Kansas and Nebraska
Emigration from the Ottawa, Canada area in the 1800's
Prior to the Irish famine years, 1846-1854, most of the Irish emigrants who came to Canada
(British North America), were persons with some capital who were able to purchase
new farmland in the wilderness and most of them stayed in Canada. The second generation
of these families, however, facing land shortages here, often moved to the United States.
During and after the famine years, immigration to Canada, relative to the United States,
decreased as can be seen in the following graph:
August 10, 2005:
The American frontier called to many Ottawa Valley residents beginning in the 1850's.
The most familiar migrations were from here to Iowa and North Dakota (primarily to
get new farmland for growing second-generation families in the Ottawa area where land
was becoming scarce). But there were equally important migrations to the lumbering areas
of Northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
As the railroad was built across the American Frontier, Illinois became an attraction
for railway contractors and labourers from the Ottawa region. As well, Chicago, with its
growing importance in meat-packing and shipping became a destination for young families.
The following exchange of e-mails shows an early movement of families from the Ottawa area
to Nebraska and Kansas, using Iowa as a gateway to new lands.
Thanks to Michael Daley for the following:
Hi to all, " A Brief Revue " in 1871. 2 first cousins, Edmund McEvoy with his
wife Mary Kelly, and Edward Patrick McEvoy with his wife Catherine Conway, left
Osgoode Township, Ontario along with their young families, going by train , they traveled
together as far as Chicago, there Edmund P, and his family continued by rail to
Algoma Iowa. From there by covered wagon to the north west of Emmetsburgh Iowa.
the previous year two Conway brothers of Mrs McEvoy had settled there and the
McEvoys had a place to stay on their arrival, E,P, was responsible for naming a
little village near his Iowa farm," OSGOODE". after the Township they had left in Canada.
He was responsible for establishing the first co-operative creamery in Emmetsburgh .
the Farmers Mutual insurance , he purchased the first Reaper in the County ,
[the little hamlet of Osgoode , Iowa. has practically disappeared].
EDMUND McEvoy, and his wife Mary Kelly, being interested in cattle , traveled further
west in Iowa to "Old Town."in the Missouri Valley, so that he and his family would
be close to the Omaha Market, when his wife died there April 29, 1885 he was left
with a family of 11 children ,later on Nov ,3rd 1887 , he married Ellen Hearn of
Stuart Iowa , Ellen was a widow of a civil war soldier who was trying support a
family of six on a small pension ,they moved to Adair Iowa , where he bought eighty
acres of land on the edge of town , and rented 40 acres as well , with a partner
he bought out a general store, and in this way he was able to keep the two families going,
These two men and their wives , have left an indelible imprint in the sands of time.
IN SEARCH OF THEIR ROOTS. A letter dated Feb, 7, 1977,from the G,G, Granddaughter of
Edmund Patrick McEvoy and his wife Catherine Conway, from Deborah Abbott, of Kansas, addressed
to the Catholic Church in Osgoode, found its way to my desk ,
1980, ALICE LETHBRIDGE G,G ,GRANDDAUGHTER , of Edmund McEvoy , and wife Mary Kelly . and her
husband, of Flint, Michigan, USA arrived in our yard , one hundred years and more of
history has change hands ,
A letter dated January 25, 1981 from Omaha Nebraska , Mr ,Mrs.D ,J, McEvoy , in search of their roots ,
hope this is of interest
... Michael Daley .
The following exchange of e-mails triggered the above response from Michael Daley:
Dear Lorne, (Burnett)
Thank you, thank you, thank you Lorne for the copy of your Burnett genealogy report.
We have downloaded all 53 pages and have been pouring over it to see if there are
connections to Ron's great grandmother Bridget Burnett Thompson.
Sister Margaret McGinn's story of the McGinn Genealogy is wonderful and fascinating
too. She also states that Ann Burnett Fitzgerald was from Dorhha, County Tipperary, which
is perhaps another place to research the Burnett line. Her description of William
McGinns marriage to Eliza Fitzgerald in 1856 as "a roaring Tip married to a Bloody
Far Down" is great. We're not sure what that statement means but like the McGinns,
our oral family history has it that Bridget was from Tipperary and William J. Thompson
was from County Down!
Your report states, in Generation No. 3, descendant #7. Catherine Fitzgerald was
married to Thomas Hickey Jan. 1843. The witnesses were Thomas Hough and Bridget
Burnett. Source: Margaret McGinn (we assume Sister McGinn). This is exciting
to see the name Bridget Burnett and is a great lead. This indicates that Bridget
could be a younger sibling to Ann, William, Margaret and John Burnett mentioned
in your report.
