Moving House - Literally

By Starrett, Ian | The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), April 15, 2000 | Go to article overview

Moving House - Literally


Starrett, Ian, The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)


When Samuel Fulton emigrated from Londonderry port as part of the great Presbyterian exodus of the early 1700s he could never have imagined that three centuries later his first American homestead would be brought back to the land of his roots. Brick by brick it has now been dismantled, carefully transported across the Atlantic Ocean and rebuilt at the Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh. IAN STARRETT uncovers the fascinating family history behind Samuel Fulton's New World homestead that will be a major attraction at the museum this Easter.

SAMUEL Fulton blazed a trail that so many of his ilk took. Faithfully Presbyterian, hard working, family loving, he was one of a hardy trail blazing bunch who were sometimes nicknamed God's Frontiersmen.

In the early years of emigration sometimes whole communities would make the arduous journey across the wild Atlantic, in storm tossed wooden ''coffin ships'', to the New World with their relatives, friends and even their local clergyman.

US President Theodore Roosevelt was later to admiringly call them ''brave and hardy people.''

Samuel Fulton went with the teeming masses of Donegal people who also called their new home Donegal after their birthplace.

The newcomers from North West Ireland - from places like Raphoe and Ramelton - were staunch Presbyterians. Facing difficult economic conditions back in Ireland they lost no time in setting up and organising their communities in the strange country they had emigrated to. They acquired land, built churches and schools and established trade with the native North Americans.

Samuel Fulton was a respected member of the Donegal Township in Pennsylvania who built his stone house there sometime between 1725-1750 on his 309 acre tract of land.

Samuel used fieldstones found on his farm, a method of building he was familiar with back home although it was more common for Ulster emigrants to build their homes with logs.

Samuel built his house - now lovingly reconstructed at the Ulster American Folk Park - over a spring which ensured a good supply of fresh water and a cool area to keep foodstuff fresher in the hot Pennsylvanian summers. Also, if house bound for any reason, it secured a good supply of fresh water.

Samuel Fulton married Elizabeth Stewart, a daughter of George Stewart who was one of the first Scots Irish pioneers in the Donegal settlement. They had three sons - James, John and Samuel Jr and a daughter Mary.

Like his neighbours, Samuel raised a variety of crops and livestock such as wheat, rye, oats, barley, hay and flax.

When he made his will on February 17, 1760, by then '' sick and weak in body'' he left his ''well beloved wife Elizabeth'' the third of his personal estate as well as dividing his 309 acres into two farms, 170 acres for son James and 139 for Samuel, his youngest son. John, his second eldest son, inherited one heifer, two sheep, eight pounds, a good house, his mother's share of the estate when she died and clothing belonging to his father.

Samuel also made it very clear in his will that James, his oldest son, was to inherit his ''leather briches with ye Silver buttons. …

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