logoVoyage of the Chile (Chili)


This extract is taken from The People of Orrisdale and Others (Family Sketches) by William Thomas Corlett, 1918 (privately printed with just 25 copies - this extract comes from the copy in the Manx Museum MM G88 C8/1 and covers pages 49-55.)

The manifest for the Chile (Chili) is discussed elsewhere - see also my comments on the story. William Thomas Corlett was a well known skin specialist and grandson of William Corlett, head of one of the emigrant families and writer of a series of letters back to the Island.


The Departure, Voyage and Arrival in America

SUCH being the conditions in the Isle of Man, it is not strange that these reports found favor. Accordingly, in May, 1827, several families, about fifty persons in all, living in the parish of Michael, near Peel, on the west coast, sold their land or other effects and arranged to depart for America. While all the islanders were good seamen and were familiar with the sea and sailing, there was one especially fitted, by reason of his having served on an English man-of-war, to choose a ship to transport them. Accordingly, Captain John Quayle, the father of the late Thomas Quayle and grandfather of George L. Quayle, of this City [Cleveland], was delegated to go to Liverpool to charter a boat. When the "Chile," an American sailing ship with three masts, appeared off the coast of Kirk Michael, the people were disappointed to see so small a boat selected to carry them across the Atlantic, with whose various moods they were only too familiar. She was a new ship, built and owned in New York; she had taken on a cargo at New Orleans for Liverpool and this was to be her first voyage home. They had confidence, however, in the man who selected her, because he had been captain of a "smack" and had while thus occupied acquired additional knowledge by being pressed into the service on one of His Majesty’s ships; accordingly, they embarked with their gold, their household effects and such provisions as they had. They bade adieu to the little Island of their birth, in most instances never to see it again, and proceeded to Liverpool for extra provisions, such as sea-biscuit, etc., then held their course towards the setting sun west by south, for five long weeks. Nor did the time pass slowly; the men and boys were employed in helping to sail the ship, they being all expert sailors. It was said that the captain relied on them in times of stress more than on his own sailors. Among these daring emigrants were three families, who later became prominent citizens in their new home. William Corlett "Billy-Bill-Beg,"n1 his wife, Elinor, and six children; Captain John Quayle and wife with five children; Patrick Cannell and wifen3 with several grown up children. One of these was John, father of Eli Cannell of this City [Cleveland]. The last named informs me that only three families, comprising about eighteen persons, made up the passenger complement of this shipn2. The names of the Corlett children were: William, aged seventeen; Mary, (Mrs. (Hon.) John Gill) aged fifteen; John, aged twelve; Thomas, aged ten; Charles, aged seven, and Jane, aged five (Mrs. (Col.) Henry Clarke). My father, William, remembers that they played games on board, especially dominoes, and someone had a musical instrument. The passengers cooked their own food in a large open fireplace on the ship. My father said he was not very sea-sick and became fat, during the voyage. He did, however, become very tired of sea-biscuit and thought he could never eat bread again. Sea-biscuit, I take it, was their staple article of food until they arrived in Cleveland. There was one death on the voyage, a child by the name of Cannelln4. They were all pleased with the boat and the captain, whose name was Jenkins, and who was spoken of as a good officer and agreeable to the passengers. No memorable storms were encountered, and they made a remarkably quick run in five weeks and some days. At that period it was not unusual for a voyage to last twice as long. It was reported that the sailors expected to touch port on the 4th of July, but that the captain, wishing the ship to make a good appearance before its owners, slowed down until she had been given a fresh coat of paint; consequently they did not land until four days later, on the 8th of July, 1827. I have often wondered why they did not settle nearer the Atlantic coast, but it was probably like the game of "follow the leader," and it was said that land was less fertile and more costly, as it doubtless was, in the more settled parts of the country. Beside, the Connecticut Land Company had much of the Western Reserve lands still unsold, and doubtless this company was not far behind its successors, the modern land agents, in bringing this special part of the country to their notice. At any rate they secured immediate passage on a Hudson River boat, and proceeded to Albany. How that large river with its towering Palisades must have impressed them! But my father was only seventeen at the time and was eighty-four when I became interested in this subject; impressions, therefore, had doubtless long since become dim.

