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Here is an account of the Irish in America, written in 1886:

BBC-interviews-milkmaid-circa-1946.jpgI met several people from Cork, and they were overjoyed to meet me, who could tell them the history of the beautiful citie for the last generation. To some I spoke the Irish language and their delight was inconceivable. I may here remark that wherever I go I find the love of Ireland amongst the Irish to be the most intense feeling of their souls – an all-absorbing passion, running like a silver thread through all their thoughts and emotions. They think forever of the old land, and sigh to behold it once more before they die. One man who  drove us one day for an hour refused to take any payment. He was from Ireland and we were two Irish priests, and that was enough for him!

“What part of Ireland do you come from?” I asked. “From Wicklow, sir; I am 32 years in the country. “And do you ever think of the old country?” “Think,” he exclaimed, “Oh! yes sir, I do think of the old country, not so much by day as by night. In my dreams at night I see as distinctly as ever the lanes and alleys where I played when a boy. I fancy I am at home once more, but I awake and find I am in Montreal, and am like never to see my native land again.”

This dreaming of Ireland I found quite common, many people would 
give a
ll they have in the world to get back again and live in Ireland steeped in poverty, rather than flourish wealthy in this strange land. 

Rev. M. B. Buckley, Diary of a Tour in America, Edited by his sister Kate Buckley, (Dublin: Sealy, Bryers & Walker, 1886), pp. 50-1.

ár rothar d'aois       market-square-1950s.jpg




European Emigrant Heritage     

British Occupation & Irish Emigration

      Ireland is one of the smaller European countries, but due to large numbers of children per family and hard times, huge numbers of emigrants left its shores for the US and other countries.  Many years before the above picture was taken, and also many years before the above article was written by Reverend Buckley, Irish were forced to emigrate from their beloved homeland in greater numbers than ever before or since.  This period is known as THE IRISH POTATO FAMINE.

       When the English conquered and occupied Ireland they gave all the rich bottomland farm land to English & Scottish people who came over to Ireland and occupied it in big estates, and became the ruling class, the financial elite of their days.  They were all protestants and they made many laws discriminating against the conquered Irish, who were  Catholics, similarly to what the English and Dutch did to the Black tribesmen in South Africa, to what the Americans did to the Indian tribes, and to what the Israelis do to the Palestinians, whose homes, farms, & shops the Israelis stole.  That is what imperialism does, that is its purpose, to steal and exploit.

       The Irish were thus forced up into the hills and mountains, onto small rocky & infertile plots, where they had little option but to grow only potatoes.  Other crops such as carrots, cabbage, beets etc, and meat, which were dietary staples throughout Europe, take too

many square feet to grow compared to the amount of calories they contain, compared to the potato.  Only the potato, which thrives in the rocky soil and cool summer clouds & fogs of Ireland's hills & highlands, could produce enough calories to feed the Catholic Irish families (each of which had approx. 8 child-ren).  So when the blight struck 1841-45 and most of the potatoes were destroyed, thousands begin dying of starvation, and from diseases common to the malnourished.  

Queen Victoria statue in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
    One or two London newspapers and members of Parliament spoke up, saying that England should send food to the Irish out of Christian compassion (not to mention that English imperial conquest was responsible for the potato famine).  These few voices were ignored.  No aid was given the conquered Irish.  Throughout the five year famine the native population of Ireland fell from about 9 million to less than 5 million, mostly from deaths, but many from emigratio
n to the Americas, Australia, etc.  Most of the starved to death were children.

       Throughout the Irish Potato Famine the affluent Protestant British plantation opera-tors and absentee landlords continued to export ₤Millions of Irish raised beef, lamb, wool, & corn. This is the purpose of imper-ialism.  Just as it is in today's "third world" countries ruled by western-installed puppet governments who allow privitization of communal farm lands (the "peasants" never have any deeds, they have just lived and farmed these plots for centuries), big corporate mines, plantations, sweat shop factories, deforestation and other environmental devastation, and the destruction and replacement of milleniums-old cultures, all for the sake of huge profits to distant corporate owners.  The puppet regimes do not allow minimum wage laws, so workers receive $1/hour.  The corporate-owned media refer to this imperialism as "globalization."  

