‘Information Wanted’ Ads in Boston Pilot 1831-1921

A prominent feature of 19th century immigration to the US from Ireland was chain migration, where family members would come over one at a time as enough money was saved up in Ireland, or sent from the US as a remittance. This often led to a situation where family members could not locate each other when they arrived in the United States.

One effort to remedy this was to place an advert in a newspaper. By far, the most well know of these ads were the ‘information wanted’ ads places in the Boston Pilot newspaper from 1831-1921.[1] The first ad was placed in October 1831 seeking a man by the name of Patrick McDermott.[2] Over the years, thousands of ads were placed seeking loved ones and family members.

If you have an ancestor who places an ad, then you have come across a genealogical treasure trove. Those placing the ads left detailed information about the person they were seeking. This regularly included all information about their place of origin from the county down to the townland.

Boston College has an online database of all ads placed and you can search it for yourself by clicking here.

In all the ads placed, only two with the Buggy name appear, both from county Kilkenny, a man named Denis Buggy and a woman named Anastasia Buggy.[3] For both entries I have just included the information that was available. Much more information is available for other ads.

Missing Person: Anastasia Buggy                                                                                                     Point of Origin Information: County of Kilkenny, (Civil) Parish of Paulstown/ Kilmacahill/ Shankill, Townland of Paulstown, Barony of Gowran, Poor Law (Union) of Kilkenny             Description: M. (Married) to John Buggy; also sought Br. (brother) James Gorman        Arrival: 1852                                                                                                                                 First Location After Arrival: NYC or NY, Brooklyn (1857)                                               Seeking Person: Margrent Ryan (Gorman), 10 Magazine St, Charleston, SC                        Relation to Missing: Sister                                                                                                     Gender: Female                                                                                                                                    Date of Advertisement: 03 February 1866

Missing Person: Dennis Buggy                                                                                                  Gender: Male                                                                                                                                     Point of Origin Information: County of Kilkenny, (Civil) Parish of Aharney, Townland of Lisdowney, Townland of Galmoy, Poor Law (Union) of Urlingford                                        Departure Date: July ’48 (1848)                                                                                              Arrival Port: New York City                                                                                                               First Location: NYC ’48                                                                                                              Seeking Person: Margaret Buggy                                                                                                    Relation to Missing: Mother                                                                                                      Gender: Female                                                                                                                           Contact Name: John Shea                                                                                                        Contact Address: DC, Washington                                                                                              Date of Ad: 24 January 1852


[1] http://infowanted.bc.edu/history/briefhistory/ Accessed 14 October 2010. The newspaper had various names including Boston Pilot from 1836-1856 and Pilot from 1857 onwards

[2] http://infowanted.bc.edu/history/ Accessed 14 October 2010

[3] Infowanted.bc.edu. Information Wanted: A Database of Advertisements for Irish Immigrants Published in the Boston Pilot [database on-line]. Boston, MA, USA: The Trustees of Boston College, 2004-2005. Original data: This project is based on The Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot (New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, 1989-1993), edited by Ruth-Ann M. Harris, Donald M. Jacobs, Dominique M. Pickett, and B. Emer O’Keeffe.

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