At Albany they proceeded by the then most expeditious mode of travel, by boat up the Erie Canal, which follows the beautiful Mohawk Valley to Buffalo on Lake Erie. There they again changed their craft for a lake boat with sails, which landed them at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, in the settlement of Cleveland. At this time sails were the usual means of propulsion in navigation, although a month previously, a steamboat, "The Niagara," had left Buffalo for Grand River, now Fairport. My father said there were but few houses in the settlement, and they put up at Alonzo Carter’s house near the bank of the river. Cleveland at that time contained less than six hundred inhabitants, and the Western Reserve in which it is situated had been wrested from the Indians by Moses Cleaveland and his surveyors but thirty-one years before.1

The immediate vicinity of Cleveland did not impress them favorably; the land was sandy with scrub oaks on the ridge, now Euclid Avenue, and malaria was rife along the lowlands of the river valley where the soil was fertile. Newburg was five miles away, or in the language of the time, Cleveland was five miles from Newburg, because the former was a thriving settlement with water-power and a grist mill. One of the families who had left the Island for Ohio a year previously, had settled on the south side of the Newburg road, now Union Avenue, about six miles from what later became the Public Square in Cleveland; thither accordingly the Manx immigrants went, and proceeded to buy land in the immediate vicinity. This settlement was known later as the "Manx-Settlement" or "Manx-Village," and to its first settler and pioneer, William H. Kelley, is due this early Manx invasion of the Western Reserve and especially the building up of this Manx Settlement between Warrensville and Newburg.

My grandfather purchased a farm of fifty acres, nearly cleared of trees and ready for cultivation; it also had a log house which was open at the sides by broad doorways to enable a yoke of oxen to pass through in dragging logs before the large fireplace. The log house was later replaced by a frame building, such as one sees at the present time, being square, one and a half stories high, and painted white. It had stood intact until within a few years, and is now added to and occupied by a descendant of one of the Manx settlers of a later date.

Among the first things to consider after providing shelter and means of a livelihood was the education of their children; accordingly, a log schoolhouse was built on donated land on my grandfather’s farm.

The Ohio and Erie Canal from Cleveland to Portsmouth, on the Ohio River, was under construction, and "hands" were in demand; as a relief from "logging" many of the Manx boys, including my father, worked at odd times in constructing the northern end of this water-way.

Two years after settling in Newburg, a seventh child, Eliza, (Mrs. Oliver H. Beach) was born to my grandparents. My grandmother died April 5, 1856, aged sixty-seven, and my grandfather October 27, 1878. They are buried in the Gill lot in the Erie Street (East 9th) Cemetery the removal of which to Lake View Cemetery is now in progress. Being only two years old at the time of her death, I do not remember my paternal grandmother. She was spoken of by my older cousins who knew her as an exemplary woman of strong character, efficient in the management of her large family of children, and it has been intimated even of her husband, the latter doubtless being a willing subject. As soon as the eldest child, William (my father) had acquired enough money he bought a farm near what was later known as the. "Day Place" on the Warrensville Road, now Kinsman Road. A year or so later be married Christiania Boyd and in 1844 purchased and set tled on a farm in Orange Township, twelve miles east of Cleveland. This farm of one hundred and ten and 88-100 acres was a forest primeval, and the third he had helped to clear of trees for cultivation. It was purchased from the state of Connecticut for four dollars an acre.2 Two daughters were born to this marriage, Eliza3 and Harriet,4 both of whom as well as their mother, died a few years later.

My recollection of my grandfather remains vivid in mind. In spite of his apparent vexed look in his photograph, he was a kindly disposed man. It is related that he disliked to have his photograph taken, thinking it was not worth while and evidently had had a slight altercation on the subject when this photograph was taken. He was already an old man when I first remember him, standing erect, about five feet five inches, and enjoying good health. After the death of Eliza, my half sister, he sold his farm in the Manx Village in Newburg, now Union Street, and lived with his eldest daughter, Mrs. John Gill, who lived on Erie Street, now E. 9th Street, near Prospect Avenue. In a few years he became partially blind and finally lost his sight entirely. The last years of his life were spent with his son, the Rev. Thomas Corlett, who lived on what was then Forest Street. He enjoyed good health up to the time of his death and passed away, more of old age than of any special disease. He was in the habit of shaving himself up to the time of his death and after he became totally blind, he could not shave without placing a mirror on the table before him, such is the force of habit. During my boyhood, he made frequent visits to our farm and always gave me a penny which I hoarded until I had nearly two dollars in my miniature bank. He was an Episcopalian.

Neither grandfather nor my father apparently were in a hurry to become citizens of the United States as their naturalization papers are dated October, 1836, nine years after their arrival in this country, and when my father was twenty six years of age.

