Immigration to America


The Creegan Immigration Story

As Handed-Down by the Family

John W. Creegan Account




The Story


“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, ever.”


“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 charge.”


“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 enlarged.

*     The entire page with entries for John (Hugh) and Catherine.

*     The entire list.



Some Facts


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 together?




*     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 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.



Catherine’s Birthday?


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, 1880.


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 attack.