Friday, December 4, 2015


I was recently asked to do a post on migration patterns.  BUT, before we can migrate, you have to Immigrate.   Those who came to the New Word did so for a variety of reasons.  We all know about some immigrating for religious freedom like the Puritans and the Quakers.  Did you know about the other reasons, one of which was LAND.  In Europe they followed the law of Primogeniture where the eldest son inherits all the land.  That left younger sons to fend for themselves AND since most of the land in Europe was already taken, they had to head to the New World to obtain land and find their fortunes. 

This trip was long and dangerous.  Bobbing across the North Atlantic in a small ship at the whim of the winds and weather could take as little as seven weeks and as long as twelve weeks.  Life on these ships was cramped, food often spoiled, water became stagnant and un-potable  (so even children drank beer rather than water), diseases spread like wildfire and death loomed over everyone.  Those who died were given a burial at sea.  Often as few as ½ of those who boarded the ships survived the ordeal of a trans-Atlantic crossing. 

The earliest immigrants faced a harsh life in an untamed land. Clearing land, growing crops and hunting food.  They couldn’t go to the village market to purchase supplies.  I doubt any of us could survive under the same circumstances that faced our ancestors.  But these hearty people survived and even flourished. 

Many came to Atlantic ports in Virginia Norfolk), Maryland (Baltimore), New Jersey (Newark), New York (New York City), Massachusetts (Boston) and Pennsylvania (1st New Castle DE the Philadelphia). They first settled the lands nearest the ocean, the Tidewater.  As more arrived they pushed inland to the Piedmont, the land between the mountains and the falls-line.  The preferred mode of travel was by boat on the rivers.  Usually they would follow the rivers as far as they could then traveled overland.  

Overland travel was hard, at best.  The earliest roads were just buffalo traces and Indian trails, unfit for wagon traffic.  The improvement of roads was assigned by the county courts who would, after being petitioned by individuals of a given neighborhood, appoint individuals and a given number of "tithables" to blaze and maintain a road from point A to point B.  The first roads were crude and all that was required was to clear brush and cut 10-foot wide path through the trees.  Stumps were left and could be no taller than 18 inches, just high enough for wagon axles to pass over.  Travel was slow,  Most people walked or rode horses.  Wagons were not used unless absolutely necessary.  Rain and mud complicated travel.  Soon they realized roads needed to be "Surfaced" to avoid the problems of mud and ruts.  The earliest surfaced road types corduroy roads and plank roads.  Corduroy Roads  where trees were split and laid from sided to side across the road.  Travel on corduroy roads was bone-jarring and dangerous for the horses.  Plank roads were an improvement.  Sawed boards were laid side-by-side lengthwise to cover the whole road surface.  Travel was easier but maintenance was a constant chore.  Lying on the wet ground allowed the planks to rot requiring frequent replacement.  The next road type was the macadamized roads, a type of gravel road which had a top layer of finer materials which was compacted to make a semi-hard road surface.  

Of course, the "Best roads" were brick or stone.  One such road was the National Road (also known as the Cumberland Road) which was a combination of a brick road and a macadamized road.  The road was 80 feet wide and was started started  in 1811 at Cumberland, MD. By 181 it reached Wheeling, (W) VA and eventually extended west over about 620 miles to Vandalia, IL  reaching that city in 1839.  The original plans were for the road to end at St. Louis, MO but the growth of the rail roads ended funding for the National Road.

Still, road travel was not the preferred method before the mid-19th  century.  most pioneers traveled by boat, down rivers if they could.  Usually they would travel in primitive flatboats with a tiller-oar for steering.  They would float along with the river's current, tying up along the bank at night. The rivers were ull of both natural and man-made hazzards such as snags, sunken trees, rapids, unfriendly natives and river pirates. 

The earliest obstacles to migration were the eastern mountain ranges known as the Appalachians, The Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smokey Mountains the.  Pioneers moved west to the mountains then southwest through the valleys.  

Following the the 3-generation tale of one of my family's migration. My Kirkpatrick family's starts with the Immigration of my ancestor, Hugh Kirkpatrick who traveled most probably from Ulster, Ireland ca 1720 arriving probably in New Castle.  He had settled in the southwestern most part Chester County, PA where he bought a tract of land in 1726.  As he aged and neared death in the 1760s he sold his land to his son, John Hugh Kirkpatrick.  Shortly after his father's death in 1768 John sold this lad and disappeared from Pennsylvania.  Family tradition states that he moved, as many other Scots-Irish settlers had, into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  They followed what was known as The Great Wagon Road, which started at Philadelphia, moved wet through Lancaster to York, PA turning SW to Fredrick Town (Winchester) VA,  on down through the Shenandoah Valley all the way to the Yadkin River in North Carolina.  John Hugh Kirkpatrick started down this road in 1769 and arrived in Green Co, (then-now TN) NC by 1780.

John Hugh Kirkpatrick settled in what is now Hawkins county, TN, he, having completed the 1st leg of the migration journey.  Family tradition states that one of John Hugh Kirkpatriks son, David Sevier Kirkpatrick, 
   E. Spears McCollough, from the Knoxville Journal, Sunday Sept. 1939               
     David, the oldest son of John Hugh Kirkpatrick, left E. Tennessee in 1823 for the distant State of Missouri with his wife and 12 children. He was 63   years old and he and his sons built a large flat boat on the Holston Rivers and after loading thereon their family possessions and supplies for the trip,  began their journey down the river, bound for the western wilderness via the water route which included the Tennessee as well as the Ohio and Mississippi  Rivers. How they managed to get over Muscle Shoals (on the Tennessee River in Alabama) no man knows- probably abandoning the first boat and making  their way below the Shoals and continuing on another boat. Next he is on the Ohio River At Cairo, Illinois where he died and was taken ashore and buried in the wilderness. The wife and children continued their journey on the boat and landed and settled in Washington Co. Missouri.
It is unknown why thay chose Washington County, Missouri for their destination and I can only speculate that it was because several families from the same neighborhood in East Tennessee had moved there ca 1810.  You may have noticed that when a family migrated several other families moved with them.  All I can say is "There's safety and comfort in numbers."

Another story is that of my great great grandfather, John Caulley, who in 1870 uprooted his family from northern Lawrence County, OH and traveled by covered wagon across Ohio, Indiana and Illinois on  The National Road to the Mississippi River.  They crossed the river at St. Louis before a bridge had been built and continued on 100 miles SE of the city to Reynolds County, Missouri where he settled.  

As you can see, Americans moved ever westward taking their pioneer spirit with them.

Tomorrow:  Thinking outside the box when researching. 


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