Emigration to Ohio - Mona's Relief Society of Cleveland


The following is taken from Ellan Vannin Magazine 1923-28 which is itself taken from A History of Mona's Relief Society of 1926.

As can be read this society was an early relief society for Manx settlers - it is particularly useful in giving names, ages and settlement dates for many of the early emigrants.



ONE hundred years have come and gone since the first Manx people settled in the Western Reserve.

Three families left the dear little Island, and, after a voyage of seven weeks in a sailing vessel, landed in New York. Thence by way of the Erie Canal and Lake Erie, they reached Cleveland, which was then a small town of only six hundred inhabitants, in May, 1826.

Warrensville was selected as the most desirable place in which to buy farms, and it was not many years before it became the centre of the Manx population, for almost every farm for miles around was owned by a Manxman. These pioneer families consisted of William Kelly, his wife Eleanor Kneen Kelly, and their children John and Eliza; Patrick Tear, his wife Ann Kneen Tear, and daughter Mary A. Tear (later Mrs. J. R. Radcliffe); William Kneen, Mary Kenyon Kneen (his wife), and their four children.

Perhaps it was the glowing accounts sent back to the Island by Mr. William Kelly, father of Mr. L. A. Kelly of the present Kelly Co.), that started the Manx immigration to this country, for, from that May, 1826, an ever increasing number of Manx people have established homes in this part of the State, and at this time (1926) Cleveland is quoted as having the largest number of Manx people, and those descended from the Manx, of any place in the United States.

Mr. William Corlett was the first child born of Manx parents in Cuyahoga ( ninth, October, 25th, 1827. He lived in Warrensville until his death, in 1901. The second child born in the Manx settlement was Mr. John T. Watterson, who became a respected and successful business man, residing in Cleveland until the time of his death,in August, 1903. He was one of the charter members of the Mona's Relief Society.

As the number of Manx people increased in Cleveland and vicinity, the question of aiding such of their fellow-countrymen or descendants, who through unforeseen or adverse circumstances might need immediate relief, was first discussed at a meeting held at the residence of Mr. William Brew, about seventy years ago.

Those present were James Christian, John Corlett William K. Corlett, William Cubbon, and William Brew. Shortly after this meeting another one was held at the home of James Christian, and "The Mona's Relief Society of Cleveland, Ohio," was organised, with the following preamble to its constitution, which was first printed, as far as we can learn, in USA:-


We, natives of the Isle of Man and their immediate descendants here, have been in the order of Providence thrown together in a distant land, afar from the place of our nativity; and the home of our ancestors; and whereas, further, deeming it fit and proper that, by mutual counsel, converse, and assistance, we bereft and befriend each other; therefore- Resolved, that in order more perfectly to secure this end, we hereby form ourselves into a Society whose object shall be the mutual improvement of its members, and the charitable relief of such of our fellow countrymen as through adversity or misfortune met! stand in need of the commons necessaries of life; and for our better establishment and good government, do establish this Society.

Sixteen persons signed as charter members, and the Society immediately began its mission of mercy.

There were a few others present at this meeting who did not at this time become members, but who were ever ready to assist in any way when called on. Two of these, William Harrison and William K. Corlett, offered to remain during the night with one of their countrymen who lay ill at the home of Mr. William Brew; thus forming the first "Relief Committee" of the Mona's Relief Society.

Thinking that a short sketch of some of these organisers might be of interest to many of our friends, we give the following:-

William Brew was elected as the first president, and served at this time for three years. He was president again in 1862 and 1863. His death occurred in 1876.

In the death of James Christian, in 1886, the Society lost one of its faithful and conscientious members. He was for many years secretary and treasurer, and held the office of president from 1867 to 1871. His enthusiasm for the work of relieving those who were unfortunate is still an inspiration to the members.

