by Diana Alm
My grandmother, Helena MacAlpine Clint,
Immigrants came to Rock Island County from many countries between 1840 and 1921 when new immgration laws required that an immigrant be related to someone already here.
They came from Ireland, Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, and Sweden primarily. Most knew little English and settled near relatives and friends who had come at an earlier time. This helped them overcome the language barrier.
These ethnic groups may have come for religious freedom, but it is more likely they formed churches because of a common language. Besides its religious significance, the church provided an important social activity for the friends and family of these hard working immigrants. Almost all of the early churches in Rock Island county were related to a particular ethnic culture.
Many of those from Sweden came to work for John Deere, because they worked well with steel. Because they knew little English, the story goes that they rode the train until someone called out, "John Deere town, and they all got off the train! They didn't know the city was "Moline."
Many settlers from Great Britain settled in Rock Island, because they came up the Mississippi rather than overland.
Sandra Gordon sends this information about her great grandfather who came to Rock Island from County Down, Ireland.
Newtownards Chronicle dated 12 March 1881
The following pages will give you an idea of the migration patterns of various ethnic groups that settled this area.
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