 Old Skibbereen (an Irish ballad)  
by Patrick Carpenter - 1889

Oh father dear, I oft-times hear you speak of Erin's isle
Her lofty hills, her valleys green, her mountains rude and wild
They say she is a lovely land wherein a saint might dwell
So why did you abandon her, the reason to me tell.

Oh son, I loved my native land with energy and pride
Till a blight came o'er the praties; my sheep, my cattle died
My rent and taxes went unpaid, I could not them redeem
And that's the cruel reason why I left old Skibbereen.

Oh well do I remember that bleak December day
The landlord and the sheriff came to take us all away
They set my roof on fire with their cursed English spleen
I heaved a sigh and bade goodbye to dear old Skibbereen.

Your mother too, God rest her soul, fell on the stony ground
She fainted in her anguish seeing desolation 'round
She never rose but passed away from life to immortal dream
She found a quiet grave, me boy, in dear old Skibbereen.

And you were only two years old and feeble was your frame
I could not leave you with my friends for you bore your father's name
I wrapped you in my cóta mór in the dead of night unseen
I heaved a sigh and bade goodbye to dear old Skibbereen.

Oh father dear, the day will come when in answer to the call
All Irish men of freedom stern will rally one and all
I'll be the man to lead the band beneath the flag of green
And loud and clear we'll raise the cheer, Revenge for Skibbereen!   
arrow blue down

      Britain invaded Ireland hundreds of years ago to increase the riches of Brit. financial elites.  They stole the best bottom land without paying a penny and anyone who has resisted them has been killed, for many centuries.  The latest wave of protests and resistance was in the 1970's called "the Troubles," during which the Brit. military slaughtered untold numbers of Irish freedom fighters, men, women, and children.  This is how empires always maintain their grasp on conquered and occupied subject countries, with the help of local puppet regimes.



Coats of Arms  /  Family Crests

Many Irish surnames (last names), as in all countries, do not have a coat of arms or family crest.  One of the interesting things about researching your family tree (genealogy) is that you are certain to find many new surnames you didn't know, and at least one of them will have a Coat of Arms you can use as your own.  For example you might find your grandmother's father had the surname MURPHY, a common Irish surname so that it is included on page 2 of the below chart.  You may then use the MURPHY Coat of Arms.

↑ MURPHY Family Coat of Arms
Four Lions Rampant Alternating Red & White in Barleyfield Central




Old Documents from Clients

Whether you're an unknown heir or someone trying to learn something about a deceased relative, you never pay EEH any money, regardless of the outcome of the case.  But there is one thing we do sometimes need from our clients.  For example, if your grandfather's name is common, such as Edmund JOHNSON or Joseph LEVY, and the genealogical documents we have found do not satisfy the ministry official, bank, or magistrate that said Joseph LEVY is the same Joseph LEVY who owned the assets, then we may ask you if your family has additional documents to help prove it.  These could be documents showing that Joseph's date of birth matches, or that Joseph was born in the same town as the Joseph who owned the assets.

Please note that we never request current documents, such as your driver's license or bank cards.  These are confidential to you, and they wouldn't help us anyway because what we want is the old information.  Your grandfather's address in 1930 may help us find where he divorced, and the divorce file will have the names and ages of his children, proving to the magistrate that he was indeed the father of your mother.

If such further proofs are needed, we may ask you to please go through all your family's attics, basements, garages, etc.  Don't forget to check places owned by in-laws and step-relatives.  For example, if you had a widowed aunt who never had children and is now deceased , her old papers may have gone to her step-children and are sitting in a storage unit.  Please believe we have lost a number of cases because magistrates etc would not accept our proof packets because proofs for certain of the family links were insufficient.

We don't need most typical "hoarder" items, such as old newspapers and magazines, but look for anything that is signed, anything with a name or address, and anything with a rubber stamp, or paper tax stamps (they look like postage stamps).  I'm sure you can distinguish the papers having information from the junk mail, old crossword puzzles, etc.  If the aunt saved old utility bills, we need only one bill per address she lived at.  (We need her addresses.)

