Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
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Chemung County NY
Erin & the Chemung County Irish
Article: Erin & the Chemung County Irish
Chemung County NY
Article by Helen Mac Dougall Samson (1909-1995) in 1970s
Sent in by Walt Samson
Retyped by Bob Saftenberg
Postcard from Joyce's Collection
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Erin and the Chemung County Irish

By Helen M. Samson

St. Patrick’s Day always brings to mind the poetic terms for Ireland and the Chemung County town of Erin.

The first settler in what now is known as the town of Erin was Basil Sperry, who selected his homesite from the huge Livingston tract, a short distance from the summit of Walker’s Hill in 1815.

With the arrival of new settlers, it became a custom to distinguish one man’s trails from another by white identifying markers. When surveyors of the large Livingston tract ran out of the white marking chalk they were forced to resort to red chalk, and the nickname "Red Chalk District" persists to this day.

About 1819, an Irishman named Michael Robinson arrived in the Red Chalk District and his energy and talent soon led to his position of leadership. In 1822, the northern part of the town of Chemung was designated a separate town and Michael Robinson was given the honor of naming it. His selection was "Erin Go Braugh" in honor of his homeland. The latter part of the name was only shortlived.

The next wave of Irish settlers arrived with General Sullivan. Many of these men were skilled craftsmen who had fought against the Indians in this area only to return and add their skill to local development.

Succeeding Irish groups to arrive included the names McConnells, Sly, and on Water Street in Elmira, Major Swiney. Cornelius Lowe, and Guy Maxwell. All of these people followed the first settler Colonel Hendy, into Elmira.

Guy Maxwell arrived in 1796 at his purchased tract of land in Dewittsburg, which later merged with Wisenburg to become the village of Elmira. Maxwell and his five sons were instrumental in the town’s early development. Son Thomas led construction efforts for the canal and later was connected with the bank named for it. William Maxwell was one of the first vice-presidents of the Erie Railroad.

Another early Irish family was the Flood family of doctors. Patrick the father, and three of his four sons studied medicine, while the fourth was in the pharmaceutical business. Henry became mayor in 1884 and Thomas was a state assemblyman.

There is a long list of Irish names that helped establish and improve the community, many whose descendants still reside in the county. Edward Dunn, banker and philanthropist, Daniel Sheehan, mayor and businessman, State Senator Murtaugh, John Hassett, the beloved Father Bloomer, and many others working and living in Elmira and the surrounding areas will long be remembered for their contributions.

Their love of freedom and liberty, as the rest of America’s adopted sons and daughters, brought them to this scenic area that satisfied their yearnings.

First Added to the Site  on 29 DEC 2002
By Joyce M. Tice
You are our most welcome visitor since 29 DEC 2002
THE ERIN  IRISH  FESTIVAL/ST. PATRICK'S DAY CELEBRATION TO BE HELD ON MARCH 12TH, 2005 FROM 10 AM - 5 PM is sponsored by the ERIN HISTORICAL SOCIETY.  St. Patrick's Day Cachets will be on sale all day (Saturday, 3/12/05) AT THE MUSEUM, and the Erin Post Master, Linda Bennett will be on hand from 10 AM until noon and again from 1 PM until 3 PM to hand cancel your mail with the specially designed postmarks; there is one for 3/12/05 and another for 3/17/05.  Everyone who is the least bit interested in history will want one of these hand-cancelled pieces of mail; especially, your Irish friends!  We also are excited about some of our renovations that have been done in the museum; Rod Wainwright and several others have been working hard.
     The Erin Historical Museum is located on the corner of Rodburne St. and Chemung Co. Rte. 223, that runs through the Hamlet of Erin.   The "Yarns of Erin" book will again be on sale; NEW Museum Exhibits will be on display.  Since this year of 2005 is the 50th Anniversary of the Erin Fire Dept., Pat Wainwright, museum curator, and her husband Rod are setting up a special display about the Erin Fire Dept. memorabilia.  There is so much to see in the museum - artifacts and information; Pat is very knowledgeable regarding genealogy and is willing to share with folks.
    Jim Brick, a long time resident of Erin, will be at the museum with his accordion to entertain us again this year with great music.  Don't miss it!
    The ERIN FIRE DEPT., RT. 223, ERIN, NY will serve a CORNED BEEF/HAM AND CABBAGE DINNER at the Erin Fire Hall from Noon until 3 PM, or until the food is gone; cost - $7 per person.  The "LET'S DANCE STUDIO" Dancers will perform again this year at 1 PM with their Celtic Dancing at the fire hall.  They are wonderful youngsters, who dance their hearts out and love doing it.  THEIR ROUTINES ARE GREAT!
    Last but not least, THE ERIN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, Corner of Church St. & Church Rd. in the Hamlet, will be open from 10 AM to 5 PM; they will have a BAKE SALE with wonderful cakes, pies, brownies, cookies and lots of other goodies.  There will be a HYMN SING led by LYNN MAKI playing her guitar at 11 AM.  The Boy Scouts, who are sponsored by the church, will have a display.  Hopefully, the church organist, Ron Borden will be on hand too.  Come and enjoy the music, food, and fellowship.  For information regarding any of the festivities at any of the 3 locations, contact Suzanne M. Murphy at 607-739-0242 or at .
Dear Joyce,

