Onward To Our Past® continues with our tour of America and some of the Cornishmen and Cornishwomen who came to settle here as a result of the great Cornish Diaspora.
Today we follow the POAD twins, Elijah and Elisha and see where these Cornish brothers called home in the States.
They moved around a lot I will say.
Cornish Diaspora Profile: The POAD Twins – Elijah and Elisha
In about 1832 Joseph and Elizabeth (BENALLICK) POAD were graced with the birth of twin sons, Elijah and Elisha in St. Blazey, Cornwall. These two brothers, along with their youngest sibling, Samuel and eldest sister, Mary, would all emigrate from Cornwall. While Elisha would emigrate with his wife, Grace Jean (BENALLICK) and son, Joseph, Elijah would leave his wife, Catherine (PHILLIPS) POAD and their infant daughter and son back home in Cornwall
By 1860, the 28 year-old POAD twins had settled, albeit temporarily, in Rockland township, Michigan to work in the Minnesota Mine, the first of the copper mines in that area of the Upper Peninsula. This was not long after the Chippewa Nation ceded their rights to the land in the area. In 1869 the Minnesota Mine produced 95% of all the copper mined in the United States.
The following was written by Ellis COURTER in his work “Michigan’s Copper Country”:
“Throughout the summer of 1844, Colonel Gratiot maintained a crew of workers on the job. About twenty were Cornish miners, a special breed of people from Cornwall, England. Cornish miners seemed to have had an intuitive gift. For the next 40 years or more, the Cornish were to bring their unique skills and knowledge to every mining town in the copper country.”
This seems to have been certainly true for the POAD twins, for by 1870 they were in Linden, Iowa County, Wisconsin working in the extensive lead and zinc mines there. In addition, youngest brother, Samuel, joined Elijah and Elisha in Linden in 1869 along with sister, Mary, her husband Peter GEACH from St. Stephen-in-Brannel, Cornwall along with their family.
Elijah, Elisha, and Samuel POAD as well as Peter GEACH were all miners and while Samuel and Peter would remain in Linden, which has been described by the historian Jay JEWELL as ‘the most Cornish town in America’, the twins would hear the siren’s call of silver from ‘Out West’.
Elijah would find himself in Anaconda, Montana. His son, John, would live in Boise, Idaho, and Elisha would settle in Helena, Montana. The POAD home in Helena would be home to Elisha, his family, and the family of son, Joseph, for more than sixty years.
Elijah would fall through a lagging in a mine floor while working in 1899 and would die in 1910 after living for more than 25 years in Montana and delightfully for us family historians, leaving a very fine obituary listing all his siblings and their hometowns at the time.
Keeping Cornish: My research into the POAD family has led me to undertake more study regarding the Cornishmen’s place in the early silver mining of Montana. I have also added the POAD home in Helena to my ‘bucket list’. I’d love to see it some day – and then spend additional time in the Helena Archives since Elisha POAD was a member of the Montana Pioneers Society and they say they have ‘a whole file’ on Elisha!
Tomorrow we continue on with our Cornish diaspora tour.
Onward To Our Past®