Irish Americans of Cleveland

History of the Cleveland Irish


from Cleveland; the making of a city
by William Ganson Rose

p. 83 - 1818 ...when the schooner American Eagle arrived from Buffalo on July 22, it brought "six families of Irish, forty-seven passengers, three months from Ireland."

p. 89 - 1820-1829 Thousands of workers were employed in building the Ohio Canal, and, as Cleveland grew, so did its problems of government and welfare. Irish and Germans had begun to crowd into the village, many of them political refugees from abroad, bringing strange languages and customs along with the best learning and culture the homeland had to offer. Near the river mouth on the West Side the Irish settled, while the Germans located on Superior and Garden streets and along Lorain Street west of the river. Wages were low, averaging about $8 for twenty-six "dry" working days.

p. 103 - 1826 With the coming of Irish immigrants to work on the canal, there was need of the ministrations of a Catholic priest. Upon the direction of the Rt. Rev. Edward Fenwick, bishop of Cincinnati, the Dominican Fathers in Perry County sent the Rev. Thomas Martin on a visit to the village in the autumn. Later he was succeeded by the Very Rev. Stephen T. Badin, the first priest ordained in the United States. Mass was said in private homes.

p. 104 - 1826 Immigrants from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea were arriving in Cleveland. William Kelley of Newburgh was prominent in the clan, which was to include names of distinction and achievement. Among them were the Collister, Corlett, Quayle, Ramsey, Kerruish, Gill, Creer, Treare, and Christian families.

p. 113 - 1830-1839 The Irish were making their homes on the West Side near the river mouth. William Murphy, who came in 1830, was one of the earliest, followed by the Evans family, Arthur Quinn, John Smith, the Sanders family, Joseph Turney, Hugh Buckley, Sr., Father John Dillon, Father Patrick O'Dwyer, Hugh Blee, Patrick Smith, the Cahill, Conlan and Whelan families, Captain Michael C. Frawley, Michael Feely, Michael Gallagher, Father Peter McLaughlin, and others who were prominent in the colony.

p. 215 - 1849 The Catholic population of Cleveland had reached four thousand and Bishop Rappe saw the need for a second church. On the corner lot at Superior and Erie Streets, the cornerstone of St. John's Cathedral was laid on October 29.
More than half of Cleveland's population, estimated at 13,696, was of American birth, according to this year's city directory, which gave the first nationality analysis: United States, 8,451; Germany, 2,587; Ireland, 1,024; England, 1,007; Scotland, 176; Isle of Man, 148; Canada, 145; France, 66; Wales, 62. Poland, Prussia, Holland, and several other countries were represented by less than 10 each.

p. 296 - 1860-1869 Increasing numbers of immigrants were attracted by Cleveland's prosperity -- Germans, who predominated, followed by English, Irish, Scotch and Welsh.

p. 322 - 1863 A reorganization of Stone, Chisholm & Jones, Newburgh iron-makers, resulted in the Cleveland Rolling Mill Company (later American Steel & Wire Company), incorporated on November 9 by Henry Chisholm, Andros B. Stone, Stillman Witt, Jeptha H. Wade, and H. B. Payne. The mill was a family business of the Chisholms, manned by Welsh, Irish and Scotch workmen. Inside men and rollers received $3.50 to $7 a day, and laborers, $1.65. The first Bessemer steel in the County was blown in the Newburgh plant in 1868.

p. 361 - 1870-1879 Immigrants began to flock to Cleveland after the Civil War, and the census of 1870 showed a native population of 64,018 -- over four-fifths born in Ohio, 38,815 of foreign birth, and 1,293 Negroes. Represented in the enumeration of the foreign-born were Germany, leading with 15,855, followed by Ireland, 9.964; England, 4,533; Bohemia, 3,252, as of 1869; Switzerland, 704; Scotland, 668; with lesser totals from other nations. From Hungary had come only 97 newcomers; Poland, 77; and Italy, 35. Cuyahoga County had a population of 132,010, of which 50,696 were of foreign birth.

p. 365 - 1870-1879 Along the lakeshore, between East Cleveland, and Collinwood, lay Glenville. Shady glens, through which tumbled little streams, gave it the picturesque name. Early New England farmers had settled there, followed by immigrants from Scotland, England, and Ireland. Almost surrounding the flourishing village center at St. Clair and Doan Street were truck farms operated by Germans, who hauled their produce to the city and returned with loads of manure from the Central Market horse barns. In time, the St. Clair horsecar line was extended in the form of a horse-drawn truck, which was stored in favor of a canvas-covered sled when deep snow fell. Glenville residents could board the Ashtabula accommodation train at Coit Station to reach Cleveland at a quicker pace. The rustic community attracted wealthy Clevelanders to a summer playground for sportsmen and their families. Fast horses made the Glenville trotting track the most famous in the country. For almost four decades, Glenville was the gayest community in the Cleveland enrirons -- "the garden spot of Cuyahoga County."

p. 389 - 1873 Portions of Brooklyn, industrial Newburgh, and East Cleveland townships were annexed to Cleveland on February 8.

