Introduction to Lynch Clan

My Lynch ancestors from Ireland came to America in 1848. The group included my Grandfather James Lynch and his five siblings, ages 10 to 18, who sailed without their parents to New York City. Soon they were living in a tenement house in Massachusetts working in a textile mill. From there they gradually migrated west. This blog will contain information gathered by my mother, Hazel Lynch Skonberg from her father, giving details of the trip over and life in America. There is also a diary written by his son, Will Lynch, who was with the American Consular Service of the State Department, and was taken hostage on Dec. 8, 1941, by the Japanese Army who had captured Shanghai that day. I hope you enjoy this blog about the James Lynch family in America.
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

James Lynch Biography Part 1

Hazel Lynch Skonberg interviewed her father and wrote this when she was 17 years old. She was not very interested in family history at that time and filled out the outline he gave her.  Later she did write it all down for us to have.  Some dates may be off.  The famine and unrest in Ireland made it difficult to keep good records.  As part of a family of teachers, I will add maps and pictures to this biography.  I am sure my Teacher Mother would approve!  Roselyn

By his daughter, Hazel Lynch Skonberg, 1982
     James Lynch was born in the village of Clonmel in the County of Tipperary in the Country of Ireland on March 16, 1836.  His father was Thomas Lynch, and his mother was Johanna Pendergast.  They were poor farmers who rented for a lifetime.
     Most land was owned by English nobility, and there was no chance to ever own it.  The land was rolling and grassy.  The family owned a horse and a cow.  (Roselyn--We had thought they were very poor but I was told by an Irish historian that if they owned any animals they were not destitute or considered "peasants")
     Houses were made of clay and straw mixed and roofed with thatch.  Farms were very small and the population was dense.   Roads were of broken rocks, of which there were plenty.  Rent was high.  Taxes were also high and ten percent of the taxes went to the Catholic Church.  James' only chance was a little schooling up to the fourth grade.  The only schools were in the Catholic Church, taught by the priest.  The desks were shelves nailed to the wall around the room and students stood up to them.  There were no recesses.  The priest was harsh and whipped often.  His main interest was in good penmanship, and Mr. Lynch learned to write very well.
     His parents died during the potato famine caused by a potato blight, and the family split up.  James was only twelve years old when he and his two brothers and three sisters decided to go to America, where they had heard there was great opportunity, and better prospect to make a living.  His older sister, Katherine, her husband John Deeves, and their daughter, Carrie, left also and went to Australia. There was one letter from them sent to Ireland and resent to the family in America, but there no address so they lost track of each other.  (Roselyn--I did some research in Australia and found what happened to them and will write of that later)
Red marker shows Waterford, Ireland. Look closely-
 Clonmel is just northwest of Waterford
     On March 16, 1848, James and his brothers, Patrick and Thomas, along with sisters Ellen, Mary, and Julia, sailed from Waterford for New York on the English sailing ship, Sir Harry Smith.  It was a 400 ton, three-masted brig with 400 passengers.  There was an auxiliary motor which was some help.  (Roselyn--the same Irish historian said that if they came on such a sailing ship, they were not destitute, since they had to pay for their passage)  They encountered a fierce storm just three days from New York and were blown a long way off before the storm abated.  Food got scarce.  They were strapped down most of two weeks and were seasick, also.  They finally caught some sea turtles and were glad to eat them, because they were hungry.  They arrived in New York on May 2, 1848.
     When they came to America, they started working in a cotton mill in Fall River, Massachusetts. (A mill town south of Boston). James was given the job of putting the wooden spindles of thread on the pegs.  He was given the job for one day to see if he could do the work.  He did it so well that he was given the job permanently.  That was when he was still twelve years old.  He earned six dollars a month and stayed for a year.  The three brothers and three sisters lived together in a frame tenement house that was barely furnished.  They slept on the floor.  Some worked nights, some days.  The work shifts were twelve hours.

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