My great-grandfather,Patrick Moran, was hardworking, strong-minded, and independent. By the time he immigrated to the U.S., he had experienced enough political and economic strife that he had a disdain for bullies and a distrust of political machinery.
He was born in the 1830s, the time of the Tithe Wars in Ireland resulting from Irish Catholic farmers paying 10% of their harvest to support the Protestant Church of Ireland. The Great Hunger began in 1845. County Mayo lost about one-third of its population from starvation and emigration. While people were evicted from their homes or imprisoned for not paying rent, landlords were exporting grains and cattle from Ireland.
According to family legend, after he arrived in Philadelphia in 1856, he became a member of the Republican Party. The community he lived in was largely Democratic at that time, and voting days were perilous. Later, the government began recruiting for the Civil War, but he “paid out” to avoid the draft.
He worked as a common laborer in Philadelphia for a dollar a day. After he saved $200, he left for Brier Hill in Youngstown, Ohio. In 1866, Patrick Moran became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. In 1870, a widower, he married Bridget Philbin who was 13 years younger. They had a family of seven including a stepson from Bridget’s first marriage.
He was a mill worker at the Brier Hill Iron & Coal Co. and bought land to build a house for his family on Federal Street in Youngstown, Ohio. In the family history compiled by Uncle George, there is a receipt for Patrick Moran from great-grandfather George H. Dingledy who owned The Dingledy Lumber Company in Youngstown. When he died at the age of 63 in 1896, the probate application showed his total assets as $5,000. Today this would be worth about $150,000.
Here’s a ballad for Patrick Moran sung to “The Shores of Amerikay.” This is based on Aunt Florence’s family history, Uncle George’s information and documents, and sources from the archivist at the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.
Patrick Moran’s Amerikay
I bid farewell to the land of my youth and the homes that I loved so well
And the cliffs next to the sparkling sea, I bid them all farewell
Although I had an aching heart, for a new life I sailed far away
I’ve always had to work hard and be strong, and it was the same in Amerikay.
In the 1850s in Philadelphia, they tried to tell me how to vote
The labor bosses were all Democrats, and they thought I was right off the boat
In 1860, the U.S. government came searching for Civil War draftees
Another man could serve for me so I paid three hundred in bounty.
I liked this land, if you worked hard and saved, you could always progress or break even
With my money, I left for Youngstown, Ohio to stay with my cousins, the Meehans
I stoked the furnace at Brier Hill Coal and Iron Mill, and with Bridget raised a big family
We had a house on Federal Street with a garden and tool room for me.
I became a citizen in 1866 and swore to support the Constitution
I had to smile when I had to renounce Queen Victoria’s institutions
I loved this new land, and the Order of Hibernians kept me connected to my roots
We marched down the street on St. Patrick’s Day with plumed hats, fringed sashes, and hip boots!