(Picture of a Field near Loughrea)
Exactly when Patrick Silk emigrated from Ireland is still a mystery, but this stone-mason first appears in documents in a tiny coal-mining town, Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, USA, in the year 1864. The notation in the Board of County Commissioners, Tax Assessment Book, indicates that he was being taxed on a piece of property, Lot No. 7, B. 19. By 1865, Patrick Silk was taxed for a lot and a house. For the next 15 years, he dutifully paid his tax to the County of Schuylkill, State of Pennsylvania until he apparently sold the property and moved with his family to Philadelphia where he continued to work as a stone-mason until he died there in 1898.
The jigsaw puzzle of his life, and that of his wife and children, is far from complete. He was married no later than 1862, to Mary Golden, who was from an unknown county in Ireland. Their first child, John Joseph Silk, was born in either New York City or New Jersey in 1862, and their next three children, all boys, were born in Mahanoy City. Michael Silk, born in 1863, and Thomas Silk, born in 1865, apparently died young but their burial places remain undiscovered. The youngest son, William Silk was born in 1866.
In 1868, Patrick and his sister, Ann Silk, while living in Mahanoy City, placed an ad in The Boston Pilot newspaper under its "Missing Friends" column to enquire on the whereabouts of their brother, John Silk. The editors mangled the name of the family village as Knuckass, Galway, presumably Knockash. This remains the only clue as to their Irish origins. As stated on the Boston College website which sponsored the transcription and publication of these ads, the column contained "...advertisements from people looking for ‘lost’ friends and relatives who had emigrated from Ireland to the United States. The people who placed ads were often anxious family members in Ireland, or the wives, siblings, or parents of men who followed construction jobs on railroads or canals...."
Whether Ann and Patrick ever found their brother, John, is still a mystery, as are the fates of Ann and John Silk. William Silk, Patrick and Mary’s youngest son, married but has no descendants. Their oldest son, John Joseph Silk, married Margaret Mary Flynn, herself the daughter of two Irish immigrants. Their many descendants, first, made their homes in the Philadelphia area and eventually dispersed to other parts of Pennsylvania, Missouri, California, Maryland and even the South of France.
One hundred forty eight years later, we are still searching for our Irish family.