Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Settling, Part I

How did they survive when they arrived?
How did they get employed, find a home, etc?
I don't know what they did when they first arrived.  It could be that there was family in the area.  We think they came to Canada in about 1841 and Dennis (a son) was born in Massachussetts in 1845.  I really know nothing about where they were or what they did between those times.  When Dennis was born in Stoughton (about 12 miles southwest of Boston), his father, Dennis Cussen from Ireland, was working as a cooper for a whale oil producer.  So next time you hear about the whaling ships and burning whale oil in lamps, remember that your family used to work in this industry.  Apparently he built barrels to hold the whale oil so it could be stored and shipped.  I know that lots of people in Stoughton were employed at the boot factory, including some of the older Cussen boys.  So my guess is that the family headed overland from Canada to Boston, where lots of Irish lived, heard about jobs that were available in nearby Stoughton, and found a place to live there.  Mary was born there in 1847, so we know they lived in or near Stoughton for at least a couple of years.  Being new to the area and having come from overseas, and being Irish, they probably did not have much money, so Dennis and Catherine and their ten children probably lived in an apartment, or a small house, or maybe the older kids lived in other houses.  They were from the Irish countryside, so I imagine they worried constantly about whether it was safe for their younger kids to play outside, or whether their older kids would get involved in crime or gangs, or whether they'd get beat up because they were Irish.  And I think that other family members from Ireland wanted to come to America, but it was too expensive near Boston.

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