Many Irish Immigrants Lost Their Lives in the Building of the C&O Canal

The following excerpt is from an informative article dealing with Washington County, Maryland, and the Irish immigrants who worked on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, many settling in the area. Disease was not well understood in the early 19th-century, leading to the early demise of many immigrants who were just looking for a better life. Read the full article, from the Washington County Historical Society, to learn much more.

Even when we do reflect on the hardships faced by Irish immigrants to America, we tend to think mostly of places like Boston or New York City, where Irish heritage and culture have gained a lasting footprint. But Washington County was home to large groups of Irish immigrants, brought to the area specifically to work on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. This, to put it plainly, was a hard and often deadly life. Because of the hard labor and poor working conditions, daily life along the canal was filled with injury, disease and violence.

The process of building the C&O Canal was a struggle from the very beginning. This area had a bad reputation for ill health during the summers, and a lot of competition for labor from the agricultural sector. Finding workers to build the canal was a difficult and costly prospect, and so the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Co. looked toward imported labor from Great Britain.

Read the full article at the website.

Bockstruck’s New Settlements & Migrations book, bundled with his Names volume – 15% Off through March 14

Family Roots Publishing has put together a bundle of two recently published Lloyd Bockstruck books – one dealing with Settlements and Migration in America & the other the closely related subject of Names. We’ve discounted the bundle by 15%, making it just $30.52 (Reg. $35.90) The following books are included:

Purchase the bundle for $30.52 (plus $8 p&h) (Reg. $35.90) by clicking here or on the illustration. Need just one of the books? Click on the book links above to purchase individual books at 10% off dealing the sale period.

Click on the links to view full descriptions of either book at their respective pages, or to purchase just the one item. Return to this page to order the bundle.

Following are reviews of each of the books:
GPC has just released a new guide from Lloyd de Witt Bockstruck. This softbound book is titled American Settlements and Migrations: A Primer for Genealogists and Family Historians.

The book provides a synopsis of the original patterns of settlement and migration for the United States. Mr. Bockstruck discusses each of the 50 states, however, his emphasis is on the states and territories that were established between the colonial period and the middle of the nineteenth century. For each state the author examines pioneers’ places of origin, reasons for settlement, specific places of settlement in America, names of pioneering families, migrations within and between states, and more. Equally important, throughout the volume he names the key sources for further research.

The study of migration is inextricably intertwined with family history. By combining a knowledge of history and geography, therefore, the family historian can extend the family pedigree across the country. Every detail represents a potential clue to an elusive ancestor, from the name of a shipping line, port of embarkation, and clusters of fellow passengers, to the nature of soil available to the colonist, church membership, and status of roadways.

Some members of the family may not have ventured away from the ancestral home. Others went westward but did not continue as far as some of their kinfolk. They may have generated the records further inland that would enable the family historian to bridge an ancestral geographical gap. Finding earlier places of residence could enable one to determine the place of nativity of an ancestor. Following such paths could enable one to locate relatives who remained in the East or dropped off earlier along the migration route, thereby identifying the immigrant or colonist who founded the family in the New World and perhaps the ancestral home in the Old World as well.

The study of migration/immigration follows several principles. Firstly, one must understand the local history of one’s ancestral homes. For example, as late as 1950, the state possessing greatest percentage of residents of British descent was Utah. Why? Utah was settled by Mormons, and this relatively new religious group was mostly composed of New England Puritan stock. Moreover, that church’s first missionary efforts abroad were in conducted in the British Isles, and those converts joined them in Utah.

Secondly, migrations are also tied to similar climatic belts. Colonists and immigrants often sought out lands that were capable of growing the crops with which they were familiar, as in the case of Scandinavian settlement in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Thirdly, migration rests upon forces that draw immigrants to a new home. It may also apply to those forces that drove them away from their home. In some instances both aspects may apply. For instance, more than 150,000 natives of Virginia were living in the states of the Old Northwest Territory in 1850—an area accessible to them and possessing terrain and soils with which they were familiar.

