Speaker shares history of Irish in Bristol

BRISTOL – Irish immigrants came to America in the mid-1800s and many arrived in Trumbull County to work on the Ohio-Pennsylvania canal before moving to Bristol and other townships, according to a local historian who spoke at the recent gathering of the Bristol Historical Society.

Bristol resident Wendall Lauth told more than 40 guests at the St. Patrick’s Day-themed program on local Irish ancestors that after reviewing 1850s census records, he found several local families from Bristol who came from Ireland as indicated by the earliest records.

He said many people have Irish roots but when they do research they have more of Scottish-Irish ancestry.

Among the families are the John and Robert Thompson families who came around 1850 from Ireland started farms in the township and are now buried in Bristol cemeteries.

”We have many Irish settlers buried in our local cemeteries,” he said.

Other families of Irish descent included Gowdy, McDuffy, Wright and Mahan, whose relatives live locally today.

Lauth said the first mass Irish immigration in Trumbull County was in the public square area of where Courthouse Square sits today. The immigrants worked on the Pennsylvania-Ohio Canal in the area between Niles and Warren.

”The canals were the routes before the railroad began and provide jobs,” he said.

Lauth said the very early exodus of immigrants to the area worked on the canal in Warren and later moved to Bristol.

Lauth said the immigrants coming into Ellis Island were probably impressed by what they saw of their first glimpse of North America.

”They brought with them their Irish roots and traditions which so many Irish families will be recognized for this week,” he said.