Thursday, November 8, 2012

From Ireland to New York to Wisconsin: The Reid Family

Alexander Reid or Sandy as he was called was born in County Sligo, Ireland in March 1812.  He was the son of John Reid and Margaret Watts.  When I first started researching this family I found a book in our local library entitled Reid Family History by Maude Reid Tomlinson.  This book gave me a great deal of information to "chew" on.  Not knowing the author and just getting into genealogy I was skeptical.  I copied parts and put them away for some day down the road.  

Today was the day I decided to "chew" on them some more.  It only took me 30 years (you know how that is when life gets in the way of working on the dead people)!

Maude Reid Tomlinson was the granddaughter of John Reid who was the son of John and Margaret Watts Reid.  In reading Mrs. Tomlinson's accounts of the events that lead to John and Alexander to come to the United States it really seems to be a life long dream.  The boys were intrigued as they had friends in the U.S. that had stated they could find employment on the various public works projects that were going on.  Mrs. Tomlinson reports that they were told they could earn 75 cents to a dollar a day for this hard labor. (Imagine young men being told today that they could earn such money but that they would work hard for it.  How many would sign up???)  John and his other brothers were going to come here but Robin and James died of cholera in 1833.  This shook the John up pretty bad and he decided that he would offer Alexander the chance to come and John would pay his way.  Alexander took him up on it and the brothers left from the port of Ballina which most likely took them to Belfast and then on to New York.

The brothers landed in New York City but did not stay long.  They were moving west!  They found jobs as they moved and kept their money in money belts tied around their waist according to Mrs. Tomlinson.  She states that they did work on the canal projects which I find to be very interesting.  (If anyone reading this knows how to find out more about the workers on the canal projects I would love to hear about it!)

The brothers brought over another brother William and his family in 1840 but according to Mrs. Tomlinson they did not stop there.  They eventually paid for 15 other relatives to come to the United States!  How awesome is that?!

The brothers eventually purchased land in the Town of Ashippun, Dodge County, Wisconsin.  They were on opposite sides of Hwy P.  Alexander purchased many pieces of land with the earliest being July 1, 1848 according to the Bureau of Land Management records.  some of the purchases of land that Alexander made can be found at|st=WI|cty=|ln=reid|fn=alexander|sp=true|sw=true|sadv=false.   Alexander went on to marry Sarah Carpenter who was born 16 June 1820 in Balscott, Oxford, England.  She was the daughter of William Austin Carpenter and Mary Gardner.  Alexander and Sarah were married on 3 January 1850 in Waukesha, Waukesha County, Wisconsin.  They had four children Alexander, Margaret Jane, William Alexander and Mary Ann.  William was my ancestor and he eventually took over the farm.  He was known in the area as "Concrete Bill".  He was not shy about using concrete on the property and it is still there today.

                                                      W.A. Reid farm (date taken unknown)

Sarah passed away on 27 October 1868 and Alexander lived until 9 March 1901.  Alexander's obituary in the Oconomowoc Enterprise dated 15 March 1901 states:

Alexander Reid, one of the oldest settlers of the Town of Ashippun, died on Saturday, March 9, after a week's illness, aged 89 years.  Deceased was a native of Ireland.  He came to the United States in 1839 and settled in the Town of Ashippun, Dodge County, this state in 1844 on a farm bought of the government   His residence in that town was continuous.  Alice Reid his wife died in 1868.  He is survived by three children -Mrs. Mary Broker, of Neillsville, Mrs. George Miller and William A Reid, of Alderely.  The funeral was held on Monday  the service being conducted at St. Paul's Episcopal church at Alderely, Rev. Mr. Van Duesen officiating.

How interesting that his wife is named Alice...that will be my next investigation.  Maybe a middle name, maybe an error on the part of the editor???  So not only do I have more information to start looking at but hopefully I can find some cousins along the way that might have a small piece of the puzzle.  Thank you to Mrs. Maude Reid Tomlinson for working on this project so I might learn just a bit more to help me remember this part of my family.


  1. What a great story and
    I see according to Geneabloggers, today is your first year anniversary since you've been blogging. Happy Blogiversary.

    Regards, Jim
    Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

  2. Thanks Jim!! It is my blogiversary! I hope to be telling more stories now that school is done! Have a great day!


  3. Love this story Chris! I live in Ireland and the Irish families still stick together.

    I have a Sarah in my line too, but haven't yet been able to find her. Maybe Alice is a nickname? It's one I haven't been aware of yet, but I'll add it to my list of possible suspects. Great photo of the old farm! It was quite large.

  4. It was an awesome story to find! I wish more families stuck together like this! Let me know if you find a connection....