Still other factors impinging on migration and settlement include available modes of transportation, religious preference or ethnicity, economic factors such as famines and floods, and foreign wars, revolutions, and other aspects of statecraft. Bockstruck contrasts colonial migrations, for example, with those following American Independence. During the colonial period, individuals and groups moved from the southern colonies to the northern colonies, and vice versa. Until the 1750s, colonists utilized sailing ships as the primary mode of transportation between colonies. They did not move from the East to the West until after the French and Indian War, when the Braddock and Forbes roads were built to enable the military forces to go into the interior to challenge the French in the Ohio River Valley. Such roads were necessary to move heavy military equipment, such as canons, and materiel to the war front.

American Settlements and Migrations is arranged by region and thereunder by state. Each chapter outlines not only the events, persons, and forces that contributed to a state’s settlement but also offers untold clues to the reader’s own ancestors. Might an 18th-century South Carolina forebear have been part of the British expulsion of the French from Nova Scotia? Was your Welsh ancestor part of the Pennsylvania migration to work in the Knoxville, Tennessee mining industry? Your Irish Famine-era ancestor was living in Boston in 1860, but is the gap in his genealogy attributable to the fact that he might have entered North America through the Canadian Port of St. John, Newfoundland. These are just some of hundreds of possibilities Mr. Bockstruck gets you to consider. His new primer may be just the clue finder you have been looking for.

In my review of the volume, I found that virtually hundreds of resources are found within the text – all with full titles, and authors. This makes it easy for the genealogist to find the item with the publishers, or a nearby library genealogy collection. By the way, you can find books in libraries near you within seconds by typing the title into the search engine at Find the book, and click on it. Enter your location zip code (under Find a Copy in a Library). Bingo!

The only issue I have with the volume is that the font is a bit small for my old and tired eyes. But reading the volume in bright lighting made my reading pleasurable – and I learned many things that I didn’t know previously.

Order your volume by clicking on the link:

American Settlements and Migrations; A Primer for Genealogists and Family Historians; by Lloyd de Witt Bockstruck; 2017; 108 pp; 6×9; paperback; ISBN: 9780806358314; Item #:CF8125D

The following is from the Table of Contents – the abbreviations are mine:

  • Chapter One: American Settlements and Migrations in America
  • Chapter Two. New England – MA, CT, RI, Providence Plantations, VT, ME
  • Chapter Three. West Indies
  • Chapter Four. The Middle Colonies – NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD
  • Chapter Five. The Southern Colonies – VA, WV, NC, SC, GA
  • Chapter Six. The Impact of the Revolutionary War
  • Chapter Seven. Post Revolutionary War Settlements – FL, KY, TN
  • Chapter Eight. The Old Northwest – OH, IN, IL, MI, WI, MN
  • Chapter Nine. The Old Southwest – AL, MI, LA
  • Chapter Ten. The Trans-Mississippi West – IA, MO, AR
  • Chapter Eleven. The West – TX, KS, NE, OK, UT, NM. AZ, NV, CO, ND, SD, WY, ID
  • Chapter Twelve. The Pacific Coast – OR, WA, CA
  • Chapter Thirteen. Alaska, Hawaii and Canadian Settlements – AL, HI, QC, NS, ON

Order your volume by clicking on the link:

American Settlements and Migrations; A Primer for Genealogists and Family Historians; by Lloyd de Witt Bockstruck; 2017; 108 pp; 6×9; paperback; ISBN: 9780806358314; Item #:CF8125D

Purchase the bundle for $30.52 (plus $8 p&h) (Reg. $35.90) by clicking here or on the illustration. Need just one of the books? Click on the book links above to purchase individual books at 10% off dealing the sale period.

cf8006Two hundred years ago no parent would have named a child for a favorite movie star. There were no movies. However, naming a child for an historical figure, like George after George Washington, was not uncommon. Other naming practice common in the past would seldom be considered today. However, understanding such practices may help a genealogists better identify their ancestors. For example, using an uxornecronym. An uxornecronym is a name given to the first daughter born into a marriage were the name honors a previous wife. Such practices would be less common in a society were divorce is the primary reason for having previous marriages, but not so in a time when death, especially in child birth, would have left an empty place in a home to be filled by a second marriage. Genealogists looking to better understand and trace their ancestors by their names may benefit greatly from The Name IS the Game: Onomatology and the Genealogists, a new book by Lloyd de Witt Bockstruck.

