to code more territory. The Irish moved both eastward and westward along the lakefront. They established a ghetto extending from the shoreline to Superior Avenue in the vicinity of what is now East 9th Street. They also slid westward and filled the area between the Lake and Detroit Avenue to about West 28th Street. No matter, it was all just one from of swamp or another.

       From that initial expansion they would go on to establish other pockets of Irish power, east and west, sometimes leapfrogging established Yankee comunities. The Newburgh section is the prime example of this, but in that case, as in all others, they were simply following work opportunities. It should be noted that the Famine Irish had at least one predecessor in the Newburgh area, if we are to believe a letter dated August 16, 1833, written by one Arthur Quinn, who carefully datelined his missive back home, "Newburgh, County of Cuyahoga." Quinn advised his relatives that "this is a poor man's country, but unless he has land or can labor hard, he stands a poor chance at success."

Working on the Docks: The Iron Ore Terriers

       When stating before that the docks were "all," as far as the Cleveland Irish were concerned, ot was my intent to use the word as a collective that included every activity that could possibly be connected tot he docks. The Flats, the heart of Irishtown, was also the industrail center of Cleveland, as well as the commodity exchange center. By 1840 there were four iron foundries located there and a "manufactory" for machine tools .....




Cuyahoga River scene in 1880. View from foot of St. Clair Street.
(Plain Dealer)


Unloading a lumber steamer in Cuyahoga Pier about 1895.
(Plain Dealer Collection)




and, of course, several shipbuilding companies. The city's true wealth lay in shipping, and that encompassed a plethora of businesses, all of which held possibilities for employment among the Irish.

       Although iron, in one form or another, had been transported to the city for a number of years, the discovery of vast amounts of iron ore in Minnesota in 1852 was to guarantee the Irish of Cleveland solid work well beyond the turn of the 20th Century. Although the precious red mineral wasn't much at first because of limited need--the first shipments in the 1830's were of such small quantity that they could be handled in a few barrels on the deck of a passenger vessel--as the city developed into an industrial giant, it was delivered daily, thousands of tons at a time.

       As the foundries and mills expanded, due to advances in metallurgy and the demands of a surging economy, the necessity to build cargo ships specially designed to carry ore became imperative. Hulking wooden vessels were built that were practically all holds, some capable of transporting 300 tons of ore.

       It took 100 men four days to put that much ore into one of these vessels and took an equal number of unloaders seven days to clear the holds. By rights it should have taken eight days, for it is at least twice as hard to bring ore up out of a ship as it is to drop it down into one.

       The job of unloading those ore-ladden monsters was the sole province of the Irish. It was unbelievingly back-breaking work, .....




every bit the equal of canal digging and probably worse. The first tools the Irish were given to accomplish their task were rather primitive ones -- a shovel and a basket. Through the benevolence of the shippers, they soon graduated to the shovel and the wheelbarrow. What made the work unbearable is that it got more difficult as it went along.

       The reason for that was simple. The ore was unloaded, quite naturally, from top to bottom. Filling a barrow and running down a gangplank wasn't too difficult, as long as the ore was near the surface of the hatch. However, as one removed more and more ore, he found himself standing deeper and deeper in the hold of a ship. Now he had to push the loaded barrow up a board plank as well. When he neared the bottom of the hold, he could barely see daylight -- he had a long way to go.

       Yankee ingenuity came into play within a short time, prodded as it was by economic reasons. The shippers had alseries of platforms erected in each hold, thereby enabling the shovelers to raise ore to the deck more expeditiously.' More ingenuity on the part of the shippers resulted in a pulley system being devised, which allowed oversized buckets to be hooked up to a team of mules on the docks. When a bucket was filled, the mules would be spurred into action and their resultant straining would hoist the bucket of ore out of the hold and deposit it on the dock. It was not uncommon for 40 teams of mules to be employed in various combinations on a given day.




