One hundred years ago today, on August 23, 1908, Samuel Algeo, an immigrant from the north of Ireland, stepped off a boat in Philadelphia and began a new life in the United States. Samuel came from Dunfanaghy, a village that was as beautiful as it was poor.
In Philadelphia he would meet and marry Margaret Anderson, another Irish immigrant. They would have five children, the youngest of which they named James.
In 1951, James married Theresa Kerecz, herself the child of immigrants. They would have seven children, the youngest of which is me.
All four of my grandparents were born into crushing poverty in nineteenth-century Europe. All four came to the United States in search of better lives, which they forged by dint of their hard work and diligence. Their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are leading lives of relative comfort, ease, and wealth, the likes of which they could not have imagined.
It is a remarkable story, but also typically American, and one chapter of it has come to an end. My father, James Algeo, died on August 11, just twelve days before the centennial of his father’s arrival on these shores.