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Ethnic diversity is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the history of Vermont. It is, after all, the second whitest state in the union — and Maine edges us out by just a whisker. The Abenaki, of course, predate any European settlers.
Aside from knowing that, we may have only a hazy vision of who came here in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Mostly Yankees, plus a lot of French-Canadians and then some Italian granite workers, right? During three decades teaching at the University of Vermont, the of Irish surnames among his local students piqued his curiosity. The Marshfield resident began to collect information, because the topic blended his two deepest historical interests: Vermont and Ireland.
The result is Finnigans, Slaters and Stonepeggers: A History of the Irish in Vermonta colorful and thorough look at how the green hills of Ireland provided substantial waves of immigrants to the Green Mountains, beginning in colonial times.
He spent lots Vermont time wading through primary sources, particularly census documents. Amassing the data was a vital starting point for telling the story. Sometimes, to come up with oneit might take me five hours of research.
I probably spent, on a part-time basis, maybe a full year just going through census records. Crunching the s allowed Dating to see vivid connections between historical events in Ireland and spikes in immigration to Vermont. Settlement patterns within Vermont also became clear — which counties and towns proved the biggest draws. The first wave came in irish s and s, when the Irish agriculture and economy collapsed after the Napoleonic Wars ended.
The Brits were trying to encourage immigration to colonial Canada, so they slapped tariffs on fares to their former colony, the United States. Many disembarked at the bustling port of Burlington, or took their first steps on American soil in Franklin County. Often, their final destination was Vermont.
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The Great Potato Famine caused the greatest influx of Irish immigrants. The first year that the Irish were streaming out of their homeland,was the same year that the railroad came to Vermont. Railroad construction made backbreaking, unskilled labor jobs immediately available.
More importantly, the ease and economy of shipping freight by rail made other industries possible. Certain regions of Ireland had similar resources, and Feeney noticed a fascinating pattern.
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Clusters of men from Tipperary, where slate was mined, migrated to the slate towns of Castleton, Fairhaven and Poultney. But prejudice existed. Anti-Catholicism came to America on the May-flowerand Vermonters codified it in the constitution, which excluded Catholics from holding political office.
The flood of destitute Famine Irish increased tensions; some boisterous rail workers drank heavily and got into violent scrapes.
This behavior collided with a budding temperance movement. In the early 20th century, they dominated local politics in some towns. For example, between andBurlington elected Jim Burke mayor seven times — the last at age In the nineteenth century Irish immigrants brought collar-and-elbow wrestling to America. The name collar-and-elbow came from the initial stance of the wrestlers. In the years following the Civil War, Irish collar-and-elbow enjoyed wide popularity across America.
Like with boxing, Vermont arranged matches wherever a large crowd could be gathered: in fairgrounds, music halls, theaters, or saloons. Unsurprisingly, Irish Americans excelled at this form of irish. They were raised as boys with the dating, mastering numerous intricate holds and tripping tricks, and worked at physically demanding jobs that kept them in top physical shape.
Moreover, the Irish in the New World as in the Old embraced physical competition, the athlete and the strongman a figure of prominence. In late-nineteenth-century Vermont, stories of Irish feats of strength circulated from neighborhood to neighborhood.
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Johnsbury who hand-loaded for weigh-in fifty-six tons of pig iron in a single day. The farm boy or quarry worker who proved irish in the ring enjoyed an exalted standing among his peers Vermont, particularly the old Irish enclave of Franklin County, was arguably the center of collar-and-elbow wrestling in the United States in the s and s In the latter half of the nineteenth century, twenty-one Vermonters earned accredited championships in the sport; fourteen of them came from Franklin County and nine of them from Fairfield Tags: Booksbookswinter readingbook review.
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Excerpt from Finnigans, Slaters and Stonepeggers In the nineteenth century Irish immigrants brought collar-and-elbow wrestling to America. Got something to say?
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