Thursday, March 4, 2010

What happened to Anne's Aunt - Anne Edwards?

I have ALWAYS wondered what happened to the Aunt -- who sent for Anne to live with her! My grandmother's story says it took a few years to sort things out and get letters sent back; being that Anne was illiterate, as nearly 85% of Catholics in County Mayo were, and remained so - she had to have someone write a letter for her and these services were evidently available.

So, Anne Hoey set off for America to join her Aunt Anne - but seemingly never saw her again! What Aunt Anne did was fairly common; Irish women who had immigrated to America often sent money back to Ireland to pay for another family member's travel. Anne (both Anne's actually) coming to America alone was also not uncommon; women - many of whom traveled alone - made of 52% of the Irish immigrants -- dramatically more than any other immigrant group; in contrast the percentage of Croatian immigrant who were women - 13%!

My grandmother's story says that Anne left Ireland and married John Edwards. I decided to approach this research as if Anne McConnel traveled single. After plowing through all the Ann(e) McConnel(l) entries I could find -- I am not sure which one she is. Not sure how to tell - any suggestions? I've built a spreadsheet of what I've found thus far and will update it as time permits. I made a few assumptions - like Anne was in Ireland in 1835 (to be at Anne Hoey's baptism) and that she arrived in America before 1847 (hence, was able to invite Anne Hoey over).

Since the Anne McConnell left before the famine, it is logical to place her into the group of immigrants to America seeking new opportunities. Scholars feel the pre-famine Irish immigrants, were, on average more employable - often having a trade or skill of some kind. These people may have left Ireland because it was growing more violent; from 1820-1840 Ireland saw an increase in the number or reported assaults. I don't know if John was already on her mind as she left her home (and part of the reason for her trip to America) or if she met him here.

It is suggested, however, that even Irish leaving for better opportunities were reluctant immigrants; emigrating from their homes with heavy hearts. Kerby Miller points out that the Irish language has no direct translation for the word emigrant. Those who left Ireland would be know as:
  • "deorai": in exile
  • "dibeartach": suffering banishment
  • "dithreabhach": homeless
Clearly, the family story suggests that Anne McConnell Edwards felt a connection with Anne and wanted her to come live in America - and as Anne Edwards had no children of her own, she probably felt she could give Anne a great deal of opportunities here in America. While I am sure the desire to provide a solid future for Anne Hoey was on her aunt's mind, I can't help but think that Anne McConnell also wanted a bit of her home land with her in New Orleans, and sent for Anne to bring her that connection. How sad that they seemingly never met again. I hope that Anne McConnell -- who reached out as she did -- found some comfort and connection to home in other areas of her life.

If you are interested, more on the Irish community in New Orleans is on this web site. This thread is one I will try to come back to; I would love to some day find any descendants of Anne and John!

Kerby Miller
-- you dazzle me
-- your book is nearly always in my hand when I think about this project


  1. Amy:

    I love how energized this project has made you. It is a valian effort to try to reattach the links to your ancestors. Anything you accomplish will be a gift for your children and all subsequent generations.