Eustace Families Association

Thomas Eustace of Westmeath & Georgia, Vermont


From the mid to late 1800’s, there was considerable Irish Catholic settlement in the Georgia/Milton area of Vermont. Some of the early immigrants from Ireland who lived in the Georgia area were Thomas Eustace, John King, Pat Duffy, Pat McGrath, Pat Ryan, John Mahoney, James Cavanaugh, Peter Johnson and others.

What attracted these people to the Georgia area? As is common with all immigrants it was a fresh start, a better life. Since most Irish coming to America chose to settle in urban areas, one has to assume that those coming to Vermont were seeking opportunity in agriculture, ie. owning their own land. This was almost impossible in Ireland in the early 1800’s.

Since the Irish were very clannish by nature, and the Church was the heart of their social structure. It was important that they have close access to an established religious community. French-Canadian immigrants had established a Catholic community in Milton in the early 1800's. Rev. Jeremiah O'Callaghan celebrated Mass at the home of Etienne Perrault as early as 1844. Construction of St. Ann's Church was completed in 1859 and they received their first resident pastor, the Rev. Francis Picart. Thus the Georgia Irish became bonded to their Milton brethren.

Frank Eustace and James Cavanaugh credited to Georgia, and George Currier, credited to Franklin, served together in the First Vermont Infantry, Company C. They re-enlisted and joined Peter King, Francis Kinney and Marshall St. Germaine in Company B, First Vermont Cavalry Regiment.

Francis B. Eustace  of Georgia, Vermont
First Vermont Infantry, Co. C
First Vermont Cavalry, Co. B


 The Irish in Georgia, Vermont 
By Mike King

The Vermont Central Railroad also served to draw immigrants to the area. During construction they had advertised in Ireland for laborers and word of mouth must have made it known that there were employment opportunities. Many of the Georgia Irish worked at some point for the railroad which was headquartered in East Georgia. Francis Eustace, Peter King, John King (Jr.), Michael McGrath and others were all employed by the Vermont Central Railroad.

John King and Michael McGrath both made a career of railroading. Peter King and others used it as a stepping-stone to establish themselves as farmers.

Thomas Eustace, who was born In Westmeath County, Ireland in about 1798 and came to Georgia as early as 1828. He may have been the first Irish immigrant to settle himself in Georgia. He married Catherine O'Neill in 1831 and they had one child (also Catherine) born in 1832. Thomas' wife died the same year. He married Sarah Birney and they had six children: James, Helen, Mary, Francis, Esther and Edward. Sarah died in 1858. The Eustace farm was on the Oakland Station Road. Thomas died In Westford in 1886 on the farm of Peter and Esther (Eustace) King.

Another of the early Irish immigrants was Pat McGrath who was born in County Clare in 1822. His son, Michael McGrath, married Mary McMullen. Her father, Francis, was one of the first Irish settlers in Milton. He died there at the age of 97 years. Michael and Mary's son, the late Sen. John McGrath, became a prominent farmer-businessman in the area.

The "John McGrath farm", on Route # 7, stands as a testimony to the impoverished and landless people who came to the area, destitute but hopeful, and were able to accumulate land and possessions.

About 1847 Pat Duffy and John and Mary (Duffy) King came from Corballis, County Louth, Ireland to the Georgia/Milton area. They probably landed in Canada and traveled from there to Vermont as this was the usual procedure.

Pat Duffy married Mary Ann Mahoney, the daughter of John and Mary Mahoney. Pat had a blacksmith shop in West Georgia and he died there in 1901. At the time of his death he was 82, having been born in County Louth to Patrick and Kate (Gartland) Duffy in1818. Many of his descendants still live In Milton.

These Kings were known in the early years as the "Irish Kings" to distinguish them from the Anglo-Kings and more particularly from the French-Kings. French families in St. Ann's Church with the surname "LeRoy" or "Roi' changed their name to the more Anglicized "King". In the early years the two ethnic groups segregated themselves to a certain extent. St, Ann's Cemetery reflects this as the Irish are predominately buried on the one side and the French on the other.

John King, who was a tailor by trade, married Mary Duffy in the Tallanstown Church, County Louth, Ireland in 1837. Peter, Catherine, Mary, Alice, and John were all born and baptized in Ireland. Bridgett, the first born In America was born in Milton in November, 1847.

Two Of John King's sons served in the Civil 'War. John Jr. was a Sergeant. in the 9th Vermont. Infantry Regiment. and Peter served in the First Vermont Cavalry with fellow Irishmen Francis Eustace and James Cavanaugh, both of whom were from Georgia.

