[extracted from Proc IoMNHASoc vol. 5 no 4 pp436/455 1955. (c)estate of RH Kinvig]


Contributed by R. H. KINVIG, M.A.,

Professor of Geography, University of Birmingham



THERE is no doubt that people of Manx origin have been settling in America since the seventeenth century and it is quite probable that Myles Standish (1586-1656), the military leader of the Pilgrim Fathers who sailed for New England in the ‘Mayflower’ in 1620, was himself of Manx origin or at least was closely connected with the Island, The Standish family had estates both in the Ormskirk district of Lancashire and in the Isle of Man, and Myles belonged to the branch which had owned Ellanbane in Lezayre since 1540. Moreover his two wives, Rose and Barbara, were certainly Manx and probably cousins of Myles. He married Rose before leaving for America, but her death occurred soon after their arrival in the New World, and some three years later he married Barbara, who was her sister, or, according to some writers, her cousin.1

In 1655, two brothers, William and Jonathan Christian of Maughold, went to Virginia. A family named Cottier from Lezayre went there at the same time, and inter-marriage took place between the two families. The Christians acquired considerable tracts of land in Virginia, and descendants of the family were possessed of an ample fortune. Such, for example, was Robert Christian, a colonel in the Revolutionary War and a devoted friend of George Washington. Another was John Beverley Christian (1796-1856) ‘a gentleman of very estimable private character’ who was educated at William and Mary College and who became well known in Virginia as an able advocate and jurist.2

Existing broad distribution

The records so far given refer to emigrants of relatively high social standing and wealth whose numbers have been small compared with those of the less wealthy or poorer middle and lower class workers who formed the main groups of colonists later on. It was undoubtedly the latter who determined the main pattern of Manx settlement in America which is now visible on the map on p. 438 (Fig. i), and compiled from the recent membership records of the North American Manx Association, a body founded in 1928 in Cleveland, Ohio, where it celebrated its Silver Jubilee at a Convention in 1953.3 The maximum attained was about one thousand in 1950 and the map indicates broadly how these were distributed among the various States. Though it is true that only a relatively small proportion of the the total number of Americans of Manx origin belong to this Association yet these figures probably give as accurate a picture of their general distribution as it is possible to obtain; in any case there is no other organisation from which any comparable data could be provided.

N.A.M.A. membership, 1950

Quite clearly Ohio, with over 300 members, stands out above all others, Cleveland being the chief focus though an appreciable number are also found in north-east Ohio as the existence of a separate branch of the N.A.M.A. there readily suggests. Next in magnitude comes Illinois with a membership of over 100 followed by California and then New York State and Michigan. After these come the States of Washington, where Seattle is the main nucleus, with Florida and Wisconsin some distance behind; and next in order are the mining areas of Montana, Wyoming and Arizona. Amongst other States of any significance are some in the Middle West, including Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, with a few in the north-east, namely Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut, while the capital, Washington D.C., certainly has a number of residents of Manx origin. Finally, mention should be made of Utah, where Salt Lake City and Ogden are chiefly concerned; Colorado, with centres such as Denver, and Alabama, where Mobile is the place chiefly responsible for Manx settlers. Excluding the latter State, the South is significantly devoid of people of Manx origin, as well as some farming States such as the two Dakotas.

The distribution which has just been traced is the result of separate movements of people from the Isle of Man which had their origins during the eighteenth century and gathered force during the nineteenth century, particularly in the 1820’s and succeeding decades, persisting into the present century and up to the present day. Unfortunately no exact records exist of the eighteenth century but it is certain that there must have been Manx sailors on vessels trading with East Coast ports, particularly Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, and some would undoubtedly stay ashore to become permanent settlers, as they have done in more recent times. There is in fact some evidence to show that Manxmen were living in the New England states at the time of the American Revolution (1776), and that they took part not only in that struggle but also in the war of 1812.


Earliest Manx Settlements in Ohio

The earliest precise record of Manx emigration so far available refers to the years 1821 and 1822, and it was in the latter year that William Corkhill of Ramsey set sail for America from Liverpool with his wife (Jane Kaneen Corkhill) and four children.4 After a voyage of nine weeks they reached Baltimore whence they travelled by wagon across the Alleghany Mountains to Steubenville on the River Ohio, where an uncle of the family, John Kenyon, had settled in the previous year. It is thus evident that Manx settlers played at least some part in the early movement to what was then the North-West Territory through the historic Cumberland gap over the Appalachians, which took definite shape some years after the Declaration of Independence (1776), and particularly after the Greenville Treaty of 1795.

