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The Irish in St. Louis
By 1850, 43 percent of all St. Louisans were born in either Ireland or Germany. Irish immigrants often brought limited skill levels, putting them into direct competition with free blacks in cities for lower level jobs. In this case, economics drove politics; Irish immigrants in cities tended to be strongly pro-slavery, out of fear that liberating African-American slaves would create a glut of unskilled labor, driving wages even lower.
Irish immigrants in St. Louis congregated in two areas. Some lived in the “Kerry Patch” area on the near north side—a violent, dangerous, and impoverished neighborhood. Others lived around Cheltenham, centered around the intersection of present-day Hampton and Manchester. After rail connections to St. Louis opened in 1852, the clay and fire brick industry grew quickly. Irish immigrants worked in local clay mines. The first priests at St. James the Greater Parish, in today’s Dogtown neighborhood, were Irish when it was founded in 1861. Later in the decade, the Archdiocese commissioned St. Alphonsus Liguori Church (the “Rock” Church on North Grand) for the growing number of Irish immigrants.
When working with Irish surnames, consider variations of each name. For example, if you are looking for a Riley, also check alternative spellings such as Reilly and O’Reilly. Follow up on these clues by using city directories and other local resources.
[Information taken from] http://stlouis.missouri.org/government/heritage/history/immigrant.htm
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Meetings, sponsored by the St. Louis Genealogical Society and co-sponsored by the St. Louis County Library, are held at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters. Meetings are held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the East Room on the main floor.
St. Louis Genealogical Society · #4 Sunnen Drive, Suite 140 · St. Louis, MO 63143 · 314-647-8547