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Historians have, for understandable reasons, concentrated on the people who left, and even in Ulster now we have recently begun to be aware of and to take pride in the achievements of those who left and were outstandingly successful, now that their stories are being told in popular historical works. But perhaps it is time to think about those who were left behind; people like William Craig of Milford, County Donegal. He and his ten children suffered during the Great Famine of the 1840s, and four older sons emigrated to Illinois. After a few years, they had made enough money for one of them to return to Donegal to bring out the rest of the family. John Craig. aged 22, took back with him in 1847 his stepmother, three sisters and a brother, some of whom may have been children of his father's second marriage. The old man had to stay behind; he had had an accident some years earlier in which his back had been broken, and he would not have been an acceptably healthy ablebodied emigrant. He remained in Ireland, living with nieces and nephews, to free up all his children to emigrate. What was the rest of his life like? Who knows whether he ever saw any of his children again, and whether he knew even if they travelled safely, or how many descendants he was to have in the prairies and towns of Illinois.

Open Enlarged Version Open Enlarged Version  Historians and genealogists today can often trace the stories of those who left Ulster, even of those who experienced average rather than outstanding success; stories that those who lived through the trauma of separation and remained in Ireland never knew. William Craig's daughter Matilda in Illinois married Samuel Jameson,whose father Hugh Jameson left County Londonderry in 1746; Jameson went to Londonderry, New Hampshire, presumably to join other Jamesons from the Bann valley who had settled there along with the earliest Scotch-Irish settlers. A Jonathan Jameson from Dunboe, County Londonderry, whose brother Edward was from from Kilrea, emigrated before 1725 to Nutfield, New Hampshire, later known as Londonderry. Another Jonathan Jameson who was alive in the 1880s and lived all his life at Movanagher, near Kilrea in Ireland, did not know that he had distant cousins in Chimboté, Peru, West Tennessee and New Hampshire, but his descendants in the early 21st century, in Ireland and New Zealand and New York, can find the chain of links that connect them to the Jamesons in New Hampshire and Illinois and elsewhere. And because of the records preserved by the New Hampshire emigrants, all these Jamesons can connect in the distant past to a family from Argyllshire, Scotland who moved to north Derry, just across a short stretch of sea. Later moves took some of them further, but we ought to acknowledge that not all of each family moved on, kin were left behind at each stopping point including those who stayed in Ireland.

 

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