Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Two months on a ship - Galway to New York City - Emma Prescott

For me, a significant percentage of Anne's story was just too hard to get my mind around - certainly I felt this way when I heard the story as a young girl, but even now, pieces are just too much to fathom.

One piece that I often skip right over is the ship journey. Our family story tells us Anne left Galway in May of 1847 and landed in New York on August 10. What I never think about is this -- if she left Galway on May 31, she spent 6 weeks on a boat -- crossing the Atlantic ocean - alone.

The Emma Prescott passenger list is shorter than most passenger lists I have seen; Anne is listed as one of 53 passengers on the Emma Prescott. Of the nearly 5,000 ships that carried Irish to America, most carried 400 passengers. Many of these ships were built specifically to carry human cargo, but don't take that to mean they were comfortable for those on board (I don't think Julie McCoy was readily on hand to help coordinate activities - or sell drugs.... sorry I digress).

Anne's arrival in New York was not uncommon; over one half of Irish immigrants to America arrived in New York; of the 2,743 voyages from Ireland to American, 651,931 people landed in New York.

The ships during the early famine years provided each passenger with 7 lbs of bread, biscuits, flour, rice, oatmeal and potatoes (I did smirk when I read that last item).

The ships were called "coffin ships"; passengers did die and many ship's manifests list the dead carried off in New York. I also understand that some passengers were buried at sea. Lice was rampant and typhus common.

I would like to know more about Anne's boat experience. Passengers who left records were literate and in most cases, I sense, traveled a bit more comfortably than Anne. I did not delve much into the details; I assume we can all guess what the daily routine was like and how things were looking, feeling, smelling.. by August of 1847.

I instead found myself wondering about Anne's fellow travelers on the "Emma Prescott" so I did a bit of research on them. I took the Emma Prescott passenger list and searched a few of the names, as I had with my own family names. What I can say is that this genealogy stuff is hard, tedious work! However, my romantic nature and worrisome tendencies for imagination took hold.

The Emma Prescott carried Anne Hoey to America and her future,. 52 other passengers traveled on the Emma Prescott as well. Anne traveled with 26 women and 27 men; 8 families were among her companions (families is loosely used here -- one group appears to be a mom and a teenage son and another group perhaps a grandmother and a few grandchildren). 6 couples were on board - presumably traveling to America to start a new life. Anne was one of 17 single travelers -- her age was listed as 18 but we know she was only 13. I wonder if she was the only traveler who lied about her age - somehow I think not.

I want to believe she made friends on her journey. One fellow passenger was name Maurice-- traveling it seems with possibly his older sister Mary. Maurice was the name of Anne's first son - was he name for her friend Maurice Lyons on the Emma Prescott?

Anne traveled with an Austin Carrigg. I find an entry for his savings account in the Emigrant Saving Bank of New York City, and entry for him, his wife, and his two boys in the 4th Ward of New York City (1860 Census). In the 1870 Census, the entry is only for Mrs. Carrigg and the two boys; had Austin passed on? Or, was Austin one of the many Irish men who found the poverty and hard work in America too much to bear and he returned home to Ireland? Since I think John Nolan may have lived in the the 4th Ward, I think the Carrigg's remained friends with Anne and set her up with John; I think Austin was an elegant Irishmen who loved life who watched out for Anne on the journey from Galway to New York. (yes, I realize this is unlikely)

I find O'Loughlin ladies in Wisconsin; Ellen in Taycheedah with a family and Mary in Madison, also with a husband and children. Did these two sisters come over to meet husbands and set up their homes in America? Did they plan to live in Wisconsin when they left Ireland or did it just happen?

I am not aware of any stories Anne told about her trip. The lack of stories reminds me, as much of my research has, of the true value in telling our stories while we can.

I suppose it is easy to assume this journey was not one Anne wanted to remember and that is why it was not spoken of. That may be - but I hope you take a moment to look at my working version of the passenger list from the Emma Prescott (1847) and give some thought to those 52 other travelers. They each have a story to be told as well -- and many of them may have helped Anne to make her story possible.

description of the ship experience --
The Famine Ships: Irish Exodus to America
by Edward Laxton

ridiculous stories of fellow passengers - my own sick mind


  1. My g-g-g-granduncle (& possibly my g-g-g-grandfather) were on this same journey! On the Emma Prescott from Galway, landing in NY on August 10, 1847! I am so excited to run into this blog post. Thank you.

  2. Where did you find that Emma Prescott passenger list? I could help whoever the owner of that is update their census information for my family members.

  3. Hi Kristin:
    I think I found it in and downloaded it to to build upon

    I found this as well

    ---> referenced on Rootsweb --

  4. Its odd, some of these, like your google doc, have mention of my g-g-g-grandfather, some have one g-g-g-granduncle, and others have a different g-g-g-granduncle. I wonder why. (I'm talking about Peter Connole who is my g-g-g-grandfather and his brothers, Patrick, and James Connole)

  5. Kristin - you have highlighted for me the reason to site sources I am sorry I was so sloppy on this one!

    I took / built this google doc by taking names from listing for the Emma Prescott -- that list is sited in as coming from

    New York, Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1820-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2003.
    Original data: New York. Registers of Vessels Arriving at the Port of New York from Foreign Ports, 1789-1919. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M237, rolls 1-95.

    I don't know much about this data set - if it is human or machine transcribed - for instance, but I would "guess" human - which I find is / provides some higher accuracy (in my vast experience - said sarcastically)

    in that list - there is a Pat, James, and Peter Connole.

    It may be worth learning more about how the other lists were built -- esp given the variations you are finding.

    When I am in doubt, I throw a wide net -- (ie assume the source with more information is at a minimum - a possible clue) and normally TRY to keep my records clear - as you can see I forgot that step in this case.

    My recommendation - build a spreadsheet - compare each source listing - and then consider how each source got its data --

    For instance, I'd put more credence in a NARA source (a fed document) over a personal list -

    Is this helping?