What is Onomatology? Where etymology is the study of the origin and history of words, onomatology is the same for names. Bockstruck explains, “onomatology is the study of names. It involves both forenames, commonly called first, second, or middle names, and family names or surnames. It also includes nicknames and  place names which in the United States are often named for individuals.” He also makes the important distinction, “the study of onomatology is one based on records over centuries and requires an awareness of a multitude of changes in names.” This book provides, at least, the basics of onomatology for genealogists.

The Name IS the Game is broken into five chapters. The first acts as introduction. The second and third chapters examine given names and surnames, respectively. These chapters represent the bulk of the book and cover all types of naming practices over centuries of Europe and the United States. The last two chapters cover toponyms, place names, and provide a selected bibliography for further reference.

I have provided, below, and expanded table of contents. The list should demonstrate just how much this book covers, especially regarding surnames.

Table of Contents  (expanded)

Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Forenames

  • Ethnic Clues in Forenames
  • Forename or a Title
  • The Maiden Name of a Mother as a Forename
  • Forename Clues
  • Diminutives
  • Diminutive Abbreviations
  • Forename Equivalents
  • Multiple Forenames
  • Uxornecronyms
  • Ambisexual Forenames
  • Postponing the Bestowing of Forenames
  • Repetition of Forenames
  • Forename Clues
  • Hagiographic Forenames
  • Naming Patterns
  • Optical Mis-recognition
  • Forenames from Historical Figures
  • Initials
  • Renaming of a Living Child

Chapter 3 Surnames

  • Maiden Names
  • Spelling Fixation
  • Surname Confusion
  • Misinterpretation of Letters of Surnames
  • The Un-aspirated Initial Letter of Surnames
  • Pronunciations
  • The Terminal “G”
  • Nee, Alias, and Genannt
  • Adoption of a Step-parent’s Surname
  • Military Influence on Surnames
  • From English to Another Language
  • From One European Language to Another
  • The Dit Name
  • Dialects and Minorities
  • Dutch Surnames
  • Abbreviations of Surnames
  • The Crossed Tail of the Letter P
  • The Long “S”
  • The Female Title of Mrs.
  • Idem  Sonans
  • Translation into English
  • Surname Shortening
  • The Letters “R” and “L”
  • “Ou” and “Wh”
  • Gender and Surnames
  • Ethnic Clues
  • Statutory Changes
  • District and County Court Changes of Names
  • Multiple Independent Appearances
  • Spanish
  • African-American
  • Jewish
  • American Indian Surnames

Chapter 4 Toponyms

Chapter 5 Selected Bibliography of Legal Changes of Names

Copies of The Name IS the Game: Onomatology and the Genealogist are available from Family Roots Publishing.

Purchase the bundle for $30.52 (plus $8 p&h) (Reg. $35.90) by clicking here or on the illustration. Need just one of the books? Click on the book links above to purchase individual books at 10% off dealing the sale period.

Online Guide to Steamboat Image Collection Posted by Tulane University

The following excerpt is from an article posted at the Tulane University website August 11, 2016.


The Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) at Tulane University has made accessible to the public a new online guide to the Steamboat Image Collection.

The collection, made up of more than 60 linear feet, preserves thousands of images of riverboats including sternwheelers, sidewheelers, tugs, packets, showboats, and more.

“People from around the world can now search our online index to find out what images we preserve,” said Lee Miller, head of the LaRC.

Miller hopes to one day digitize the images so that they can be accessed remotely.

The images document all stages of the steamboats’ production —from construction to wreckage —providing a fascinating view of the country’s steamboat era in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

It is one of the larger collections of steamboat images in the world and was purchased for Tulane by the Joseph Merrick and Eugenie Penick Jones Foundation in 1966 from the estate of Capt. Donald T. Wright, editor and publisher of the Waterways Journal.

Read the full article.

Thanks to ResearchBuzz for the heads-up.

