In late 1829 a travelling priest, Father Patrick O’Kelly, arrived in Northfield at the behest of Father Gabriel Richard. Its pioneers having built a log cabin church for him, to be consecrated as St. Brigid, Northfield became the first English speaking Catholic parish in Michigan.(1) In 1831 Father Richard stated that Northfield held more Irish Catholics than Detroit. (2) So many Irish Catholics settled in the western part of Northfield that it had become known as “New Ireland.”(3) By 1878 more than half of the farms in Northfield were owned by Irish families. (4) In all, more than 135 Irish heads of household settled Northfield in the 19th century. (5)
The Board is asking that members voluntarily "adopt" a plot out at one of two Northfield cemeteries. Adoptions can be made by one member or a team of up to three members. In each case the plot would be the burial site of a 19th century Irish pioneer or settler. Volunteers will create genealogies documented with source citations. Articles will be produced for publication based on a template provided with each volunteer named the author of his/her article. Much of the work can be conducted online!
In addition to leaving a legacy for our fellow Irish Americans, IGSM members can benefit from participating in ways that will enhance their own family trees not the least of which is learning how to find and use unusual sources. This month Abigail will provide more detail on the NIP and show us how using the Hathi Trust Digital Library can help fill in gaps left by the missing 1890 US Census.
HathiTrust is a partnership of academic & research institutions which offers a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world. The HTDL provides online access to out-of-print publications, including address and phone directories, county histories, State House of Representative Journals, DAR lineage books, family genealogies, and even university graduation commencement programs. The HTDL allows you to build you own online collection and provides data needed for proper citation of sources.
After retiring from the full-time practice of law Abigail turned her attention to community volunteering and all things Irish. She is an Anne McCallum set dancer and served as a 1916 Commemoration Committee Member; Chairperson Capt. Robert Monteith Memorial. Abigail is a member of the Incorporated Society of Irish American Lawyers, National Genealogical Society, New England Historic Genealogical Society, and Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County. Abigail completed the Boston University - Metropolitan College Genealogical Essentials Program. She can be reached at email@example.com.
(1) Wystan Stevens, editor, “Northfield Harvest”: A Pictorial History of Northfield Township and the Whitmore Lake Areas (Washtenaw Co. Michigan: Northfield Township Historical Society, 1999), 57-58.
(2) Stevens, “Northfield Harvest,” 154.
(3) Stevens, “Northfield Harvest,” 55.
(4) Stevens, “Northfield Harvest,” 79.
(5) Stevens, “Northfield Harvest,” 85-86.