It might be helpful to know Maragret McGinn's source for mentioning Bridget as a
witness; was it a church marriage record? We are wondering where Catherine's marriage
took place, was it Ireland or Canada? Knowing this is important because it will
help clarify where Bridget was living in 1843. Bridget also married about 1843
but we have two versions of Bridget marrying William J. Thompson. Oral family
history is that they immigrated separately to Canada, where they met, married
and in 1850 moved to Clinton County Iowa. The other version comes from Bridget's
obituary which states, "Deceased was born in Ireland in August 1824. She spent her
girlhood days there and was married to Mr. Thompson when she was nineteen years of
age. Mrs. Thompson moved with her husband to the United States about 1850 and first
lived in Iowa."
If you don't know Margaret McGinn's source would you know how we might contact
her or her relatives to learn where Catherine Fitzgerald and Thomas Hickey were married?
We have many more questions but these are enough for now.
Thanks again Lorne, we are so very grateful to you for sharing your Burnett information.
Ron & Sue Thompson
Well, well, well maybe we are some kind of kin. You are a great grandson of
William Burnett and I am a great grandson of Bridget Burnett. Now if William
and Bridget are siblings - then, by my calculation you and I are 3rd cousins!
Of course, the hitch in the git-along is that pesky "if they are siblings" phrase.
Your genealogy report indicates the names of your G grandfather William Burnett's
parents are not known. No doubt you are as interested in learning their names as
I am in knowing whether Bridget is a sister to your William. Perhaps we can
collaborate and figure out the names of the GG grandparents and then we will
know if we are indeed cousins!
Here's what we know. Sue had a phone conversation with the Owatonna, Minnesota, USA
Recorders Office and she learned that Bridget's death certificate was in a bound
ledger book. The clerk said the entry was difficult to photocopy and offered to read
it rather than transcribe it. The clerk wasn't sure of the spelling of Bridget's
parents names, but she thought the mothers name was "Mary Agau or Agan." and
Bridget's father's name was "J. E. Burnett." We plan to have one of our local
cousins go into the Recorders Office and make a good digital photo of the death
certificate but don't yet have it.
We are wondering if you have any clues about your GG grandparents names from
your oral family history or research?
One of Al Lewis' emails commented that "Agan" could be spelled Egan or Hagan, etc.
and that there are Egans in the Bytown area. We are also thinking about researching
Tipperary, Ireland but don't know much about how to do it yet; have you?
We will keep you abreast of anything we find out on this possible connection.
And, thanks a million for sharing your Burnett Genealogy work. I have room on my
tree for additional relatives(and a lot of relatives to introduce you to!)
Another Ottawa Valley family with connections to Nebraska were the family of
Here's an e-mail from Jim Rosse:
I appreciate any Information either you or your friends can add. The Phillip Cassidy
married to Margaret Phelan is mentioned in http://www.bytown.net/cassidyp.htm.
I had previously had the information on the Cassidys in Nebraska with the exception
of Margaret Cassiday's maiden name of Phelan. (Whelan?)
I would appreciate it if you would add my E-mail address to your web site.
There was some strong tie between the McEvoys and Phil and Margaret Phalen Cassidy.
So much so that after James McEvoy died and was buried in Council Bluffs, his boys
and I suspect Cassidy his body was dug up, transported across the Missouri River
and reburied in "Cassidy's Burying Ground" which was on Phil Cassidy's farm in Nebraska.
Thanks for your help,
The book "The Blood Creek Thompsons" tells the story of another family who went to Kansas.
See Patrick Grant and Martha Thompson. I believe that this Pat Grant came to the sheds in
Montreal during the Great famine and was sent first to work on the Williamsburgh Canals before moving to the Metcalfe village area,
now in the City of Ottawa.
December 14, 2005:
Some of the descendants of Francis Jessop went to Kansas. Francis Jessop was the
land agent for the 1823 Peter Robinson settlers, mostly from County Cork, in the Ottawa area.
November 13, 2008:
Below is a copy of a flickr.com image from the Library and Archives Canada material.
The notice is for a meeting held in County Armagh in 1871. The subject of the meeting
was the acquisition of free land in Nebraska by potential Irish settlers. Interesting
that there was still free land available in the American mid-west as late as 1871 !
Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28853433@N02/2717137086/
E-mail Michael Daley, Lorne Burnett, Ron and Sue Thompson, Jim Rosse and Al Lewis
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