Like most Americans, my family is made up of many different ethnic groups. My
moms side is Irish Protestant descent. My dads side is mostly English
descent and a little of Native American descent from his mother. There is some
in which I do not know because my dad does not know who his dad is. He was
adopted by a man named David Mitchell, this is where my last name comes from. My
grandmother died and never told my dad who his dad was. My dad could find out
from his birth certificate, which is sealed in Albany, who his dad is. He has no
desire to do that though. Over the summer, I tried to find out about my
familys ancestry. I only searched on my moms side since it is easier. This
is for two reasons, first my moms parents are still alive. Second because
they came to the United States only about one hundred years ago. Both my
grandparents families came from Northern Ireland. My grandparents were born
in the United States. My grandfather brought me over my cousins house because
she had a copy of my great grandmothers birth certificate. This told me what
town she was from. I also found out that I had other cousins that live in Canada
that were from Northern Ireland. Many Irish people immigrated to Canada because
it was cheaper than going to the United States. She told me that they would have
more information of family that lives in Northern Ireland. My grandfather gave
me a book called ” The World Book of Craigs ” which is his last name. It
gave me places to write to for further information and also gave me addresses of
all the Craigs all over the world. I learned that my grandmothers family
is from Belfast and my grandfathers family is from a town called Bellymena.
They are both located in the county of Antrim in Northern Ireland. They
descended from Presbyterian Scots who settled in Northern Ireland in the
seventeenth century. In doing further research I found that the Irish, both
Protestant and Catholic, was the largest immigration group in the United States.
At one point there were more Irish in the United States than in Ireland. The
Irish immigrated in two waves. The first wave was Scotch Irish from 1760 – 1775.
They found it easy to sustain old world ways because they came over in such a
large group. This is because they settled into towns. They were fleeing from
economic distress and religious distress since Irish laws favored Anglicans over
Presbyterians and Catholics. They wanted to obtain land and to make a profit in
the New World. The second wave came around 1845 – 1849. They were Irish
Catholics. The reason that they migrated to the United States in such mass
numbers is because first of overpopulation and then because of the Great Famine.
The failure of the staple crop, the potato, caused many Irish to starve to
death. When my ancestors migrated to the United States around the turn of the
century, like most immigrants they came for a better way of life. At the time in
history, Ireland was slowly getting over the Potato Famine and struggling with
England for independence. My family had an easy transition in the United States
because they already had family in New York and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Unlike Catholics which faced discrimination, my family didnt because they
were Protestant. The Catholics were discriminated because of fear that the
unskilled Irish Catholic would displace American craftsmen. Also because the
slums inhabited in part by the Irish were undermining the nations values.
Every social problem from immortality and alcoholism to poverty and economic
upheaval was blamed on immigrant Irish Catholics. The country was Protestant –
biased. On my fathers side, I know very little. I have learned that my
ancestry runs all the way back to the seventeenth century from England. They
were one of the first people in the New World looking for wealth and
opportunity. I had ancestry that fought in the American Revolution. I also have
Native American ancestry from Cherokee and Iroquois. My grandmothers last
name was Partington, which is a name of nobility in England. They were
loyalists. There was a Partington that died in the Civil War at the Battle of
Gettysburg. There was another ancestor by the name of Terry that was a commander
in the Civil War. This is all I know about my fathers family. I think that
all or most of our traditions are Americanized. We go to a Protestant church,
have turkey on Thanksgiving, put a real Christmas tree up at Christmas time and
get together on birthdays. Our family just does not have that many big
traditions that stand out. Though on Christmas Eve we go over my parents
friends house and we eat German food, even though we are not German.
Moody, T.W. (1995). The course of Irish history. Boulder: Robert Rinehart.
Vaughan, W.E. (1989). A new history of Ireland 1801-1870. New York: Oxford
University Press. Reeves, P. (1991). Ellis Island. New York: Michael Friedman
Publishing Group. (1968). Encyclopedia of Ireland. Dublin: Allen Figgs. Ernst,
R. (1949). Immigration life in New York City 1825-1863. New York: Octagon Books.