Lorain’s International Legacy
United Kingdom Origin
English-born men came from across the United States to Lorain starting in 1871 with some families coming directly from the west of England in 1881. Though some were Anglicans, they attended the only English-speaking church at the time which was Methodist and converted soon after. The railroad also brought English, Scottish, and Irish colonial Quakers to Lorain from Maryland, Delaware, and southern Virginia.
English immigrants in Lorain were largely unaware of the anti-British feeling that was rising in old colonial stocks of Britain following two world wars, the difference in language, and outlook that several generations of the New World frontier had served to create. Many English immigrants to the city found it shocking to feel treated as foreigners and that their dialect of English was viewed as alien. English immigrants were mindful of the possibility of returning to England and did not think they could fight against England in the event of a third world war. Therefore, many were slow in seeking American citizenship.
The English immigrants gave the church a distinctly British Methodist slant, to the resentment of old pioneer members, before the founding of the Congregational Church in 1872. This caused a rivalry between the Methodist and Congregational Churches for over three decades before the Methodist became more denominationally Methodist with the Presbyterian period completely disavowed.
During the Civil War, the English, along with Germans, were strong supporters of the abolitionists and the Union.
Irish immigrants from South Ireland migrated to the area from across the country until the arrival of the railroad, which brought more families directly from Ireland. In number, they were about equal to the combined English and Manx immigrant populations. In 1878, they helped to found the first Roman Catholic church in the community, St. Mary’s Church.
Manx immigrants came to Lorain because of the railroad industry and settled on the east side of the Black River. Though most were sailors, another approximately half-dozen families also settled in Lorain, later comprising most of the membership of the East Side Methodist Church, which was known as the Manx church in its early days. Children and grandchildren of Manx immigrants have made it clear that they do not want to be considered a part of the English immigration.
Immigrants from Scotland also came to Lorain in search of jobs at the steel mill. They were instrumental in the creation of the Presbyterian Church.