Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and a day when Irish heritage is celebrated.
According to Ancestry DNA I am 18% Irish and Scottish. My Irish and Scottish ancestry comes from both sides of my family.
I have several branches of my family with Scotch-Irish ancestry. It is sometimes difficult to determine if an ancestor is Scottish or Irish. Many Scottish families immigrated to the US through Ireland and there is also a great similarity in some of the surnames. Of course, this has a lot to do with the shared Celtic heritage of the Scottish and Irish.
Usually when people think of Irish-Americans they think of the large waves of Irish Catholics who emigrated to the US in the 19th century. More than 4 million immigrants came to the US from Ireland in the 19th century.
However, there were also Irish Catholics who came to the colonies before the Revolutionary War. The numbers are not as large, and estimates vary as to how many there were. There were probably 75-100 thousand immigrants in the 1600’s and about 100 thousand in the 1700’s.
My ancestors however were from North Ireland and were later known as Scotch-Irish to differentiate them from the Irish Catholics. There were about 250 thousand immigrants from North Ireland and Scotland that came to America in the 17th and 18th centuries.
My Leeper ancestors were Irish and they came to Pennsylvania probably in the late 1730’s. They slowly migrated across the country ending up in what became Iowa in the late 1830’s.
My 4th Great Grandfather Absalom Leeper was one of the first Restoration Movement preachers in Iowa. At the time however the area he lived in was part of Wisconsin Territory.
In the fall of 1836 Absalom preached in the home of Isaac Briggs which was the start of the Pleasant Hill Church of Christ south of Washington, Iowa.
Absalom Leeper’s brother ended up in South Bend, Indiana. Absalom’s nephew, David Rohrer Leeper, served as the Mayor of South Bend from 1892 – 1894.
See: The Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
Tomorrow it is time to be Irish. I will be thinking about my Irish ancestry tomorrow.