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Kinney, Thomas P. / Irish settlers of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, 1840-1860

Departures from Fitchburg,   pp. 68-73 PDF (2.2 MB)

Page 73

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.

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