Bridget Flynn’s story

There are a few pre-photography stories in my family that I want to include in my video. One was written down by my Uncle in his family memories essay.

His Grandmother (on his Mom’s side) was named Bridget Flynn. About 1830 she was sent from Ireland to America at 14 years old. She was sent by herself – did I mention she was 14 years old? It was a 10 week voyage on a sailing ship in those days – did I mention she was 14 years old? She was to meet up with relatives in Philadelphia – did I mention she was…

Anyway…In those days ships would sail from Europe and head for Barnaget Point in New Jersey. From there they could turn north and sail to New York or go south to the Delaware and sail into Philadelphia.

There was a third option – to simply shipwreck at Barnaget Point – which is what this captain did.

Much like the crew of the ill-fated Minnow (pop culture reference to Gilligan’s Island) the passengers all swam ashore to the Pine Barrens area of New Jersey.

There stood 14 year old Bridget, on the shoreline of a new country, all her possessions sunk in the Atlantic – so what did she do?

She hiked up her skirts and proceeded to walk across New Jersey to get to Philadelphia. She worked as a house maid or field helper, taking six months to finally reach her relatives, who were a little ticked off because they had been waiting at the dock for half a year.

“So Clancy, are ya thinkin’ that we should go on down to the docks to see if wee little Bridget arrives today?”

“Kathleen me darlin’ girl, we’ve been doing this for so long I’m thinkin’ the poor lass must have been lost at sea.”

“So I guess I’ll be writin’ her Uncle Guiness that we won’t be lookin’ out for her any longer…”

“ Her Uncle Guiness! I’ll get me hat and coat…”


I don’t have any pictures of Bridget so I started with the usual Google search.


Let’s see now – Of course she has a Facebook page. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this Bridget wasn’t born in 1816.

Next up, a Twitter Bridget who describes herself as “New Yorker living life New England style, beach, shoe and accessory obsessed, comedy snob and care giver to Frances the …” probably not her, what do ya think?

Well look at this. Here is a song called Bridget Flynn! Think that might make good background music for her story? You bet’cha. Click and save.

So the next search took us to photos of the era.

Well, photography was basically invented in 1823 and really wasn’t in popular use until 1887. It really became available to the public with the Kodak Brownie in 1901…of course Bridget was dead by then.

So now I have to widen our search to historical material like maps and paintings.


OK This is pretty cool. A map of New Jersey from around 1840, courtesy of our friends at the Library of Congress…thanks guys – now get back to work on that economy mess.


Next up I got this photo of ships in New York harbor, dated 1838. Pretty close to our timeline. So how’d you like to cross the Atlantic in one of those?

With just a few clicks of the mouse I was able to grab what we call archival material. There is a lot more available so be sure to explore that treasure trove as you prepare your stories.

When I get that part of my video done I’ll give you a peek.

See you next time.more blog posts

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