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Irish Immigration into Passamaquoddy, Maine

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Location: Passamaquoddy, Mainemap
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Because it appears that my ancestors may have immigrated into Passamaquoddy, Maine (aka Eastport), in the far northeast corner of the state, I have put together a collection of information on this lesser known port.

Immigration Records

Maine Records

Includes Bangor (1848); Bath (1825-1867); Belfast (1820-1851); Frenchman's Bay (1821-1827); Kennebunk (1820-1842); Passamaquoddy (1820-1833); Portland & Falmouth (1820-1847); Waldoboro (1820-1833); Yarmouth (1820)

Other Ports' Records

Passamaquoddy, Maine History

[1] On this St. Patrick's Day take the time to remember the Irish who lost their lives of the coast of Maine while traveling to a new world in the 1800's.

Hospital Island is a small island with only about 3 acres of land, but it is the final resting place for hundreds of lost Irish souls. The tiny island in Passamaquoddy Bay, just about 5 miles off the coast of Robbinston, Maine, is actually part of Canada.

It was here that a quarantine hospital was built to manage a cholera outbreak in 1832. In 1847 the Island was officially renamed Hospital Island and began to become over whelmed with large groups of Irish attempting to escape the Famine. Many developed typhoid on the journey to the island and died before reaching land. Others were quarantined and many never made it to the mainland.The exact number of deaths is unknown but estimated to be around 400 people and all who died were buried here.

As if the Irish who died here didn't have enough bad luck! In 1869 a violent storm created such large waves portions of the shore line was pounded until the shore began to fall into the ocean. This washed away some of the burial area for the Irish and exposed bones, coffins, and even washed some remains ashore. What could be was collected and returned to a burial spot on the island that was more inland. Today the island is privately owned and all that remains of the doomed hospital are lines in the ground from foundations. It is now used primarily as a busy nesting site for birds of many types. Nearby islands had similar quarantine stations and in 1995 a monument was erected of a Celtic Cross facing the sea and the islands where so many Irish lives were lost. More information on the monument and Hospital Island can be found here.

Website about the passage to Passamaquoddy: [http://www.barbaradickson.ca/hospital-island-st-andrews-by-the-sea/ Hospital Island: St. Andrews-By-The-Sea]

Just a couple kilometres offshore the quaint sea coastal village of St. Andrews-By-The-Sea, New Brunswick, lays Little Hardwood Island, used extensively during the mid-1800s as a quarantine station. The tiny island, comprising less than three acres sits in picturesque Passamaquoddy Bay next to its larger sister Hardwood Island. A small hospital with simple medical facilities opened in 1832 to manage a cholera outbreak. In 1847, the site, renamed Hospital Island, became overwhelmed when medical staff attempted to handle the mass influx of Irish Famine immigrants. The Irish, hoping to find a new life in the New World, died easily from typhus onboard ship with little resistance attributed to malnutrition and various stages of starvation. Many died en route. Those who died while in quarantine were interred on the tiny landmass, the exact number of deaths unknown. Some estimated the death toll as high as 400. Similar to conditions at other quarantine stations along the St. Lawrence River, some of those who came to aid the sick became infected themselves and died. Dr. Samuel Frye died at Hospital Island.

If the pitiful situation at Hospital Island wasn’t enough to raise sympathy for the plight of the Irish people, newspaper reporters wrote that in 1869, the Saxby Gale was so vicious a storm, it washed away soil from the Irish cemetery, uncovering coffins, and exposing skeletons. Bones that washed ashore on the mainland were desecrated, with awful stories circulating of children using human skulls to kick around. It would take a decade before what could be collected of the deceased Irish remains were re-interred in a more sheltered area of the island. Like Partridge Island in Saint John, Hospital Island is not open to the public. Privately owned, the island’s proprietor, Peter comments that, “the only remnants of the original buildings are depressions in the ground from the old foundations close to the new cottage.” In his wanderings he has found artifacts such as old spikes and parts of old stoves. Today, the island offers a safe nesting area for various birds including black backed gulls, herring gulls, and eider ducks. A Celtic cross memorial to the Irish who died at Hospital Island stands at Indian Point along the shoreline in St. Andrews. Erected in May, 1995, the monument features various symbols depicting the Irish story including a shamrock, fiddle, and sailboat (representing their tragic voyage.) Its inscription reads: “In memory of Those men, women and children Who died of hunger and disease While fleeing the potato famine In Ireland and lie buried On Hospital Island Lovingly remembered by Their descendants who persevered And helped build this great nation” “Erected May 28, 1995 By the Charlotte County Chapter Of the Irish Canadian Cultural Association Of New Brunswick” The memorial can be missed easily if you drive or walk by; when asked, local townsfolk are mostly unaware of its existence.

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