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Irish Families on the California Trail



Irish Families
on the California Trail
Price: $25.00


Irish Families on the California Trail
including the Oregon, Overland and Mormon
trails in Western America. First edition..
Includes the First California Dictionary of Irish Family Names

Historical and Genealogical notes on the Irish in California, including San Francisco and the Gold Rush, and the workers on the railroad. Hundreds of families are documented in this work. This is the rest of the story of the Irish in western America. These are the Irish who continued to move west with the American dream by land and sea.
The Irish Move West
They came from New York, Boston, Canada, and the South. Many took the California and Oregon Trail overland by wagon. Some sailed 14,000 miles around Cape Horn to San Francisco, others had settled in Peru and now moved on to California. They were at the end of the rainbow - for better or worse. The first Irishman is found in the late 1700's in California, under the Mexican regime. Soon would come the bear flag revolution; the Gold Rush; and U.S. statehood. Over 2000 families are indexed. They include the Irish on the railroads, in the fire and police departments as well as in the gold rush in the 1800's.

Prominent in Business
Here is an excerpt from the introduction to this work, "We have the Irish prominent in the California newspaper business, just as in Missouri. Sam Brannan brought his own press along, as well as a boatload of Mormons. He founded the first newspaper, (The California Star), in San Francisco. O'Brien andMacCarthy founded a Virginia City paper; Ballinger, and John Timmons were Irishmen of note on The Chronicle ; Dan O'Connell was noted at The Mail ; Robert Creighton, originally of Londonderry, was editorial writer for the Evening Post; Mr. Mahoney, originally of Dublin was at The Post , and a noted editor; Richard Sullivan was editor and chief of the Monitor; Eugene Casserly was a noted journalist; James O'Meara appeared regularly in the Examiner and Argonaut, in San Francisco, and settled there for a time. Mr. McRoberts (from Ireland with Scots parents), was a reporter with the Morning Call; Mr. McClatchy originally of County Antrim helped found the Sacramento Bee newspaper which survives to this day; John Manning worked on the Santa Cruz Sentinal.; and Mr. Gagan of Galway is given to have founded the first daily newspaper in Oakland.

ALL but the last of the above contributions by Irish- Americans are confirmed in Quigleys book published in 1878 ! Col. Peter Donahue is sometimes credited with bringing the first printing press to the California, and it was certainly one of the first here. Sam Brannan may have actually beat him to it in 1846. (Donahue may have actually manufactured the first press in California.). The publishing empire of William Randolph Hearst was yet to come. George Hearst, who came from Sullivan, Missouri, had Galway roots on his mothers side. He purchased the San Francisco Daily Examiner in 1882, and his son William Randolph Hearst took control of the same paper, now named the San Francisco Examiner in 1891. The year 1878 was quite early in California history. Just some 32 years earlier, in 1846 the area was largely a pioneer outpost. Missouri had well developed cities by then. The energy and the number of people found here in the news business is indicative of the growth of the state from the gold rush into the 20th century.

Irish invade San Francisco
San Francisco became 'the' city of pioneer California, outstripping the population of the towns the pioneers had departed from back east ! By 1880 it was the largest city on the frontier (St. Louis was considered an eastern city). It is interesting to note how San Francisco quickly grew to 4 times the size of Kansas City by that date, with about 234,000 population. Kansas City was the second largest frontier town with 55,000 population. (Oakland, California; Denver, Colorado; and St. Joseph, Missouri ranked next, all under 36,000 in number.) The Irish are found in San Francisco in every endeavor, not just as the exception, but as the rule. It is exciting just to read about the adventure. The Irish were the largest foreign born group of workers in the town. When new foreign labor came in with cheap wages, the Irish labor leaders would complain about competing with 'cheap coolie labor', a sure sign they had made good." Here are a few highlights from this work:

Mountain Charley McKiernan
His head caught in the jaws of a grizzly, part of his
skull is torn out, yet he lives for many years !!

MacNamara's Irish Colony
The Irish Priest who successfully received a land
grant under the Mexican regime to settle 3,000 Irish
on California lands.

Irish Mormon, Sam Brannan
Brannan brought a settlement to San Francisco,
and began the first newspaper there, becoming
the first millionaire after the gold strike!

Irish in the Donner Party
The American tragedy included the Breens; Reid;
Halloran; and Dolan, part of the untold story.....

Lichen growth brings millions
'Orchella', was a rare lichen from which dye was
made. He cornered the market and made a
fortune. His daughter became 'Lady Cork'.

Irish under Mexican Rule
Many Irish arrived before the gold rush and before
statehood. This included Don Timoteo Murphy,
Doctor Den, Fr. MacNamara, O'Cain, Milligan...




Table of Contents

Irish Families of California.........................
History and Locations of Irish and Irish Americans in California,
and along the trails,as Found in the IGF archives.
(Families Listed in Alphabetical order, disregarding the
O', Mc, or Mac prefix before the name.)

Dictionary of Irish Family Names
Irish Names with California instances.............
Sources For Futher Research.................................

Appendix
Subscribers list in 1878 with address......................
Oregon, Washington Territory, Nevada & Idaho........
Montana, Utah, Arizona and British Columbia..........
Index of Family Names Found in Text......................
From the pages of the California Star in 1847..........
Early map of Yerba Buena...................................
Major Frontier City Population............................
Mountain Charley survives a bear mauling..............

Illustrations
Irish in The Donner Party....................................
The MacNamara Colony in the Mexican Regime.......
Smith - Downey - Nunan - Donahue........................
Sam Brannan...................................................
Miller Hall......................................................
Oliver - O'Sullivan - Birmingham - O'Connor...........
The Orchilla Millionaire.....................................
San Francisco Workers.......................................

Surname Index

The Final Word This is a one of a kind resource, first published by the Irish Genealogical Foundation in 2003. Tells the story of the migration of the Irish to California, and settlement in the state. Many famous individuals and many forgotten souls are included here. 108 pages, spiral bound, numerous illustrations. Heavier cover stock. Acid free archival paper used on the inside pages. Some pages have been taken from 19th century originals, and appear exactly as found in the IGF library. Compiled and edited by Michael C. O’Laughlin.



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