Mr. John Corlett, at one time one of the most active Manxmen of our city, was born in 1815, and came from the Island in 1836, residing here until his death, on November 10th, 1911. He lived the longest of the original group of sixteen charter members. He was a man of great industry and frugality, and a good example of those homely Manx virtues, Economy and Thrift.

One of the most loyal and faithful members of this Society since its organisation was Mr. William Cubbon, who came to Cleveland in 1840. He acted as president for two years, and for many years was chairman of the Relief Committee. He died on October 17th, 1902.

Mr. William K. Corlett was a very active member during the early years of the Society. He was president for two terms, and often was called upon to give the principal address at the annual festivals. He came to Cleveland in 1837, and by his upright life he gained the respect of the citizens of this city. His death occurred on April 6th, 1907, after being interested in the Society nearly 56 years.

Mr. William K Collister left the Isle of Man in 1851 and was ever a very faithful and trusted member of the Society until his death, in 1899, at the age of 78 years.

John T. and William J. Watterson were the only ones among those who organised the Society who were born in America. They were always much interested in the activities of the Manx people, and were successful business men of our locality. John T. died on August 6th,1903.

Mr. Thomas Quayle, who afterwards became a noted pioneer ship-builder of the Great Lakes, came to Cleveland in a party of 50 Manx people in 1827. He was unable to be present at the organisation of the Society, but sent word that he wished his name enrolled as a member. He served two terms as president of the Society, covering a period of seven years.

Mr. Robert Quayle was one of the most popular Manxmen who ever lived in Cleveland. His enthusiasm and work in connection with the festivals will ever be remembered by those who knew him.

Mr. J. J. Callister came here in 1846, and was one of the first to enter heartily intro the formation of the Society.

Then we have among those early supporters Messrs. Robert Christian, John Cubbon, William Wade, and others, of whom we might tell much which would be of interest to many. Many of our Manxmen who always attended the Manx social gatherings left their lasting influence on the Society by their financial aid and inspiring words of cheer; when interest was lagging and funds were nearing the vanishing point.

Among other worthies may be mentioned the following: Mr. William Caine, who was for many years a trustee and willing worker. Mr. Robert Carran did a great deal for the young Manx people of Newburg, by forming debating societies, thus creating a desire for improvement. He lived to celebrate his one hundredth birthday, December 10th, 1912, by attending the annual festival the next evening, December 11th. He greeted his friends and acquaintances, and to very many of those present was the first person they had ever met who had reached the century milestone. In a picture published in one of the city newspapers, we see him seated with Mrs. Belle A. Corlett, Mr. M. G. Watterson, and Mrs. Philip Kneen, now our oldest living member, who was 93 years old on March 30th, 1926.

Mr. Daniel Corlett, who died in 1899, showed his friendship for the Society by leaving 100 dollars as a nucleus for a permanent endowment fund.

The cordial hospitality of Mr. and Mrs Corlett, which is remembered by all who knew them, has left its impress on their descendants.

Mr. William S. Kerruish, a well-known lawyer, began his public speaking in the debating club of the Mona's Relief Society, which flourished in 1873 and 1874. He is acknowledged to be the best Manx scholar in the United States, and has probably addressed the Manx people more times than any other citizen of Cleveland, and now at the advanced age of 94, surrounded by his family, finds enjoyment in reading his beloved Cicero.

One of those who had the privilege of attending the first festival was Mr. John Gill, who was always interested in the work and welfare of the Society. He lined here the greater portion of his life and was a man of thrift,: sterling integrity, and honourable achievements. He died on August 16th, 1911.

Mr. George Quay's loyalty to the Society was shown by his willingness to work. It is said that at the time of the first festival, he, with Mr. J. J. Callister, carried the water used for dish washing from the canal to the Square, a distance of a mile.

Mr. Moses G. Watterson, although busy with arduous duties of political offices, having been President of the Board of Education for many years, County Treasurer, and Mayor's Clerk, always found time to attend the meetings and deliver addresses at them.

