[from "Manx Idioms", 1897]
From The Isle of Man Examiner of Saturday, August 7th, 1897.
INTERVIEW WITH MR HENRY HANBY HAY,
Mr H. Hanby Hay, of Philadelphia College (U.S.A.), is again in the Island, and has given one of our representatives some of his experiences with the Manxmen of America. Questioned as to his experience of Manxmen in the States, Mr Hanby Hay replied
"For twenty years or so I have heard the legend of a Manx community in America vaguely spoken of as somewhere in the West, where the people were said to till the ground, speak Manx, publish a Manx newspaper, and breed Manx cats. As the years went on some meagre facts took the place of legend. I discovered that there was a small body of Manx and Manx-Americans settled in the great city of Cleveland, and this body, numbering, imagine, about five hundred souls, had some kind of an organisation for the purpose of keeping alive the flame of Manx patriotism.
" In 1895 it was my good fortune to come into epistolary fellowship with Mr W. Sheldon Kerruish, whose qualities of mind and heart are only equalled by his eminence as a lawyer; and I learned something from him of this interesting little settlement-for the idea little still lingered in my mind."
Here our representative interrupted with the suggestion that Mr Hay could probably give him the history of this settlement, so interesting to Manx people.
" Can I give you this history ?" quoth Mr Hay, " I give you my remembrance of what I heard. In 1825, a certain Manx parson-I don't remember his name, but I do remember that he was crossed in love-made a journey on horseback through parts of Ohio. Coming to the little hamlet where Cleveland now stands he found they were building a canal. This Ohio canal was to transfer Cleveland from a stagnant settlement to a busy little town. To-day there are doubtless more Manx-Americans in Cleveland than the whole population of the city in 1846. When the parson returned to the Island he told some families about to emigrate that the State of Ohio was a desirable Eden ; and, unlike Mark Tapley, they found it to be so. In 1826, in accordance with this pastoral advice, eighty Manx families settled in Cleveland and the immediate vicinity. In 1827 about an equal number followed. And ever since there have been accessions. Nearly all the original settlers are dead; but some remain, of whom I shall speak later.
" These Gills, Cannells, and Kerruishes were men of pith, worth, and substance. They not only brought brains to their new home, but they also brought a little money, which was judiciously invested in the purchase of farms, some of which farms remain in the shape of valuable lots to the third generation. In the early years of Cleveland, for several miles, ere you entered the city, there was Manx land on either hand. The memory of this is still kept green, for one of the suburbs is even yet called Manx-street.
"This Manx fact made me look up other facts about Cleveland. Cleveland, while not a great metropolis like New York and Philadelphia, has a population of 330,000, and is the greatest city in Ohio. If ound, too, that it built ships and machinery. and made more wire nails than any two cities in the world, and was, indeed, the most important port on the great lakes. It had also the good taste to be proud of its Manx citizens, as the following paragraph will show -.
Our Manx people here fill every place of social life except the lowest, and in every avenue of endeavour they are to the front. No element in the life that makes this city so great in industrial progress is a more potent factor than the thrift, sobriety, intelligence, virtue, and stick-to-it-iveness of the Manx.
Knowing newspapers as I do, I began to suspect that there must be quite a few ManxAmericans in Cleveland. For the average newspaper would give more attention to five hundred voters than it would to Moses, St. Paul, Shakespeare, and Mozart put together. But my curiosity was soon to be satisfied, for in December, 1896, I received an invitation to be present at the forty-fifth annual banquet of the Mona's Relief Society, and make an address on ` The Isle of Man-past and present.' It was a delightful opportunity, so I put myself into a sleeper, and in due time I reached Cleveland. As the train paused at the outer station, several people entered the car. Among them was a tall portly gentleman, at whose approach I at once rose ; for he was unmistakeably a Manxman-as Manx as Mr Peter Curphey, whom he resembled. We greeted each other, and I found my friend was Mr William Watterson, a great tobacco magnate, a man of much shrewdness and humour. Close at his heels was Mr W. R. Creer, president of the Relief Society. As I looked at this short, handsome young fellow, I felt proud of St. John's, for Mr Creer was a newcomer in Cleveland. But he was so courteous, so energetic, and so ambitious; that I feel sure that the Building and Loan Society, of which he is treasurer, must be prospering.
"After meeting the committee, I was in the hands of my friends. And evidence of Manx prosperity, in store and otherwise, began to accumulate. I learned how John Gill & Sons had built asylums and armories, and were now engaged on a great building in Baltimore, the cost of which was to be a million and half dollars. And how William Gawne & Sons (good Manx name!) were engaged at works equally vast. As we passed along, we slipped into the president's room of a great bank, and met Mr Moses Watterson, a financial giant, who had been county treasurer, and was now trustee of balf-a-dozen important institutions. At the Court-House they told me that my particular host, Mr W. Sheldon Kerruish, was arguing a Manx will case. In the crowd in front of the Court-House, I picked out three typical Manxmen. Only the interior of the Island could match them.
"In order not to interrupt my account of the Manx-Americans, I should like to say that as far as Cleveland and its people are Concerned, my visit was an unqualified pleasure; for Cleveland is as enterprising as New York, as hospitable as Baltimore, and as garden-loving as England. Euclid-avenue, while not perhaps the finest street in the world, remains with me as a stately forest aisle, behind which stand detached mansions, homes engirdled with grass, shrubs, and flowers.
