Big thank you from


from Lisburn to New York City by Cathy Paris

Henry ParkinsonIn 1841, the Irish Emigrant Society was formed to help the men and women arriving from Ireland to settle in New York City. The society and New York's first Archbishop, John Hughes, helped organize a bank to serve New York's growing population of Irish working class men and women. In 1850, the Emigrant Savings Bank opened its doors. Twelve years later, on Monday, October 20, 1862, Henry Parkinson walked through the doors at 51 Chambers Street and opened an account. Henry signed his name in the ledger, declaring that he had been born in Lisburn, Antrim, Ireland in 1828.

Henry arrived in the USA in 1857 aboard the Edinburgh and disembarked at Castle Clinton, located near the tip of lower Manhattan. Between 1850 and 1890, Castle Clinton housed the Emigrant Landing Depot, where over 7 million newly arrived immigrants were processed into America. Henry didn't wander far from his original point of disembarkation. When Henry opened his account at the Emigrant Savings Bank in 1862, he was living at 16 Whitehall Street, less than two blocks from Castle Clinton.

When Henry made his deposit at the bank, America was in the midst of a Civil War. The war had started in 1860 and didn't end until 1865. New York was far from the battlefields of the war, but was committed to sending thousands of troops to support the effort. Many hungry, young immigrants joined the ranks of soldiers that were shipped south to fight for the Union Army. By 1860, Henry was already 32 years old, and most likely he avoided serving in the army. Most of the men fighting the war were teenagers or in their early 20s.

Two months before Henry made his deposit in the Emigrant Savings Bank, on Wednesday, August 20, 1862, Henry married Eliza Ford, an Irish immigrant from County Cork. Eliza arrived in New York in 1858 aboard the 'City of New York.' Most likely, Eliza was joining family members who were already in America. Although the ships records indicate Eliza was 18 years old, she may have been only 14 years old when she undertook the journey from Ireland to America.

Henry and Eliza had three (3) children. The oldest child, Robert, was born on June 27, 1863. Robert lived only a year, dying on August 30, 1864. Kate, was born March 9, 1865. Henry, was born 28 April 1868.

Living at 16 Whitehall Street, which was very close to the ports where so many ships were arriving, Henry was working as a porter in 1862. In 1866 he applied for a liquor license.

Henry was close to his sister, Elizabeth. By 1870, Elizabeth, age 40, and her family were living in the dwelling adjacent to Henry's home. Elizabeth was married to Colin 'John' McElroy, age 38, an immigrant from Northern Ireland. Elizabeth and John had two children, Sarah Jane, born in New York in August 1866, and John Edward, born in New York in May 1870. John was working as a porter.

Robert Parkinson was the younger brother of Henry and Elizabeth. Robert, born in June 1835, was 7 years younger than Henry. Robert arrived in New York about the same time as Henry. Robert became a liquor merchant, and worked down the street from Henry. About 1864, Robert married Catherine E. Prichard, a native of New York City. Robert bought a house in Brooklyn, New York, where he and Catherine raised their children. The Brooklyn Bridge hadn't been built yet. To travel between his home and place of business, Robert took the ferry.

Robert and Catherine had five (5) children: Kate was born in 1865 and died in the same year; Fanny was born in 1869; Robert was born in 1875; Eddie was born in 1876 and died shortly after birth; and Edward was born in May 1878.

Henry didn't live to see his children grow up. He died from meningitis on October 18, 1870 at Brooklyn City Hospital. He was only 42 years old. (The notice of his death gives his age as 45 old.) The notice of his death appeared in the New York Herald, Thursday, October 20, 1870:

"PARKINSON. -- On Wednesday, October 19, Henry PARKINSON, aged 45 years. Funeral ceremonies at Trinity Church, New York, on Friday afternoon, at half-past one o'clock. The relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend. The members of Corinthian Lodge, 488, F. and A.M:, are respectfully invited to attend. CORINTHIAN LODGE, No. 488, F. and A.M. -- BRETHREN -- You are hereby summoned to meet at our lodge rooms, No. 8 Union square, on Friday, the 21st inst., at 12 o'clock M., for the purpose of paying the last tribute of respect to our late brother, Henry Parkinson. EDWIN LEACH, Master.

" When Henry died, Robert took over his business.

New York City Directory, 1869
Parkinson Henry, liquors, 16 Whitehall
Parkinson Robert, liquors, 40 Whitehall, h 394 Hicks, B'klyn

New York City Directory, 1890
Parkinson Robert, liquors, 16 & 40 Whitehall, h 510 Clinton, B'klyn
In 1900, 30 years after her brother, Henry, died, Elizabeth was living with her daughter, Sarah, and Sarah's family in Paterson, New Jersey.

Robert survived Henry by 33 years. Robert died on March 15, 1903, of heart disease at his home at 510 Clinton Street in Brooklyn, New York. Robert's death certificate gives the name of his parents as Robert and Elizabeth Parkinson of Ireland.

I found three listings in Antrim for 'Robert Parkinson' in the Tithe Applotment Books of Ireland, 1823-1838. Possibly one or more of the records is for Henry's father:

County: Antrim Parish: Blaris Townland: Lissue Year: 1834
County: Antrim Parish: Derryaghy Townland: Magheralave Year: 1827
County: Antrim Parish: Derryaghy Townland: Aughnaho Year: 1827

Although their numbers are relatively few, Henry and Elizabeth have living descendants throughout the United States. To the best of my knowledge, Robert has no living descendants.

If you have any more information on this family please email to