Migrating Across the Land: Tracing Your Family’s Path Begins with Why

In Citizen Times’ “FAMILY HISTORY: Land transaction records can help trace your lineage”, an article on tracing family history through land transaction records and other methods, I spotted something that made me really stop and consider how and why my family migrated or immigrated from place to place.

Land was a key factor in the movement of families in early America. Remember, the early settlements were all along the Atlantic coast. As land became scarce they moved west or south to less populated areas. The west as we know it today had not opened up; moving west might mean going to Kentucky, Western North Carolina or Tennessee. Moving south might mean moving to the former Indian territory of South Carolina or Georgia.

Climate contributed to the development of WNC. As primitive roads were developed, people from South Carolina discovered the pleasant mountain climate. Both the rich and those of lesser means traveled to this area in the summer to escape the oppressive heat. Many of these families stayed to raise families in western North Carolina counties.

When I think about climate as a motivating factor in migration, I think more of ancient humans rather than modern humans. Today, we have created technology that allows us to live in the worst of conditions, so I often forget that these people were mostly dependent upon the land and weather for their existence, even as much as 100 years ago.

There are a lot of factors that go into the decision for a family to move. Jobs change, economies change, war comes, war goes, lives change, and over time and the improvements in the transportation system, moving got easier and faster.

Finding out why your family moved could be as simple as studying the weather and economy of the time period as well as migration trends. Or it could be something more. Digging into the why of migration is part of the fun of genealogy research.

Most Recent Articles by Lorelle VanFossen

About Lorelle VanFossen

Lorelle VanFossen hosts Family History Blog covering her ancestors and related family members. She is one of the top bloggers in the world, and host of the Lorelle on WordPress, providing WordPress and blogging tips for bloggers of all levels. A popular keynote speaker and trainer, she is also editor, producer, contributor, and official disruptive thinker for Bitwire Media which includes WordCast, Making My Life Network, Stories of Our Journeys, Life on the Road, WordCast Conversations, and the very popular WordCast Podcast.
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