During his three-year enlistment Peter was able to save enough from his meager army pay to procure a down payment on two small parcels of land. He purchased these holdings from Peter and Margarette Johnson who were communicants of St. Ann’s Church and almost certainly Irish immigrants themselves. This land and small house was located on the west side of Route # 7 near where it is joined by 104A.

In 1867 Peter King married Esther Eustace and their first two children, Mary and Agnes, were born in Georgia. Peter was at this time employed as a section hand on the railroad. at East Georgia.

Peter King subsequently sold the Johnson property to his sisters.

Kate (King) Conlin, Bridgett, Rose-Agnes and Fanny. his parents, John and Mary King, lived out their years there. John died In1881 and Mary in 1889. Peter then purchased a property just east of the Georgia Highbridge near the Ransom Smith holdings. He soldthis to Zeb Wagner in 1874 and purchased his farm in Westford in1877. That area is now known as "King's Hill."

In 1852 the Clintons and Conlins came from Mansfieldtown, CountyLouth, Ireland to Milton. Apparently these two families had knownthe Kings and Duffys in Ireland and they had probably encouraged them to come to Vermont.

Given the clannish nature of these Irish immigrants, within ashort time nearly everyone was related. Michael Conlin marriedKate King in 1861. Jane Clinton married Owen Conlin, ElizabethClinton married James Ryan. Some of the siblings were JohnClinton, John Conlin, Clinton Ryan and Clinton Conlin (son ofHenry Conlin). Katherine Conlin married Michael McGee and theirdaughter married a Mahoney which would tie them in with the

Peter and Esther (Eustace) King's two oldest daughters married the brothers George and Michael Gillin of Fairfax. Their mother, Margarette Nolan, had immigrated from County Louth as well. The Eustaces were related to the O'Kanes through Charles O'Kane whose wife, Elizabeth, was a Birney. (This was Mrs. James Ryan's grandmother.)

Pat Ryan, who was married to Ellen Kennedy, had a farm on Goodrich Hill. They were related to the Georgia Laughlins as Marcus Laughlin's mother was Ellen's sister, Elizabeth Kennedy. Following Pat on the farm was his son, Tom Ryan. This parcel of land on the Georgia/Fairfax line was subsequently owned by thelate Paul King of Fairfax, whose mother was a Laughlin and whose grandmother was Elizabeth Kennedy Laughlin. Paul was the grandson of Peter and Esther (Eustace) King and therefore a descendant of "Irish” John King was well.

Today there is barely a remnant of Irish descendants in Georgia. Catherine (Kate King) Conlin was the last of the "Potato Famine" Irish. She passed away In 1928. The late Catherine (Conlin) Palmer was her great granddaughter. Her sons, Richard, John, Gary and two daughters, Colleen Paquette and Cheryl Carwin still live in Georgia.

The most prolific family has been the Duffys. Although originating in Georgia, they nearly all live in Milton now. "Blacksmith" Pat Duffy's great-grandson, Pat Duffy, is married to Joanne Ryan. Between them they are related to many of the old Irish families.

Remarkably, the Duffys have maintained their presence in Irelandas well. In 1990 James Duffy and his son were still occupying thesame land from which Pat Duffy and Mary (Duffy) King had left somany years ago. There is also a John King living in nearbyMansfieldtown, County Louth, Ireland.

In Fairfax, Vermont, Irma (King) Mitchell, Mary (King) Ratte, Patty (King) Reaves, Shaun Luther, and Bernard J. Keefe aredescendants of both John King and Thomas Eustace. Thus they canclaim the distinction of being descended from both the first (Thomas Eustace) and the last (Catherine Conlin) of the Georgia Irish.

Current Franklin County Senator Francis Howrigan is also connected to the Georgia/Milton Irish through the Kennedys and the Melavins. Sen. Howrigan is a farmer-businessman in the tradition of the late Sen. John. McGrath and, like Sen. McGrath, is the grandson of poor Irish immigrants. As one of the last vestiges of Irish tradition, Senator Howrigan has sought to promote a keen sense of family values. He knows that for a people and civilization to survive, the family must be paramount.

Finally In St. Ann's Cemetery * there stands, amidst the multitude of gravestones, a striking reminder of Irish heritage.Both the McGrath and King headstones are crowned by a Celtic Cross, the ancient Irish symbol of a Christian people. These symbols stand as a memorial to ages now past and as a profound  reminder for future generations yet to come.

* Georgia Irish Catholics were buried in. St. Ann's Cemetery in Milton because it was the consecrated ground of St. Ann's Parish to which they belonged.


Mike King is a descendant of Esther Eustace and her husband Peter King. He works as a foreman for the provincial power company and together with his wife and three children lives on a ranch in Rose Prairie, British Columbia, Canada.