Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Greatest Adventure I Can Imagine for an Ancestor

What adventure could be greater than immigrating from one country to another, especially in the mid-1800s when travel was by ship?  Leaving home and the familiar to see new sights, hear new sounds, in a place where nothing but family was familiar would certainly have been an adventure.

I imagine the work involved even before travel begins.  Perhaps the preparation was part of the adventure.
  • Saving/obtaining money for passage for one person or the whole family
  • Selling possessions, deciding what to keep, what to take, what to leave behind
  • Buying or organizing trunks, suitcases, etc.
  • Preparing clothing and packing
  • Buying passage
  • Travelling from home to the port, boarding the ship, then travelling across the ocean.  I imagine those first moments on board the ship as it tipped and swayed on the water, passengers gaining their sea legs, then moving below decks to steerage to claim a space and store their possessions.
  • Travelling across the ocean confined to the floating island of a ship, with passage in steerage.  I try to think of what it would be like to be confined to a ship for two to six weeks -- and can't.  Neither can I imagine the challenge of caring for and occupying children on a ship.
  • Managing money changes from old country to new

Indeed, immigrating to a new country would have been a great, and possibly trying, adventure!

In April, 1869, at the age of 32, Andrew Doyle left his wife, Elizabeth, and their children in Northumberland, England.  He travelled to Liverpool where he boarded a ship bound for America.  No details survive of this voyage.  I have read that it was common for the husband to go in advance to prepare a way for his wife and children and this must be what Andrew did.

More than a year later, in October, 1870, Elizabeth, arrived in the U.S. with their four children, William, age 7½; Elizabeth Jane, age 6; Robert, age 4; and Martha, age 2.  Surely it was an adventure fraught with danger.  They travelled in steerage and were on the ship for five weeks due to many heavy storms at sea.   


They arrive in New York City and travelled by train to Arnot, Pennsylvania.  As the train sped through the countryside, the children saw pumpkins in the fields and thought they were large oranges.

 The Doyle family survived their journeys, settled in Arnot, Pennsylvania, then moved to Pardoe, and finally settled in Stoneboro.

Links to websites and blog posts to learn more

This post was written for Amy Johnson Crow's 2019 version of 52 Ancestors.  The post topic for the week was "Adventure."

--Nancy.

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