Irish Peppers and Pattons
RICHARDSON PEPPER was born in 1828 in Ireland as the child of SAMUEL PEPPER. He died between 1880–1890 in Jeanerette, Iberia, Louisiana, USA. When he was 23, he married MARGARET PATTON, daughter of WILLIAM PATTON, on 14 Feb 1851, in Seagoe Parish, County Armaugh, Ireland (Registration District: Lurgan, Vol 7, p 5707,11).Their marriage record lists RICHARDSON’S occupation as blacksmith, as well as his father, SAMUEL. MARGARET is listed as “Spinster”, at age 22 years. Her father, WILLIAM, is listed as being a farmer.
RICHARDSON PEPPER and MARGARET arrived in New Orleans sometime between 1855 and 1859. The family lived in Ward 1, Iberia, Louisiana, USA in 1870 (Age: 38, Census Post Office: New Iberia). Richardson was employed as a Blacksmith in 1880 in St Mary, Louisiana, USA. He is shown to be living in 2nd Ward, St Mary, Louisiana, USA in 1880. (Age: 49, Marital Status: Married; Relation to Head of House: Self).
There’s lots more we need to piece together to get their whole story, but I thought I’d post some thoughts about them today.
There is no question Richardson and Margaret experienced great hardship in their lives. Richardson was seventeen and Margaret, sixteen, when they witnessed devastatingly torrential rains never before seen. Little did they know that this eventful rainfall in 1845 exacerbated the Great Potato Famine and encouraged the mass emigration that would drive them to America. I wonder how the families dealt with the onslaught of Ireland’s tragedy.
Between 1845 and 1852, The Great Irish Famine, also known as the Potato Famine, was a famine caused primarily by a potato disease called the potato blight. The famine’s effect was felt throughout Europe; however Ireland was the most affected because over one third of the population was dependent upon the potato for food. Over one million people died and one million more emigrated from Ireland during this period of starvation and disease. During this time the population of Ireland dropped by 20-25 percent!
I imagine the long talks around the hearth, lamenting their lot. How were the Peppers and Pattons personally affected? Did they lose family members during that time, or stock, or crops? What measures did they take to survive? What were the lingering results of this experience?
Meanwhile, the summer of 1847 New Orleans, saw another Yellow Fever epidemic, which was a common occurrence there due to the climate. The putrid swamps were perfect for great mosquito infestations. New Orleans hospitals were overburdened by the influx of the sick. It was during this scene that refugees from the Irish potato famine began arriving in large numbers.
The young couple in Ireland, 19 and 18, probably saw many of their neighbors leave their homeland for the Promised Land. When did they decide to do the same? Were they both equally intent on the move? What preparations did they make, as they watched the devastation of their beloved home? Did their parents encourage them, hoping their lives would be easier?
By 1852, the year they married in the United Church of England and Ireland Parish Church of Seagoe, the US nation experienced yet another wave of Yellow Fever. In New Orleans alone, 8,000 died that summer.
Did Richardson and Margaret hear word of the epidemic? Did they read letters from any newly-emigrated friends or family? How did the couple prepare for the trip? What did they do to earn the necessary funds, not only for the passage, but starting their lives together? What were their living conditions when they welcomed their first child, JOHN, in 1855?
We have not yet located any CONFIRMED record. We are seeking passenger lists of ships in the port of New Orleans, also, any naturalization papers, or perhaps, any land grants. There is much to do here.
We do know their first child was born in 1855 in Ireland and their second, another son named JAMES WILLIAM, was born in 1859 in St Mary Parish, LA. James is my direct ancestor. In this scenario, between 1857 and 1859, a worldwide influenza outbreaks and becomes one of the greatest epidemics of all time. We will discuss this shortly.
If you have any suggestions about how to locate supporting documentation, please let us know.