Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chasing A Migrating Ancestor


Do you know where your ancestors were going when they gathered up their belongings and hitched the horses to the wagon?  They were not out for a joy ride.  They were most likely out for a long, difficult ride and one that was planned and calculated in advance.  Neighbors, family and friends may have joined them. 

If you like maps and enjoy the study of migrations, you'll enjoy the Migration Trails web site. It opens to a rather simple format with a few options. 

Begin by clicking on Migration Trails and you will quickly be staring at a colorful, large map of the United States.  Trails are drawn in red and numbered.  The largest portion are in the eastern United States.  The numbers on the map are identified with the names of the paths, roads and trails, some of which I am unfamiliar.  If you click on the name of a path or trail, you will be taken to further information, such as a time frame for the trail and the primary nationalities who traveled it.  There is also a listing of counties, with web pages, that are within the trail area.  This is particularly helpful when looking for records left by ancestors in their migration.  Perhaps they stopped off briefly in a county along the way when somebody died. References are also listed which can be helpful in your research.  

From the home page, click on Who Traveled the Trails?.  You can select the nationality that interests you, such as Irish.  The immigration period, favorite port of entry and migration facts are listed, along with references.  Easy, but thorough reading! 

You can also order custom migration maps through the web site.  Knowing the counties along the most likely route that your ancestor traveled may break down research brick walls.  The maps are sent by e-mail.  

I hope this web site grows with the addition of more trails, particularly west of the Mississippi River.  It's a fascinating study and one worth the time in preparation for research.  

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