Friday, September 16, 2011

Exhausting Irish Resources

Was Your Irish Ancestor in a Benevolent Society?


On 19 Sept 1872 the KC times reported on the first St. Patrick's Day parade in Kansas City.  "At 10:00 am, the procession formed at the hall of the Irish Benevolent Society. The order of  march was as follows: Grand Marshal and aids, Band of Music, Irish Benevolent Society, St. Vitus Benevolent Association (German), The St. Joseph Benevolent Association." [1]



Who, What, When, Where? My Irish Ancestors!
There are more than 250,000 in the Kansas City region who claim Irish heritage and as many ancestors who have participated in the Irish Day Parades beginning in 1872.

Any Irish ancestry researcher would be remiss if they chose to ignore the information this small blurb gives us. A few questions to consider: 1) Where were my ancestor's on that day? 2) Did they participate in the parade? 3) Did they belong to these organizations/societies? 4) Were they involved in the Irish community, church, politics or other labor unions? 5) What was their "pecking" order in the parade? 6) Were there other Irish organizations/societies?

Was He a Miner or a Musician?
"Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians followed behind the priest and "marched like soldiers, justly proud of their appearance," observed the Times.  Behind the Hibernians were members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Children of Mary and the St. Aloysius Band, marching with a huge portrait of their favored saint, the Patron of Youth, followed by the Irish benevolent societies.  The McGee Hook & Ladder Company rolled along behind department co-founder and Irish immigrant, Joe McArdle, with firemen pluming and strutting for the admiring crowds gathered on porches and sidewalks along the winding route." (Displayed at Kansas City Irish Fest; August 2011).

Just by knowing the origin of each group, you may be guided in the right direction. This is enough information to keep an Irish family researcher busy. Contemporary local books may give your research a jump start.  Newspaper articles, obituaries, journals, diaries, church records and court cases may also give the researcher a bit more information about the members of these organizations. 
Irish Parade Line Up, Kansas City Times
From the Missouri Irish: Kansas City, St. Louis & Trails West
Extract: pg. 141-142 O'Laughlin,  Michael C.
America’s oldest Irish Catholic Fraternal Organization founded concurrently in the coal-mining region of Pennsylvania and New York City in May, 1836.  Early Hibernians are linked to mining for gold (Yreka, CA), copper and silver (Butte & Anaconda, MT), iron ore in Escanaba, MI (St Patrick’s) and Mt Pleasant, PA (St Joseph’s), hard rock mining (St Peter’s, Rutland, VT) and coal in Schuylkill CO, PA. (where the infamous Molly Maguire trials were held.)
   
Molly Maguires
M
embers of an Irish-American secret society.  Members, mainly coal miners were associated with Pennsylvania anthracite coal fields in the Civil War era. The trials and arrests were from 1876−1878.

St. Aloysius Band

Formed from the St. John's society 75-100 'juveniles" of West Kansas City.
St. Vincent de Paul Society
Founded in 1833 by six university students in Paris under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul. This primarily Irish society was introduced in Chicago during the economic depression of 1857. The Society's purpose was to provide direct aid to the suffering parishioners.

The Irish Center of Kansas City located at  Union Station whose mission is to "... preserve this heritage at the Irish Center!  as stone masons, railroad workers, and founding members of the police and fire departments."

From the Bottom Up: The Story of the Irish in Kansas City, O'Neill, Pat

Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy@gmail.com

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