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Early American Migration Routes

This month I had the good fortune to participate in a webinar about migration trails in America. During the early years of our country, people followed established routes to settle new lands.

The webinar speaker, Ann G. Lawthers, told us about the push and pull factors that led to this massive migration. Then she discussed the migration trails the settlers often traveled.

My own family moved and resettled along with all the others. I have incomplete information about their travels, but I know this much:

  1. Carter and Templeton—My ancestor John Carter’s (1790-1841) family settled at Carter Station, Tennessee in the 1780’s. John Carter and his wife Mary Templeton (1792-1857) migrated to Kentucky and then to Coles County, Illinois.
  2. Day and Howe—John Day (1760-1837), born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, served in the Revolutionary War and eventually settled in Morgan County, Kentucky with his wife, Rebecca Howe.
  3. Dunbar and Hall—These New Englanders lived on Cape Cod until 1831 when they moved on to Summit County, Ohio.
  4. Kirkham—Robert Kirkham (1754-1819) was born in Virginia and served in the Revolutionary War at Boonesborough, Kentucky. From there, he moved on to Indiana.
  5. Lawless and Ryan—these Irish immigrants arrived on the east coast before 1850 and settled in Illinois.
  6. Reed and Carr—This family lived in Morris County, New Jersey during Colonial times but had relocated to Fayette County, Pennsylvania by the Revolutionary War. From there they settled in Kentucky, fanning out from there to Indiana, Illinois, and Texas.
  7. Sherman—Daniel Sherman, born somewhere in New York around 1800, had arrived in Morgan County, Kentucky by the 1820’s.
  8. Stilgenbauer—This Bavarian family was living in Bartholomew County, Indiana by the 1850’s.

While attending the webinar, I learned that William Dollarhide’s classic book Map Guide to American Migration Routes, 1725-1815 (1997) has been updated and expanded to a 2-volume set. I ordered it right away, and it arrived this week.

The first part covers Indian paths, Post Roads, and Wagon Roads in early colonial America. The second volume describes stagecoach, steamboat, canal, and railroad routes. Both are chock-full of maps.

My family likely used all these means of transportation. This set will be a valuable reference tool for me as I delve further back in time with my American family history.

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