Virginia Migrations, Part IV

Mapping locations of ethnic settlements in Virginia carries a risk:  You could easily conclude that the sections were designed with the settlers in mind, and that where the ethnic groups overlapped, they intermarried regardless of past relationships.  Your conclusions would be incorrect.

Scots-Irish and French Protestants (Huguenots) were compatible. They were both Calvinist in belief and they often intermarried before coming to Virginia. The Gillespies and the Caldwells, two families who migrated from  Scotland through Ireland to Virginia were originally French families who had settled in Scotland before the Huguenots were expelled from France.  They did not get along with the Scottish Highlanders in Scotland and they did not intermarry with them here in Virginia until much later–although they often settled in areas nearby.

Migration Routes from Real Families

Read the county histories and articles in genealogical and historical society journals in the locality where your ancestor settled.  The local writers will tell you which groups intermarry and which ones do not.  And they will identify the origins of individual families.  They may even indicate which families are traveling together.

Draw the migration patterns on a county boundary map from the  same time period, so you can see where the county boundaries really are when your ancestors lived there.  Which families follow each other around?

Watch especially for ministers who bring their whole congregations with them when they emigrate and settle them in locales which are almost identical to the ones they left behind in the old country.  Biographical dictionaries tell about the ministers and identify their origins.  Following them, you can find your ancestors too. 

Watch for occupations coming in that open up new markets and establish mercantile patterns.  Merchants may not be land owners and they will nt appear in warrants, surveys, patents, and deeds.

Watch for kinship networks formed years ago and traveling to new opportunities together.  Many families intermarry along the routes of travel.

The migrations of these networks and cultures are reflected in the census records where they are recorded as neighbors.  Witnesses and bondsmen in local records also reveal these patterns.  Always record these as a mini-census to use in other searches.

When you work with real migration patterns, you can trust your conclusions.  Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  When I return from Virginia, I expect to have some new patterns that you, and I, have not pursued before.  Stay tuned.

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