Original Migration Patterns to Virginia

On 20 December 1606, three ships left London, drifting down the Thames River to the sea:  Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery.  These ships, chartered by the London-based Virginia Company and commanded by Admiral Christopher Newport, carried 100 men and four boys.  They were to establish a new English colony in the southern part of Virginia.

This is the original migration pattern to the New World.  The little fleet left English land sitings behind 1 Jan 1607 and arrived in the river they called the James, 13 May 1607.  The next morning they dropped anchor on a peninsula (almost an island) which they called Jamestown.

When Newport returned to Virginia with the First Supply, as it was called, only 37 of the original 104 were still alive.

This pattern to Virginia continued for several years, as the settlers moved up the river seeking a better harbor and safer moorings, free of malaria, typhoid,  and cholera.  And it took many supplies to outrun the death rate so that more people were alive than had died.

Another migration pattern, often overlooked or ignored, was the movement of settlers from Maryland to North Carolina to southwestern Virginia and into Kentucky.  Studies in the census records indicate that whole counties in eastern Kentucky held persons born in North Carolina or parents who came originally from Maryland.

Now that census records can be screened on  your computer, study both 1850 and 1880 carefully.  Note the birthplaces of children and elderly residents living within the family units.  Even if your research has progressed well and already moved beyond these censuses–study them for the evidence of origins they provide.

Patricia Givens Johnson provides another important and overlooked migration pattern in her Settlers from Delaware River Come to Roanoke and New River, 1995 (an expansion of her New River Early Settlement, 1980.   She examines the experiences of the Swedish Stille and  Yocum families along with their kinship networks the Robinsons, Ogles, Grahams, McDonalds, Rosses, and others.

This migration pattern matches many families who originate in New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland as well as Pennsylvania.  Johnson’s perceptive and understanding comment:  “The settlers had left disputes over proprietorship in West Jersey to find the same on the New River.  They had left the flooding on the Delaware to find the same on the Roanoke.  They had left pirates on the Delaware only to find the same fear on the New River, except from the Indians.”

Johnson’s use of little-known  sources to document these migrations include diaries of journeys, correspondence of government and church officials, manuscript histories of families and biographies of principal players, council proceedings and petitions to specific council members, court depositions and minutes, private family papers, church minutes, contemporary maps which chart Indian trails and roads laid out by the settlers themselves, and previous research completed by earlier genealogists including her mother, Dorothy Hall Givens.

One of the chapters I found especially helpful, dealt with the border wars and overlapping land claims along the Delaware River–the “Chester County Plot” and the Conojacular War of the late 1730’s and early 1740’s.  And the part played in all this mess by Jacobites–both those who were transported to the New World for their roles in Scotland and those who fled from prosecution and transportation in Scotland.

Many of these settlers who migrate to the New River in what they called “New Virginia, ” were not Scots-Irish at all.  They are usually identified thus.  They came directly from Scotland!  Or they came via England, not Ireland.

Please study her work carefully, noting the names of these settlers and where they migrate from.  Surnames are often the same.  And  surnames are often misleading.

No attempt is made to establish kinships between these settlers and their Scots-Irish counterparts.  Some may be related.  And some may even have known they were related.  Preston and Preston.  Campbell and Campbell.  Robinson and Robinson.  Stinson and Stevenson.  And so forth.

Only research into the sources establishing kinship links can determine if they are related to each other in Virginia and later in Kentucky.  They move together along the same migration routes being chronicled in the same tax records and wills.

Watch carefully, lest you attach my ancestors to your pedigrees!  Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  Is it any wonder that the pedigrees and family groups on World Tree and other genealogy sites have gaps and errors and ? marks where facts might appear?  Watch carefully.

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One Response to Original Migration Patterns to Virginia

  1. texicanwife says:

    Arlene, I am gifting you the Happy 101 Award. Please keep up the great work! You are such an inspiration!
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