[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Potato Famine

Carolyn Schott cgschott at earthlink.net
Mon Dec 4 12:52:13 PST 2006

Hmm, I doubt I qualify as a "more learned list member" - especially on the
topic of Irish history which I know little about (all my ancestors are
German).  BUT - I was traveling in Ireland this last fall and so learned
lots about Irish history.  A couple things to add to what Tricia mentioned

One of the reasons the Irish were SO reliant on the potato for food is that
so many of them were peasants, working full-time for the English landowners.
Since they farmed full-time for the landowner (often absentee, living in
England), they relied almost completely on the potato for food since that
was a crop that they could plant and didn't require much tending, which they
couldn't do since they had to be working for the landowner.  Also, when the
famine DID hit, the absentee English landowners were very slow to respond
with any sort of relief or assistance.  No doubt partly for political
reasons.  Perhaps also because since they weren't in Ireland they weren't
able to see the full extent of the devastation...probably just wondered why
those pesky peasants weren't working and producing as much as normal!
(since they were starving to death....)

Also - a piece of trivia - To this day, the island of Ireland (Northern and
Republic combined) are not back to the same population level that they were
pre-Famine, there were so many losses both from starvation and emigration.
I thought that was rather amazing...especially because recently they've had
a huge immigration influx...from Poland!

Okay - I guess I've veered us totally off topic, haven't I?  Did that last
statement save me at all?  :-))))


>Message: 3
>Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2006 01:33:45 -0800
>From: "rbbtfarm" <rbbtfarm at wavecable.com>
>Subject: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] [Ger-Poland-Volhynia ] Potato Famine in
>	Europe
>To: <ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org>
>Message-ID: <007701c71787$4b837a40$4e607118 at george>
>Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed; charset="iso-8859-1";
>	reply-type=original
>Nelson wrote........
>Did the Potato Famine affect other parts of the world?
> Nelson
>Message: 3 [<ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org> Vol 43, Issue 2]
>Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2006
>From: "Nelson Itterman" <colnels at telus.net>
>Poland history question
>Hi Nelson,
>To answer your question...... I am an advid watcher of the 
>channels etc. I also try to take notes.
>In a recently repeated show on the Irish Potato Famine, it was 
>that Europe also had difficulty with it. The potato took root 
>in Europe 
>after the "Year Without a Summer". That was caused by the huge 
>eruption in the Pacific, which was considerly larger than the 
>1980 Mt. Ste. 
>Helen evernt or even Mt. Vesuvius that buried Pompeii and 
>Herculenea in 
>Italy. The "Year" happened in the summer of 1816 or 1817. Part 
>of the switch 
>to potato crops was in direct response to the loss of the 
>grain crops due to 
>that event. The temps continued to be lower for many years afterwards. 
>Switzerland was extremely affected. They had less farmland and 
>a shorter 
>growing season even before the eruption occurred. Potato crops 
>were not as 
>adversely affected, being a crop that grew underground, as 
>above ground 
>grain crops.
>A few points which I believe I have correct were mentioned 
>about the potato 
>Germanic nations were not as affected, because they 
>deversified their crops, 
>with the potato. I also believe they diversified the type of  
>potato they 
>French peasants were apalled by eating an underground crop, so their 
>dependance on the above ground grain crops led to widespread famine, 
>contributing in part to the French Revolution. It was also 
>mentioned that 
>the monarchy actually promoted the potato, by example. However 
>the French 
>people refused to accept it to survive.
>As for the Irish, they relied heavily on one specific type of 
>potato, which 
>grew easily and successfully in the poor Irish soil. Hence, 
>when the potato 
>bligh arrived in Ireland, it quickly spread almost overnight 
>across the 
>country, leaving a mushy and disintergrating tuber in the 
>ground. This was 
>only the core of the problem. English rule in Ireland did much 
>to force the 
>Irish to leave their homeland, by capitolizing on the famine 
>situation. The 
>English were able to gain property and control in this way. 
>Not to knock the 
>English, since my husband and I both have a very strong Britsh 
>across the Isles.
>I know that my facts may be a little off, since I am going 
>from memory. 
>However the general idea is correct. I found this extremely 
>since I have both German and Irish ancestors emigrating in the 
>general time 
>frame of the potato famine.
>One other idea I picked up on another show. There were some 
>German villages 
>that actually had villagers draw lots to select families to emigrate. 
>Sometimes half the population of the village left. They were 
>provided with 
>funds for their emigration in turn for the property they had to leave 
>behind. In essence, they were bought out. This was done to 
>prevent entire 
>populations from dying of starvation.
>I am still taking this all in and maybe some of the more learned lists 
>members can interject more accurate or additional information.
>Hope this helps,   Tricia M.
>Ger-Poland-Volhynia mailing list, hosted by the:
>Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe  http://www.sggee.org
>Mailing list info at http://www.sggee.org/listserv.html
>End of Ger-Poland-Volhynia Digest, Vol 43, Issue 5

More information about the Ger-Poland-Volhynia mailing list