Early machinary for loading and unloading ore--1880.

The unloading devices are "Whirleys" which replaced the Irish man with a wheelbarrow

(Plain Dealer)




       It was not only the shoveling of ore 12 hours a day that made the job somewhat less than enjoyable, but the red mineral itself. The Irish who unloaded the ore came to be known as "Iron Ore Terriers," though no one seems to know how that appellation came into use. Some insisted that the shovelers reminded people of that scruffy, yappy breed of canine, while others claimed it was because the ore gave them the same coloring as a breed of terrier quite common in those days.

       Whatever the truth of the matter, iron ore presented a problem. To appreciate fully how these men spent their days from dawn to dusk, envision the hold of a ship, sloping, inward-pressing, almost claustrophobic. They were without ventilation, cold and clammy in both spring and autumn and stifling in the months between. Then consider that the first strike of a shovel stirred a wisp of ore that did not dissipate, but floated from one side of the hold to the other. In an hour's time, a dozen men could raise a pall of dust through which it was barely possible to see.

       The dust clung to the Terriers' clothing and exposed parts of their bodies as if it were glue. The metallic particles had a way of grinding themselves into a man's skin so deeply that it all but precluded their removal. The ore dust especially found a residence in the Terriers' beard stubble. Talk about five o'clock shadow -- the Irish dock workers practically invented it.

rtore than that, however, the dust permeated the lungs of the Terriers and left its mark, a persistent cough that grew .....




steadily more troublesome. The men so afflicted thought little of it, considering it an acceptable aspect of the job. There were hazards attendant to all laboring jobs in the mid-19th Century and only later, too late to do anything about it, would these men learn that they had developed their own brand of silicosis.

       One can imagine the condition of the Terriers' lungs merely by momentarily considering what it did to their exposed skin, particularly the face. While it became a subject of humor, for what else could one make of it, those who shoveled iron ore for a living found it difficult to obtain the services of a barber for their Saturday evening shave. Any number of newspaper articles of the time attest to that minor deprivation.

       However, if a Terrier were fortunate enough to find a barber willing to shave him, he was forced to pay exactly double the going rate, as the tonsorial specialists insisted that, if they didn't charge double, they would all be forced out of business. Shaving a Terrier meant premature replacement of his working tool and it was said at the time that the razor hadn't been invented that could stand up to a Terrier's beard. To this day, elderly persons who grew up in the "Angle," hard by St. Malachi's Church, tell tales of a legendary character who, according to these old timers, spent most of his leisure hours in search of a barber brave enough to shave him. He always sought in vain, for wherever he went his beard's reputation preceded him. .....





Ore Docks on the River in 1880's

Courtesy of The Cleveland Plain Dealer




It was said that whenever he loomed on a barber's horizon, the man pulled the curtain and closed his shop.

       Be that as it all may, for his 12 hours a day in the hold of a ship and all that the work entailed, the Terrier could look forward only to a bare subsistence recompense. It provided him enough to sustain life, but not a great deal more. Of course, he didn't need all that much until he married and the children came along, for his shelter was a tarpaper shack or a clapboard lean-to, his clothing little more than a rough-hewn coat and pair of pants and his food a high calorie collection of edibles that filled far more than they nourished.

       Still, life wasn't too bad, all things considered, and no one appreciated that fact more fully than the early Irish in Cleveland and their brethren who came after the Famine. Despite his talents as an outspoken complainer about the system in general and his Yankee employers in particular, an Irishman settling here knew in his heart of hearts that life along the banks of the Cuyahoga was infinitely better than that back home. Here he was no longer in the midst of the desolation and starvation that was Ireland in the mid-19th Century and what was even better, the hated Englishman was nowhere to be seen. It was a time to count blessings and most Irishmen did.

       There is a simple truth about the Irish that should be known: They could never have survived the hardships they faced in America if they hadn't been forged into a steely mentality in the .....(continued next page)