It was, however, essentially in the northern section of the existing State of Ohio that Manx settlement occurred on a relatively large scale, and this movement dates from 1825 onwards. The area concerned borders on Lake Erie and was originally claimed by the New England State of Connecticut which regarded it as its ‘Western Reserve’ — a title which still persists, for example, in the name of the University now located in Cleveland. The initial settlement of the area was by ex-soldiers and others from Connecticut itself after the American Revolution, and inspection of the older tombstones in cemeteries such as Mentor, Leroy and Concord reveals such characteristic New England names as Jonathan and Experience Root, Nathaniel and Abigail French, Preserved and Nancy Harris who came into the area during the later eighteenth and earlier nineteenth centuries. The original village forms of the Western Reserve bore a similarity with those in New England, consisting of a green bordered by a town hall and a church as may still be seen, for example, in Hudson, Painesville and Cleveland itself.

Manx colonisation of this Western Reserve was the result of a number of factors, one of which was the visit of a Manxman, Dr. Harrison, at one time on the medical staff of the British Army, who travelled in the area sometime about 1820. On his return to the Island, where his brother, the Rev. J. E. Harrison, was a well-known Manx scholar who in 1818 became Vicar of Jurby, he gave very encouraging accounts of the district on the south side of Lake Erie and predicted a splendid future for it. Just at that period many of the small farmers and labourers, particularly of the northern parishes of Jurby, Andreas and Bride, as well as Kirk Michael and the area round Peel, were finding conditions very difficult owing to adverse economic and social conditions affecting agriculture and fishing, so that they were more than usually influenced by these stories of the new lands in America awaiting development, and many resolved to emigrate. From 1825 onwards conditions were made relatively easier for emigrants to penetrate to such inland areas as Ohio by the completion, in that year, of the Erie Canal which enabled travellers to make the journey all the way by boat from New York up the Hudson river to Albany, thence by Canal via Rochester to Buffalo on Lake Erie. Even this stretch took six or eight days, after which came another boat journey on the Lake lasting one or two days or more.

Sources of information

Knowledge concerning this very significant migration of people of Manx stock, and of their settlement in America, has been pieced together from various sources including diaries kept by some of the emigrants, letters written to relatives on the Island by emigrants, as well as letters written by emigrants to Manx newspapers. The best examples of the diaries are those by Thomas Kelly who left Doolough Farm, Jurby, in 1827, and by Daniel Caley, also of Jurby, who left in 1831.6 Of the private letters from emigrants, the most complete and informative are those by William Corlett and his son Thomas, who left Orrisdale, Kirk Michael, in 1827;7 of the other letters good examples are those from Leroy, Ohio, written in 1827 to the Manks Advertiser by members of the Tear family and by William Kelly.8

On the American side, information has also been obtained from the local records (e.g. of Geauga County and Cuyahoga County, both in Ohio, but the latter containing Cleveland) as well as from various accounts written by descendants of early settlers (e.g. by W. S. Kerruish on The Pioneer Manxmen, already referred to). In addition, tombstones in the earlier burial grounds occasionally give interesting details of some of the pioneers. Thus, in the Brakeman Cemetery of the Leroy district, John Tear’s tombstone describes him as ‘a follower of Wesley’ under whose ministry he had sat, and it also states that he had emigrated in 1826, having been born in 1760, while he died in 1841.9

Of the diaries that have survived that by Thomas Kelly is not only the best known but is also the most attractive and philosophical, and it tells how he left the Island on 6th July, 1827, along with his father, sister, wife and five daughters, and ten other Manx people to seek fortune in the New World. On the previous day he had made a special journey to see ‘the ancient ceremonies on Tynwald Hill and secretly to take from its lowest round one little handful of that earth which has seen maybe, and heard, more history than any other spot on the Island.’ The journey to New York from Liverpool occupied 63 days, and it took another 17 days before the party reached Painesville, Ohio, travelling via the Erie Canal. Passing through Rochester they had ‘a joyful meeting’ with several Manx people, proving that other emigrants had already preceded them on this route.

Original areas of colonisation

It was, indeed, in 1826 that the first Manx pioneers are known to have arrived in the Cleveland area. They consisted of three families —William and Eleanor Kelly, Patrick and Ann Tear, and William and Mary Kneen — with seven children between them, but many more came the next year when something like seventy families (about 200 people in all) arrived in Ohio. Taking part in the 1827 exodus were the Kellys of Doolough, who settled in the Painesville area, and also the Corletts of Orrisdale who chose an area adjoining Cleveland called Newburgh, where they bought a farm from the original Connecticut Land Company. Next year about the same number arrived, and in succeeding years others came though apparently never in such large numbers, and it was estimated in 1883 that, in Cuyahoga County alone, the total number of survivors of the original movement with their descendants and later arrivals amounted to between 3,000 and 4,000.

The main area of colonisation comprised the northern section of a rather low plateau rising to heights of 900 or 1000 feet and drained by the rivers Cuyahoga,10 Grand and Black with the ports of Cleveland, Fairport and Lorain at their respective mouths. The settlements were usually located some miles from the Lake shore coastal plain, and included, from east to west, Madison, Hambden, Chardan, Concord, Painesville, Mentor, Warrensville, Newburgh and Elyria, at some of which water-power could be used to drive small mills. Not so many went to the last-named place, but the Caley family, although they originally landed at Fairport and worked during the winter at one of the iron furnaces, set off next spring by ox-wagon to make the 50-mile journey to Elyria.

