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HomeFeminismAncestor Tales within the Dreamtime

Ancestor Tales within the Dreamtime

This was initially posted January 9, 2017

In the course of the night time in waking sleep, I requested my great-great grandmother Annie Corliss to inform me the story of how she met and married James Inglis. This story got here by way of me in a spot I’ve come to name the Dreamtime. The Aboriginal time period feels proper. As I perceive it, this isn’t a spot the place the useless communicate to the residing however somewhat an area the place boundaries blur because the ancestors communicate in us.

Annie Corliss’s Story: As It Would possibly Have Been

My mom determined to return to America after my father died. My brother Hudson was 7 and my brother Hugh was a child. I used to be 13. Mom had a bit cash, and he or she stated we’d have a greater life in America. We left Eire on a ship that took us to Liverpool. There we boarded the massive ship Continent that took us to America. The journey took about 6 weeks. Whereas we have been at sea, first Hudson, after which Hugh died. Their our bodies have been wrapped within the blankets that had lined them within the filthy cabins on the ship. The priest stated a couple of phrases of blessing, and so they have been dumped into the chilly offended sea. On daily basis, one other physique was thrown overboard, typically two. A lot grief, so many tears within the night time. After Hudson died, Mom wouldn’t let go of Hugh, so afraid was she of dropping him. After he died, she wouldn’t cease crying. I stored telling her she nonetheless had me. She didn’t care anymore. “America is cursed,” she stored repeating. (1)

As we set foot on land within the port of New York Metropolis she spit and cried out, “No higher than Eire.” I needed to take cost. When I discovered the chest holding all the pieces we introduced with us, I regarded round, questioning what to do. One other Irish household instructed us to get right into a cart with them. It stopped in entrance of a tall constructing. A person carried our chests as much as a small darkish room the place we’d all keep the night time. A minimum of we have been off the ship.


Mom by no means stopped crying. She stated she wouldn’t eat the meals of a cursed nation. She died simply days after our arrival. Some males got here and took her physique away earlier than we even had time to clean it. They stated she can be buried with no mass. Nobody requested me any questions, and I used to be too upset to say something. “Irish trash,” I heard one in every of them mutter. I by no means knew the place Mom was buried. I by no means visited the grave. Mrs. O’Connor took me to St. James Church to gentle candles for Mom’s soul. How lovely it was. he  Blessed Virgin draped in blue stood subsequent to altar. As I prayed the Rosary, the Blessed Virgin assured me that Mom was along with her. (2)

Mrs. O’Connor stated I may keep on with them, if I labored to contribute to the bills and helped with the kids. Once I held little Patrick, I considered Hudson and Hugh, however I stored again my tears. The child introduced a smile to my face. Mrs. O’Connor helped me discover a job washing stairs in one of many buildings close by. She instructed me by no means to say my actual age, however to inform everybody I used to be 16 happening 17. I had by no means lied earlier than, and I feared that God would punish me, however quickly I acquired used to mendacity about my age.


In the future after work, I went right down to the docks the place the ships are available. Fort Backyard they name it as a result of there’s a lovely fortress there. Recent air blows in from the ocean. As I used to be watching the individuals getting off the ship, I regarded up and noticed a boy excessive up on the rigging taking down the sails. He smiled at me and waved. When he completed his work, he slid down the ropes and jumped off the ship, touchdown in entrance of me.


He stretched out his hand and launched himself as James Ingalls from Scotland. He stated he had been engaged on the ships since he was 11. “I’m 15 now and I’ve seen the world,” he stated. Despite the fact that he was small and slight, he appeared like a person of the world to me. “I’m new in America,” I stated, “just a few weeks. My mom died, and I’m alone.” James stated he was sorry, after which he requested if I wished to walk across the docks with him. I thrilled when he touched my arm as we dodged out of the best way of a horse and cart. We stored firm till his ship left. We walked and walked. James knew a lot. He confirmed me the place it was secure and pointed to darkish alleys and darkened doorways to keep away from. He requested the place I lived and instructed me he would look me up when he was in port once more in about 3 months. I puzzled if he would. (3)

