Eustace Families Association

The Irish in Georgia, Vermont


by Mike King
EFA member Mike King is a descendant of Esther Eustace andher husband Peter KIng. He works as a foreman for the provincialpower company and together with his wife and three children liveson a ranch in Rose Prairie, British Columbia, Canada.

From the mid to late 1800’s, there was considerable IrishCatholic settlement in the Georgia/Milton area of Vermont. Someof the early immigrants from Ireland who lived in the Georgiaarea were Thomas Eustace, John King, Pat Duffy, Pat McGrath, PatRyan, John Mahoney, James Cavanaugh, Peter Johnson and others.

What attracted these people to the Georgia area? As is commonwith all immigrants it was a fresh start, a better life. Sincemost Irish coming to America chose to settle in urban areas, onehas to assume that those coming to Vermont were seekingopportunity in agriculture, ie. owning their own land. This wasalmost impossible in Ireland in the early 1800’s.

Since the Irish were very clannish by nature, and the Church wasthe heart of their social structure. It was important that theyhave close access to an established religious community.French-Canadian immigrants had established a Catholic communityin Milton in the early 1800's. Rev. Jeremiah O'Callaghencelebrated Mass at the home of Etienne Perrault as early as 1844.Construction of St. Ann's Church was completed in 1859 and theyreceived their first resident pastor, the Rev. Francis Picart.Thus the Georgia Irish were bonded to their Milton brethren.

The Vermont Central Railroad also served to draw immigrants tothe area. During construction they had advertised in Ireland forlaborers and word of mouth must have made it known that therewere employment opportunities. Many of the Georgia Irish workedat some point for the railroad which was headquartered in EastGeorgia. Francis Eustace, Peter King, John King (Jr.), MichaelMcGrath and others were all employed by the Vermont CentralRailroad.

John King and Michael McGrath both made a career of railroading.Peter King and others used it as a stepping-stone to establishthemselves as farmers.

Thomas Eustace, who was born In West Meath County, Ireland in1798 and came to Georgia as early as 1828. He may have been thefirst Irish immigrant to settle himself in Georgia. He marriedCatherine O'Neill in 1831 and they had one child (also Catherine)born in 1832. Thomas' wife died the same year. He married SarahBirney and they had six children: James, Helen, Mary, Francis,Esther and Edward. Sarah died in 1858. The Eustace farm was onthe Oakland Station Road. Thomas died In Westford in 1886 on thefarm of Peter and Esther (Eustace) King.

Another of the early Irish immigrants was Pat McGrath who wasborn in County Clare in 1822. His son, Michael McGrath, marriedMary McMullen. Her father, Francis, was one of the first Irishsettlers in Milton. He died there at the age of 97 years. Michaeland Mary's son, the late Sen. John McGrath, became a prominentfarmer-businessman in the area.

The "John McGrath farm", on Route # 7, stands as atestimony to the impoverished and landless people who came to thearea, destitute but hopeful, and were able to accumulate land andpossessions.
About 1847 Pat Duffy and John and Mary (Duffy) King came fromCorballis, County Louth, Ireland to the Georgia/Milton area. Theyprobably landed in Canada and traveled from there to Vermont asthis was the usual procedure.

Pat Duffy married Mary Ann Mahoney, the daughter of John and MaryMahoney. Pat had a blacksmith shop in West Georgia and he diedthere in 1901. At the time of his death he was 82, having beenborn in County Louth to Patrick and Kate (Gartland) Duffy in1818. Many of his descendants still live In Milton.

These Kings were known in the early years as the "IrishKings" to distinguish them from the Anglo-Kings and moreparticularly from the French-Kings. French families in St. Ann'sChurch with the surname "LeRoy" or "Roi' changedtheir name to the more Anglicized "King". In the earlyyears the two ethnic groups segregated themselves to a certainextent. St, Ann's Cemetery reflects this as the Irish arepredominately buried on the one side and the French on the other.

John King, who was a tailor by trade, married Mary Duffy in theTallanstown Church, County Louth, Ireland in 1837. Peter,Catherine, Mary, Alice, and John were all born and baptized inIreland. Bridgett, the first born In America was born in Miltonin November, 1847.

Two Of John King's sons served in the Civil 'War. John Jr. was aSergeant. in the 9th Vermont. Infantry Regiment. and Peter servedin the First Vermont Cavalry with fellow Irishmen Francis Eustaceand James Cavanaugh, both of whom were from Georgia.

During his three-year enlistment Peter was able to save enoughfrom his meager army pay to procure a down payment on two smallparcels of land. He purchased these holdings from Peter andMargarette Johnson who were communicants of St. Ann’s Churchand almost certainly Irish immigrants themselves. This land andsmall house was located on the west side of Route # 7 near whereit is joined by 104A.

In 1867 Peter King married Esther Eustace and their first twochildren, Mary and Agnes, were born in Georgia. Peter was at thistime employed as a section hand on the railroad. at East Georgia.

Peter King subsequently sold the Johnson property to his sisters.