In the afternoon the committee drove me thrugh the beautiful city. It was a series of Collistors, Cubbons, Corletts, and Quaylesa ManXmen built that great row, a Manx doctor lived in that charming residence, and even when we passed through the cemetery, beneath some of the finest monuments reposed Manxmen. By this time my idea of five hundred Manx-Americans had become a little disturbed. I ventured to suggest five thousand, and was told that ten thousand was nearer the mark. Think of it ! In wealth, Cleveland is the richest Manx city in the world, and in Manx population is only second to Douglas!
" Having seen a good many Manx `outsides -if I may use the term-I was now to see and be part of a Manx home. I have erected an altar at 1,014, Euclid-avenue, and henceforth shall burn incense upon it-though more in private that in public. I must not answer all questions you may put, but without violating the laws of hospitality, I may say that music and sweetness seem natural gifts. Mrs gerruish, who is all womanly, and one of her gracious daughters had been born on the Isle of Man. The head of the house was a descendant of one of the first settlers-a notable man; for he not only knew the history of the Island but he spoke Manx fluently, and in addition knew the Latin poets as a schoolboy understands the multiplication table. Happy is the man who is allowed to rest in such a loving, intellectual atmosphereand all because he is a Manxman.
"In the evening I looked into the faces of four hundred Manx-American men, women, and children gathered for the love of the dear little' Island, and to help to provide funds for the relief of their needier brethren; though Manx unfortunates are rare in Cleveland. I was informed that for forty years no Manxman had suffered, except through his own vices. This information was supplemented by the mayor, who said that he received many applications for offices, but none from Manxmen. After some hearty speeches, and a little of Deemster Gill's music, we all sang Ellan Vannin. Our national song may be indifferent music, but sung by three hundred voices, with hearts at the back of them, was worth travelling hundreds of miles to hear. With tears in my eyes I was escorted to supper. I found myself seated at the head of a table covered with delicacies, nor did I wonder at the dainties when I heard they were all prepared by fair Manx hands. Dancing followed, and a sort of informal reception. Oh, the Kellys and Teares and Kneales
And how glad I was to see them all ! All sorts and conditions of men were present. This one had stood in a shop in Strand-street ; this one carne from Laxey; this from Lonan, and some I had fought with when I lived on the hill and they in the town. But all were glad and proud to welcome a Manx brother. All were prosperous and patriotic. At a late hour I returned home, glad to be alive, and not the less glad perhaps for the charming Mannx girl who walked beside me.
"Of notable Americans, -the Garfields and Burkes, whom I met in Cleveland, I need not speak. But I must speak of one wonderful old woman whom I met through the courtesy of my hostess; and this was Mrs Cannell, an original settler and now in her ninety-seventh year. When we reached the house she was sent for, and came down stairs without any assistance. She was a sweet old woman, neither using nor needing glasses. Her eye was bright, her grasp strong, and though she claimed to be deaf, I think it was not so. Perhaps the machinery of life was working slowly. "I'd rather see you than get ten dollars," were her first words. Then she told me about herself, how she was married in old Kirk Braddan, how she had been converted 60 years ago and lived in the light of it ever since, and how her husband had been a local preacher. Then she mounted the stairs again, and parried down in her arms the chair he had used for a pulpit. Before we left she was quite happy, and thanked God day and night for His mercies.
The best things come to an end, but my hosts kept some of the good wine until the last, for on the last evening of my stay. 34 Manxmen united to dine the stranger within their gates. This was indeed a memorable occasion, and I feel that I was honoured above my deserts. The food was, of course, that array of delicacies which the Stillman-the best hotel in Cleveland -can and does provide. The menu (I ought to blush) was adorned with my picture, but the guests and the speeches were really the remarkable feature of the evening. I challenge any city to show a finer set of faces; and as I was told that twenty-eight of my hosts were worth sixty thousand dollars apiece, it is a proof that prosperity and picturesqueness are not incompatible. On either side of me were Messrs Kerruish and Creer, whom I have already , described. A seat or two below were two beautiful old men, Mr John Corlett and his brother, Mr W. K. Corlett. The first of these gentlemen was eighty-two, and the younger seventy-seven. Mr John Corlett came from Kirk Michael sixty years ago, and as a builder made a great fortune. (Manxmen seem to have built half of Cleveland !) It was pleasant to take his hand, pleasant to hear his sunny praise of a letter from Mr Hall Caine which was read during the evening. As I speak I can see them all. That keen, bland scholar at the head of the table is Dr. W. T. Corlett, one of Cleveland's greatest doctors. That compact, alert man with the face of a general is Mr Charles Gill, a leader of the business world, and son of one of the original settlers. That is George L. Quayle, who owns great docks and is potent in ships. That dark, handsome fellow is another Quayle, an attorney, whose little daughter is a musical genius. -There is Caine the banker, and W. Sayle the contractor-the best of men, Manx through and through. That is Mr Henry Watterson, who built the great Century block. These young men are Teares, just fresh from Ramsey ; and if a good speech is a criterion, W. H. Teare ought to make something of himself. Oh for a golden roll to write them all down. But if I can't write them on a scroll, I have written them on my heart. I know I felt, as I told them, that the aloe blooms once for every man, and if this night was my aloe-night, I was content. And you must be content also with this brief, faulty outline of the Mans capital of America."
" I suppose, Mr Hay," observed our representative, "You are glad to get to the Isle of Man again."
" I am more than delighted," replied
Mr Hay, " To be home again, as Mr R. E. Morrison wrote me lately, ' The little Island draws us all.' I am glad that the Island is prospering, and the old company managed to squelch its rival. f he old company is a grand concern; if it would only be a little more polite it would be perfect."
Thus ended a very pleasant and interesting chat on the part of our representative with a gentleman who, in American ranks of literature, holds a foremost place, and who retains an ardent affection for the Island of his birth, and for all good things that are Manx.
Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received
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