Although Newburgh became known as the "iron ward" after the annexation, it held fast to its traditional name. There was little of beauty for the homefolks to boast about. Roads were rutted, and modest houses were grimy with smoke from the mills and the railroad that ran through the heart of the village; but to Welsh, Irish, and Scotch families, Newburgh was home. There was a spirit that bound the citizenship together, born, perhaps, of sweat and toil in the hot mills, or of clannish fellowship, as many were newcomers to America.

p. 427 - 1880-1889 Cleveland won the population race with Buffalo, its census figures of 160,146 in 1880 surpassing the total of its rival, which stood at 155,134. This placed the Forest City twelfth on the list of American cities. Cincinnati held her rank of eighth with 255,139. Cleveland had grown more than 40 per cent in the decade past. Its area, 28.164 square miles, had more than doubled, the annexations of East Cleveland and Newburgh making up the large part of the gain. A rising tide of immigration was reflected in a total of 59,409 foreign-born. Of the city's population, 2,038 were Negro, and only 23 were Chinese and Japanese. In Cuyahoga County there were 196,943 inhabitants, of which 68,753 were of foreign birth.

Nationality distribution had changed very little since 1870, with a marked exception -- the Bohemians, whose representation had increased to 5,627. There were only about 500 Poles in Cleveland in 1880, employed for the most part in the Newburgh steel mills…Hungarians displaced the Germans and Irish in the factory district J(Rawlings-East 79th vicinity), where they entrenched themselves firmly, following their trades.

p. 442 - 1880 An Irish Catholic parish known as St. Colman's was organized in the west end of the city on Gordon Avenue.

p. 500 - 1890-1899 The census disclosed that of 261,353 people in Cleveland, 164,258 were native-born, and only about one-fourth of these were of native parentage.

p. 501 - 1890-1899 Nationality influences had almost obliterated the mark of the New England pioneers. Diverse races made up the foreign-born total of 97,095, indicating the cosmopolitan character of the city. The Negro population had reached 3,035. There was a noticeable increase in the number of Slavs. Immigration from Great Britain and Ireland was on the downgrade, however, with only 2,831; and the Germanic peoples continued to hold a lead of 5,770, of which 4,735 were from Germany. It is interesting to note that in 1880 five persons made up the average family, while in 1890 there were only 4.9 persons, showing the trend toward the small-family group. Urban population was steadily increasing, and 35 per cent of the people lived in cities and towns.

p. 520 - 1890 Four Poles asked Joseph Hoffman for land on which to build a church in the German-Irish neighborhood of East Madison and Superior Avenue. He gave them a block from his farm as the site for St. Casimir's Catholic Church and parish school (East 82nd and Pulaski). Polish countrymen had built the church with their own hands by 1892, and families from Lake Street, Hamilton Avenue, and Newburgh, who worked in industrial plants, were moving into the area. Community gatherings centered in Joseph Hoffman's hall, East Madison and Hoffman Avenue. During World War I, the name of the hall was changed to Kosciuszko. Orchard Grove, owned by Charles A. Bramley, was the favorite picnic ground (Donald Avenue between East 71st and East 74th) of the community. In 1918 the old church was converted to a school, and a new church was erected next door. A few old German and Irish residents continued to live in the district, not identified as Polish. As industry expanded, transitions took place after this fashion in the city's inner belt, populated largely by nationality groups who were the soul of mills and factories.

p. 642 - 1904 The Rumanians had begun to displace the Irish in the neighborhood of Gordon and Detroit streets on the West Side…

p. 962 - 1939 The Irish Cultural Garden in Rockefeller Park was dedicated on October 29, Eamon de Valera, Prime Minister of Eire, attending the ceremonies. It was designed in the form of a Celtic cross, and featured a bed of Killarney roses planted in honor of Thomas Moore, the Irish poet. Two heroic symbolic figures were placed at the entranceway, and beautiful landscaping and walks contributed to the setting of the nationality shrine managed by the Irish Cultural Garden Association. The first ceremony had been held in 1933, when Msgr. Kirby of St. Cecelia's Parish had planted roses to symbolize "an Irishman's love for all nature."

p. 966 – 1940- In the early years of the Twentieth Century, Cleveland was known as "the melting pot of nationalities." Waves of immigrants, attracted by the city's steady industrial growth, gradually submerged Old World characteristics into the habits and customs of the new. The proportion of foreign-born to native-born became less in the 1920s, and in the following decade the city was emerging from the melting-pot stage. Descendants of foreign-born parents took on American ways and caught the American spirit. Nevertheless, they remembered the countries of their forebears, finding fellowship in social and religions organizations and in developing the Cultural Gardens. On special occasions they wore colorful homeland costumes and indulged in traditional folk dances. Citizenship classes, "nationality nights" held at neighborhood schools, and co-operative movements helped to encourage understanding and dissolve prejudices in a city comprising more than forty nationality groups.

Foreign" concentrations were based on culture rather than on language, and it was believed that in another decade there would be few persons in the area who could not speak intelligible English. Leading the foreign-born white groups in the county in 1940 were Poland, 27,960; Czechoslovakia, 26,040; Italy, 24,033; Hungary, 23,933; Germany, 21,042; Yugoslavia, 16,097; Russia (U.S.S.R.), 14,772; Austria, 12,080; England 10,739; Canada and other, 8,691; Irish Free State (Eire), 6,399; Scotland, 5,542; Rumania, 4,782; Lithuania, 4,331; and other nationalities, making a total of 222,978, of which 142,733 had become naturalized by 1940, and an additional 22,686 had taken out first papers.