I had hoped that having a few family details — the brothers Pat and Phillip, the sister Mary, or the parents William and Bridget — would help me track down some of the girls who came in, but they, too, disappear quickly, untraceable or just absent from the record.
Before allowing our Catherine Dunn to slip away into the tides of history, I figured we should see what New York and Providence/Newport have to offer. The latter, as it happens, was a bust. No matching listings. But looking through the databases of immigration and travel documents available to me showed me a few other things.
A separate listing of “Alien Passengers Bonded from January 1, 1847 to January 1, 1851” as they arrived in Boston provided another potential match not yet on the list — Irish 8-year-old Catharine Dunn (EBY 1839) who arrived 29 Oct 1847 on Charlemagne, though in those listings, finding who came with her is inordinately tricky. Two other Irish Dunns arrived 29 October in Boston on Charlemagne — 30-year-old Anastatia and 7-year-old Mary — but their arrivals are listed in 1849. Typo or coincidence?
What I really found fascinating, though, were the ad listings for missing family and friends: notices in Boston’s (and other cities’) newspapers seeking information on Irish immigrants whose families and friends had lost contact with them. A usual ad, like the ones whose text is excerpted here, listed the missing person’s name, age, place of origin, and departure/arrival or last place seen, as well as the information for whom to contact:
[Image: Searching for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in “The Boston Pilot,” 1831-1920.]
This starts to give a snapshot of the mobility of these immigrants, as well as the difficulty even their own families had in tracking them in North America. And while the above Catherine Dunn is likely not ours based on age, perusing the listings starts to confirm that there are probably more Catherine Dunns in play than we’ve been able to account for — or, equally, than we need to assume more mobility rather than less for our immigrant Kenrick Serving Women.
To recap, these are the Massachusetts-established candidates for the Catherine Dunn in the Kenrick household in Newton, MA, in 1855:
- Catharine Dunn #2 (Thomas & Catherine), EBY 1828, m. 1856 in Whately, MA
- Catharine Dunn #5 (Michael & Mary), EBY 1831, m. 1857 in Great Barrington, MA
- Catharine Dunn #7 (Patrick & Catharine), EBY 1834, m. 1858 in Boston, MA
- Catherine Dunn #8 (Patrick & Mary), EBY 1836, m. 1869 in Worcester, MA
- Catherine Dunn #9 (parents unknown), EBY 1839, m. 1869 in Springfield, MA
- Catherine Dunn #10 (William & Mary), EBY 1844, m. 1868 in Northampton, MA
- Catherine Dunn #11 (parents unknown), EBY 1834, in service in Roxbury, MA
- Catherine Dunn #12 (parents unknown), EBY 1840, in service in Boston, Ward 6
- Catherine Dunn #13 (parents unknown), EBY 1840, rooming house in N. Chelsea, MA
- Catharine Dunn #14 (parents unknown), EBY 1842, rooming house in Boston, Ward 9
- Katy Dunn #15 (parents unknown), EBY 1841, rooming house in Newton, MA
- Catharine Dunn #16 (parents unknown), EBY 1838, rooming house in Brookline, MA
And these are the immigrant candidates for those Catherine Dunns, as they arrived into the port of Boston:
- Cath. Dunn (parents unknown), EBY 1838, arrived Boston 12 Nov 1853 (from Liverpool on Meridian), traveling alone among other Irish teenage girls
- Cathe Dunn (parents unknown), EBY 1836, arrived Boston 18 Jan 1853 (from Liverpool on Moses Wheeler), traveling alone among Irish children, teens, and young adults
- Catha. Dunn (William & Bridget), EBY 1841, arrived Boston 26 April 1841 (from Liverpool on James H. Shepard), as an infant
- Cath. Dunn (parents unknown), EBY 1834, arrived Boston 24 June 1848 (from Liverpool on Conrad), with her two brothers, Pat (EBY 1839) and Phillip (EBY 1845)
- Catharine Dunn (parents unknown), EBY 1833, arrived Boston 26 July 1848 (from Liverpool on Oxnard), with sister Mary (EBY 1831), occupation listed as “Servant”
- Cath Dunn (parents unknown), no EBY, arrived Boston 24 Oct 1854 (from St. John, Newfoundland on Ann), few passengers, no family, hers is only age unrecorded
- Catharine Dunn (parents unknown), EBY 1839, arrived Boston 29 Oct 1847 (from unknown origin on Charlemagne), unclear who if anyone accompanied her
When I got to New York’s listings, though, all hell broke loose, as I kinda figured.
Going through the New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957, just one of the various overlapping listings of immigrants arriving to New York by ship, I found 30 appropriately aged Irish Catherine Dunns (and variants) arriving by Spring 1855. Oddly, when I went back a few days later, eight matches had disappeared from my search results — as in, entering the passenger name, arrival year, and name of ship, which I’d carefully copied into my own notes from the first time I ran the search, produced no hits. Unclear what’s going on there. Then, after some debate, I discarded 19-year-old Catherine Dunn who arrived in New York on 28 March 1852 with 20-year-old Edward Dunn as being more likely married than siblings.
Of the remaining 21 girls, five arrived in New York apparently alone, five arrived with siblings (no parents), ten arrived with one or both parents (and sometimes siblings), and one arrived with her sister and a whole bunch of other Dunns I can’t reasonably identify as family or not. Of those who arrived with parents, none match the parents of our Massachusetts-established Catherines.
At this point, we’ve exhausted the extent to which it makes sense to chase our Catherine, as there’s no good way to pin down so many unattached Catherines, but I want to leave you with the five who arrived in New York with siblings and no parents.
- 16-year-old Catherine Dunn arrived New York (from Liverpool on John R. Skiddy) on 3 May 1849 with James (25), Eliza (21), Edward (19), Patrick (17), & Mary (14)
- 15-year-old Cath Dunn arrived New York (from London on American Union) on 30 June 1853 with John (20), Judy (10), & Anne (8)
- 12-year-old Cath Dunn arrived New York (from Liverpool on Southampton) on 15 October 1851 with Mary (14) & Ann (8)
- 12-year-old Cath Dunn arrived New York (from Liverpool on Roger Stewart) on 15 October 1854 with John (7)
- 10-year-old Catherine Dunn arrived New York (from Liverpool on Yorkshire) on 5 July 1849 with Ellen (7)
[Image: Plaque at the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor. “The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus.]