Thursday, September 22, 2011

EmigranThursday - The Chisholm and Allan Families

Welcome to this week’s EmigranThursday which explores the  connections between Henry Chisholm and William Chisholm of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Biographical information about them appeared on pages 337-8 in the History of Cuyahoga County published by D.W. Ensign & Co in 1879. 

So what conclusions did you reach from reading the biographies of  these two men? It seems clear that they were brothers who married sisters. Henry Chisholm left Lochgelly, Fifeshire first and perhaps met and married Jane Allan in Glasgow. Then he, and perhaps the entire Allan family, left Glasgow for Canada. William Chisholm stayed in Fifeshire longer than his brother and was a sailor for several years before emigrating to Canada where he married Catherine Allan. These assumptions are borne out by documents found on Ancestry and FamilySearch.

It's interesting that the brothers do not mention their connection to each other in their biographies. Elsewhere in the county history it mentions that they were among the founders of Union Steel Screw Company (located at East 40th Street in Cleveland), which was one of the most successful companies of its type. The Cleveland Rolling Mill, co-owned by Henry Chisholm eventually became U.S. Steel. Perhaps the Chisholm's personal story was so well known in Cleveland, they didn't fell it was necessary to elaborate.

Henry, William and a younger sister Grace were born to Stewart Chisholm and Christina Henderson in Auchterdarran Parish in Fifeshire. Lochgelly, located in this parish, is not far from either Kirkcaldy, where William was an apprentice merchant, or Dunfermline where the Allan family was from. Jean and Catherine Allan were born to Wilson Allan and Catherine Arnott in Dunfermline parish. They had several other siblings including a younger brother Henry born in 1835.

Henry's family was easier to trace through census records than William's. In the 1841 Scottish census a Henry Chisholm is living in the household of Andrew Allen in Lanarkshire. I next found him and his family in the 1860 US census in the 5th ward of Cleveland. In the household was himself, his wife Jane, and five children (all but the youngest born in Canada), and Henry Allen, aged 24 (presumably Jane's brother). In the 1880 census Henry and Jennie Chisholm are living with their daughter Katy, her husband and family in addition to a coachman and three female servants. William and Catherine's family were in the 1880 census as well with their four adult children, a daughter-in-law and a grandson. All of William's children were born in Canada.

Henry and William both became US Citizens in 1857 and 1863 respectively. According to their naturalization papers Henry came to the US in January 1851 and William in February 1855. William applied for a passport in June 1876. According to the application he as 5'9", had blue eyes and an ordinary mouth. William's son Henry Arnott applied for two passports for travel to Asia in 1916 and 1919.

You can read more about Henry Chisholm and the Cleveland Encyclopedia of History here and about the entire Chisholm family in the Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders by John Ingram here. Most of the family is buried at Lake View Cemetery, the final resting place of the great and the good of Cleveland. There are several family trees on Ancestry, which I did not look at, but you can if you search for Henry Chisholm (1822-1881). This search also returns a image of William Chisholm (b. 1843) and Henry Allan (1835-1899). William, according to the data attached to the picture, is Henry's son. William Chisholm, the son, became president of the Rolling Mill after his father's death and during his tenure the strikes of 1882 and 1885 occurred.

The Chisholms are excellent examples of several immigration patterns: families migrating together and step-migration. Henry's path to Cleveland took him to Glasgow and Montreal first. William went to Kirkcaldy, sailed around the world for several years, then to Montreal before following his brother in Cleveland. Often people will talk about step-migrations as if they were planned, but the reality was Henry and William had probably never even heard of Cleveland in the 1840s. Cleveland was not yet the powerhouse in that decade that it became by the late 19th century. And of course, the Chisholms personify the goal of making it big in America.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The pictures are of the brothers, Henry and William. Henry's son William did not have a full beard but instead muttonchops.


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