Casefile Clues

28 March 2007

Migration Chains

I've been thinking quite a bit about migration chains lately, largely because I'm giving three lectures about it in less than a month. And also because I realized that another of my families was part of a larger migration chain I was unaware of until recently.

Genealogists sometimes make the incorrect assumption that chains of migration only apply to non-English speaking immigrants. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, all of my German immigrants from 1860-1888 were parts of migration chains and this has been relatively easy to document. My wife has immigrants from Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, and Quebec from the same time period and every one was part of a larger migration chain which we were eventually able to document. Even my Irish Neills were part of a larger group that I only recently discovered.

But "natives" also moved in chains---and they can be discovered if one takes the time. My Newmans from Kentucky into Indiana, Illinois, and eventually Iowa were part of a group that moved over a fifty some year time period. Other families moved from Amherst County, Virginia to Bourbon County, Kentucky over a twenty year time period in the very early eighteenth century.

Take the time to look for your ancestor's chain of migration.