240 – Patrick and Ellen

Bridget Large and her family were living in Tuscarora. Her sons worked as miners and laborers in a mine. By 1850, Tuscarora had several mining operations, and had grown to a population of 400.

Patrick Gallagher was also in Tuscarora.

Tuscarora – c 1900

We find Patrick Gallagher for the first time in the 1850 census in Tuscarora. We estimated that he left Ireland in 1848, so he’d been in Tuscarora for several years.

Patrick Gallagher – 1850 US Census

Patrick was living in the household of Conrad Graber. Conrad Graber and his brother John were miners who immigrated from Germany. The Grabers’ wives and two young children were in the household.

Patrick and the eight other males were likely renting a room or two in the Graber house. It was common for several single men, as many as six or eight, to share a room.

Patrick probably worked as a laborer on Conrad Graber’s mining crew. Maybe Patrick worked in the same mine as William, John, Richard, and Thomas Large. 

History of Pottsville and Schuylkill County Pennsylvania – 1936

Patrick didn’t know mining

Donegal didn’t have coal mines. So why did Patrick go to the Pennsylvania anthracite coal region? 

Many immigrants from Donegal ended up in Pennsylvania coal country. Though they didn’t have mining experience, there were plentiful laborer jobs in the mines. And a community of people with familiar customs and language.

In the 1840s and 1850s, Donegal’s Irish settled in the deeply forested coal fields of northern Schuylkill County, southern Luzerne County, and western Carbon County. They inhabited shanties in remote outposts and developing towns like Girardville, Mahanoy City, Shenandoah, and Summit Hill.

Donegal’s Irish left an isolated area to be greeted with more isolation in America. Both regions were endowed with forbidding geography, hazardous weather, and breathtaking scenery. Their property struggles continued, not because of squared farms, but due to company-owned shanties in makeshift coal towns.

Slow Fade Of The Pennsylvania Irish – The American Conservative

Patrick Gallagher and Ellen Large

We don’t know how Patrick Gallagher met Ellen Large, but Tuscarora was a very small town. The population was 400. Maybe Patrick worked with Ellen’s brothers and that was the source of introduction.

Whatever. Patrick and Ellen met. There was a distrust and animosity between Irish from Kilkenny and those from Donegal. But Ellen and her mother must have overcome that. And so did Patrick.

In 1854, Patrick Gallagher and Ellen Large married at Tamaqua. Tamaqua was the neighboring town four miles east of Tuscarora. While the 1850 population of Tuscarora was 400, Tamaqua had grown rapidly to a population over 3,000.

Tamaqua – sketch by Eli Bowen – 1854

Patrick and Ellen married at St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in Tamaqua in October 1854, Father James Morris presiding. Ellen’s older sister Margaret and her husband Patrick Kelly were witnesses.

Marriage – Patrick Gallagher and Ellen Large – 1854 – Gallagher family Bible

In 1854, St. Jerome’s church was located adjacent to the cemetery, on a hill overlooking the town. 

St. Jerome’s Cemetery – Tamaqua, Pennsylvania

The original St. Jerome’s Church was located at the sight of the old St. Jerome’s Cemetery, founded in 1834. Construction of a new church building on Broad St. began in 1856 and was completed in 1861.

Saint John XXIII – Parish History

Patrick and Ellen Gallagher had a son

John Gallagher was born Monday, August 13, 1855, in Tuscarora, Pennsylvania. His parents were Patrick Gallagher and Ellen Large Gallagher.  He was named after Patrick’s father John Gallagher.

Let’s go with the Gallagher family Bible’s birth date of August 13, and the church’s August 19 as the baptism date, as the 19th was a Sunday. Father James Morris presided. Sponsors were Michael Dooly and Bridget Morris.

Birth – John Gallagher – 1855 – Gallagher family Bible

I doubt if Patrick was able to skip work on Monday the 13th for the birth of his son. Ellen was lucky she lived close to her mother Bridget and two sisters Catherine and Margaret.

A life change

Patrick and Ellen had married in 1854. A year later they had a new baby. They were next to take on a new job and a move.

Why? Better opportunity? Things in Tuscarora not so good? Or just the way the wind blew?

Let’s follow them and try to find out.


One thought on “240 – Patrick and Ellen

  1. deborahlargefox0764 September 28, 2022 / 2:43 pm

    I don’t know much about the collieries in the Tuscarora area during the 1850’s, so this is valuable information for me, just to know of this one. I never knew there were so many collieries during that time. In my mind, I just pictured a few, but the region was full of them, it seems from your research. Thanks so much, once again! Debbie


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