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Patrick Conners – An Irishman’s Journey in America

by Barbara Rimkunas

This "Historically Speaking" column was published in the Exeter News-Letter on Friday, March 16, 2018.

The Irish began arriving in Exeter in the 1850s. We know little of Patrick Conners’ early life, except that he was born in Ireland in 1835. As a boy he lived in his native country during the time of the Great Famine. By age 24, he’d decided to emigrate to America – like 2.1 million of his fellow countrymen. He arrived in Exeter in 1859. Here he was recorded in the 1860 census as a ‘wool puller’ – a disagreeable job tearing wool from lambskin in cold water. The census taker was not too careful with details of the 183 Irish natives living in town. He got Patrick’s age wrong, listing the 24 year old as 22 and his name without the final “s” – beginning a pattern of misspelling “Conners” that would continue throughout his life. In various places his name would be “Connor,” “Connors,” “Conner,” or “Conners.” By the end of his life “Conners” seems to be the spe…

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