Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue

For family historians, there are so many records to access that sometimes it's difficult to know what to go to first!
This is the first in a series of blogs, each one concentrating on a particular record set, and illustrating it by referencing my own family history.
In this blog I'm looking at passenger lists.

People have been arriving at, and leaving from, the shores of the UK and Ireland for centuries.For many of them it was not a choice but for others it was an opportunity to forge a new life. The quality and content of passenger records improved significantly towards the end of the 19th century until, by the 1920's, quite detailed physical descriptions were given. And this is where the magic happens! These records bring our forebears to life. The descriptions are such that we can create a mental image of what our ancestors looked like. How fantastic is that? 

Let's look first at Celia Anne Dempsey. She was the daughter of Patrick Dempsey and from the townland of Derrynabaunshy in County Mayo, Ireland. On 5 August 1923, at the tender age of 17, she boarded the SS Baltic at Queensland (now known as Cobh) en route to New York. From there she was to join her sister Bridget in Philadelphia.

Celia was described as a housemaid in good health.She had a fair complexion fair hair, and was 5' 2" tall  with blue eyes. If I close my eyes I can almost see her.
At least 3 of her other sisters made that same journey at different times. Celia went on to marry my great uncle, Patrick Power, in 1933 in Philadelphia and had at least 2 children, John and Patricia. 

My other subject is Johanna Power, my great aunt. Known as Hannah, she left her parents, Peter and Johanna, behind in Kilkenny when she sailed from Cobh on the SS Scythia, arriving in New York on 14 November 1927. Like Celia, her final destination was Philadelphia where she was to join her uncle, another Patrick Power.

Hannah was aged 24 and a dressmaker. She also had a fair complexion and fair hair. She had hazel eyes and was 5' 4" tall. The gene for red hair is very strong in my present day family ( my Irish grandfather was red headed) but the fair hair is much less so. Hannah went on to marry Patrick McNulty in Philadelphia in 1932. He had  emigrated from County Donegal in 1925. Hannnah and Patrick had at least 4 children.

What both of these examples illustrate is that it was common for emigrants to join other family members when they left these shores. Not just in the Irish culture but across many others.Often it was a case of waiting until enough money had been saved for the voyage before another young person was sent to their new life. It is sad to think that many of these emigrants didn't see their homeland again.

Another bonus of this particular record set is that the address where the immigrant is going to live when they first arrive is given.This then enables research to continue.

This is definitely in my top ten of record sets.