Mrs. O’Connor was good to me, however her husband drank an excessive amount of when he acquired paid, and I didn’t like the best way he checked out me. I instructed James, and he stated we should make a plan to get me out of there. “We’ll save our cash and get married,” he stated. “However we’re too younger,” I protested. “Quickly I’ll end my apprenticeship, after which I’ll make some actual cash,” he insisted. “Within the meantime, if we each save what we are able to, we are able to get married subsequent yr.” (4)

And that’s precisely what we did. In 1855, I grew to become Mrs. James Ingalls. I used to be virtually 15 and James was simply 17, however the priest didn’t bat an eyelash once we instructed him we have been 20 and 25. He could have suspected I used to be pregnant, however I used to be not. No man ever touched me till my marriage ceremony night time. The Blessed Virgin stored me secure.

James and I rented a small condominium on the 4th ground of a kind of large buildings on Cherry Avenue the place the Irish crowd collectively. With our small financial savings we purchased a mattress, virtually like new, some sheets and blankets, a cooking pot, a kitchen sink, a coal range, and a desk and two chairs. James promised to save lots of his wages in order that we may purchase extra furnishings when he returned. I continued to work and saved what I may. Whereas he was gone, I purchased 4 plates, solely barely chipped, with a blue and white sample. I proudly set them on the desk, hoping James would approve. Mrs. O’Connor was certain he would. (5)

Shortly after James went again to sea, I missed my month-to-month time. When it occurred once more, I knew I used to be pregnant. This was not a part of our plan, however it was the desire of God. Mrs. O’Connor stated to not fear, the Blessed Virgin would defend me. (6)


In June the census man got here. He defined that he wanted details about the individuals residing in New York.  James was away, so I answered the questions. James Ingalls, my husband, was at sea. I used to be Ann, his spouse. When the person requested if I labored or was holding home, I stated “holding home” as a result of I used to be so proud to be married. When he requested our ages, I didn’t hesitate: “I’m 20 and he’s 25,” I stated, simply as we instructed the priest. I didn’t know if James may learn or write, however I stated that he may, as a result of it sounded higher, then I admitted that I couldn’t. Just a few extra questions and it was finished: the married couple, James Ingles, 25, mariner and his spouse Anne, 20, have been recorded on the New York State Census. It was all actual. Our life was starting.

* * *

  1. Ann “Carless” from Eire 13 arrived on Jan 16, 1854 in NYC from Liverpool on the Ship Continent along with her mom Mary 35. I’m assuming that is Ann “Corliss” as a result of the title is spelled variously by the household and Ann herself couldn’t learn or write. Ann’s mom ‘s title is recorded Mary on her dying certificates. The passenger listing exhibits that Ann’s  brothers Hudson 7 and toddler Hugh died on the ship together with at the very least 53 of about 500 passengers. I’m assuming that Ann’s father died the earlier yr, as he didn’t appear to have met them in NYC. I imagine Mary died shortly after arriving as no hint of her is present in America and her daughter married so younger that one assumes there was no parental supervision.
  2. It is a description of St. Mary’s on Grand (pictured), which was constructed for the Irish. I presume Mary was buried in one in every of New York Metropolis’s potter’s fields or pauper’s graveyards, the place no names have been recorded and there have been no grave monuments.
  3. Boys have been normally apprenticed as riggers at age 10 or 11.
  4. And not using a household to guard her, younger Annie would have been a simple goal for sexual predators.
  5. See my earlier weblog Life within the Tenements.
  6. A primary youngster Isabella was born to James and Ann in 1855 in response to 1860 census. Although the yr on Isabella’s dying certificates is fallacious, I think the beginning day of November 26 is appropriate. If Ann and James married a couple of months earlier than June 1, 1855, there is no such thing as a cause to imagine Ann was pregnant earlier than they married.
  7. On the 1855 census taken on June 1, James Ingles, mariner, and spouse Anne are recorded within the Cherry Avenue space close to the docks the place they lived their entire lives. The census says he’s 25 and he or she 20, which conflicts with the ages I’ve for them of 15 and 17. I imagine these are my ancestors nonetheless, as a result of they appear to have had a baby later within the yr and since the occupation and the placement close to the docks are appropriate. Like Annie, James couldn’t learn or write and his surname is spelled in numerous methods.



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