Kinney, Thomas P. / Irish settlers of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, 1840-1860
Departures from Fitchburg, pp. 68-73 PDF (2.2 MB)
The North Dakota prairie homestead of William and Catherine Halpin in Ellendale township, Dickey County The Halpin family left Fitchburg in the late nineteenth century, and these aban- doned buildings are persistent reminders of these pioneers. Carole Kinney, research editor, and Tom Kinney, author, in this contemporary photo. William Halpin who resided in Ellendale township, North Dakota. The Irish families found their Dakota properties to be different from their Fitchburg homesteads in that there was not a tree in sight on the endless prairie. As a part of receiving title, the government required settlers to plant trees on their Dakota farms. The Irish families' homesteads became profitable with successful wheat crops on the fine prairie soil.146 Fitchburg became an anchor point in the late nineteenth century for Irish families that had moved to new homes on farms and in cities throughout the upper Midwest. Most west- ward-bound Irish left siblings or cousins at the Irish settle- ments in Fitchburg, and they wrote letters and visited their relatives and friends in later years. In the early twentieth cen- tury, some Irish Americans (including Stephen N. Hawkins) recorded stories of their childhood days in Fitchburg, leaving valuable records about the lives of the Irish pioneers from 1840 to 1860. Today, large numbers of Irish Americans across the Midwest recall that their immigrant ancestors spent their first years as Americans in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, where the work was hard but where the financial, familial, and social rewards made it all worthwhile.
Copyright 1993, 1998 Thomas P. Kinney