Mr. John Gill, who died at the outbreak of the Civil War, was very much interested in the Manx living in Cleveland at that time. He was a successful contractor, and was a member of the City Council in 1846 and 1849 and a State representative in 1849. Just before the organisation of the Society, ten men pledged themselves to contribute a stated amount weekly to support the widow of one of their countrymen. Philip Kneen was one of these, and was one of the first to identify himself with the Society. He was born on September 29th, 1822, and died in August, 1908.

The eloquent addresses of the Rev. Thomas Corlett can be remembered by many of those who attended the festivals years ago.

Mr. "Johnnie" Sayle's familiar face and genial laugh has been missed for many years.

Mr. John Gawne was a regular attendant at the festivals and picnics as long as he lived. He settled here in 1851, and died in 1886, aged 75 years.

With this list of early supporters, the general work of the Society went on successfully: but we find no list of members in the records of these years of its early existence.

Although we know the ladies always assisted at the festivals, it was not until October, 1873, that we find them mentioned in the records, and then they were invited to join in the singing under the direction of Mr. Thomas C. Quayle, or act as judges of the debates after the regular meetings. It is very evident our Manxmen of those early years enjoyed the debate, as it found its place in the programme of many of the regular meetings.

From 1873 on, we find Mrs. John Corlett, Mrs. Daniel Corlett, Mrs. J. J. Callister, Mrs. John T. Watterson, Mrs. T. C. Quayle, Mrs. David Proudfoot, Mrs. William Cubbon, Mrs. Thomas Quayle, Mrs. John Radcliffe, Mrs. Robert Quayle, and Mrs. Charles F.. Vaupel, as being particularly interested in arranging the festivals and picnics;; while James Hampton, James Quayle, Dr. Gawne, and T. C. Quayle had charge of the music.

These annual festivals, more commonly known as "Manx suppers," have been held regularly since the organisation of the Society, with the exception of one scheduled for December, 1911, which was omitted on account of the death of Mr. William H. Teare, and again at the time of the influenza epidemic, in 1918.

The first festival was held in Empire Hall, in Superior Street, in 1853; the second in Ballou's Hall; then for several years in the National Hall, in the Public Square; then at Garrett's Hall, in Euclid Avenue, where the Williamson Building now stands; and in later years at the various halls suited to the purpose.

The festival held on Wednesday, December 18th, 1863, was in Garrett's Hall. The Committee on arrangements were T. Quayle, M. G. Watterson, W. S. Kerruish, W. Brew, C. Quirk, and J. T. Cowley. Of course, the ladies must have had a very prominent part in the supper arrangements, as the menu prepared for that evening was wonderful.

The early monthly meeting s of the Society were held at a room at the S.W. corner of the Public Square, until 1867, when a change was made to the Charlton block, corner of Eagle and Woodland Avenue, where it met for 25 years.

In 1894, when interest in the Society seemed to lag, it was decided to meet at the homes of the members, the meeting-place for the next month being arranged for at the meeting. The plan was continued until October fist, 1903, when a Committee, consisting of Mrs. Henry Watterson and Mrs. William R. Creer, was appointed to secure meeting places for the next year, have the list printed, and given to each member. This method of notifying the members when and where the meetings were to be held has proven very satisfactory, and is still followed at the present time.

In February, 1886, the young people, under the direction of the president, Mr. Thomas C. Quayle formed a musical class, which was named the "Mona's Vocal Society." This dignified name was rarely used, for it soon became more familiarly known as the "Singing School." Mr. Quayle was elected leader, and under his patient guidance the young people learned some of the more familiar Manx songs, which were later sung at the festivals. These musical nights proved very enjoyable as well as profitable to those enrolled as members, and many lasting friendships were formed.

The Ladies' Auxiliary to Mona's Relief Society was organised on December 7th, 1899, the day following the annual festival, when 17 ladies met in Germania Hall, to look after the dishes, silver, etc., which had been used the evening before.

[To be Continued.]

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