The early immigrants suffered many hardships; most of them were poor, and almost without exception they encountered fevers and cholera, from which many died. The area was well covered with timber which had to be cleared before farming operations could begin, and the soil could hardly be described as particularly good for agriculture, so that the settlers had to engage in a number of other occupations to make ends meet. In addition to weaving, tanning, sugar-making (from the maple-tree), and chair — or button — making, many worked in the iron furnaces which existed at several centres from Madison through Painesville to Elyria, where bog iron-ore was smelted with charcoal from the surrounding forests. Despite these difficulties, letters from early emigrants speak encouragingly of the new country, ‘where no one need be poor if he or she is well and industrious’, and where there was an absence of class distinctions as well as of tithes (potato tithes were a particular bone of contention in the Island at the time). ‘Ho! my boys, this is the place’ wrote one, ‘there is no one called master or mistress or servant . - . they are a free people. The Yankees are as good neighbours as I thought. and not proud and haughty as those we left in the Isle."

Knowledge of English was very limited amongst these pioneers, Manx being used almost exclusively in their intercourse with each other as well as in their religious services. That this use of the native tongue continued for many years after their arrival in America may be illustrated by the two following incidents, one occurring in the Isle of Man, the other in Cleveland in 1863. The first is taken from the experiences of George Borrow in his visit to the Island in 1855, and he relates how, after crossing the Curragh, he visited ‘the house of John Mollie Charane. On my knocking at the door it was opened by an elderly female of about sixty. Among other things, she told me that she had a son in Ohio who lived in a village where the Manx language was spoken, the greater part of the people being Manx.12 Unfortunately no name is given, but presumably conditions were much the same in all the villages within the area. The second incident took place at the Annual Festival held in Cleveland in 1863, when the chief speaker of the evening, W. Sheldon Kerruish, told several stories in Manx which were perfectly understood by the audience. This characteristic gave the Manx the reputation originally of being a ‘somewhat clannish body of immigrants’,13 much in the same way as various groups of European colonists have been regarded in more recent years; indeed in certain instances, particularly in north-eastern Ohio, the Manx have preserved an unmixed descent to the present day, when the sixth generation has been reached.

The accompanying diagram (Fig. 2) showing Manx landholders in part of the Warrensville Township has been simplified horn a. map of the Cuyahoga County in 1874, and it indicates the considerable extent to which land in the area was still owned by settlers of Manx origin at that date.’’ From all accounts this area was, for some years after 1826, owned almost entirely by Manx pioneers, but then came the inevitable process of change whereby many of the original owners, or their descendants, moved to newer parts of America (e.g. Illinois or Iowa) still further west, and others took up fresh occupations in Cleveland. The surnames that appear on the map (e.g. Brew, Caley, Corlett, Cowley, Callow, Harrison, Kerruish, Kissack, Kneale, Quayle, Shimmin, Teare) include many of the typically Manx forms that are also common further east in Ohio, but amongst those not mentioned are Crellin, Craine, Garrett, Cowan,,, Quine, Clague, Kewish, and a name which now appears in America as Cam. The original form of the last name was Kaighin, which, owing to the difficulties presented by pronunciation, has been softened and shortened. Adjoining the Manx settlements in Warrensville, and on its north-west side, was an area settled by the Shaker Society,’14 a religious group which apparently entered the area about the same time as the Manx. The group itself has now disappeared but its name survives in Shaker Heights, a wealthy and attractive suburb of Greater Cleveland in which a number of Manx-Americans live.

Mann influences in Cleveland and Ohio

Although it is now impossible to give with any accuracy the number of people of Manx origin living in Cleveland, the figure was estimated to be about 25,000 to 30,000 some three or four years ago. In any case there can be no doubt of its status as the ‘Manx Capital of America’, and, as already seen, it is the headquarters of the North American Manx Association. It was here that the Mona’s Relief Society was founded in 1851, over a hundred years ago. This body owed its creation to the initiative of five men with typical Manx names, James Christian, John Corlett, William K. Corlett, William Cubbon and William Brew, and it was formed to assist and take care of the poor immigrant from the Isle of Man who came with an empty pocket or in feeble health. It holds an honoured place as a pioneer among the many benevolent societies which have since come into being to benefit and befriend people of various national elements.16

