Irish immigrant Patrick Doyle arrived in New York on the first day of July 1885. Because the potato famine had driven almost two million Irish immigrants to American shores thirty years earlier, the Irish Emigrant Society was set up to help these immigrants find jobs, food, lodging and medical care. I like to think that a Society member welcomed Patrick to America and helped him get settled.
The city that Patrick now called home had streets not paved with gold; most were not paved at all, and they were filthy. At first he found work as a laborer, but at some point after 1900 he worked as a street cleaner for the city’s sanitation department.
Fortunately, Patrick’s employment came after Col. George Edwin Waring had been put in charge. Waring demanded the sanitation workers stay out of bars, refrain from fighting, and from using foul language. And they would now wear white uniforms that would proclaim them as “Soldiers of the Public Health.”
At first I didn’t feel my great-grandfather’s occupation was important, but after reading about the history of New York City’s Sanitation Department, I learned that Patrick had a very important position. He served as the first line of defense in protecting public health. And that is why I love genealogy.