Locked below the decks of ship, Mary MacKenzie was tossed and turned among the other passengers as the crew above battled the terrible storm.
America must have seemed far away and Ireland much safer than the endless ocean. County Mayo had been a beautiful part of country, however, religious persecutions made life difficult. Priests went around the countryside disguised as laborers and tinkers. Catholics gathered in the fields to learn their prayers. If anyone was caught harboring a priest their homes were immediately burned. Food was also scarce and many of the people depended on fishing or killing deer which was considered poaching, others resorted to stealing sheep or pigs. The White Boys were part of the law and order of countryside. If an Irishman was suspected of informing on the poachers or collaborating with the English rulers the White Boys intervened. Possibly rowing a suspect to the middle of a lake where he would disappear forever.
Although the fright of the terrible storm aboard ship never left Mary, she found life in America easier. Mary married James Galeese and settled in Connecticut where they both worked on a farm. According to granddaughter Florence Minch, Mary was a household servant. She also recalled the following story. On one occasion the farmers wife invited the church minister for dinner. Mary was instructed to pour the water while the minister prayed- Thinking it was a baptism Mary replied, “Yes Ma’am, and shall I pour it on their heads?”
Free to worship publicly, James and Mary walked to Mass every Sunday- To save their shoes they would walk barefooted and put them on again before entering church.
James and Mary eventually moved to Middletown Ohio, where they resided on Webster St. near Holy Trinty Church which was a very Irish area. Their family grew to include seven children and many grandchildren. Marv enjoyed popping popcorn on top of a coal range for all of them in the evenings. Florence would fondly remember her grandmother as being a gentle, affectionate woman who liked to laugh and loved the Irish ways.
Mary was born January 25, 1845, in Ireland, the daughter of Michael MacKenzie and Mary Costello Ti MacKenzie. She died on February 1, 1916, -and is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Middletown, Ohio. Row 22.
- Florence Minch, Houston TX
- Calvary Cemetery Records, courtesy of Wilson-Shram Funeral Home, Middletown