Genealogy Migration to the Shenandoah Valley

Katherine Gentry Bushman wrote a provocative article called “Migration to the Shenandoah Valley,” in the Augusta Historical Bulletin (published by the Augusta County Historical Society Bulletin), Vol 29 (Spring 1993): 1-7.  I read it a long time ago and filed it away with my research stuff.

She lists the first permanent settlers:  Morgan Morgan, a Welshman who settled in what became Berkeley County (WV);  Adam Miller, a German who settled in Rockingham County near what became Elkton; Jacob Stover, a Swiss immigrant who obtained a grant for 10,000 acres along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.  Before long, there were Lutherans, Mennonites, German Reformed, Quakers, Scots-Irish Presbyterians, and a few Anglicans scattered over a wide area.

Company agents, clergy, land entrepreneurs who claimed thousands of acres of land in each grant.  So diverse was the population and so intense were the settlers, that the records reflect these interests.

Two quick anecdotes, both referred to in the article:

  1. When Augusta Parish was organized, of the 12 original vestrymen, 8 were Presbyterians, the first 2 churchwardens were Presbyterians, and they diligently enacted and enforced the civil requirements of the parish to the satisfaction of the House of Burgesses. [Don’t you just love it–the Church of England parish run by Presbyterians!]
  2. When the Mormons came to film the court records at the  county courthouse, the judgments filled many rows of drawers and they withdrew.  It was too expensive to unfold and film all of these papers.  [When my husband and I went there to research his Eakle and Johnston ancestry, we spent one week (through a horrid snow storm that almost paralyzed Virginia and the Valley) unfolding and reading those same court papers.]

To this very important overview, I suggest that you add these historical treatments to your list:

Wilson, Dr. Howard McK.  “Augusta County’s  Relation to the Revolution,” Augusta County Bulletin, 2:  Number 1:  5-20.

MacMaster, Richard K. “Captain James Patton Comes to America, 1737-1740,” Ibid. 16 (Fall 1980): 4-13.

“James Patton A Forgotten Colonial Patriot,” Ibid. 2 (Number 1): 24-34.

Frazier, Irvin.  “John Lewis, Founder and Patriarch,”  Ibid. 4 (Spring 1968): 5-12.  At the dedication of the monument to John Lewis Gypsy Hill Park, Staunton VA.

Tams, William Purviance, “Recollections of Augusta County,” Ibid. 1 (Number 1):  Whole Issue.

These articles lay the ground-work for understanding the environment in which the diverse population of the Valley conducted their business and grew their families–your ancestors and mine.

In a future episode, I will list the migration characteristics of  the Great Valley so you can determine where to seek the origins of your family.  Much emphasis is given to the Pennsylvania across western Maryland and down the Valley route.  Overlooking or ignoring direct settlement from Ireland and the European Continent.  Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  Numerous databases await you, once you know the routes your ancestors could have taken.  And whether they were Scottish via Ireland or Scottish direct!

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