↑  Bundesrepublik Deutschland Personalausweis Buch
Republic of Germany Personal Identification Book  (West Germany)


↑  Deutsche Demokratische Republik Ausweiss Buch
German Democratic Republic Identification Book  (East Germany)

Pictured above are examples of old German passports.  Most people keep their expired passports as mementos of their travels.  Be sure not to let them slide inside or between all those old newspapers and be lost!

Also do not miss small things such as calendar books, address books, and pocket note-books; most people always carried these in their pockets or purses, in the days prior to cell phones.  The names & contact information of their friends & relatives etc. were not recorded electronically, but with pen & paper.  

↑  Old address book -- Everybody had one,
and maybe even kept a couple old ones from prior years containing outdated addresses & information on deceased persons.
Being a "packrat" or a "hoarder" can be quite useful!

If your grandfather lived in East Germany prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, he would have had an Ausweis (ID) with the sexton's symbol of the E. Ger. government (2nd photo above).  Inside this little blue book would be his photo, date & town of birth, etc.  Not just his country of birth, but the town.  This is very important information for us, so please look carefully for such documents!

One of the best finds is a family bible, for it was quite common in the past to keep a record of births, marriages, and deaths in designated pages at the front of bibles.  In modern times, births are announced on Facebook, with colour photos, but in past decades the information was written in family bibles.  These were permanent records; people  didn't throw things out because they were a little shabby or outdated, as they do today.  This was the age before consumerism and over-consumption.  Small money was important to people.  They passed the old bibles down to their children and grandchildren, reverently.  If necessary they glued a strip of cloth on the binding. 

Here is a typical page of births from an American family bible:

↑ EEH often uses bibles as legally accepted
proofs of family relationships




Deutsche Demokratische Republik [DDR]
[East Germany]


Undivided Germany, 1945:  


DDR (Communist East Germany), 1949 - 1990: 


       In the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or GDR, German Democratic Republic), the names for Communist East Germany, the State owned all land, factories, shops, houses, etc.  It wasn’t every man for himself, as it is now in the world. There was a strong feeling of camaraderie and collective identity. One knew one’s neighbors and would often help each other.  It was said that one's friends were true friends who could be counted on to help in all situations.  They were not shallow or "fair weather friends."  If shoes became available at a Berlin shop cross town, one woman who worked in, for example a brick factory, would somehow get off work, take the tram and buy a pair for every woman working in the brick factory.  Shoes were not often available in stores.  The people of East Germany hadn't much money and gadgets; this brought them together and they helped each other in ever so many ways.  

       There wasn't much television, and there were certainly no computers, internet, or smart phones.  These modern inventions divide people from each other.  Today a person may have 1,000 "friends" on FaceBook, but will not even know the names of people living in his apartment building, much less know who is getting married, who is sick, and who has that large pipe wrench everyone uses.  The Deutsche (German) Demokratische Republik (the DDR) had true communities where people lived together rather than in proud isolation.  

       The DDR lifestyle was destroyed by money-first, business-über-alles neo-liberalism when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.  Capitalistic competition and materialism divide people from each other.  In East Germany people lived in small cozy apartments, several families sharing the same kitchen and bathroom, often three generations of a family living together.  Almost no one had a car, which made the cities and towns much quieter, better air, and safer to walk in.  Cars isolate the people from each other, but pedestrian E. Germans knew their neighbors because they would always meet while walking on the streets.

Above stamps:  "Working Class Fighters" -and- "National Rebuilding" [WW II damage]

Two families and
the house in Schönwalde
by Vanessa Stella Johnston

When Germany was reunified in 1990, many West Germans reclaimed properties they had lost under the GDR (German Democratic Republic, A.K.A. Communist East Germany). In 2006, my mother, Silke Sonntag, received a mysterious call saying that there was a property east of Berlin in Schönwalde, which might be claimed for her. "I thought there must have been some mistake," she later told me. My mother had only ever been in West Germany, where she emigrated from 23 years ago. East Germany had been like a foreign world that she knew existed, but barely thought about. 

It was later explained to us that the property was purchased by my great-grand-parents in 1933. Twenty years later, as a Communist country, the GDR nationalized all property, which means they took it for "the People." This is how private ownership was abolished in the GDR. In 1953 the GDR assigned the house to Ernst Hartmann, and five generations of the Hartmann family occupied it for the next 55 years. No one in the GDR ever had to pay anything for their housing. In 1992, the German government begin looking for the owners of the property but was unable to find us. 

The reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 was sudden and unexpected. Not long after, the newly formed German government received 2.3 million applications for the restitution of real estate that the GDR had nationalized. The re-unified government announced several deadlines to file claims over the years, but each of them was extended. Many properties are unclaimed because of the millions of owners who perished during World War II, the millions more who moved within the GDR and Soviet Bloc during the 43 years of GDR rule, and the millions who departed the GDR after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. 

At the end of our claim process in 2008 we went to have a meeting with the Hartmanns at our family's house in Schönwalde, where they have resided all these years. As we walked up to the house from the train station I asked my mother whether she felt sorry for the Hartmann family having to give up the house. "No, not at all," she replied, "they never paid a penny for it and they've had fifty years of free rent!"  The Hartmanns were waiting for us at the gate. 

              Erhard Hartmann and Vanessa Johnston at the house in Schönwalde   

European Emigrant Heritage   


Letter from an Heir Client

Lieber Herr James Hannum:                                                        20. Dez 2017

Ich hoffe, daß Sie in Ordnung sind. Ich schreibe Ihnen von unsern ganzen Familie, um Euch sehr zu Danken, für den Erhalt dieser unerwartete Erbschaft! Wir sind gestern gerade nach Hause angekommen von unserer grossen Reise. Anbei ein Foto von meiner Eltern in Hawaii. Ich und meine Schwester Liesel und ihr Mann sind im Hintergrund unter den großen Regenschirm. Das war unser Lieblingsanschlag, es war fur eine woche! Unsere Eltern erfreuten sich lieber an Australien.

Ich schreibe Ihnen auf Deutsch, weil mein Englisch schrecklich ist, u. ich weiß, Sie haben keine Serbokroatisch. Bitte entschuldigen Sie meine Fehler, Ich lernte es nur von meiner Großeltern als

kinder. Meine Mutter bat mir zu erzahlen: sie bedauert, daß sie ungern zu glauben Euch im Anfang war, als du ins unsern Haus

besuchten; dann Ihre Geduld war sehr geschätzt. Als Sie wissen, wir waren die einzigen Linie der Familie in Jugoslawien nach dem zweiten Weltkrieg verbleibend.

Es war schwierig für Sie uns zu finden, und als mein Vater meinen Mutter den Vertrag zu unterzeichnen verbot, könnten Sie leicht uns aus von dem Erbschaft verlassen haben. (Später machte Vater viele Trinksprüche an euch, in Kneipen rund um die Welt!)

Wir hatten uns nie zu träumen erlaubten, daß so etwas könnte in unserer Familie geschehen. Es hat uns erlaubt, die  Gleichgewicht von dem Haus-Hypothek meiner Eltern auszahlen, und diesen großen Dampferreise rund um die Welt zu machen, dass von Mama u. Vati ihren großen Ziel seit vielen Jahren zu machen war.

Danke, wunderbaren Menschen der Gesellschaft Europäische Auswanderer Erbe!

Ursula Schäfer, für die ganze Familie Schäfer
ć, Kosovo


[Section under construction]



The 1917 Russian Revolution against the Tsar ended centuries of oppression by the wealthy nobility.  Those who had spoken out against the Tsar had been exiled to Siberia.  The poet Pushkin was one such, resulting in his 19___ poem:

 Во глубине сибирских руд                Deep in the Siberian mines

      Храните гордое терпенье,                Keep your patience proud:     

Не пропадет ваш скорбный труд     The bitter toil shall not be lost,

И дум высокое стремленье.            The rebel thought unbowed.   

   Оковы тяжкие падут,                  The heavy hanging chains shall fall,

Темницы рухнут - и свобода           The walls will crumble at a word

 Вас примет радостно у входа,    And freedom greet you in the light,

И братья меч вам отдадут!       And brothers give you back the sword!

                     --Пушкин                                          -- Pushkin






Head pioneer of a pioneer unit reports to the pioneer leader of the school, Russia, USSR, 1950 



EEH dedicates this website to the memory of past lives and past times

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Published by European Emigrant Heritage