In 1838 and 1839 a settlement known as Makokiti was started about twenty miles from Dubuque by Irish who were mostly from Cork and Limerick. The first church was built in 1840, with the first mass being offered that year by Reverend Samuel Mazzuchelli, an Italian. it is interesting to note, too, that the priest in this Irish parish ten years later was a Frenchman, John C Perrodin.

By 1840 there were scarcely one hundred Irish in the parish. The number rose to 260 in 1841 and six hundred by 1843. one early group came from New York. Other families arrived in the United States in the winter of 1841-1842. They waited in St. Louis while one member went to select a home. He reported that he found nothing equal to the Makokiti settlement in either Missouri or Illinois.

A school was erected in 1842. one of the instructors was Dennis Mahoney. He initiated the move to change the name to Garryowen. For a number of years there was conflict between the Cork Irish and those from Limerick. Finally Limerick won out.

By 1850 most of Butler Township around Garryowen was occupied. A check of sixty-five families living in one area shows that all but four were farmers. John Phillips and George Morrow were laborers. John McCartney, the shoemaker, and Michael Burke, the country schoolteacher. In addition, there were fourteen single men, two single women and three widows without families living in the neighborhood.

Although Garryowen and the surrounding territory had not been settled long, fifty-five had been able to acquire land valued at $47,000 or an average of about $850 per family. Some holdings were valued at only $125, while Daniel O'Herrin had a farm worth $3,000 and Michael Redden one valued at $9,000.

Both husband and wife were Irish except in two cases. William Green was born in New York while his wife, Margaret, was Irish. William Matthew's [*see note below on corrections] wife, Mary Ann, was born in pennsylvania. The William Rink, Richard Donovan, David Burke, Henry Burke, Henry Maheny and Daniel O'Herrin families were  among the first arrivals at makokiti, all being there before 1840. The others came year by year in no organized movement. At least half had lived in some other state or in Canada before coming to Iowa. Some lived first in the south-Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi or Louisiana; others stopped in New Brunswick or Newfoundland. Several families lived in New England (Massassachusetts or Maine) or in Pennsylvania, new York or Maryland. Still others migrated from nearby states such as Missouri, illinois, or Ohio.

The famine seemed to have a limited effect on migration. All but nine of the families left Ireland prior to 1845. The presence of five orphans may indicate that the Irish were caring for children whose parents had died during the famine.

Fifty-one of the families had children ranging in number from one to thirteen. Many apparently did not leave home upon becoming of age. Instead, they continued to work on their father's or some neighbors' farms.

Calkin, Dr. Homer L.  The Palimpsest, "The Irish in Iowa" Published monthly by the State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, February, 1964


*Corrections to original article:

In the story about the Irish settlers in Garryowen, a statement was made that most of the families were headed by both husband and wife immigrants from Ireland -- with a couple of exceptions : "William Matthews' wife Maryanne came from Pennsylvania". That couple are my gggrandparents and the correct names are Matthew Williams and Maryanne (or Mary Ann) Brennan. He came from County Cork and she came from Pennsylvania.
I hope it will be corrected to the Williams surname.

Gene Williams
Saturday, February 09, 2002 5:47 PM



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