T his site began as a history of the Stankard families in the United States. Work on this history was begun early in 1975, and the gathering of most of the information contained herein took place over years. It was gathered from correspondence, first-hand accounts from family members born close to the beginning of the 20th century, genealogical hard work, and many trips to the actual United States locations that appear here. This history was written by James M. Stankard Jr., a great-grandson of Edward Stankard, the next to youngest of five brothers who came from the east of County Galway, Republic of Ireland, in the 1840's through the Port of New York and finally settled in Northwest Ohio.
Later additions, information from Ireland, and other Internet sources not available in 1975 have been added by his son, David Stankard, over the following years. During the course of research, much was learned of other groups of Stankards across the country. If you have any information on anyone named Stankard, that you would like to share, or if you believe some of this information to be incorrect, please let me know. My contact information is at the bottom of every page (written out to limit the amount of spam it would otherwise generate).
Compulsory emigration from Ireland due to poverty rose sharply following the Act of Union in 1800. The truth of this is evidenced by the sharply increased numbers leaving the mostly industrial province of Ulster in the opening decades of the nineteenth century. The loss of native parliament exposed weak home industry to excessive competition from English factories resulting in thousands having to seek a fresh livelihood in the New World. Worse was to follow. The failure due to blight of the potato crop in successive years in the 1840's deprived the masses of their staple food and resulted in the population being cut from eight million to four by starvation and emigration.
In Ireland the summer of 1845 was cold, wet, sunless, and the potato crop rotted in the ground. This was the first of three dark years when hunger and disease hung over the island. Peasants were found dead in the fields as typhus and dysentery swept through the weakened population. In four fearful years (1845-1848) nearly one-fourth of Ireland's people died of starvation and disease. In these years Irish emigration reached its crest, and roads to the seaports were thronged with desperate people. On the wharves, they fought for passage to Liverpool, where ships sailed to America. (Read a complete, contemporary, account of one of these voyages from the London News of 1856, by clicking here.)
It should be realized that Irish records cannot match those of countries like England and France, certainly not over the last three hundred years. The Irish were not great record keepers, partly due to historical circumstances, and partly due to the degree of reliance placed on oral tradition. This is best illustrated by the fact that of the hundreds of thousands of people who left Ireland during the period 1845-1855 on account of the Famine, scarcely a single record was kept at ports of embarkation such as Queenstown (Cobh), Dublin, Galway, Derry and Belfast. While no official register of passengers leaving Irish ports in the nineteenth century was kept, shipping lines appear to have made carefully compiled lists of persons using their ships. Unfortunately, the whereabouts of many of these lists is now a matter of conjecture.
There are records of Stankards, and similar phonetic spellings, going back to the 1500's in England, and a number of families bearing the name were scattered across the East of County Galway, and in County Leitrim Ireland in the early 1800's. Some of this Galway group moved to the Liverpool, England area in the early 1800's, and then during the Famine many Stankards joined the swelling stream of Irish coming to America.
In the mid 1830's there were Stankards in the parishes of Ballinasloe, Clontuskert, Killallaghtan, Kiltullagh, Loughrea, and Portumna, in the eastern part of County Galway. The adjoining counties of Clare, Mayo, Offaly, Roscommon, and Tipperary have not yet revealed any Stankards, but some were found in County Leitrim, north and a little east on the other side of County Roscommon. To make it easier to vizualize, I have assembled a series of maps showing Stankards recorded in church and census records both before and after Griffith's Valuation, as well as the actual records found in Griffith's Valuation of 1855 for Counties Galway and Leitrim.
All of the Stankards who came to the U.S. seem to have sprung from at least five, perhaps six, groups of immigrants, most of whom originated in the heart of East County Galway, Ireland. I have not been able to establish a relationship between any of these groups but continue to trace back in Ireland seeking that relationship.
The earliest group appears to be those who settled in Stamford, Connecticut in the very early 1800's after coming from County Galway or County Mayo.
Next are the five brothers who settled in Ohio after arriving in this country from County Galway beginning in 1847. My direct ancestor Edward's obituary says that he was born in Ballinasloe, County Galway, about 40 miles east of the city of Galway. We have found his father Michael in Clontuskert, a parish which borders that of Ballinasloe, listed in the Tithe Applotment Books of 1824 as renting a plot of land in the Townland of Sheepwalk, in the south of the parish.
The third group was quite large and settled in Boston in the 1850's after coming from the area of Athenry, about 15 miles east of the city of Galway. We have found records of several of this group living in Kiltullagh parish.
Also in the 1850's a William Stankard arrived in Indiana from Ireland, (we're not yet sure where) and found work digging the Wabash Canal. His descendants continue to live in the north central Indiana area.
The fifth group are descendants of Marie Stankard, a widow who was married to a Patrick Stankard and who had four children in Portumna, County Galway, and first settled in western Massachusetts in 1876 then later moved to Long Island, New York.
There are now Stankards all across the United States. One of the Boston group moved to Long Island around 1900. At about the same time some of the Connecticut group moved to North Bergen, New Jersey. Around the 1950's another of the Boston group moved to the Camden, New Jersey area and about that same time one of the Long Island group also moved to New Jersey. Two different parts of the Ohio group, 100 years apart, moved to Alabama. So you can see that there is quite a sizable group of Stankards scattered through the area from northern New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and Connecticut, on to Boston and some on Cape Cod. Many are aware of others bearing their name and feel a vague but undefined sense of relationship. Family charts, some more complete than others, have been made for all of these different groups.
In England, several brothers from the group in Kiltullagh moved to Oldham, near Manchester, and there are many still living in that area, as well as more across the entire country.
And of course, there are still many Stankards in east Galway!
Much of the information contained in this web site is the first-hand recollection of still-living persons who knew, or reliably knew of, the oldest generations that we can trace. I have had many discussions and a great correspondence with nine of these old timers whose contributions were invaluable because they are so personal and because they are to be found nowhere but in the memories of these people. I thought this source of information to be best described in the preface to The Foxfire Books when the author said:
"Daily our grandparents are moving out of our lives, taking with them, irreparably, the kind of information contained in this book. They are taking it, not because they want to, but because they think we don't care. There is a priceless treasure of heritage knowledge in the heads of these people, many of whom are being ignored. They can take you back two or three generations simply for the asking. If this information is to be saved at all, for whatever reason, it must be saved now; and the logical researchers are we, the grandchildren. In the process, we gain an invaluable, unique knowledge of our own roots, heritage and culture. Suddenly we discover our families as individuals who endured and survived the incredible task of total self-sufficiency and came out of it all with a perspective of themselves as a country that we are not likely to see again. They have something to tell us about self-reliance, human interdependence, and the human spirit that we would, do well to listen to."