Glenavy Cardwell and 40 Shades of Green

by “The Digger” – November 2014

First published in The Antrim Guardian 27 November 2014

Glenavy Cardwell and 40 Shades of Green published in The Antrim Guardian, 27 November 2014

Glenavy Cardwell and 40 Shades of Green published in The Antrim Guardian, 27 November 2014

Almost two hundred years ago James Green from the parish of Ballinderry, County Antrim married Nancy Cardwell in her native parish of Glenavy. That was in September 1817 in the new parish church building in Glenavy village which had been the resting place to many of the Cardwell ancestors, from at least the early 18 th century.

A lack of records and scant details of those that survive from this period inhibit the researcher when attempting to establish the exact origin of the bride and groom on this occasion.

An American biographer, R.H.W. Peterson, compiled a sketch of James Green and his family and he informs the reader that James was the son of a Methodist minister called John and his wife Lizzie, born on 8th January, 1791. At the age of 19 he had lost both parents and in 1822 he and his wife left these shores for America, arriving in New York after 86 days at sea.

New York at that time was experiencing volatility within the Irish emigrant community and grievances spilled over onto the street. The Irish problem had been emulated thousands of miles from its inception. The world’s press reported friction between members of the Orange Order and the Irish Catholics in the region. The parading of the Order on the 12th of July, 1824 was met with resistance from what was considered to be the “green” side, and a riot ensued, leading to arrests and charges. David Graham, a lawyer, represented the Orangemen at subsequent trials in September 1824 and Thomas Addis Emmet was the principal attorney for the defense. He was the brother of Robert Emmet ‘the Irish patriot’ who was hanged in 1803 having been found guilty of treason.

In James Green’s biographical sketch there is specific mention relating to him holding an elevated position within the Orange Order in New York, and it was alleged that he was arrested and charged with high treason, and tried for his life in 1824. It is recorded that between four and five thousand dollars were raised by lodges in the New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Pittsburgh areas to pay for James Green’s defence. He was eventually acquitted. He then uprooted with his family from the New York area and moved West.

A direct descendant of James Green, Linda Worley from Ohio, U.S.A. travelled to Ireland with her daughter Lauren earlier several months ago and visited the Glenavy and Ballinderry areas to explore the districts where the Green and Cardwell surnames had prominence in the early 19th century. Within the time constraints available they managed to take in the interior and graveyard surroundings of both Glenavy Parish Church and the Middle Church at Ballinderry, and toured the townlands where a number of Cardwell and Green families were known to have resided when their ancestors emigrated.

Linda took the opportunity to kneel on an original Methodist praying stone in the townland of Derrykillultagh used by Methodists when they held their meetings in a number of cottages in the district in the early 1830’s. A chance meeting with a descendant of the Cardwell clan, Stephen Cardwell, close to the shores of Lough Neagh was perhaps the highlight of the visit. Not only did our American cousins learn about the origins of the Cardwell family, Stephen arranged to have them shown where the original and existing homes of the Cardwell families were located, including Cardwell’s Point. The early 19th century tithe records indicate that Henry Cardwell owned just over 17 acres in this area – the townland of Feumore. The majority of 19th century Cardwell families in this area were resident in the townlands of Aghadolgan, Ballysessy, Ballyvorally, Ballymote, Ballymacricket and Ballyvannon.

There was a greater distribution of the more commonly found Green/Greene surname at this time across numerous townlands in the Ballinderry, Magheragall and Glenavy Parish. The surname is not only located in the local Church of Ireland records but also in the Methodist and Moravian. Unfortunately local Orange Lodge records from Ballinderry do not survive from the period of James Green’s emigration therefore it is unlikely that records of transfer dates, certificates or minute books will turn up to fill in the missing blanks.

On leaving New York, James Green and his family travelled a distance of over 600 miles and settled at Brookville, close to Lawrenceburg, Indiana where he cleared a farm and erected a cabin. In the autumn of 1825 we read that he left his wife and children and made his way on foot to Cincinnati to seek work in the construction of a canal where he was given the role of a boss. A year later he went as a hired hand on a flatboat to New Orleans, returning after several months and relocating to Adam County, Ohio. He and his wife and children walked from Manchester to the area of Steam Furnace, Ohio, carrying all their effects. James acquired work there and was employed in the opening of an ore bank. His skill and work ethic was rewarded and recognised and he began to prosper and accumulate property.

One of the recorded anecdotes relating to James Green was the meeting with Andrew Jackson, whose parents had emigrated from Carrickfergus, County Antrim in the 18th century. Jackson had just been elected the 7th president of the U.S.A. and was commuting to his inauguration when the entourage happened to stop at a watering point on a road where James green and his men were working. It is said that Jackson spoke with him and gave him a dollar, instructing him to “treat his men.”

James continued his Ulster hard-work ethic for the remainder of his days, purchased land and took up citizenship in 1852. In the summing up of his character the biographer stated “his word equalled his bond.”

The bond which had been recorded in the records of Glenavy Parish Church between husband and wife in 1817 was broken when Nancy passed away in 1873 aged 73 years. James died on 21st December 1887 and was laid to rest at Steam Furnace Road cemetery, East of Cincinnati, Adams County, Ohio, over 3600 miles away from where his journey in life had begun.

Anyone who may have information relevant to the Green or Cardwell families, and would like to get in touch with Linda Worley in Ohio please contact “The Digger”.

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