Despite a small number compared with those of analogous cultural groups, the Manx have contributed in several ways, material and intellectual, to the development of Cleveland. From the first they were interested in education, and the ‘Manx Street School’, one of the earliest in the city, was for long a familiar feature of the Newburgh settlement. The original log structure was replaced in 1842 by a white frame building called the ‘Little White Schoolhouse’, and though this was destroyed by fire later in the century, reunions continued to be held in connection with the school until 1923.’17 One of William Corlett’s sons, Thomas, who accompanied his parents to America in 1827, attended Oberlin College and later Kenyon Theological College at Gambier and was then ordained a minister. It is certainly surprising to reflect that in 1852 he contemplated going as a missionary ‘to Oregon or any other foreign country’, but though he went for a while in 1857 to Baraboo, Wisconsin (which he described as being ‘on the borders of civilisation’),18 he returned to the Cleveland area and became a great social favourite. The most eminent member of the family was Dr. William T. Corlett (1854-1948), a grandson of the original immigrant, who won an international reputation as a skin specialist. In the field of law and public speaking the name of W. Sheldon Kerruish, who died in 1927, is outstanding. He was born in America but his parents had taken part in the 1827 migration, as also did the parents of Thomas Quayle who established a famous shipbuilding firm in the city. Thomas Quayle had actually accompanied his parents and was then 16 years old, having been apprenticed as a ship’s carpenter before leaving home; and the vessels his firm built became well known all over the Great Lakes. In house building, the firm of John Gill and Sons was founded by a man who was born in Port Erin in 1830 and emigrated to Cleveland in 1854. As might be expected this firm has given employment to many tradesmen —masons, joiners and others — of Manx origin; and amongst the many buildings which it erected in the eastern half of the country is the Terminal Group with its famous Tower, the tallest in Cleveland.

An Example of Cultural Pluralism

This link between the Island and Ohio has now existed for a century and a quarter, and it has had a number of interesting results, including the obvious use of American place-names in Man by relatives of emigrants or by returning emigrants. Probably the best known and most striking result has been the foundation of the Cleveland Medal from a fund raised by the North American Manx community in 1923, which is now regarded as the outstanding honour awarded annually at the Manx Musical Festival. This forms a cultural bond between the homeland and its American offshoots which is, indeed, constantly being renewed by the fairly frequent visits made by the Manx-Americans to their ‘mother-country’ either in the form of organised ‘homecomings’ (as in 1952), or in the more personal family visits, some of which take place every year. The attachment towards the Island felt by Americans of Manx ancestry expresses itself in the display of the Manx flag along with the Stars and Stripes and the flag of Canada at the regular meetings of the North American Manx Association, as well as by the singing of ‘Ellan Vannin’ and ‘O Land of our Birth’ along with the American and Canadian National Anthems on such occasions. There was, perhaps, a time when such an attitude would not have been regarded with favour since it was contrary to the idea of the ‘melting-pot’ which envisaged the production of a more or less uniform type of American. This point of view has now been altered, and the newer idea is that of ‘cultural pluralism’ streams in American life which have contributed towards its diversity and its enrichment. There is thus room in America for elements derived from a far-away little Island as well as from every other European cultural group ! 19


Outside of Cleveland and north-east Ohio, Manx settlements in the United States are much smaller, and are all younger. They are generally more dispersed than those of the Western Reserve, except perhaps in parts of Illinois.

As already pointed out, this State ranks second in the number of its members belonging to the North American Manx Association, and of the hundred odd people about half are now to be found in and around Chicago; most of the remainder live in the Galva and Peoria districts. The latter areas can claim to be the oldest Manx settlements in the State, since during the years 1848 and 1849 small groups of farmers from the Island arrived at Brimfield, whence some soon spread out to adjoining counties including Galva, Monmouth, Princeyule, Canton and Peoria in the north-central section of the State and on the western side of the Illinois river. Here was an area with characteristics very different from those of northern Ohio, since, instead of the wooded uplands which needed much toil to clear, there existed great lowlands, draining to the Mississippi, and forming part of the arable, or tall-grass prairies. The soil was generally deep and fertile, and the sod could be easily cut and turned, at any rate by the steel ploughs used after 1837, while timber was usually readily accessible. The area was thus very attractive and it now forms part of the ‘corn belt’, one of the world’s greatest storehouses of farming wealth.

Although Illinois had become a State of the American Union in 1818 its settlement was not particularly rapid, despite its fertility, until after the railway had reached Chicago (actually from Detroit in 1852) because, otherwise, access from the east was not easy. The easiest approach was, in fact, from the south via New Orleans and the River Mississippi, and this was the route followed by the first-recorded Manx settlers consisting of the Kelly family from Onchan. Their passage to New Orleans by sailing ship took seven or eight weeks (others took thirteen weeks), and then came the journey up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers to their destination, the last part being by stage coach. Other families followed, coming particularly from Onchan, Crosby and Peel as well as from various northern parishes such as Bride and Andreas; and the most characteristic Manx names represented were Crellin, Shimmin, Kaighin, Cowley, Collister, Gelling, Kermeen, Monier, Mylchreest, Carran, Kewley, Lewin, Bridson, Crow, Killip, Cain, Corkill, Looney, Clucas and Kneen.