New FamilySearch Database Collections as of October 19, 2015

The following is from FamilySearch:

FamilySearch Logo 2014

Apart from a very significant addition to the Italy Napoli Civil Registration (State Archive) 1809-1865 collection, this week is predominantly about new, free US marriages and passenger lists collections. Search marriage records from 11 states, including Louisiana Parish Marriages 1837-1957, New York County Marriages 1847-1848; 1908-1936, Ohio County Marriages 1789-2013, and Pennsylvania Civil Marriages 1677-1950. Check out all of the new collections below.


Italy Napoli Civil Registration (State Archive) 1809-1865 – 0 – 1,628,616 – Added images to an existing collection
Russia Tatarstan Church Books 1721-1939 – 0 – 2 – Added images to an existing collection

Colorado County Marriages 1864-1995 – 129,976 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
Iowa County Marriages 1838-1934 – 35,637 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
Kentucky County Marriages 1797-1954 – 331,212 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
Louisiana New Orleans Passenger Lists 1820-1945 – 1,340,028 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
Louisiana Parish Marriages 1837-1957 – 1,023,241 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
New Hampshire Marriage Certificates 1948-1959 – 96,665 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
New York County Marriages 1847-1848; 1908-1936 – 474,679 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
North Carolina County Marriages 1762-1979 – 794,839 – 424,145 – Added indexed records and images to an existing collection
Ohio County Marriages 1789-2013 – 79,936 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
Oklahoma County Marriages 1890-1995 – 49,517 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
Pennsylvania Civil Marriages 1677-1950 – 241,745 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
Tennessee County Marriages 1790-1950 – 8,307 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Passport Applications 1795-1925 – 521,587 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
Vermont St. Albans Canadian Border Crossings 1895-1924 – 110,120 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection
Washington County Marriages 1855-2008 – 328,604 – 0 – Added indexed records to an existing collection

Help Us Publish More Free Records Online
Searchable historical records are made available on through the help of thousands of online volunteers worldwide. These volunteers transcribe (or index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. More volunteers are always needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace with the large number of digital images being published weekly online on Learn how you can volunteer to help provide free access to the world’s historical genealogical records online at

About FamilySearch International
FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources for free at or through more than 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

New Records Reveal Previously Unknown Mormon Pioneers

The following news release is from FamilySearch:


Salt Lake City, UT — In a collaboration between the Church History Library and FamilySearch, individuals can now discover and explore more of their pioneer heritage on the newly redesigned Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel website that also includes information about previously unknown pioneers. In addition to discovering your pioneer ancestors, new features enable people to read their ancestors’ personal journals, see available photos, and learn key details about major events in their ancestors’ lives.

Since the site was first launched, an influx of pioneer documentation has allowed historians to reconcile and expand their understanding of the trek west. The site now includes information about more than 57,000 individuals in 370 pioneer companies, with thousands of original trail excerpts that are authoritatively documented. “This is an extremely significant database,” said Keith Erekson, Church History Library Director. “It reveals so much about individual pioneers and their experiences, but it also offers fresh new insights about their collective experience.” Site updates include the ability to submit family photographs of pioneers and to link to digital copies of sources on the Internet. There are also new articles of interest, including humorous stories from the trail.

Individuals have two options for accessing the site. Through, your personal FamilySearch family tree will be polled for matches in the updated pioneer database. Through you can explore known pioneers and companies and lots of other interesting facts and documentation about this exciting period of Mormon and Western history.

Millions of people continue to be inspired by the courage, faith, and triumphs of the Mormon pioneers. Many of us are unknowingly modern pioneers, whose courage, personal achievements, and applied faith will be equally inspiring to future posterity and generations. This updated site will be featured in the international “I Am a Pioneer” social media campaign (#IAmAPioneer) that will encourage individuals today to see themselves as modern-day pioneers and recognize the need to readily capture their stories of triumph online for future generations. Learn more about this initiative at

Those without Utah pioneer ancestry may be interested in reading stories of pioneers worldwide by visiting the Church History Department’s website,

Bring your genealogical data to life by discovering the stories and photos of your ancestors or the ancestors of others. Visit the newly updated Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel website today.

