Photo, Continental Plaza, Williamsburg
Photo, Continental Plaza, Williamsburg

This photo was given to me by a cousin I met through my genealogical research. I come from an Irish-American family. In the late 1840s, the great-grandparents of my grandparents arrived in New York. They were part of the Irish diaspora who left a country devastated by the Great Hunger-beyond that, little was known--until I met Jim.

Jim's grandfather and my great-grandfather were brothers. We are related through my paternal grandmother's family, the Hardens.  I had a few clues about the Hardens: they lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn before moving to Rockaway, Queens. They ran a family business, a trucking concern that moved heavy goods with teams of horses. Cousin Jim had been conducting family research of his own and shared his findings and collection with me. One of the gems is this photo, circa 1906. The photo shows an equestrian statue of George Washington being hauled by a large wagon and teams of horses. A small banner, which says 'Harden Bros.' can be seen at the front of the vehicle. The statue of George Washington at Valley Forge would be dedicated a few weeks later in Continental Army Plaza in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The revelation of this story moved me. Here was a city landmark, one I had passed by many times, that now had a new context for me. I thought of the Hardens, who, by the early 20th century had been in America for about 60 years; their adopted nation was now their home. The photo conveys to me a sense of pride they must have felt to participate in the dedication of this monument to the demigod-like father of the nation. 

Place(s): Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Year: 1848

– Luke Boyd

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more