The name Monier (pronounced Mo-neer with the accent on the second syllable) which appears in this list is of especial significance since it provides an excellent example of a Manx surname which has become extinct in the land of its origin while it is relatively widespread in the United States.20 The name can be traced back to at least the early sixteenth century in the Island, being particularly associated with the parishes of Bride and Andreas. The name has disappeared in the Isle of Man since about 1860, and one of the last families to hear it was that of William Monier, who had been a miller at the Dog Mill near Ramsey. In 1850 he left the Island with his wife, Jane Quayle, and their eight children to settle in Peoria, and descendants of that family consisting of the third, fourth and fifth generations, are settled over the United States from South Carolina through Illinois to California.

An interesting Manxman who went to live in the Peoria area during the 1850’s was a wealthy builder and contractor, William Cowley, who had a successful business in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was an extensive slave-holder. Shortly before the Civil War (1861) he freed his slaves and moved to the home he had built near Brimfield. and this became an ‘open house’ for newcomers from the Island until they could shift for themselves

Galva and Peoria have branches of the N.A.M.A., the former being the larger. In 1939 it was recorded that the Galva Manx Society had meetings attended by several hundred persons, and, as regards Peoria, it was said in the same year that although there were then probably not more than thirty who had been born in the Isle of Man, the area contained over 250 who were descendants of Manxmen. Since then the membership of the N.A.M.A. has declined in both centres owing largely to the inevitable mixture which has continued between Manx Americans and those of other cultural origins—Germans, Scandinavians, and other Europeans — in this typical Mid-West community which forms part of the great ethnic mixing-bowl of the United States.

Chicago, with its population of about five million, is the economic capital of the Middle West, and it has inevitably attracted many Manx people not only from other parts of North America, but directly from the Island itself. A notable period of immigration came after 1871 when, following Chicago's disastrous fire, reconstruction work brought over many Manx builders and carpenters. In 1884 an enterprising Manxman, John J. Keig from Ballaugh, was helping the growth of marketing facilities by opening trading posts and carting produce to and from Chicago along the old plank roads. At the present day, therefore, the city contains a very large number of people with some Manx element, although no estimate has ever been made of its magnitude, engaged in a wide variety of occupations. Included amongst these may be noted a pathologist of much more than local fame, and an inventor who has proved very successful in discovering new methods of packing foods and other articles.20

Wisconsin Laxey Church

Judging by the recent numbers of people belonging to the N.A.M.A. — only seventeen in all, of whom most live either in Milwaukee or Madison — Wisconsin hardly seems to have much claim for special treatment. But a hundred years ago it possessed what must have been a virile and a flourishing Manx community living in Iowa County, adjoining Dodgeville and Mineral Point, engaged in lead mining, and to some extent, in agriculture.

The existence of lead in the limestone rocks adjoining the upper Mississippi round Galena, in the extreme north of Illinois, and extending into the southern sections of Wisconsin, had been known to the Indians who worked the area in the later seventeenth century. Active mining of lead ore by the American settlers began in the 1820’s, and in a few decades there was an influx of Welsh and Cornish miners, the latter particularly settling in Mineral Point which was for many years the largest Wisconsin city. Here then was an opportunity for some Manx miners although at that period the Laxey and Foxdale mines were still pretty flourishing. By 1855 there must have been an appreciable community of Manx people in the area between Dodgeville and Mineral Point because, in that year, it was decided to build a church for their use, and this has always been known as the Laxey Church.

The deed for the plot of land covering about an acre on which the Laxey Church was built was signed on 23rd June, 1855, and four of the five trustees certainly had Manx names, the full list being James Hudgen, James Callow, Thomas Kelly, John Cowley and William Harris. It was laid down that the society using the building must adhere to the doctrines of the Primitive Methodist Church, and when the site was ultimately abandoned in the 1890’s most of the surviving members joined the Congregational Church. In the original construction there was certainly some contact with the Manx community of Ohio since it is recorded that the carpentry was done by a Robert Radcliffe, a Manxman from Cleveland and brother-in-law of Thomas Kelly, one of the trustees. Other Manx names discovered in the records, or on the tombstones in the little cemetery adjoining the church, are Craine, Kermode, Kewley, Quirk, Quine and Skillicorn.21

Mining in the area declined in the second half of the nineteenth century because the shallow deposits, even though widely distributed, could not last very long. A few of the Manx took up farming, for which, contrary to the general rule in such cases, the area is very suitable, forming very good corn-land; but the community as a whole has entirely dispersed. Laxey church is now just a ruin with only one wall standing, and the cemetery is well-nigh covered by tall pampas grass so that it is barely visible. But it so happens that occupying a farm nearby is a Manxman from Laxey who left the Island about forty years ago, and he bought his farm from the son of the John Cowley who had been a trustee of the Laxey Church!

Salt Lake City and the Latter Day Saints

A unique chapter in the story of Manx settlement is its relationship with Mormonism, or the Church of the Latter Day Saints, and this is primarily concerned with the family of George Cannon and his wife Ann Quayle of Peel. This Manx couple were married in 1825 and went to live in Liverpool where their young family grew up and where George worked at his trade as a carpenter. The original link with the Mormons was made through George’s eldest sister Leonora who had earlier gone to North America where she married John Taylor. The latter had emigrated as a young Methodist preacher, but had adopted the new faith and he ultimately became the third President of the Latter Day Saints. As a result of John Taylor’s visit to the Cannon family in Liverpool in 1840, George and his wife became enthusiastic adherents, and two years later resolved to emigrate to America with their six children (three sons and three daughters) to join the brethren in the new land.