About FamilySearch
FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,600 family history centers in 130 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A Genealogists’ Insta-Guide: American Migration Routes, 1750-1800

William Dollarhide and Family Root Publishing have already release two more, brand new Genealogists’ Insta-Guides. Just three weeks ago I reviewed the first publication in this new series: A Genealogists’ Insta-Guide: Colonial Wagon Roads to 1750. Now, two more great titles are available. In this review, I will explore A Genealogists’ Insta-Guide: American Migration Routes, 1750-1800.

American Migration Routes, 1750-1800 picks up where Colonial Roads to 1750 left off. As Colonial Roads indicated, many of today’s highways and byways follow the same path they did when first established, often as little more than a horse trail or wagon road. Much of the genealogical information family historians seek will be found in the towns and counties that lie along these roads. Travel in the 18th century, by today’s standards, was extremely slow. In many ways, people continued normal daily routines as they moved. It took time to cross territories. During this time children were born, illness and death happened, sometime people stopped to work or repair wagons, etc. Vital records were recorded and preserved in county courthouses, local churches, local cemeteries and funeral homes. These are the records genealogists seek. Knowing the roads and migration patterns will greatly help historians identify possible locations of these key vital records

This new Insta-Guide begins with a brief introduction along nice a table showing the various roads covered in this guide alongside their current highway designations. This guide is broken into four main sections: Roads to War, Proclamation Line of 1763, Manifest Destiny Begins, and Horse Paths to Turnpikes. Roads, policies, and historical insights provide a picture of these early byways. Dollarhide summarizes the best of his knowledge into a concise guide, which is as easy to read as it is insightful.

Like other quick sheets, and “at a glance” guides, the new Genealogists’ Insta-Guide series features four-page, laminated, colored guides which fit nicely into three-ringed binders and portfolios. By this design, these guides are easy to take along for sharing or going to the library for research; not to mention, they are easy to store. The Insta-Guide comes pre-punched for three-ringed insertion.

Here’s the real kicker for this new guide series, you can order the Insta-Guide as a printed piece or as a downloadable .pdf file for your computer, as well as, supporting tablets and smart phones — as long as your device supports .pdf [Acrobat] files.




Roads of War

  • Braddock’s Road
  • Forbes’ Road

Proclamation Line of 1763

Manifest Destiny Begins

Horse Paths to Turnpikes

  • Wilderness road
  • Ohio River (via Flatboats)
  • Avery’s Trace & Nashville Road
  • Cumberland Road
  • Gist’s Trace
  • Zane’s Trace
  • Lancaster Pike
  • Mohawk Turnpike
  • Great Genesee Road
  • Seneca Turnpike

Print References

Online References


Order A Genealogists’ Insta-Guide: American Migration Routes, 1750-1800 from Family Roots Publishing; Price: $7.95.

Or, click here to order the electronic (.pdf) version of A Genealogists’ Insta-Guide: American Migration Routes, 1750-1800; Price: $3.99.

The Expansion of New England

For 2012, the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has republished The Expansion of New England: The Spread of New England Settlement and Institutions to the Mississippi River, 1620-1865. Lois Mathews wrote and originally published this history in 1909. Many of today’s historians and genealogists have overlooked this valuable history. However, NEHGS recognized the value is this volume, and so have made it available again.

In this manuscript, Mathews seeks to explain where and why people migrated, first to early coastal settlements, then throughout the region as families moved inland and northward during the colonial period. The author continues this historical examination of migration through the 1850s and people moved up and down the Hudson River, and then on into central and western New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the northern counties of Indiana and Illinois.

Mathews examines reasons behind migration movements, including, socio-economics, religion, and war. She also evaluates the relationships between Native Americans and settlers. Even the formation of new states is reviewed.

Ralph Crandall, Executive Director Emeritus for NEHGS provided the foreword for this most recent publishing. In it, he outlines the value of this book to genealogists. He suggest that first, taking the larger migration patterns into consideration can help genealogists potentially reverse trace a families origin in the American colonies. Second, Crandall notes that Mathews thoroughly examined the printed literature available in her day; namely, town histories and other works that covered specific migrations. These smaller migrations were usually small clusters of families. These groups and the sources are cited through the book. Genealogist can identify specific works for further reference and reading.

Of course, just knowing a bit of history, and understanding the driving forces of the day, can help researchers make deductions about their own ancestors and their likely movements throughout New England and beyond.



