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William Welsh, Page 370
WILLIAM WELSH. We are glad to give a complete narrative of this worthy citizen, who is engaged in operating his valuable farm on section 21, Lima Township. His career has been a checkered one, indeed, and his life has been replete with stirring incidents, which read like a romance. He is one of the sons of the Emerald Isle, born on Christmas Day of 1829, his parents being James and Julia (Sullivan) Welsh. they had a family of three sons and five daughters, all but one of the number still surviving. Julia is the wife of James Fitzgerald, formerly of Chicago, but now deceased; Hannorah is the widow of Daniel Calmody, who was also a resident of Chicago; Mary is the wife of Dennis Buchanan, of the same city; Thomas now resides in Kansas City; and Johanna lives in St. Louis. The father followed agricultural pursuits in his native land, where his death, and also that of his wife, occurred.
A lad of fourteen years, William Welsh sailed from his native land in the "Diadem," bound for New York. The voyage took twelve weeks and four days, and many times it seemed certain that the vessel would go to the bottom, the mail mast being taken away during a severe storm; but they were spared to reach land. When our subject landed among a strange people, he had seven shillings and a sixpence in English money, and the first thing he set himself to do was to find employment. He wandered around for three days, and finally went aboard the vessel, "Isaac Newton," as a deck hand, and remained there for one summer. He then hired out to a farmer at $8 per month, and continued in the employ of this one man for three years. This was on a farm near the beautiful Catskills. Believing he could do better in the West, he started for Cleveland. He arrived in Sandusky when there was but one house in the city, and then went on the Cincinnati. There he shipped aboard a steamer bound for New Orleans, and went as far as Cairo, when, on account of an accident to the vessel, he was obliged to go on another boat. Arriving in the Crescent City, he found work in loading steamboats, and then received employment at the custom house, which was being opened at that time. Returning to steamboating, he continued to be thus employed for several years. At the time the old "Louisiana" blew up, he was one of the deck hands, but had fortunately gone on an errand. There were six hundred passengers aboard, and not more than twenty were saved, while the boat was a complete wreck. A piece of the boiler which was blown across the levee struck a large mule belonging to a man by the name of Patrick Barrett, killing it instantly.
Though our subject did pretty well and made considerable money, he determined to leave the South, and in 1853 went to St. Louis, where he remained for four years. During the summer of 1851 the boat "Wrightonia" was making the trip from New Orleans, when there was a large robbery committed, which amounted to over $43,000. The sister-in-law of the Hon. Stephen A. Douglas was a passenger, and over $2,000 in money was stolen from her. A gold watch, chain, gold pencil, and a package of $40,000 was taken from a wealthy planter. To discover the robbers was intrusted to our subject, as he was watchman. He found three men, and upon a thorough search the stolen property was obtained and restored to the owners. The relative of Mr. Douglas called for the faithful watchman and presented him with a $20 gold piece to treat the boys, but the old planter gave not a cent of his $40,000. Before leaving the vessel, the grateful lady called for Mr. Welsh and pressed another $20 upon him for his kind services.
During the time our subject was in St. Louis, he engaged in the freighting business and did excellently, but on account of poor health he sold out and went to Buffalo, where he remained until 1865, and soon found his hard earnings were fast going to pay doctor's bills. When he had reached almost the last dollar, he made his way to the oil regions of Venango County, Pa., where he resumed the teaming business, and ran eight wagons. He worked in the contract business as a lumber dealer and made money very rapidly. Catching the prevalent fever for oil speculation, he invested and lost everything he had. He struck the fourth well, "No. 2," which was sixteen hundred and forty-four feet deep, flowed eight hundred barrels a day, and promised to be an immense concern. At one time he was offered $80,000 by a "town lackey," but he would not sell. Near his well was struck the Pool Well, fifteen hundred and twenty-two feed deep, which flowed two thousand barrels per day, and the poor man who had been so lucky sold out for $2,000,000.
In 1866 William Welsh came to Sheboygan County, and purchased seventy-six acres of unimproved land in Lima Township. There very only a small shanty and stable upon the place, which now bears little resemblance to the primitive place which he found it. His homestead comprises one hundred and ninety-three and a-half acres of land, well-improved, situated five and a-half miles from the Falls. The shanty of former years has been replaced a beautiful brick residence, and the owner is well worthy of the reputation he bears as one of the thrifty farmers of the township.
Mr. Welsh is a self-made made man and as such deserves the respect which is accorded him in no small degree by his many friends. On the 16th of August, 1854, he chose for his life companion Miss Catherine Wolf, who was born about 1832, in County Kerry, Ireland. They have had eleven children, all of whom are living with the exception of one. Mary Jane is a sister in the Good Shepherd's Convent in New York. Catherine is in the same institution. James is head foreman in the carpenter shops at the stock yards in Chicago. William is a policeman at the Central Station in the same city, having been on the force six years. Mike is a mechanic of Chicago. Thomas has been in the same place for about four years, and is a patrolman. John, a resident of Lima Township, married Miss Broeneveldt, and has a little son, Frankie, aged seven months. Frank is learning the plumber's trade in Chicago.
Our subject, his wife and family are members of the Catholic Church, the former belonging to St. Rose Church, of Lima Township, of which Father Blume is pastor. Our subject is a Democrat and has supported that party since casting his first vote for James K. Polk. He has not been anxious or desirous of holding office, but has given his time to his business interests.
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