By 1842 the headquarters of the Mormon Church were at Nauvoo on the River Mississippi in Illinois, having moved there in the general westward trek from Ohio; and it was natural that the route chosen by the Cannon family was via New Orleans, thence by river boat, since as we have already seen this was the easiest way to reach that area before the days of the railways. The journey had its tragic aspect because the mother, Ann Cannon, died on the voyage. The rest of the family took longer than usual to cover the 800 miles or more up the Mississippi as they had to winter at St. Louis and proceed to their destination the next April. In 1844 George, the father, died and henceforth the chief responsibility fell on the eldest son, George Quayle Cannon, then only about eighteen.

In 1846 there started the memorable migration of the Latter Day Saints when, driven by mob frenzy westward from Nauvoo, they trekked across the high plains and over the Rockies, ultimately to settle in the oases occupied by the Great Salt Lake and Lake Utah. The original body under the skilful leadership of Brigham Young, the great organiser of Mormonism, entered the area in 1847 through a gap in the Wasatch Mountains. In this advance guard of pioneers was George Q. Cannon, who was allotted a piece of land at Salt Lake on which he started to build a home for his brothers and sisters still far behind on the long and toilsome journey. His outstanding talent and ability were soon recognised, and he served as President John Taylor’s secretary and then in a similar capacity for Brigham Young. He was also called upon to go on foreign missions to the Hawaiian Islands, then to England and Continental Europe. At home his dynamic energy found an outlet in many business activities; he became a director of the Union Pacific Railroad, president of Utah’s first Power and Light Company, and was active in the newspaper field. His brothers and sisters also made important contributions to the common good; for example, Angus M. Cannon was responsible for opening up new sections of the vast Utah territory by the development of irrigation. Ann, who became Mrs. Woodbury, was a moving influence in the growth of two important industries — bee culture and the raising of silk-worms for the ultimate manufacture of silk.

As is well known, polygamy was originally practised by some of the Mormons after their arrival at Salt Lake City, Brigham Young’s justification for its introduction being the need for a larger population to exploit the wilderness of Utah. The practice is, of course, now forbidden, but when it is realised that each of the three sons of George Cannon had more than one wife (George Q. had five, Angus M. had four, and David H. three), it can be appreciated that the number of descendants of George Cannon and Ann Quayle is unusually large, being now more than 2,800 persons scattered throughout America but particularly in the West. Several have achieved fame, and among the living descendants of the George Q. Cannon branch is a distinguished ambassador who has represented the United States in Yugoslavia, Syria and Portugal, and now in Greece. A daughter of Angus M. Cannon, namely Ann Mousley Cannon, has had direct contacts with the Manx Museum, to which she presented a microfilm viewer and where a portrait of her may be seen. It was through her initiative and tactful persistence over a number of years that it became possible for microfilm copies of the Manx parish registers and other historical material to be made for preservation in Salt Lake City.23


The Mining Settlements

It has been said that ‘wherever there’s a hole in the ground, there you will find a Laxey or a Foxdale man’, and an illustration of the general truth of this statement has already been given in connection with the former lead mining area in Wisconsin. The skill which many natives of the Island acquired in mining was the result of a long tradition in the working of lead and silver, particularly at Laxey and Foxdale and other centres, and to a lesser extent in iron and copper mining at Maughold and Langness. The migration of these men to various parts of the earth — especially America, Canada and other parts of the British Commonwealth — was the inevitable consequence of the gradual decay of Manx mining during the second half of the nineteenth century coupled with radical changes in agriculture affecting the upland areas where crofting had often been combined with mining.

Some of the most characteristic American mining centres where Manxmen are still found are along the line of the Rockies in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and Arizona. It was to such places that many Laxey and Foxdale men began to go in the ‘eighties and ‘nineties of last century, and they could be seen periodically in Douglas with their ten-gallon hats and huge silver watches when returning for a ‘sight home’ from the gold and silver mines of Colorado, and the copper mines of Montana. Colorado at one time attracted many Manxmen, notably in such areas as Cripple Creek, within sight of Pikes Peak, where fabulous amounts of gold were discovered in the 1890’s and for several decades later. Then came the usual decline and many smaller workings ceased during the second World War with the result that most of the surviving Manx miners went to newer mines such as Bisbee in Arizona. The latter is now regarded as one of the continent’s richest copper-producing districts, and its Manx element is sufficiently strong to enable it to have a branch of the North American Manx Association. In the northern Rockies, Montana has been a famous producer of copper for eighty years or so, principally in the Butte area, whose site has earned the description of being ‘the richest hill on earth’ while silver, gold, lead and zinc are also worked. Among the many Manxmen who went there in the earlier years of this century was Wilson Jenkinson, a Foxdale miner, whose great-grandfather came from the English Lake District. After working for a period in Montana he moved to Washington, D.C., and was employed in the United States Government services for many years before his death in the spring of 1854. He devoted much time and thought for the benefit of Manx people in North America, and he was untiring in his efforts on behalf of North American Manx Association membership.

