Irish Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles About the Old Neighborhood

Records Show Some Irish Were Here in 1812

100 Years of Nationalities in Cleveland, 31st of a Series
by Theodore Andrica
Cleveland Press, December 20, 1950

Although the construction of the Ohio Canal beginning in 1825 is generally considered the starting point of Irish settlement here, records reveal interesting data about the presence of Irish in and close to Cleveland long before that date.

The Cleveland Register, a struggling weekly, in its Apr. 23, 1819 issue published the marriage of Miss Lydia O'Brien of "Bricksville" to Thomas O. Young of Cleveland.

Remaining in the small Cleveland post office were, on Apr. 1, 1819, two letters addressed to John Mcartey and Betsy Collins.

A certain John Sweeney held membership in the Cleveland Militia Company during 1812. This company guarded the mouth of the Cuyahoga River when word spread that the British planned to attack Cleaveland, as the village was called then. However, no fleet ever appeared here.

Native of Ireland

We find in the Cleveland Register the news that "Mr. James Jackson died in Euclid on the 4th of November, 1822. He was a U. S. pensioner, aged 77 years. He was a native of Ireland and a soldier in the American army during the Revolutionary War."

Five years later, the Cleveland Herald in its June 15, 1827 issue published the news: "John Murray died in Euclid on June 8, 1827 in his 74th year. He was a Revolutionary War soldier. He has had much misfortune but left behind him the enviable character of a patriot and an hones man."

By the time the Ohio Canal was finished in 1830, several hundred Irish settled in Cleveland and they began to play an increased role in the economic affairs of the little community of 1100 souls.

John Murphy petitioned the council of Ohio City (west of the river) on May 12, 1837 for permission to open a public house in that community. The petition was accepted, but there is no record as to whether Murphy received his license.

First Irish Butcher

Patrick Malone who lived on River St., was one of the first, if not the first, Irish butchers here in the late 1830's.

Thomas Maher, born in County Carlow, near Dublin, was brought by his parents here in 1839. Eventually he married Helen Watson whose father was in the rolling mill business here. Maher later organized a big car wheel works and other enterprises.

Hector Harper came from Ireland in 1836 and settled in Orange Village. He married Margaret Titterington, also of Irish birth. They were the parents of John F. Harper who became prominent in banking circles.

In the 1840's came William C. Redmond from County Wexford and shortly after arriving here he drifted into the teaming business.

The First to Strike

To the Irish of Cleveland goes the "honor" of being the first to strike. It happened in 1840 when Gilman Folsom was awarded a contract to dig a channel from the old riverbed to the lake, for $28,000 in Ohio City bonds.

He employed, among others, many Irish laborers, paying them 75 cents for a 12-hour working day. The Irish struck for higher wages, but there is no record as to whether they won their demands.

Michael Conley was one of the most notable boatmen of the time. He came here from Ireland in 1843 and worked at his trade for four years before he went into other business.

In the middle 1840's, two Irish lawyers opened a shop in Cleveland. They were W. S. O'Brien who had his office at 5 Eagle St. and "Lawyer" Duffy whose office was in the Franklin Bldg., Superior Lane and Water St.

Peter Daly came to Cleveland, as a youth of 18, from County Cavan, Ireland, in 1848. In time he became a contractor and prominent in business affairs of the city.