William COTTER and Catherine (SHANAHAN) COTTER were already married when they emigrated from Ireland to New York in 1849. They brought some of their children with them, and some were born in the USA. According to Catherine’s 1900 U.S. Federal Population Schedule record, she had birthed a total of 12 children, with only 4 surviving at that time.
I have been unable to find any census record for this family in 1850 or 1860, but the 1870 one has the couple and 3 children, and the 1880 one in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey, only shows William and Catherine in the household. William died in 1883.
Why so few living children, and why the emigration at that time?
The obvious answer to both questions is The Great Famine of Ireland (1845-1849).
How many babies and children did they lose? Did they lose any on the trip over?
It is sad to think about their having to leave their home because of a forced famine; to have lost who knows how many loved ones; to be new and alone in a country that didn’t welcome them.
But it was their reality and was the context from which they had to make their decisions.
If you would like to learn more about The Great Famine of Ireland, the Wikipedia article is here.