Immigration to America
The Creegan Immigration Story
As Handed-Down by the Family
John W. Creegan Account
“It seems as though when grandfather Creegan left Ireland everybody else was leaving also, going
mostly to America.
He was an orphan and with the famine and other miserable conditions, him and
some of his brothers also left. One brother went to Australia and was never heard from,
“Tradition has it that one Catherine McCann and her brother
had bought a joint ticket and at the last moment the brother could not leave.
John bought the ticket and probably came over using the McCann name that was on
the ticket. Catherine was from Armagh County and John was from County Louth.
Drogheda was the name of the city he was supposed
to be from. Anyhow, the ship took six weeks to make the trip and had mostly
Irish passengers but some Germans. Captain Graham, who was from Alexandria, was in
“One of the passengers aboard is now a member of the Lannon
family of Alexandria.
“Tradition says they landed in Baltimore
and John got as far as Alexandria and got a job
on the C&O Canal that was being built at the time.
He lived on Pitt Street
near the Canal. The place was called Billy Goat Hill. Now’ according to
official records, a ship named the Annapolis
arrived in Baltimore from Liverpool
on July 5, 1854 with 285 passengers, mostly Irish with some German with a
Captain John C. Graham commanding. Passengers # 126 and 127 were Hugh and
Catherine McCann and passengers # 258 and 259 were Bridget and John McCann.
Grandfather Creegan probably used Hugh’s ticket.”
Front page of the passenger list
for the Ship Annapolis
with the Master’s (Captain’s) certification signature.
The McCann’s entries
The entire page with entries for
John (Hugh) and Catherine.
The entire list.
In 1854 the decision to emigrate from Ireland was not a difficult one.
Times were difficult. The process, however, was not easy - mainly because
around every corner, someone was there to take advantage of the poor, frail and
ignorant and Liverpool was teeming with those
who were more than happy to strip you of all your worldly possessions.
Obviously, John and Catherine made it, but because of the circumstances it may
not have been without problems. My imagination wants to run wild with this but
I’ll hold back.
The ship they come over on was the Ship Annapolis of
Baltimore captained by John C. Graham. What a feeling it must have been for
John W. Creegan when he found the passenger list with Hugh and Catherine McCann
listed. Just like the story told it.
We know that, somehow, John ended up with a ticket (or
however they arranged things then) and came over as Hugh and Hugh stayed
behind. Did John already know the McCann’s? Did he already have his eye on
Catherine? Why did Hugh stay behind? Were John and Catherine madly in love and
she couldn’t leave without him and Hugh gave up his ticket so they could be
Bernard had indicated that he had
immigrated in 1849 on the 1900 census. I didn’t pay much attention to it
because it’s hard to prove the connection without other evidence. Recently,
Bill Shlesinger told me that according to his family lore Bernard had come
through Philadelphia and had walked to Alexandria. Well, I
couldn’t get to the library fast enough and I found the actual images of the passenger
list for that voyage on Ancesrty.com. Bernard was on it of course, but guess who else? Michael McSherry,
40, with his wife Ann, 37, daughter Ellen, 18, and son Michael, 3. The ages are
about right and, as you know, Bernard married Ellen McSherry in 1853 with
Michael giving consent.
The McSherrys brought one trunk and three boxes of
belongings on board while Bernard brought a single box. It must have been
difficult getting their belongings to Alexandria
if they walked.
Details of the
McSherrys and Barney Mccann on the passenger list
The entire page
The entire list
I checked the 1850 Census for Alexandria (there is no
index so I looked at every one of the grainy, ugly 200 pages and did not find a
Bernard McCann or anything close. I could have missed it because there were
some really bad pages. Or he could have been out at Murphy’s pub drinking a
pint. They probably didn’t have Guinness in Alexandria at that time, bummer! Update: I checked the Baltimore passenger list microfilm for 1849
and did not see any McCann’s at all for the entire year. There weren’t really
that many ships coming from Ireland
or England but there were a
lot of from Germany.
I can’t believe this one. In the DC
1920 census there is one Hugh McCann
who immigrated to America
in 1854! He was 2 years old at the time and he has a sister, Margaret. Someone
put this in there just to confuse us. However, it’s great for letting your
imagination run wild. Field 13 is the column. Field 15 tells us he was
nationalized in 1875.
On the 1900 census John and Sally
(Sarah) McCann both record that they immigrated in 1856 but I do not believe
this to be correct as he
married Sarah Owens in 1853. They had not been very inconsistent with dates
and ages but I think I need to hit the microfilms again. They also record that
they have 4 of 11 children living just like the letter to John C. states adding
more proof that they are the correct McCann’s. Update: I checked the 1856 passenger lists for Baltimore
and there were very few Irish passengers but there were many ships from Bremen.
The Ship Annapolis
Take a look at the picture of the ship at
the top of this page - I believe this one is similar to the Annapolis. The Ship Annapolis of Baltimore was
built in Baltimore
by N.A. Cooper. It was a large 908 ton sailing ship (perhaps what is known as
an extreme clipper) and was part of The Red Cross Line (note the red cross on
the sail). The ship took its maiden voyage in 1851 and this class of ship could
make the eastern trip from Liverpool in an
average of 29 ½ days (although the figure of 6 weeks in our data could still be
accurate). They left Liverpool in early June or earlier and sailed into Baltimore harbor on July
5, 1854. I wonder if they had fireworks on the fourth of July back then and, if
so, were they there and close enough to see them. The passengers onboard may
have had some difficulties during the trip but this was not a ‘coffin ship’
like some of the earlier unscrupulous sailings. In fact, there did not appear
to be any deaths during the journey.
According to JWC, John Graham, the Captain of the Ship
Annapolis, lived in Alexandria.
I happened across him
in the 1850 census when I was looking for Bernard McCann. Could there have been
an arrangement between Bernard and Captain Graham to assure that his relatives
made it on board his ship? It’s a long shot but who knows? The census
information is hard to read but I believe he is listed as a mariner with real
estate valued at $2500 and he was originally from Prussia.
If you take a look at Catherine’s entry in the passenger
list you will see that she is listed as 19 years old (use your imagination). At
least it’s an odd number, right?
I’m almost certain it her age is listed as 45 in the 1880
census (it’s a little hard to read). The date of the 1880 census is June 1,
Both the 1860 and 1870 census show her age ending in a 6 (26
and 36, respectively) and if you believe she was born in 1834 that means her
birthday has already been celebrated for that year (if they did that sort of
thing). The dates of the census were July 2, 1860 and July 16, 1870.
Do you see where I am headed yet? If Catherine was 19 on the
ship and 45 in the 1880 census, that means she had NOT yet had her birthday -
which means, it would occur sometime between June 1st and July 2.
By the way, that means she would have had her birthday
during the voyage – I wonder if they had a party?!
Then again, maybe I’m having another, really bad, fantasy