March 17, 2011
Who doesn’t want to be just a little bit Irish on St. Paddy’s Day? When I was a kid, I thought having an Irish ancestor was prestigious. I remember when my dad told me about his great-grandfather John Haworth (the Civil War veteran I wrote about in the last post), he mentioned John had a wife was named Sarah O’Rella Hodges. At least that’s the way I heard it. I thought, “Yippee, I’m Irish!” Sadly, when I started researching last spring I discovered that Sarah’s middle name was Orilla and that her family was English not Irish. Darn. Another illusion shattered.
So in anticipation of writing this post, I started combing my tree for real Irish ancestors. Most of my immigrant ancestors came over in the 18th century, and I haven’t gotten back nearly that far in my research yet. I’m pretty sure there are quite a few Ulster Scots (Scots-Irish) in there, but I think they considered themselves Scottish, not Irish.
I did find an ancestor of John Haworth named Solomon Shepherd, who was an Irish Quaker. He came to America in 1729 to escape religious persecution. I didn’t know there was such a thing as an Irish Quaker! I did know that the Haworths were Quakers or “Friends,” but that line originated in England, not Ireland. It’s interesting that in spite of their religious beliefs, all four Haworth boys were Union volunteers in the Civil War. I would love to know the story behind that — the Society of Friends generally discouraged military service. Was there dissaproval from their family or community? Maybe someday I’ll find out.
In the meantime, I raise a pint to my elusive Irish ancestors. I’ll find you eventually!