The 'Unknown'

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER VIII (5) start of chapter

It was not until the 1st of November that the quarantine of Grosse Isle was closed. Upon that barren isle as many as 10,000 of the Irish race were consigned to the grave-pit. By some the estimate is made much higher, and 12,000 is considered nearer the actual number. A register was kept, and is still in existence, but it does not commence earlier than June 16, when the mortality was nearly at its height. According to this death-roll, there were buried, between the 16th and 30th of June, 487 Irish immigrants 'whose names could not be ascertained.' In July, 941 were thrown into nameless graves; and in August, 918 were entered in the register under the comprehensive description—'unknown.' There were interred, from the 16th of June to the closing of the quarantine for that year, 2,905 of a Christian people, whose names could not be discovered amidst the confusion and carnage of that fatal summer. In the following year, 2,000 additional victims were entered in the same register, without name or trace of any kind, to tell who they were, or whence they had come. Thus 5,000 out of the total number of victims were simply described as 'unknown.'

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America