In the Great Lakes region the iron mines of northern Michigan, as at Ishpeming, Marquette and Iron River, have attracted a number of Manx miners, and this fact helps to explain the relatively high position held by that State regarding its membership of the N.A.M.A. Something approaching a quarter of the people recorded are from the mining areas, and about a half of the total are accounted for by the great industrial city of Detroit.

California and Washington

Ever since the famous gold discoveries of 1849 the Pacific Coast of America has proved a vital centre of attraction, and its importance has steadily increased with the growing realisation of its great assets —its favoured climate as well as its agricultural and mineral wealth, and its commercial and industrial possibilities. Within this belt the inlet of the Puget Sound is of great importance, with Seattle and Tacoma containing something like three-quarters of a million people; but California is the most favoured area, and its population is growing at a more rapid rate than that in any other American State. Here are two great urbanised areas, one centred on San Francisco with over two million people and the other, still larger, based on Los Angeles and Long Beach with four million people.

In this land of the Golden West, California has the larger number of N.A.M.A. members, at least two-thirds of them being found either in Los Angeles or San Francisco, both of which have strong branches of the N.A.M.A. The State of Washington ranks next, with the Puget Sound area containing most of the settlers.

Very few Manx people living on the Pacific coast seem to have come directly from the Island; they have reached there from some other part of the United States or from Canada. The same principle is true of other settlers in the area — apart, of course, from those of Oriental or Mexican origin — and this can be readily understood when the distance, and transport costs, from the east coast are kept in mind.

Among Manx names that have been preserved from the pioneering days are those of William Henry Christian, of the Virginian Christians, who was one of the surveyors of Sacramento in 1850. Then, in the ‘eighties, George Watterson, of Peel, saw Los Angeles as a very small town, and John Callister of Ballaugh at the same period spent some time in San Francisco before going north to Vancouver where he suffered much loss in the great fire of 1886.

The American people as a whole are probably the most mobile in the world so that internal migration is a perpetual feature, with a general direction westwards. Thus it is that the people of the west are very mixed in their origins; but signs of unity are certainly increasing, while there is also an imaginative and optimistic outlook on the future which helps to give the area a distinctive character.

In the light of what has been said regarding the Pacific Coast, the bold decision taken at the Cleveland Convention in 1953 to hold the next such meeting of the N.A.M.A. at San Francisco in 1955 is very significant. Hitherto it has not been considered possible to go further west than Nebraska to have such an annual meeting. Now it is believed that there is a sufficiently strong and vigorous local organisation in San Francisco, backed by the Manx up and down the Pacific Coast, and particularly by those in Los Angeles and Vancouver, to ensure a successful Convention there.


Having now surveyed the existing pattern of Manx settlement in the United States, it is fascinating to turn back to the reflections of Thomas Kelly, the Ohio pioneer whose Diary has already been quoted (see page 441). Writing in 1845, nearly a score of years after his migration from the Island, he was very conscious of the amount of work that still remained to be done in the area where his family had settled. ‘We have failed,’ he wrote in one of his moments of despondency, ‘to do half what we came so full of determination to do.’ But he felt that his own descendants and those of his fellow countrymen would go on and help to complete the work. ‘They must do it instead,’ he declared, ‘and so they will.’

Certainly his faith has been justified. We have seen something of their contribution to the building up of the Cleveland area in the cultural no less than in the material sense; and although the author of the diary could not have foreseen the immense developments that lay ahead in the wider field, his countrymen have played a worthy part in helping those developments forward. Peoples of Manx origin have been associated, even if only in a modest way, with many of the great movements that have been involved in the evolution of the vast country of America as we now know it, including the developunent of agriculture, mining, industry and trade in the great plains, the mountain states and on the Pacific Coast. This work will undoubtedly continue, and, as to its results, we may echo the words of Thomas Kelly in his Diary that, as regards the contribution of its citizens of Manx origin, ‘America will not be disappointed.’

NOTE: In addition to those named, I should also like to thank the many people who so kindly helped me in 1952 when I was able to visit America as a Smith-Mundt Research Scholar.


1 W. Cubbon, Myles Standish: The Puritan Captain: Was he a Manxman?, Proc. I. M. Nat. Hist. and Antiq. Soc. (New Series), II, No. 3, Douglas, 1924, pp. 287-294. Rev. T. C. Porteous, Captain Myles Standish: His Lost Lands and Lancashire Connections A New Investigation, Manchester University Press, 1920, pp. 38-51. A. W. Moore, Manx Worthies, Douglas, 1901, pp. 205-6.
[FPC: see also new refs in my
emigration page]

2 William and Mary College Quarterly, Vol. 9, 1900-1, pp. 48-9, Richmond, Va. In Vol. 5, 1897, p. 261 of this Quarterly there is a reference to an immigrant’ Mr. Thomas Christian’ who patented 1,080 acres in Charles City county in 1687. Although he is regarded as a progenitor of the family his relationship to the original William and Jonathan is not clear. See also A. W. Moore, Manx Worthies, pp. 206-8.

