Irish in urban Davenport
Life in the Irish
community was centered around church, work, and family. Until the 1860s, St.
Anthony's had been the only Catholic church in
. However, Ste. Margarite's (later renamed Sacred Heart
Cathedral) and Ste. Kunegunda's (later renamed
's Church) were also built to serve the ever growing
Catholic population of
. The Hibernia Society flourished in
during the Famine immigration period, providing a place
to meet other members of the Irish community, social events, and dances.
And, as immigrant
Irish families interacted, they intermarried. Bridgett Cunningham (b. 1850 in
) is first mentioned in the Davenport City Directory
(1880) and is listed as a laborer in the employ of Gifford & Rowdy, a
laundry service at
W. 3rd St.
Additionally, Mary Reagan is also listed as a laborer at
Gifford & Rowdy in the same volume. It is reasonable to conjecture that Mary
Reagan arranged for Thomas Martin Reagan (b. 1857 in
) and Bridget to meet. Whatever the cause, the outcome of
these personal interactions was the marriage of Thomas Martin and Bridgett
performed by Bishop Cosgrove at Sacred Heart Cathedral in
in 1882. Thomas and Bridget (Cunningham) Reagan lived and
, having seven children of which Sarah Catherine Reagan
As immigrant streams
continued, earlier arrivals began to move up the social ladder. James Cunningham started out as a laborer upon his
in 1859; however, by 1861 he had become a contractor.
Also, note his election as Alderman for the 6th District
("Brigham's," 1861).This demonstrates that the Irish immigrant
community was politically active at the time, as James was elected after having
for only two years.
Subsequent waves of
immigrants moved into the jobs and homes which had been previously occupied by
earlier immigrants. Dennis Edward and Sarah Catherine (Reagan) Mullin moved to
in 1926 with their four children–Thomas Edward, John
Martin, Margaret Mary, and Catherine Rose–arriving with only their clothes and
four chickens. Arrangements were made to purchase the Reagan family home at
515 W. 11th Street
. Dennis worked as a teamster like his father-in-law,
hauling freight to downtown stores and the Rock Island Arsenal, managing to
survive to retirement. Upon Dennis' death in 1970, Sarah lived with daughter Kay
(Mullin) Daley until her death in 1972.