Chapter I Introduction

Chapter II The Beginning of an American Frontier

Chapter III The Influence of Indian Warfare Upon the Frontier

Chapter IV Forty Years of Strife withing the Wilderness

Chapter V The Frontier in War and in Peace, 1754-1781

Chapter VI The Beginning of the Great Migrations form New England Toward the West, 1781-1812

Chapter VII The Planting of a Second New England, 1787-1865

Chapter VIII The Joining of Two Frontiers: Indiana and Illinois, 1809-1865

Chapter IX The New Englanders as State Builders: Michigan and Wisconsin, 1820-1860

Chapter X Two Centuries and a Half of New England Pioneering, 1620-1865


Find The Expansion of New England: The Spread of New England Settlement and Institutions to the Mississippi River, 1620-1865 at Family Roots Publishing; Price: $17.59.

An Atlas of Trails West of the Mississippi River

I don’t know why but, ever since I was a child I have loved maps. If pushed, I could probably psychoanalyze the reason maps interest me so; however, I prefer to stay naive on the issue and simply continue to enjoy maps as though they are works of art. It may just be this love of maps, along with a genealogist’s care for history, that I have so enjoyed recently reviewing a number of large-format atlases describing early trails and pathways that become the infrastructure of early America. Here are the atlases I have already reviewed:

Another atlas has fallen on my desk, with more great history and insight to early American trails and the roads they became, ever leading further west. An Atlas of Trails West of the Mississippi River reviews the “opening of the west.” The trails, the settlers, the events, and the countries who owned or laid claim to the western territories are all part of the history and the maps covered in this edition.

The first paragraph of the introduction may best summarize America’s migration westward, in terms of years and miles:

“American migration expanded and accelerated as the population moved westward across the continent. There is no definite date when one migration period ended and another began, nor due to the terrain, is there a definite line of advance. the first push, between 1625 and 1775, was almost entirely east of the Appalachian Mountains within the original thirteen colonies and was undertaken mainly on foot or horse. The second period of expansion, from 1765 to 1815, extended the trails through the mountains and opened wagon roads into the Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Cumberland River valleys. The third period, 1790 to 1840 consolidated the lands east of the Mississippi River through river and canal transportation and improved roads. Improved transportation allowed rapid expansion from New England along the Great Lakes and through lower Mississippi and Alabama. It took one hundred-fifty years to reach the Ohio River. Seventy-five years later by 1825, Americans had moved into the Mississippi Valley and occupied most of the one thousand miles between it and the Atlantic coast. The next twenty-five years were spend exploring the Far West. In 1849 discovery of gold in California opened in one year more than twice the land Americans had settled in the previous two hundred and twenty-five years.”

In large part, this book covers the exploration and some early migrations during the twenty-five years or so leading up to the 1849 gold rush.

At 11″ x 17″ this Atlas offers maps at a size which are easy to read. Mixed with the maps are an extensive background to the early settlers, their migrations, and the importance of these towns and trails. With two columns per text page, each the size of a standard page, this book is the equivalent to a book twice as thick. Below are the Table of Contents followed by a listing of the Maps and Illustrations in the order in which they appear in the book.


Table of Contents


A. North American Control

  1. Spain and Mexico
  2. France and Great Britain
  3. American Indians

B. Hazard West of the Mississippi

  1. Physical Barriers
  2. Climate and Vegetation
  3. Distance and Isolation

C. Opening the Great West

  1. Settlers in the Mississippi Valley 1800-1820
  2. Trappers and Traders 1810-1830
  3. Gone to Texas 1820-1830
  4. Overland Trail 1840-1850
    1. Oregon Trail
    2. California Travel
    3. Utah and the Mormons
    4. The Mexican War
  5. Miners and Mineral Wealth
  6. The Trails
  7. Improving Life
  8. Communication and Transportation
  9. Texas Cattle Trails
  10. Inventions & Western Growth


Western Forts



Maps and Illustrations

  1. Control of North America
  2. Expansion of the United States 1783-1853
  3. Mexico’s Northern Boundary
  4. Distribution of Indian Tribes
  5. Western Vegetation
  6. Physical Regions of the United State
  7. Precipitation
  8. The Advancing Frontier
  9. Mountain Man Territory
  10. Trails Through Mexican Territory
  11. Gone to Texas
  12. Western Trails 1840-1850
  13. California Routes 1841-1846
  14. Trails Used in the Mexican War
  15. California Gold Country Trails
  16. California’s Mother Lode
  17. Trails of the Miners
  18. Western Trails 1850-1865
  19. Rivers, Rails and Cattle Trails
  20. Major Migration Routes
  21. Three Families West

Order a copy of An Atlas of Trails West of the Mississippi River from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: CE04, Price: $19.60.

