Friday, March 18, 2011

Dempster Family Immigrates to America

The Dempster family immigrated from Ireland to America in the early 1880s for a handful of reasons, including the poor crops in the County Antrim and the political unrest between the Roman Catholics and Presbyterians. 

In addition, family stories say that Hannah Dempster was so fearful of their home being attacked that she would sit up at night and keep watch at the window with a candle.  One night Hannah fell asleep and the candle set the curtains afire.  It is said that George decided then that it was time to leave for America.  Another family story tells of young male relative that did not return home one night and was found the next morning strung up by his thumbs in a nearby cave.

Two of George and Hannah Dempster's older daughters immigrated to America in May 1882.  Hannah Dempster (b. 1864) and Matilda (Dempster) McGarry (b. 1858), son-in-law Laurence McGarry, and 1 year old grandson Laurence McGarry Jr. boarded the ship Dominioin in Belfast, Ireland.  They arrived in Quebec, Canada in June 1882.  They stayed in Canada until that winter and then left for Brookings County, Dakota Territory.

From Dempster
From Dempster

George and Hannah immigrated with the rest of the family in the summer of 1883.  The family boarded the steamship Devonia in Moville, Ireland in July.  The Devonia arrived at the Port of New York, likely Castle Garden, on the 7th of August 1883.  Their son Thomas died shortly after they arrived and is buried in the eastern United States.  They came directly to Brookings County, Dakota Territory and likely stayed with  Hannah's brother Charles Gray, who had a farm near the town of White.

From Dempster
From Dempster

Ship list images are snippets taken from the ship lists on's "Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935" and "New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957".

Some family information taken from Jo Kalleymn and Shari Adair's journal from their trip to Ireland in April and May 2006.  Thanks Jo and Shari!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Penny,

    I came across this info over the wknd. & was quite impressed, thank you! George & Hannah Dempster were my Great Great Grandparents:)

    Beth (Dempster) Cholick