Kate (King) Conlin, Bridgett, Rose-Agnes and Fanny. his parents,John and Mary King, lived out their years there. John died In1881 and Mary in 1889. Peter then purchased a property just eastof the Georgia Highbridge near the Ransom Smith holdings. He soldthis to Zeb Wagner in 1874 and purchased his farm in Westford in1877. That area is now known as "King's Hill."

In 1852 the Clintons and Conlins came from Mansfieldtown, CountyLouth, Ireland to Milton. Apparently these two families had knownthe Kings and Duffys in Ireland and they had probably encouragedthem to come to Vermont.

Given the clannish nature of these Irish immigrants, within ashort time nearly everyone was related. Michael Conlin marriedKate King in 1861. Jane Clinton married Owen Conlin, ElizabethClinton married James Ryan. Some of the siblings were JohnClinton, John Conlin, Clinton Ryan and Clinton Conlin (son ofHenry Conlin). Katherine Conlin married Michael McGee and theirdaughter married a Mahoney which would tie them in with the

Peter and Esther (Eustace) King's two oldest daughters marriedthe brothers George and Michael Gillin of Fairfax. Their mother,Margarette Nolan, had immigrated from County Louth as well. TheEustaces were related to the O'Kanes through Charles O'Kane whosewife, Elizabeth, was a Birney. (This was Mrs. James Ryan'sgrandmother.)

Pat Ryan, who was married to Ellen Kennedy, had a farm onGoodrich Hill. They were related to the Georgia Laughlins asMarcus Laughlin's mother was Ellen's sister, Elizabeth Kennedy.Following Pat on the farm was his son, Tom Ryan. This parcel ofland on the Georgia/Fairfax line was subsequently owned by thelate Paul King of Fairfax, whose mother was a Laughlin and whosegrandmother was Elizabeth Kennedy Laughlin. Paul was the grandsonof Peter and Esther (Eustace) King and therefore a descendant of"Irish” John King was well.

Today there is barely a remnant of Irish descendants in Georgia.Catherine (Kate King) Conlin was the last of the "PotatoFamine" Irish. She passed away In 1928. The late Catherine(Conlin) Palmer was her great granddaughter. Her sons, Richard,John, Gary and two daughters, Colleen Paquette and Cheryl Carwinstill live in Georgia.

The most prolific family has been the Duffys. Althoughoriginating in Georgia, they nearly all live in Milton now."Blacksmith" Pat Duffy's great-grandson, Pat Duffy, ismarried to Joanne Ryan. Between them they are related to many ofthe old Irish families.

Remarkably, the Duffys have maintained their presence in Irelandas well. In 1990 James Duffy and his son were still occupying thesame land from which Pat Duffy and Mary (Duffy) King had left somany years ago. There is also a John King living in nearbyMansfieldtown, County Louth, Ireland.

In Fairfax,Vermont, Irma (King) Mitchell, Mary (King) Ratte,Patty (King) Reaves, Shaun Luther, and Bernard J. Keefe aredescendants of both John King and Thomas Eustace. Thus they canclaim the distinction of being descended from both the first(Thomas Eustace) and the last (Catherine Conlin) of the GeorgiaIrish.

Current Franklin County Senator Francis Howrigan is alsoconnected to the Georgia/Milton Irish through the Kennedys andthe Melavins. Sen. Howrigan is a farmer-businessman in thetradition of the late Sen. John. McGrath and, like Sen. McGrath,is the grandson of poor Irish immigrants. As one of the lastvestiges of Irish tradition, Senator Howrigan has sought topromote a keen sense of family values. He knows that for a peopleand civilization to survive, the family must be paramount.

Finally In St. Ann's Cemetery * there stands, amidst themultitude of gravestones, a striking reminder of Irish heritage.Both the McGrath and King headstones are crowned by a CelticCross, the ancient Irish symbol of a Christian people. Thesesymbols stand as a memorial to ages now past and as a profoundreminder for future generations yet to come.

* Georgia Irish Catholics were buried in. St. Ann's Cemetery inMilton because it was the consecrated ground of St. Ann's Parishto which they belonged.

by H. Hale Nye

Often the way problems were solved in the past could help us eventoday.

About 70 years ago in Georgia, a young man whom we will call"Ed" stole some poultry from a neighbor who livedbetween Georgia Center and St. Albans. He transported them underthe seat of a buggy to St. Albans and sold them to a poultry manon the east side of South Main Street.

Authorities solved the crime much faster than crimes are solvedtoday. The poultry were returned to the owner and "Ed"was sentenced to a six-month term at the Reformatory In Rutland.

When those in charge of the Reformatory found what they had, theygave "Ed" a job. (This was before pickup trucks. )"Ed" was put in charge of a horse and a one-horsewagon. He brought supplies to the reformatory and hauled unwantedmaterials to a dump. He groomed the horse.

Transportation of people was not a problem as the electric carline which ran between Rutland and Fair Haven ran in front of theReformatory.

"Ed" was clothed, fed and given a pair of four-buckleovershoes. Finally when the six months were up, "Ed"had to leave. All concerned were very sorry, even "Ed".