During the Great Irish Potato Famine, an estimated 10,000 Irish Travelers came to the United States between the period of 1845-1860. They spread across the country eventually ending up in the mule trade. Due to the high demand of mule power for agriculture in the Southeast, the Travelers settled pockets of the area.
Irish Travelers are made up from four groups in the U.S. based on where they settled; the Georgia Travelers, Texas Travelers, Ohio Travelers, and Mississippi Travelers. According to oral tradition, the Georgia band are what makes up parts of Mississippi and Texas groups. They all originally settled in Nashville and then moved to Atlanta sometime around the Civil War where all the groups splintered off.
1930’s depression era Nashville played host again to the Travelers who would bring a touring carnival through town. The carnival was less than reputable, but each year would set up in the lot on 2nd Avenue, near the Fairgrounds. Nothing remains from this time, except for the family they buried locally, and a nod to the past on the aptly named Carney Street (between 4th and 2nd Aves).
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Nashville has always had a connection to these Irish Travelers, and performs weddings and funerals for them still today. If you look, many of the graves have Georgia Traveler family names like Cooper, Cooley, Harrison, Pierce, Stanley, Young and Jeffery.