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Phil Reader
Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 11:01 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 16 Apr 2007 Posts: 392 Location: Live Oak
James Corcoran

In 1845, the already impoverished country of Ireland was hit by a terrible famine as a result of a blight which had destroyed its number one crop, the potato.
English landlords began evicting the peasant tenants who had worked the land for many centuries. Four more years of famine all but depopulated the countryside. Most of these small farmers made their way to the ports of Ireland and booked passage to America.
But a small group of men, known as the "Young Irelanders" rebelled against the English using any weapon that was available. It was a desperate uprising and was quickly quelled by British troops.
The leaders of the movement were either jailed or banished from the country. One such young man was James Corcoran.
Corcoran was born in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland, on February 12, 1821. Following his expulsion from Ireland, he sailed to the port of New Orleans, where he lived for a few years, married, and started a family. In 1849, when news of the gold strike reached Louisiana, he left his family and sailed around Cape Horn to California and took up a claim in I : Sierra County.
With his pockets bulging, he returned to New Orleans, collected his family and headed back to California, settling in Santa Cruz. For a short time he tried cattle ranching on the old Majors' Rancho Refugio.
Then he moved to the Live Oak area where he bought 160 acres, near the lagoon now named for him. His family grew to include seven children. Three died tragically in boating accidents.
Corcoran did quite well during the 1870s and 80s, in what is referred to as California's "bonanza wheat days." He experimented in horticulture, and was the first farmer in the area to grow Chilean wheat, which was perfectly suited for the climate. He also was one of the original stockholders in the Santa Cruz Railroad and also had financial interests in the Spreckels' sugar I 4 beet refineries in California and Honolulu.
During all these years, he maintained an active interest in events back in his old homeland. He sponsored countless young Irishmen who immigrated to America and sent many thousands of dollars "home" for the lrish freedom movements. He died on October 5,1894.
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