Skip to comments.The Thinkers: He studies the Scots-Irish place in the region's history
Posted on 08/07/2006 9:28:33 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
Some have joked that Presbyterians are "denser" in Pittsburgh than anywhere else.
All over Allegheny County, you can find Presbyterian churches within a stone's throw of each other, and despite population losses, Western Pennsylvania continues to have more Presbyterians than any other region of the nation.
There's a strong historical reason for that.
It is connected to a group of immigrants who were a bedrock of the region's early settlement, but whose role in American history is virtually unknown to many people.
They are the Scots-Irish, although it's not a term they originally would have applied to themselves, according to Peter Gilmore, a retired labor journalist who is doing his Ph.D. dissertation at Carnegie Mellon University on this often-neglected group.
The Scots-Irish were Scottish families who settled in northern Ireland in the 1600s and 1700s.
Driven by a desire for cheap farmland and a thirst for independence, Mr. Gilmore said, the Scots-Irish formed the first big wave of emigrants from Ireland to the American colonies.
While the Pittsburgh region had its share of famous Scottish immigrants, such as Andrew Carnegie, the Scots-Irish, such as the Mellon family of banking fame, were far more numerous and important in shaping the area's early history, Mr. Gilmore said.
Because of the Irish potato famine in the 1840s and the subsequent emigration of millions of Irish Catholics to the United States, most people think of Irish-Americans as being more like the Kennedys than the Mellons.
Yet demographic surveys have shown that the majority of Americans who list their heritage as Irish identify themselves as Protestant.
That may be because the Protestants, and particularly the Scots-Irish, got here first.
(Excerpt) Read more at post-gazette.com ...
Anyone know how well the Scots-Irish got along with the Poles, Italians, and Lithuanians who poured into Pittsburgh at the turn of the last century. I know that my ancestors caught more hell from the Irish Catholics than from the Anglos and Scots.
Western Pensylvania, last name "Walker", Scots-Irish bttt!
My Irish Protestant ancestors first emigranted to Canada (Newfoundland) during the famine, and eventually ended up in the United States about 30 years later (some in California and some in Georgia).
This is an interesting speech:
By Hon. John Dalzell, Member of Congress from Pennsylvania, Washington, D. C.
From The Scotch-Irish in America: Proceedings and Addresses of the Second Congress at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 29 to June 1, 1890.
My Scotch-Irish ancestors in Pennsylvania intermarried with Irish Catholics. I've got a couple of Orange/Green intermarriages in my family tree. Complicating matters even more, my wife is Polish and Italian.
Random thought: Maybe my blatantly "Orange" (Scotticized Huguenot) surname was the real reason the Irish nuns at St. Mel School hated me so much. And I thought it was just sexism and anti-intellectualism...