Migration and Family Roots - Why did your Ancestors Move?
The early colonists established settlements along the seacoast and migrated up
and down the eastern seaboard. The first roads were trails used by Indians, explorers,
and traders. In the early 1700’s some people were fortunate enough to have
carts and wagons to move between the small villages, many had to travel by foot.
Ferries, steam boats, and sailing ships remained the primary mode of transportation
between the colonies well into mid 1700’s.
Where possible, trails, traces, and roads, were made to follow along waterways
which helped to make travel a lot easier than by foot and less time consuming. Movement
by waterways was much easier than walking. In the early days, not everyone had the
luxury of owning horses and wagons.
The oldest known land trail is The Boston Post Road which was used to carry the
first mail. Anyone who wanted to leave Boston usually made the journey with a post-rider.
The first trip back in 1673, took four weeks to travel 250 miles. It was divided
into three routes: Lower, middle and upper. Part of the route from Philadelphia
to Alexandria was called The Great Coastal Road and from Alexandria to Norfolk,
called The Potomac Trail. The King later called it Kings Road, but was not favorable
during the Revolutionary War.
Why did your Family Migrate?
People moved for many reasons that are wrapped around push and pull factors. Pull
factors, known as positive reasons included: adventure, land bounty awards, homestead
acts, motivation to establish new churches, and wanting a better life provided by
economic advancement. Push factors, which were the negative reasons include: due
to soil was depleted of nutrients due to poor farming techniques, natural disasters,
trouble with the law, relatives, or neighbors; lack of jobs, and not free to practice
a religion were some of the main push causes.
Trace your Family Roots and Where they Traveled
After the revolutionary war several factors spurted the westward migration. New
and improved migration routes were developed. Also Bounty land grants were given
to those who served in wars from (1775-1855).
Depending on what time frame you are researching; where your family stopped along
the way, what they did for earning money, and knowing approximately where they lived
will influence what trails they used. Creating a timeline of what you know can help
narrow down your genealogy research and
find your family roots in records they left
behind. Look for clues from previous residence and any possible recorded information
– census records, deeds, etc. It might be an arduous task, but use the major
points along the migration path and find repositories that have any information
that might be useful. Early books and diaries might be left a genealogical society
documenting part of your heritage, adding more roots to your family tree and validating