Looking for information about a council service?
Strabane's North American Connections
The vast exodus to North America by emigrants from Ireland in general is well documented. Many went on to attain fame and prosperity, while many others lived their lives in comparative obscurity. Each, however contributed in his or her own way to the development of the great American Republic, the United States of America and it's neighbour Canada. Strabane District can claim full share in these associations through the many emigrants who left the area from as early as 1773. In an extract from the files of the Londonderry Journal dated 23 February 1773 the following call was made to the tradesmen of the area:
Many other local journals and newspapers continued to carry such advertisements offering transatlantic crossings by shipping companies up until the beginning of the Twentieth Century. We may be sure that many locals took advantage of such opportunities, some out of necessity as in the case of many of the residents of the local workhouse others out of a sense of adventure. Among the most significant are the following:-
Sir Guy Carleton: Born in Strabane in 1724, Carleton went on to become Military Governor of Quebec and was instrumental in successfully challenging an invasion of Canada by the rebel forces of the American Colonies in1776. Ironically his opposite number was Donegal man Richard Montgomery.
In 1778 Carleton resigned the Governorship only to be brought out of retirement in 1782 to act as Commander in Chief of British Forces in North America. In this capacity he oversaw the surrender of New York to George Washington (among whose personal bodyguard was Captain John Dunlap) and the evacuation of British troops from North America.
Carleton was created Baron Dorchester in 1786 and appointed Governor in Chief of British North America. His firm, but fair administration at that time (especially in regard to recognising the status of the 'French Canadians') was responsible for the successful inauguration of the respective institutions which became the foundations of modern Canada. At the time of his death in 1808 he was recognised as one of the most decisive figures of the 18th Century.
John Dunlap: Born in Meetinghouse Street, Strabane in1746, Dunlap emigrated to Philadelphia at the age of 10 and began working with his uncle, who was one of the leading printers there at that time. The young apprentice was to eventually take over the business transforming it into a publishing company. His newspaper the Pennsylvania Packet or General Advertiser was to become the first daily newspaper in the United States.
Dunlap also played an important role in the American Revolution. He was one of the leading founders of the First City Troop of Philadelphia City Calvary and as captain he went to Trenton and Princeton as bodyguard to George Washington. (It was in this capacity that he would have witnessed the negotiations for the surrender of New York by fellow Strabane man Guy Carleton.) Moreover, he provided generous financial support to the general war effort.
However, one of Dunlap's most important contributions was as official printer to Congress when he became responsible for printing one of history's most important documents 'The American Declaration Of Independence'. Dunlap died on 27th November 1812 and was buried with full military honours at Christ Church, Philadelphia.
His birthplace is marked by a plaque erected by Strabane District Council.
James Wilson: James Wilson, grandfather of President Woodrow Wilson, was born February 1787 at Dergalt, and emigrated to America in 1807, where he married Sion Mills girl Annie Adams. Wilson became editor of a Philadelphia newspaper, The Aurora and subsequently a member of the Ohio State legislature before finally becoming a senator. The ancestral home near Strabane town still remains and is managed with assistance from Strabane District Council.
William Colins: Born In Strabane in 1840 Collins ran away at the age of 15 to Canada where after some years as a labourer, he developed an interest in poetry and literature. He enlisted in the Federal Army and fought in both the American Civil War and in the Fenian raid of Canada. On his return to Cleveland, Collins wrote many articles and poems for the press achieving widespread acclaim in the process. In 1874 he went to New York where he worked on the editorial staff of the Irish World and eventually went on to hold an executive post on the New York Tablet.
Rev Stuart Robinson DD: Born in Strabane in 1814, he graduated from Amherst College and was ordained Pastor of Malden (Charleston) in1841. Subsequently he was appointed to the Chair of Church Government and Pastoral Theology in Danville Seminary where he published a volume entitled The Church Of God. In Toronto he prepared for press his Discourses of Redemption which went through several editions in Europe and America. In May 1869, he was unanimously elected Moderator of the Southern General Assembly.
Other important associations include Andrew Mc Cullagh a member of Congress for Wisconsin; Thomas McKean and Thomas Nelson both signatories to the American Declaration Of Independence; William Knox who founded the Central Bank Of Alabama but was financially ruined after supporting the Confederate cause in the American Civil War; James Monteith distinguished geographer and author of A History Of The United States; brothers Alexander and James Porter, the former became a judge of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, the latter Attorney General in the same state; and Rev J Ross Stevenson, a past Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States and of the same stock as Adlai Stevenson, former American Vice-President.