A reader shares her Irish immigrant ancestor's story

A reader shares her Irish immigrant ancestor's story

To us, St. Patrick's Day means more than having a feast or watching a parade. It's an opportunity to explore Irish history and family stories. A reader, Rita C., has kindly agreed to share the Irish immigrant ancestor's story, and the wonderful photo showing him in his shop in Pennsylvania Coal Country more than 100 years ago:

irish immigrant ancestor story

She says:

My great grandfather, James Frances Gallagher was quite the entrepreneur. With an 8th grade education, he became a school teacher, a school superintendent, an insurance salesman, and the owner of a cigar store. Behind him, in the back room, was where he ran numbers. Upstairs, there was a large open room where my grandmother and her sister charged their friends a nickel each to come hear Tommie and Jimmie Dorsey play.

The parts about running the numbers and listening to the Dorsey band in the back room of the shop are those special details that are so important to preserving family stories and better understanding the character of an ancestor. Here's the back of the same photo, with annotations featuring more information:

irish immigrant photo annotations

Rita adds:

"The photo was passed down from my grandmother. He was quite the character. My great grandmother did not like to travel so he would go to Ireland (back home) by himself. From some of the shipboard pictures, he had a grand time and made a lot of friends. He also wrote a very sweet letter to my father that I have.

His was the family we went to track down this past May in Ireland that I used the family group sheets for to help the librarians and my husband keep all the names straight. We would up finding the “ancestral” plot of land and found we still had family living on it!"

Thanks Rita for sharing your immigrant ancestor's story, and for using EasyGenie family group sheets to help you connect with your roots!

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