What is a modern man to think when he rolls past the abandoned and decaying houses found in major cities? Perhaps our thoughts turn to disgust and a bit of anger, but many of these were places of transformation for our immigrant ancestors…and for several generations. Baltimore was such a place: where rural immigrant families were transformed into American urbanites, in neighborhoods not so different from Washington Blvd. and Bayard Street (pictured).
Let’s consider John J. Kernan and Family, on the occasion of his son Edward's 1st Communion. Edward was John and Sarah's 13th child. Dad was a railroad man, and the family lived in the shadows of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Mount Clare Shops.
Many young men being raised in the shadows of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad didn’t quite finish grammar school, as railroad work placed a calling on them that could not be resisted. Other students of both sexes became railroaders once more considerable studies had been completed. Among these was a young woman who grew up in the shadows of the Mount Clare shops of the B & O Railroad. Her name was Elizabeth Agnes Herbig.
We are thoroughly enjoying this learning experience as we look to various resources to better understand the flow of Irish dance through Baltimore history. A key to following the genre is an understanding that traditional Irish music and dance are intertwined and inseparable. Of course, each discipline is dependent on audiences to perform for, and fans of the art form give both emotional and financial support.
Family research can be a difficult experience for us in modern times. It seems like there was death everywhere, and young mothers and children left far too soon. Yet there was hope for those left behind in the form of caregivers within the extended family. Today we will learn about some who assumed vital roles, and gave of themselves so that future generations would be possible. Among those who cared for the motherless were Bettie Agnes Kenney Burgan and her daughter Annie Jane Burgan Bamburger, of northeast Baltimore (pictured).
Baltimore was a gateway for sailing ships who brought the desperate Irish into America's second busiest port. It was also, in later years a place to gather and travel eastward towards sun, sand and surf if you had a few dollars to spare.
Irish families just might have been perplexed with what to do with daughters who had so many limitations set upon them during the days of the Penal Laws, and beyond. There were few options for those born into poor Catholic families in the West of Ireland. America was different, but not immediately so. It took Irish leaders to move these young women towards their full potential.
Irish families got creative in the old country when it came time to educate their children within their Catholic faith traditions. They got plenty bold once they were in America, as Brothers and women religious transformed a people.
The Lyons family have quite a story to tell about their ancestor. They tell the tale of a boy from County Limerick, and all he was able to accomplish. Yes, there's hope for all of us...even when we are in the midst of turmoil.