Rather than indulging in green beer and other St. Patty’s Day shenanigans, I thought it better instead to briefly thank at least one of my many Irish families that left their homes, made it to America, and managed to survive in a challenging New World. The Osborne family that settled in Summerfield, Noble, Ohio is one of those families. Since Osborne happened to be my grandfather’s middle name, when I first became interested in genealogy, it was one of those surnames in which I just had a natural interest. I became even more interested thanks to the following passage from the History of Noble County (Archelaus Osborne is my gg grandfather):
The Osborns of this township were among the early Irish settlers coming originally from County Donegal The family consisted of Samuel Osborn Sr and six children— Mary, William, James, Samuel, Catharine (Crawford), and Elizabeth (Fearus). Of these two are living, both in this township. The family left Ireland in 1817. The father died in 1820 six weeks after coming to this country.
James Osborn, born in Ireland in 1798, came to America with the family and located with them in what is now Marion Township when all was wilderness. In 1830 he married Eliza Lingo/ Their children now living are Samuel M., Archelaus, and Hester A (Calland) in this county, and Ellen (Wilson), Kansas. The father died in 1883. His widow is still living with her son Archelaus.
The latter was born in 1840, and in 1862 enlisted in Company D, Ninety-second Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and was mustered out at the expiration of his term of service. He was in the battles of Chickamauga, Mission Ridge, the Atlanta campaign through the Carolinas, etc. In 1867 he married Eliza M. Hamilton. Six children, five living, viz: Anna L., Luella, James H, Charles E. and Hattie H.1
This passage, one of the very first things I found when I began researching, sent my imagination racing. Ireland? Donegal? I wanted to know more. As I learned a little bit more about these sorts of county histories and the fact they weren’t always accurate, I wanted to see if I could verify any of the information it provided. As luck would have it, I was able to find the passenger list for the Samuel Osborne family, entering the port of Philadelphia on the Schooner Jefferson 19 Jul 1820– just as the family history claimed. Some details are incorrect. Samuel Sr. should be 50, not 40, and his wife’s name is Ruth, not Mary. The three eldest children’s birth dates are all off by 2 years, but all of the children appear, in birth order, in the passenger record. Coupled with the family history stating that this is when the family arrived, it’s hard to conclude that this is any family but them:2
So that piece of the story seemed to be accurate, but what about the part where Samuel Sr. died six weeks after arriving in the country? For a newbie genealogist, without a single clue as to where he may have died, the fact that it was 1820, after all, and that Philadelphia was a mysterious land, it was a daunting task. Several years later, FamilySearch came to my rescue. An entry for Samuel Osborne appears in the “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915” database. The Samuel in this record died 31 Aug 1820– exactly six weeks and three days after Samuel arrived on the Schooner Jefferson, and likely from a disease he contracted on that voyage to America.3
Samuel is buried in St. George’s Methodist Cemetery in Philadelphia.
The interesting thing is that although only in the country for a less than two weeks, the Samuel Osborne family actually appears in the 1820 Census, all of the children’s ages match, and all eight of the people in the household are “foreigners not naturalized”.4
Note their neighbor, William Springsteen. Maybe I can one day claim that my 4th grandfather once lived next door to Bruce Springsteen’s 3rd great grandfather!
So left alone with six children, albeit grown children, Ruth and the family made their way west into what was then Monroe County, Ohio, and what is now Summerfield, Noble, Ohio. Presumably, this was a path taken by other families that they knew. It’s unclear exactly when they arrived in Ohio, but Ruth purchased property there in Aug 1823.5 There were several Irish families arriving at this time, and eventually, when I actually have tome to research my own family, will begin to explore some of the connections between them.
The Noble County history goes on to say of son Samuel Osborne:
Samuel Osborn Sr was born in Ireland in 1800 and came to this country with the family. In one fall he walked from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and thence to Ohio where he entered the land on which he afterward located, then back to Pittsburgh, and again to this township. Such feats of pedestrianism would be considered marvelous in these days, but the pioneers were a hardy race and not afraid to encounter hardships.6
I can’t document that Samuel did in fact make the journey that this history claims. However, given everything else in the article is accurate, I am willing to go ahead and believe (though not actually assert) that this is true enough– it makes for a better story that way.
What I will assert is that the article is dead on when it states that the pioneers — my pioneers– were a hardy race, and I owe my very existence to their hardiness and ability to overcome hardship. And I would rather fill myself with all the pride that instills than any amount of green beer on St. Patty’s Day.
Though having finished today’s chores, I am definitely going to toast my Irish ancestors with a frothy pint. Cheers to the Osbornes and all those like them!
- L.H. Watkins, History of Noble County, Ohio: with portraits and biographical sketches of some of its pioneers and prominent men (Chicago: L.H. Watkins & Co., 1887), p. 391-2. [↩]
- “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1800-1882,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org: accessed 16 Mar 2013), Samuel Osborne family (1820), image 400. The original record was accessed via microfilm, but the copy made here is from the FamilySearch online record collections. [↩]
- “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 16 Mar 2013), Samuel Osborne, 1820, image 302. [↩]
- 1820 U.S. census, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania population schedule, Penn Twp, p. 39A (handwritten), line 12, Samuel Osburn; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 Mar 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M33, roll M33_109. [↩]
- Ruth Osborne (Monroe Co., Ohio) patent no. 819; U.S. Bureau of Land Management, “Patent Search,” digital images, General Land Office Records (http://http://www.glorecords.blm.gov: accessed 16 Mar 2013). [↩]
- History of Noble County, Ohio, p.392. [↩]