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The Hart Family


Patrick Hart and Family

We tend to think of our emigrants to America as working and settling in the larger urban centres. However, as is clear from the story of the Hart family, some of them settled in very rural areas and farmed the land. The details of this story were e-mailed to us by Joan Borman, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

Patrick Hart Her great-grandfather was Patrick Hart. He was born on 17 March 1833 in the parish of Killeshandra. His parents were Patrick and Maria (nee O’Reilly). He emigrated to America in 1847. Most of his family seem to have travelled with him. He was joined by two sisters and four brothers - Michael, John, Barney and Peter.

The two sisters found work in Jersey city. They eventually married and settled there. It seems that the five brothers found work wherever they could and records show that they worked in the shipyards along the east coast and they even worked on the Erie Canal. However, about eight years after they had arrived in the America they heard that homestead land was available in Wisconsin. Patrick and his brothers moved there and purchased land in 1855. They settled in an area south of Green Bay, Wisconsin, an area known as Askeaton, named after the Co. Limerick town. Obviously, with a name like Askeaton, many of the settlers in that area were Irish and among the other family names were Summers, Wall, Clancy, Meehan, Carroll, Clune, Brick, Cleary, Colwell, Conroy, Cughlin, Farrell, Fox, Hayes, Keating, Sheehan, Powers and Rudden.

The land that the Hart family had acquired was one vast expanse of virgin timber. The first task facing the new settlers was to clear the land so that they could start planting their crops. From the abundance of timber they built their log cabins.

In 1860 Patrick Hart married Mary Rehill. She was the sister of John Rehill who, with his family, had recently arrived in the Askeaton area. There is evidence to suggest that the Rehills may also have come from Co. Cavan. Patrick and Mary had nine children. All the Hart families seem to have flourished and today there are many descendants of their families, some of whom still farm the land in Askeaton.

According to Joan, who lives in the Milwaukee area, about 100 miles south of Askeaton, there is still a strong tradition of Irish music and dance in the area, with the annual Milwaukee Irish Fest, the largest festival of Irish music in the world.

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