I had a whole topic planned for today’s tip, and then like I usually do…I fell down a genealogy rabbit hole. You know what I’m talking about. You have a plan. Just some quick research and then you start chasing an ancestor. You’re determined that whatever question you’re trying to answer can be found just around the corner…and then three hours later you still have no answers.
That is where I found myself yesterday. I found myself researching an ancestor that I had done some work on before. I remember this ancestor well because I have yet to be able to find what port they came in when arriving in America. It’s like I have a crazy amount of puzzle pieces and yet none of them will go together. What is a genealogist to do?!
This is where I’m reminded about migration paths. Where one family traveled, more were bound to follow. If you’ve done research in Kentucky, I’m sure you’re familiar with the “Wilderness Road”. These paths were taken by many families and some even turned into the roads we used today. If you have a general idea of where your family either started or finished their journey, you may be able to use these paths to find them in other locations. Some researchers specialize in this topic and therefore a quick Google search can provide you with the information you’re looking for. Remember, though, to keep it broad. Many paths covered the same areas so don’t get discouraged if you don’t find your ancestors right away.
The other tip to finding the migration path your ancestor may have taken is to look at census records. I know it’s easy to get caught up in only looking for, and recording, your particular ancestor, but it’s important to pay attention to those living around them. I know that I have a group of ancestors, the Loys, the Sharps, and the Graves, that traveled the southern part of the United States together. While I am still trying to find where the first came to America, I know that these families started together in Virginia, then onto North Carolina, and then settled together in Tennessee.
By researching these families together, you will not only discover how they traveled, but other insights into their background. You will find that the families that migrated together had a lot more in common than just where they lived. These families tend to share the same religious preference and country of origin. So, even if you can’t find the history of your particular ancestors, you will gain some insight into what their background may be.