3 Booklets have been issued by the N.A.M.A., Cleveland, in connection with each of its Conventions, held annually except during World War II. A quarterly Bulletin is also issued, the Editor being Miss Gertrude Cannell; the Secretary of the Association is Miss Claire M. Mylecraine, and I am very grateful to both of these ladies for much help and kindness during my visit to America and at other times.

4 I am indebted to Mrs. F. 1. Avery, Robin Hill, Palos Park, Illinois, for these details. She is a great-grand-daughter of the William Corkhill referred to.

5 W. S. Kerruish, The Pioneer Manxmen, Annals of Early Settlers Association of Cugahoga County, Vol. I, No. IV, Cleveland, Ohio, 1883, p. 31; also available in part in Manx Museum, Douglas: Ref. M. S. 2097. See also Manx Worthies, pp. 208 and 32.

6 The Kelly diary was printed in the Isle of Man Examiner, 1935, and later reprinted as a separate pamphlet under the title of Thomas Kelly and Family’s journal. A photostat of the original is available in the Manx Museum, Douglas. Ref. 5200. The Caley diary was published by Sarah Quirk Arman under the title of A Pioneer Family. In addition to Mr. and Mrs. Caley there were three sons and three daughters.
[FPC see my notes - Kinvig does not appear to have read the original but relies on the article , which in my opinion is a much later embroidery and in places falsification -
see my notes]

7 Available in Manx Museum, Douglas; Ref. 5281 C [see also my transcription].

8 Available in Manx Museum, Douglas; Ref. 5282 C [see also my transcription].

9 I wish to thank Mr. J. Kissack of Mentor, Ohio, for his help in enabling me to visit these areas and in many other ways.

10 The name Cuyahoga is from the Indian word for ‘twisted’— in reference to the well-known meanders of the river.

11 See letters printed in Manx Advertiser, dated 15 Jan., 1827, 15 Feb., 1827 Iron settlers in Leroy, Geauga County, Ohio. Manx Museum, Ref. 5282 C. [see also my transcription].

12 Quoted front Knapp’s Life, Writings and Correspondence of George Borrow-, Vol. 2, p. 151.

13 W. S. Lloyd, The Manxman in Cleveland, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dec. 31, 1930.

14 I am much indebted to Mr. William C. Kissack of Shaker Heights, Cleveland, for his kindness in obtaining a photostat of the map for me, and also for providing other valuable information.

15 E. Andrews, The People called Shakers: A Search for the Perfect Society, Oxford, 1954.

16 See Gertrude Cannell, A Short History of the Mona’s Relief Society, in a pamphlet in celebration of the iooth Anniversary of the Mona’s Relief Society, 1951. Earlier facts were given in souvenir booklets of the 75th Anniversary in 1926, and the 50th Anniversary in 1901 — all published in Cleveland, Ohio.

17 See pamphlet on The Manx Street School, 1842-1871, and Minute Book of Reunions kept at Western Reserve Historical Society Library, Cleveland.

18 Corlett letters, Manx Museum, Douglas, 528, C. The name Corlett (which is pronounced with the accent on the second syllable in America) is easily the most widespread Manx name in Cleveland judging by the telephone entries which numbered 66 in 1952. The next in number was Quayle (or Quail) with 27 entries.

19 See, for example, Cultural Pluralism by Clyde V. Kiser, in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, March, 1949: "Reappraising our Immigration Policy

20 See articles by W. Cubbon in Journal of the Manx Museum, Il (3), pp. 173-4, June, 1934, also Bulletin of the North- American Manx Association, 24, pp. 6-8. MaC. 1951.

21 Short accounts of Manx Groups in Illinois can be found in the following Bulletins of the N.A.M.A. (a) Vol. 12, No. 4, May 1939, ‘Peoria’s Manx Pioneers’; (b) Vol. 21, No. , July 1948, ‘Pioneer in Peoria’; (c) Vol. 22, No. i, October 1948, ‘The Peoria Convention’.

22 A short account of the Laxey Church was printed in the Isle of Man Exanminer, January 24th, 1936. This was based on an account published previously in the Dodgeville Chronicle, at Dodgeville, Iowa County, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

23 The most complete account of the Cannon family is contained in George Cannon, the Immigrant: His Ancestry, I.ife, Native Land, and His Posterity, by John Q. Cannon, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1927. This has been out of print for some time but another volume is in preparation. Various pamphlets are, however, published by the George Cannon Family Association in Salt Lake City-. See, also, The Cannon Family in Bulletin of N.A.M.A., March, 1944.




Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
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