Mormon Gold

Few people are aware it was the job foreman and half-a-dozen Mormons who first discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. Even fewer are aware of the overall presence and contribution Mormons made during the gold rush years. The Mormon people had been in Salt Lake for less than a year when Gold was discover. A year later the rush to riches was on. People flooded California from around the world in an effort to lay claim to part of California’s rich Gold deposits. Mormon Gold: Mormons in the California Gold Rush Contributing to the Development of California and the Monetary Solvency of Early Utah examines the Mormon people and their participation in the famous Gold Rush of 1849 and the subsequent mining years.

The early years for Mormons in Salt Lake and its surrounding settlements were economically difficult for many. Those who came with Brigham Young, and those who continued to arrive over the next few years, came across the plains with few possessions. Many were destitute and were doing their best just to survive those early years. The temptation to seek wealth and prosperity in the gold rich hills of California was strong. Sensing this pull, and knowing most would not find the wealth they dreamed of, along with understanding the need to keep the new communities in Utah as strong as possible if the Mormons were to survive, Brigham Young ordered the saints to stay, to work, and to follow God’s will. Meanwhile, he also knew that California Gold could be a boon to the struggling economy in Salt Lake. Thus, he selected men to go and seek prosperous enterprises in California, to build businesses and seek opportunities to gain advantage from the flood of gold seekers. Some were to also mine gold and gather tithes and return what they could to Utah. Mormon Gold provides the facts and details about these Mormon participants and their reasons for going to California.

Mormon Gold tries to “identify individuals involved in the gold rush and piece together their lives and interactions. It is extensively illustrated with portraits, landscapes, and maps.” The book is filled with background stories and details. Inset into the chapters are independent, brief, biographies of individuals found within the story. Likewise, added details, historical facts, and explanations are provided in similar manner for key locations, settlements, and interest items. One inset shows and describes the gold mining process using a sluice with a riddle plate. Brief bios are presented for more famous individuals, like John A. Sutter (not a mormon but obviously a major player in the Gold Rush thanks to the discovery of Gold at his mill), Brigham Young, and Orrin Porter Rockwell. Some of the less historically famous individuals, whose presence are noted within the Gold Rush story,  are given individual space with their own brief bios, such as Francis Martin Pomeroy (my own third-great grandfather).

Here are some of the other California Mormon highlights found in the book:

  • “They came, some just before and some just after California became a Territory (1846)
  • They doubled the population of Yerba Buena and helped turn that placid, ‘ends of the earth’ hamlet into a bustling San Francisco
  • They were involved in some of the first gold discoveries (Coloma and Mormon Island)
  • They opened important trails across the Sierra and the Southwest
  • Some brought their families, built homes, and pioneered commercial farming in California
  • Many sent their gold back to help establish a currency for the infant Mormon settlement in the Salt Lake Valley, which without that help might have floundered.”

The first edition of Mormon Gold was published in 1984. At the time, researchers praised the author for “having left no stone unturned in recounting all there is to know about Mormons and the gold rush.” That may have been true at the time. However, in the over twenty-five years since then, much research has been added to the collective knowledge on the subject. Thus, the authors felt the book needed a major update. This second edition make uses of dozens of resources not available at the printing of the first edition. Some of the additional materials include extensive biographies on major participants and leaders among the Mormons in California; plus, annotated diaries, including, the diary of George Q. Cannon, an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, during his California years.



