister
Whether in possession of $50, and if less, how much? $10 [$220 in 2008 dollars]
Name and address of relative or friend [destination]: Mrs. E. Price, at 1431 North Kingshighway [The home of her sister Ellen, who was married to Ernest Price.]
So her older sister Ellen, who anglicized her name to Helen, gave Bridget a big 20th birthday present — passage to America. Auntie (as she was known to us) was already married, to Ernest Price, and had a two-year-old son. If you press the fast forward button, you will also learn that Auntie gave her something more — a husband. Bridget wound up marrying Walter Price, Ern’s brother. But that’s a story for another day.
Research note: My dad was frustrated that he couldn’t find an Ellis Island record for his mother. “Oh, she landed in Boston,” I said. He was surprised. “How did you know that?” I shrugged. “She told me.” Lesson: you never know where tidbits of family information are hidden.
Originally published 25 Feb 2005