If you’ve successfully traced all your Tennessee Ancestors–Quick cover your eyes. This blog is not for you!
Tracing Tennessee ancestors before 1850 is a very difficult task at best. With people converging on Tennessee from Pennsylvania, from Vermont, and from Connecticut–as well as from Maryland, from Georgia, and from South Carolina. You can expect migrations in from North Carolina and from Virginia. After all, Tennessee was first settled by these hardy pioneers.
You can also expect New Yorkers to appear, since New York claimed the northern part of Tennessee as their own land.
Many of them carrying versions of the same surnames. And merging into the same westward paths. Perhaps sharing the same campfires along the way or loading their belongings on the same flatboats to float the shallow rivers.
Consider my surprise when I discovered that the Davis family arrived in Eastern Tennessee from a trip down the Ohio River, connecting with the mighty Mississippi, traveling overland across Arkansas and finding that land “too squishy,” continued overland to the Cumberland River, landing in Nashville where they stayed a short while, then droving their cattle up hill and down dale to their final destination in Roane County. Tracing them was not an easy task. The migration pattern alone was enough to stop the research cold.
Then consider the Smith family from Maryland by way of North Carolina, dipping down into South Carolina, then marching with returning soldiers into Jackson County Tennessee before finally settling in Shelby County.
Why did they move so often and in such weird patterns?
Believe it or not, I don’t have a satisfactory answer for you! Many notes and lots of maps color-coded by family and route. And pile of references to specific migration patterns. One of these days, I’ll put it all together and write my conclusions in this blog. Stay tuned–the answer may not come tomorrow. My next blogs will be filled with sources and books to look at and genealogists to model. Sprinkled liberally with call numbers so you can retrieve these items. Your favorite Tennessee genealogist, Arlene Eakle http://arleneeakle.com
PS I’ll share my search tracks and my thought processes so you can duplicate the research process if you want to.
PPS I’ll also share my considerations of the research tools that enable me and you to find what we need to track a hard-to-find Tennessee ancestor. Stay tuned.
And if you have some thoughts on these Tennessee ancestors of ours, or some strategies that worked for you–will you share with our readers?