St. Patrick’s Day is always fun in my house. Because of my Irish last name, I can lay claim to having a connection to the Emerald Isle. However, having an Irish last name is only part of my story. Fortunately, my relatives took the time to document the men and women who made the journey for the American Dream. Most of my relatives ventured from overseas to start a life in the United States, and my last name holds part of this history. It is my middle name, Allen, that ties me back to my great-great-grandfather James W. Allen, who was born May 14, 1859 in Newark, New Jersey. His daughter, Faye Allen, married my great-grandfather James McLaughlin, who was born Dec. 26, 1883 in Elkader, Iowa. Family lore is that this side of the family hails from Donegal, Ireland, and that they came through Ellis Island and settled in Iowa. My grandfather’s middle name was Allen. My father’s middle name is Allen, and my son’s middle name is Allen. From 1859 to now, it is the Allen name that ties me to my past as much as my last name. James and Faye had my grandfather, John, who married Dorothy Marich. My grandmother’s parents, Jovo and Augusta Marich, came to the United States from the Bosnia/Serbia region. My great-grandfather, Jovo, by his own account sailed from Croatia, boarded the Italian liner Petka, and after a 27-day journey across the Atlantic, arrived in Ellis Island, New York, on May 13, 1901 at the age of 20. Reading his stories of being unable to find work in the quarries and following the railroad tracks west are fascinating. But for the kindness of strangers My Family Heritage The Reason I’m Standing Where I am Today
The John T Marich family in 1933
choices they made, I know it couldn’t have been easy. It is because of their efforts and bravery that I’m here — they had to survive hard journeys across the sea and walk a long way to start new lives. I’m the result of their hard work. There might be a lot of people who don’t think too much about how they ended up where they are in life, but each of us carry the legacy of past generations, even if we don’t know it. Our great-grandparents, grandparents, and even our parents have worked hard and may have sacrificed a lot to give their descendants — us — a better future. These stories of my immigrant relatives seem more germane today, and I hope all of us can be the farmer with the barn or the owner of an orchard with some extra apples.
allowing Jovo to sleep in a barn, after being soaked in a cold rain, or allowing him to pick ripe apples to eat, he might not have made it. My mother’s side of the family originated a little closer to home. My grandparents and great- grandparents grew up around the Kentucky/ West Virginia area. My mother’s grandfather’s name was York Hatfield. Many of you may know about the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud that took place from 1863 to about 1891, and my great-grandfather was a descendant of the very same Hatfield family. I’m carrying the legacy of many individuals before me, and even though I have this Irish name, my family comes from many different places. It’s really easy to say “I’m Irish,” but my roots run far deeper than just that. When I think about what my family had to do and the
-David McLaughlin “It’s really easy to say ‘I’m Irish,’ but my roots run far deeper than just that.”
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