Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Lady of No Reputation Who Was Simply Amazing, Part VII

Eviction day: After Parliament "taxed the problem to eliminate it,"
by adopting thge Four Pound Clause -- a $3,000 annual penalty on every
quarter acre set up for potato cultivation -- English landlords evicted every
Irish family, previously forced by them into n potato farmjing,
from every potato plot to avoid the penalty; 4,000,000 Irish Catholics
were suddenly homeless; 1,500,000 died in Ireland;
250,000 died on the ships to America

In drawings from the era, the men are frequently absent;
they died giving up their food to the women and children,
or charging the docks, crammed with food being exported by Engliush landlords,
in the famous "skeleton armies"

Relief measures were only sufficient to help about one-fifth of the evicted, starving Catholic families. The rest walked until they died of starvation. The Roman Catholic Church was illegal. Therefore, only the Protestant churches could publicly maintain active soup kitchens. Some of these required conversion to Protestantism before food was provided -- the famous "soupers." Many starving parents had to decide whether to bury the first of their children to die, or butcher and cook the dead to feed their living children. While the bellies of the young swelled enormously in response to the complete absence of food, dogs left behind by their dead masters formed packs and began unearthing famine victims from shallow graves, so that their bellies became swollen with human flesh. The image of the leprachaun with swollen belly, skinny limbs, and thin, curly facial hair which we see in today's cartoons dates from this period -- that is what an Irish boy looked like shortly before death from starvation, down to whispy, prematurely-sprouting facial hair.

As pregnant ANNA and her husband slowly starved, since they apparently lived in Londonderry County they functionally starved in front of their Protestant neighbors. The experience must have very, very drastically impacted their outlook. Though he is completely unrelated to us, ANNA's first husband Mr. Mallon should probably be remembered as someone who gave his life for our G1 GM. He died; pregnant ANNA didn't.

At a particular point ANNA gave birth. How she must have agonized when she realized that her baby, great aunt BARBARA MALLON, was blind! Perhaps ANNA ultimately received some assistance from one of the poorhouses erected after the beginning of the famine. At a particular point, ANNA decided to join the millions of Catholic Irish who were emigrating to America to survive. A tiny amount of indirect evidence suggests that ANNA made application for funds from one of the several English philanthropists who were paying for passage to America.

Probably around the year 1848, G1 GM ANNA FULLER, only about 19 years of age, holding the tiny hand of her blind little daughter, great aunt BARBARA MALLON, boarded one of the steamers out of Londonderry carrying emigrants to Liverpool. "At last," she may have thought, "I will escape hardship and find an easier life in America." And she did -- kind of.

The great packet ships built to carry people from the British Isles to America had not yet come into their own. Early-on in the Potato Famine years most passengers were carried in windjammers originally built to carry cargo across the Atlantic, but converted to move people.

The voyage across the Atlantic took about six weeks. I will tell the story of such a voyage in the narrative on G1 GF WILLIAM SAMUEL CHARLES DAWSON, since it is so well documented in his case.

It is more likely than not that g1 gm ANNA FULLER and her little daughter BARBARA MALLON came to the United States through Canada, and that therefore their point of disembarkation was Grosse Isle in the St. Lawrence Seaway, about 30 miles east of the city of Quebec (not the Grosse Isle out in the Atlantic). Grosse Isle, one of Canada's most important quaratine sites, was a horrible place. Many thousands of Irish who emigrated during the famine years died there of typhoid, cholera and dyssentery, if they survived the voyage across the Atlantic. Though the British government hoped that many of the Irish disembarking at Grosse Isle would stay in Canada, in fact the overwhelming number of those who survived quarantine either had themselves ferried up the St. Lawrence Seaway if they had money, or ferried to shore if they didn't so that they could walk south to the United States.

Somehow, ANNA moved south into the United States with her little daughter, all of the way to Philadelphia, so that in 1851 ANNA was living at #3 Goldsmith Court in Philadelphia, as described in the 1852 Philadelphia Directory (which explains in its introductory passages that it is published in the beginning of 1852, using the very latest 1851 information). Why Philadelphia? The answer may have been the famous Pennsylvania Institution for the Instruction of the Blind, at 20th and Race Streets in Philadelphia. An oral tradition of the family hints that ANNA may have had her daughter BARBARA MALLON boarded there.

Not too long after her arrival in Philadelphia G1 GM ANNA FULLER met and married her second husband, our ancestor G1 GF WILLIAM SAMUEL CHARLES DAWSON, whose story we shall now commence.


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