Part 1: Francis Miller’s Birth in Ireland to American Immigration

Irish inner harbor in the 1890s

Table of Contents

From the Beginning

On September 9, 1895, Bridget and Sean Miller welcomed their first born child, Francis Dalton Miller into the world.  The proud father immediately took him to the center of the village where he proclaimed that he was the perfect child and would change the world.

Sean was born in Dublin where his father passed away in the whiskey fire of 1875.  After that, Sean and his mom moved in where some of her family in County Cork. Sean met Bridget on a market day in Carrigaline and began courting her immediately. Upon marrying in 1893 they settled in the fishing village of Kinsale Ireland, half a day’s walk from Queenstown. They led a simple life and were content to continue living as Bridget’s parents and grandparents had.

Christy Irish Village near the ocean in 1900 sepia wide angle v 94a0a694 5ac4 48ff 88d4 262e123a5a3b

While Kinsale was a bucolic place to live, but it wasn’t where Bridget wanted to raise her family.  Sean and Bridget’s father, Duncan Halleran, ran fishing boats all day, however, it was Bridget that fed the family.  Her income was from providing morning pastries and supper pies to the Fort and all the good houses in town. The pastry income far exceeded that of fishing. And it was more reliable.  But when she realized that Francis would have a sibling, Sean agreed to take her and the children to America.


Francis, along with his parents and baby sister, Mary Elizabeth, boarded the SS Lucania of the Cunard Line, bound for New York in September of 1900.  Sean used his middle name, Henry, to buy one ticket.  You’ll find him as passenger 84.  His third cousin Horatio McKay, was the captain of the vessel and agreed to give his family safe passage for the price of a ticket. Their funds were very limited and would be required for lodging once reaching New York.

Christy oceanliner nearing New York harbor in 1900 birds eye wi 388e6629 0955 46e2 a0be b48e54f17a4b

In exchange for free passage, Bridget had to prepare all of the senior crew’s meals and the desserts for the First Class passengers.  Sean worked as a dock hand and Mary Elizabeth was watched over by Captain McKay’s wife.  That left Francis to explore the ship. Cook had a cat that was fond of Francis and he didn’t mind a young boy exploring the galley while his mother worked.  With no children of his own, Captain McKay had a soft spot Francis.  He could be seen walking hand in hand with the exuberant 5 year old making rounds.

In early October of the same year, the Millers breathed in the smell of their new country and new life.  The one ticket for Sean had wiped out the family’s savings.  Once they found a boarding house that agreed to let them pay rent the following week both Sean and Bridget found work.  Sean as a dock hand and Bridget as a seamstress.


All was going well and the family had the start of a small savings when one day Sean did not come home.  After a sleepless night Bridget hurried down to find the foreman only to be told that her husband had had an accident and was dead.  Alone with two children in a new country, Bridget did the only thing she’d ever done – work.

She wrote to her mother’s sister in Chicago to see if Aunt Peg would take them in.  At seamstress wages it and daily rent and food it would have taken years to save money for the trip. However, months after sending the letter, Bridget received a reply with 3 train tickets to Chicago.  It seemed Aunt Peg felt guilty for leaving her family in Ireland to go to American and chase her dreams.  She was more than pleased to learn she could help Bridget.

In addition to the train tickets, she’d sent money for new traveling clothes and cab fair to her home in the North-side wards of Chicago.  Bridget was moving on without her beloved Sean, but to the children it was just another adventure.

With his new shoes and smart new traveling clothes – Francis was bound for Chicago.

young boy in 1900

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Part 1: Francis Miller's Birth in Ireland to American Immigration
From the Beginning On September 9, 1895, Bridget and Sean Miller welcomed their first born child, Francis Dalton Miller into the world.  The proud father immediately took him to the center of the village...

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