Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Catholic Migrations: McHugh, Wagner, Laubscher, O'Neil

McHugh: Brothers Daniel & John McHugh left County Donegal, Ireland about 1832. According to family, they had contracted with a Pennsylvania coal company to pay for their passage and employment. The McHughs worked coal near Mahanoy City in Schuylkill Co. until they earned enough to move west. Daniel came to Pennsylvania with wife Francis and two children. John met and married Sarah Hickey while in Pennsylvania.

The McHughs left Schuykill Co. and settled near Galena, Jo Daviess Co., Illinois by the mid-1840s. Although opportunities in the lead mining industry may have motivated the brothers to head for NW Illinois, both Daniel and John were masons and may have found work in that trade. They were also farmers. By 1850, they had relocated to the lead mining district near Gratiot and Shullsburg in Lafayette Co., Wisconsin.

Members of Daniel's family would find their way back to Galena, to Nebraska, Chicago and California.  Others remained in Lafayette Co. John's family went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, California, back to Galen and to Chicago.

John's son, James, would remain in Shullsburg until his death. James' wife and their children went to Chicago. John, William, Mary, George, Frank and Josephine remained in the Chicago area. Charles left Chicago for Indianapolis about 1911 to pursue opportunities in the tool and die business.

Wagner & Laubscher: John Wagner and Catherine Laubscher arrived in Philadelphia from Baden by 1841. There they married in the German Reformed Church. After the birth of their first child in 1844, the couple followed the German migration to the lead mining region near Fredericktown, Madison Co., Missouri. Catherine's brothers George and Louis accompanied them. The men found work in the lead mines. George Laubscher and John Wagner would be attracted by the opportunities in Lafayette Co., WI. John moved his family there during the early 1850s. George Laubscher returned to Missouri and later Pennsylvania. Both George and Louis served in the Union army during the Civil War. John died before 1855 and Catherine about 1882. Their daughter Louisa married James McHugh. She died in Chicago in 1906.

O'Neil: Catherine O'Neil left County Cork, Ireland in 1852,  at the age of 18. She worked as a domestic in England to earn her passage to New York. From New York, Catherine made her way to central Indiana. Catherine took a job teaching local farmers to read and married one of them, Aaron Crail in 1857 in Indianapolis. Aaron died from consumption in 1868. [He contracted the disease during the Civil War.] Catherine and her children would be a mobile group: Marion, Hamilton, and Shelby Co's in Indiana, as well as Chicago. Catherine died in Indianapolis at the age of 100.

For the most part, my Catholic families stayed in the Midwest. Three began in Pennsylvania and would call Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana home.

The fate of Catholicism in the family? Some of my grandfather's siblings may have maintained the Catholic faith, but Grandpa McHugh left it to his four children to follow their own path. To the best of my knowledge, all four became Protestants.

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