Traveller Query Page

American Irish Traveller Queries

Welcome to the Road Well-Travelled!

Chat Room.   I used to talk to other travellers online at shoebox at talk city.  Would someone please send the new online chat room? thanks Deb in Texas  Jan. 2004

COFFIELD, COFIELD.  The Coffield, aka Cofield, line of my family came from Ireland. They travelled all over America and Canada in a covered wagon. The story goes that they decided where to go next by using a ouija board. They camped in tents near farms and orchards. It didn't occur to me until recently that they may have been Irish Travellers. Other surnames associated with this family are Craig, Powell, Parsons, Dykeman. Does anyone know anything about the Coffields?  Sara McGrath Sept. 2003

GIBBONS.  I was raised in a childrens home, or orphanage in England, called Dr. Barnardos Homes. My family were Irish Travellers, and I was taken away from my mother as a young child. My grand father William Gibbons moved to England with his parents as a young man . They lived in a wooden caravan and travelled the English countryside. William made money drawing pictures of Churches and cathedrals, during world war two he took a job in a munitions factory in Somerset. This made him sick and he died of cancer at age 46. His wife Florence, and my mother Dorothy, sold all his drawings to survive, they then took jobs in service moving from town to town.  I live in North Carolina, I found my mother in 1994 and she visited me and my 15 year old daughter in October of 2002.  She was able to fill in some of the blanks, but by no means all, due to not learning to read or write untill recently.   I would like any in formation on how to contact other possible family members, in Ireland or the US. How can I find Irish Traveller groups in America?  J. Moen Sept. 2003


LANGUAGE.  I have been researching the history of the Irish language, as well as Shelta/Gammon/Cant in the US. I am looking to correspond with others who have interest in the Travellers and their language and history. The project focuses on dialectical survivals of Irish Gaeilge in regions of North America, and of course Shelta is an important part of the tale. I have uncovered evidence of Irish Travellers in the US as early as the 1760s.  I have also located a few familles in the census, and on the Famine ships, which has been a little like catching moonbeams in a jar.  Slan agus beannacht,  Daniel Cassidy, Director, The Irish Studies Program, New College of California, San Francisco  Jan. 2004

Mc Donagh.  I am an Irish Traveller who is very interested in contacting Travellers Living in America.  I have spent most of my adult life researching the customs and culture of Travellers. E. & M. Mc Donagh   27 March 2005

McKeown.  Does anyone know if the surname McKeown is of Traveller origin? McKeown is my mothers maiden name. Her ancestors were from Ireland. I notice in her family tree were the names Herron, Lee, Boswell, Cooper, Young etc. These names were frequently listed in her family tree. The McKeowns came from Ireland in 1700's and settled in South Carolina before moving on to such places as Mississippi, Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas. Tresvan or Tresvant is a common name in our family. My grandfathers middle name was Tresvan. If you recognize these names, would you write me? I am just tracing my origins and stumbled on to this. Thank you Bobbie Smith  16 August 2002

WALSH.  My paternal great, great grandmother Walsh worked as a maid/farmhand on Walsh land in Ireland in 1860’s-70’s. Arrangements were made to marry her to one of three Walsh brothers because he was very sickly, she accompanied him on the boat over to America where they settled somewhere in Pennsylvania. He died very soon after, leaving her with three young boys, Her two brother’s in law looked down on her because she was illiterate and just a “maid” so they informed her that they would keep her children but she must leave. She could not read or write, but knew she had some relatives in Newport, R.I. She somehow got word to them and relative in R.I. agreed to meet them in New York if she could there from Pa. This courageous woman then proceeded to WALK from western PA to the Eerie Canal, working on farms, her boys in tow. (They grew up to be metal workers, tinsmiths). When she got to Eerie they booked passage on a barge to NYC. Staying in the area pictured in “gangs of New York) until the relative from Newport Rhode Island came to New York to bring them home. Once in Newport I am told that she ran a very successful rooming house. Her sons grew up to have a furniture store. I have a strong feeling that she must have been a Traveller and I am very proud to have her in my blood. I wish I knew her maiden name. I am 54 years old and never knew of this story until my cousin wrote to me last summer. I wonder if you think I am on the right track thinking that she might have been a traveler. She sure sounds like it from what I have read and since she seems to have shown her sons how to make their way in the world as tinsmiths and merchants.  Eugenia Walsh  Jan. 2004

WORTH.  Is worth a traveller surname ? Mairead  Jan. 2004

FRANCIS.  I'm certain of little concerning my ancestry. My papa's side of the family, (Francis) would never speak of where we came from except to say we were Irish and Welsh, (and my papa used to apologize to other Irish for the Welsh); or tell any concrete tales of our ancestry. I have questioned grandparents when they were living, aunts, papa, etc. ,all were "mum". I did know that Grandpa Francis began as a coal miner. He also worked as an ornamental iron worker. We were all musicians, every generation going back as far as they would speak of, which was to the great-great grandfather and his syblings. Have also been able to find out that the Francises were originally from France. They were mostly dark haired and had the Latin look, at least to my eye. My mothers side of the family were Bailey. They claimed Irish/English and French, and what they called "Pennsylvania Dutch" which I have found meant German. Mom also would say "it is a family rumor that we had at least one N.American Indian ancestor". In my lifetime I have been asked if I was Italian, Mexican/Spanish, Indian, and Arab. I found many of my ancestral names on the internet, of census from mid 1800's, as travellers and gypsys residing in rooming and boarding houses in England.  Because of my families silence re: any aspect of "who we are" etc. and many other factors, the gypsy/traveller conclusion feels right. Sister M. Carole  Jan. 2004

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Copyright ©2000, Dr. Frank Oliver Clark. These documents may be freely used for private purposes, and included in your own genealogy. However, this document is copyrighted and may not be sold, nor given to anyone who may attempt to derive profit from same.