Oxen were used as a motive power in clearing the land of timber by hauling the logs into large piles to be burned, the procedure was called "logging,"—a great waste of valuable material it would now be considered, but for many years it was an arduous though necessary toil. These animals were also employed in transporting farm products and merchandise to and from Cleveland, as well as for a general means of conveyance. My father had a pair of young red colored steers that had the reputation of being able to pass anything on the road, and which were guided and otherwise controlled by a long pole or "sapling." These later (1852) gave place to horses. His sporting proclivities, however, never extended beyond the pace set by this yoke of red steers. He had the reputation in his young days of dressing well when occasion demanded. I can remember when a boy seeing a long frock overcoat of light-tan colored broadcloth, a silk hat, and fine leather high boots with pointed toes that curved up like sled-runners, which were in mode at that time. The coat was quite a pretentious garment as I remember it, and was a part of his wedding outfit. Some years later the tails were shortened and the cloth utilized in making a jacket for his son.

In 1850, William Corlett, widower, married Ann (Avery) Parsons, widow of Charles Parsons. From this marriage were born Ann Jeannette, October 19, 1851, and William Thomas, (the present writer) April 15, 1854.

The buildings on these farms were constructed of rough logs, and soon after his second marriage my father built quite a pretentious frame farmhouse with a barn of the same materiál. In this house, which is still in a good state of preservation, my sister and I were born.

The place was sometimes spoken of as "the woods," which in those days was considered a mild term of derision. When I was a small boy there were two young girls who while not near us also lived in the newly cleared land adjacent to a considerable wood and who had appeared at a public function, which was at church or a Sunday-school picnic, in new hats which attracted the attention and envy of some of the more fortunate girls who lived on the "main road." The latter in showing their resentment remarked, "that the trees were coming out in green." Whether green trimming was used or whether the hats themselves were green I do not remember, but any one associated with or who lived in so common an environment as woods and away from the state or main highway, was not supposed to be a leader of fashion—at least without a challenge. Nor did it seem at all probable at that time that the city of Cleveland, a day’s journey away, should during a lifetime extend her borders sufficiently to be within a few miles of my birth-place. Yet so rapid has been its growth that what a few years ago was almost worthless farmland, and abandoned to the growth of weeds and briars, is now sewered and supplied with city water pipes and is rapidly being utilized for city uses. My father was a well developed man of about five feet five inches in height, inclined, like his father, to be spare rather than corpulent. He had black hair, which became streaked with gray rather early, and blue eyes. He was active, very industrious, a good worker but a poor trader, being inclined to place undue credence in any one gaining his confidence. He was inclined to look on the dark side of the various problems that confronted him. ....


1 For further details of the Connecticut Western Reserve, see History of State of Ohio.

2 Recorded in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, December 16, 1844, vol. 34 of Deeds, p. 678.

3 Eliza lived with her grandfather after her grandmother’s death, and contracted tuberculosis, of which she died at the age of twenty.

4 Harriet lived with her father’s family and died of tuberculosis, Sep tember 16, 1870, aged twenty-three years.

Comments (FPC)

The appearance of the Chile off the coast of Kirk Michael and its subsequent return to Liverpool for more stores could be true but sounds doubtfull. The coast off Kirk Michael is a series of eroding sand cliffs with no place for any ship to berth (see my coastal footpath page). The nearest port is Peel which could conceivably been used (though with great difficulty as it was then only suitable for small fishing vessels). It is also strange that no mention of an Island departure is noted in the Manx press of the time. The Chile is noted as departing Liverpool on 30th May - it is possible I have missed an earlier departure but it would appear that the wind must have become favourable in that week as many ships bound for America set sail within a few days after a very slack period at the start of the month.

Selling three farms and acquiring gold would have been a slow process - specie was scarce at that time on the Island. - also the Manx were not alone on the ship, a party of Yorkshire weavers was also on board.

The is however a major query - three ships carrying 200 Manx left Liverpool within 2 weeks; all the Manx arrived together at Cleveland. Those on the other two (Curler and Ocean) certainly had a significant number of Methodists on board whereas W.T.Corlett notes his grandfather as an Episcopalian (Established Church). The Curler was also very likely chartered by the group, the Ocean likewise had a handwritten manifest indicating, to me at least, that this vayage was not usual.

n1: (fpc) billy-bill-beg is a Manx way of distinguishing between the many William Corletts etc - billy = name of his father (also William), bill-beg refers to Grandfather (also a William!) the beg is Manx for small.

n2: (fpc) the familes were the Quayles, Corletts and Cannells.

n3: Patrick Cannell's wife, Margaret died 14 July 1818

n4: The Cannell child who died was William Cannell chr. 21 Sep 1826 Ballaugh - parents John Cannell and Jane Quiggin

 [Genealogy Index]


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001