If you have a way to put this on your site, the following is a report on the Erin Irish Festival for 2005.  Thank you so much,  Suzanne

    The Erin Irish Festival for 2005, held Saturday, March 12th, was a gratifying success.  There was good attendance at the Erin Historical Museum (down about 8 people from last year).  Pat Wainwright reported 62 visitors over the course of the day.  The Erin, NY Irish theme postmarks were available at the museum and our Postmaster, Linda Bennett was present to hand cancel the cachets for folks who wanted to send out mail for St. Patrick's Day or add to their collections over the years.  The post cards and envelopes with the designs are available throughout the year.  Please contact Sharon at 739-2798, or myself (Suzanne Murphy) at (607)739-0242.  The special Irish theme cancellations can still be obtained (for 30 days following 3/17/05) by contacting the Erin Postmaster.  We were also happy to have Jim Brick back this year to delight the visitors to the museum with his accordian music; folks enjoyed listening and singing along.  Jim was especially greatful for the new repairs to the inside of the building (which includes a bathroom), and the new gas heating unit.  It kept everyone toasty warm.
    The display at the Erin Historical Museum of photos, clothing, information and a great deal more history regarding the Erin Fire Dept. was wonderful.  This display was put together primarily by Rod Wainwright, our curator's husband; he is still a member of the Erin Fire Dept., which celebrates its 50th year this year.  If you missed the display March 12th, be sure to visit the museum this year and see it then.  The museum is open from May through September.  For more information, contact the Curator, Pat Wainwright, (607) 739-1642.
    The Erin Fire Dept. put on a wonderful ham/corned beef and cabbage dinner with all of the trimmings; they had an excellent turnout as well.  The Erin Historical Society arranged for the Let's Dance Celtic Dancers to perform again this year; they are a wonderful group of young folk, who performed beautifully to the delight of all present. Jim Brick followed with his accordian & sing along.
    The Erin United Methodist Church opened its doors for a hymn sing; the music was provided by Lynn MAKI.  It was well attended and enjoyed.  The ladies of the church held a bake sale and everything was sold, giving the church treasury a much needed boost.  Their thanks goes out to the bakers and the folks who bought the baked goods.  That's what you call a "win -- win situation!"  The Erin UMC sponsored Cub Scout Pack was represented by a wonderful display; they were especially proud of their new club Scout Flag.  Lots of visiting was done and good fellowship enjoyed.
    As Erin Town Historian, and the program person for the Erin Historical Society, I want to thank everyone who participated.  These days, when people's lives are so busy, it is even more special, when folks donate their time and energy to making things like the Erin Irish Festival successful.  I am already looking forward to next year, and little flickers of things to come are already tumbling around in my head.  I do believe that it is a mixture of heavenly blessings and "the luck of the Irish" that brought me to this lovely Hamlet of Erin, New York.
                                                    Sincerely, Suzanne M. Murphy