May 15, 2013

From Ireland to Massachusetts to Wisconsin

I had a small mystery on my hands and it involved why two brothers moved from Massachusetts to Wisconsin.  This family had immigrated to America from Ireland and in particular the Boston suburbs in the early 1850's but by 1867 two of the brothers married sisters and moved to Wisconsin.  Why?  It was after the Civil War and I wondered if that had anything to do with it.  A google search for what might have been going on in 1867 in Wisconsin turned up a unique immigration plan targeted on European immigrants.  Not only did they go overseas and distribute pamphlets about Wisconsin but also they went to the East coast and targeted the Irish and other immigrants to come to Wisconsin.  In 1855 Wisconsins were getting a little uptight about the foreigners and an end to the commission was brought about but it seems in 1867 that the commission was brought back and again in 1895.

Wisconsin government officials tried to encourage settlers to come to the state several times in the 19th century. They employed a commissioner or a formal board of immigration during the years 1852-1855, 1867-1887, and 1895-1901. In 1867 Gov. Lucius Fairchild persuaded Milwaukee author Increase Lapham to write a 38-page pamphlet entitled, "Statistics, Exhibiting the History, Climate, and Productions of the State of Wisconsin" to be distributed to prospective immigrants in the eastern states and in Europe. Lapham finished this pamphlet in July, 1867, and over the next several years, translations and revised editions appeared in German, Norwegian, French, Dutch, Swedish, and Welsh. More than 90,000 copies were published in all, some of them printed and issued directly in Germany, Holland, and England to save shipping costs.

The interesting thing is that if my Great Great Grandmother had left Massachusetts with her brothers I wouldn't be here and if they stayed their descendants wouldn't be here either.