Maps and Illustrations



1. The Stage is Set

2. Gold at Coloma

3. Mormon Island: The First California Gold Rush

4. The Mormon-Carson Pass Emigrant Trail

5. A Message of Gold to Brigham Young

6. The Mormon ’48ers

7. Mormon Valley Currency

8. Mormon Guides to the Gold Mines

9. Amasa M. Lyman and the Mormon Apostolic Gold Mission

10. The Pueblo Saints

11. The Rhoades Mormon gold TRain

12. Apostle Charles C. Rich and the Gold Missionaries

13. The Gentile Pomeroy Wagon Train

14. The Huffaker Company

15. The Salt Lake Trading Company

16. The Joint Apostolic Gold Mission

17. From God to the Word

18. The Last Trains West

19. Home to Zion

20. A Maverick Mormon Argonaut

21. Mormon Station and the Carson Valley Saints

22. The San Bernardino Saints and Gold

23. Proselyting the Gold Fields

24. Missionaries and the Final Exodus

25. Mormon Argonauts: Some Reflections

Appendix A: The Mormon Argonaut Communities

Appendix B: Mormon Argonauts in the Census Records

Appendix C: Mormon Gold Time Line

Appendix D: Historical Background for the Mormon Gold Story


Map and Illustration Credits

Subject Index

Personal Name Index

About the Authors


Avid historians, gold rush aficionados, and Mormons alike will all appreciate the detailed history this book provides. Rich in details, colorful characters, and a sense of truth helps bring light California’s gold rush and its Mormon participants.

Mormon Gold: Mormons in the California Gold Rush Contributing to the Development of California and the Monetary Solvency of Early Utah is available from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: GMP1, Price: $39.96. Becomes Headline Sponsor for “Exodus: Movement of the People,” a Major Family History Conference in Leicestershire

The Halsted Trust is delighted to announce that have agreed to sponsor their forthcoming conference on migration, to, from and within the British Isles

“Exodus: Movement of the People” will take place from the 6th to 8th September 2013 at the Hinckley Island Hotel in Leicestershire. This major residential conference will give the genealogy community an opportunity to increase their knowledge on migration and network with other family historians. Full details of the programme will be announced in September.

Alec Tritton, Chairman of the Halsted Trust says “We are delighted to once more bring a residential conference to the genealogy world. After the unparalleled success of our 2009 conference “Open the Door and Here are the People”, the last International Conference for family historians, having yet again as a major sponsor will help us deliver an outstanding conference at a reasonable cost to the general public with all the features delegates have come to expect from a residential conference.

Debra Chatfield of says “We are happy to take the opportunity to associate our brand once again with the Halsted Trust. The trustees have a proven track record in organising residential conferences and we are looking forward to a conference on migration. have many records relating to migration on our website as do our sister brands and This conference is an excellent opportunity for genealogists to learn about the records of migration in a framework ideally suited for the purpose”

Details of the conference can be found on the website together with many stories of migration to, from and within the British Isles.

Mormon Migration Index Website Has Been Revised

A FamilySearch blog provides the details. Here is an excerpt:

Mormon Migration Index Give you More Than Ever Before

If you have Mormon ancestors who crossed the ocean to join the Saints in America, you may have heard of the Mormon Migration website. In the past, folks have come to this website to find voyage information about people who made this life changing journey to the Land of Zion. Now this valuable website has been revised to include even more historical information than ever before.

This revised internet site is in the 2nd stage of a 3 stage development plan. This phase provides more images of ship manifests and more articles. This collection of articles will continue to grow with the addition of more than 100 articles in the near future.

Find a Voyage:
Using the Mormon Migration site, you can search through the many personal accounts to discover stories, letters, journal entries, and other accounts for each voyage. Links take you to passenger lists, person accounts written by people who were on board each ship, and scanned images of the ship’s passenger logs. This is a remarkable source for learning not only about your migrant ancestors but also about those who traveled with them and events that took place during each voyage.

Share What You Know:
The Mormon Migration database includes thousands of passenger records, stories, journal entries, scanned registry images, and other information, but it is far from complete. It is hoped that users will add information they have about their migrant ancestor. They are especially interested in first-hand accounts of voyages, photographs, and other information.

Click here to read the full blog.

Get On Board the Great Valley Road

The following article was written by my friend, William Dollarhide:

Note: Any old wagon roads identified here in bold type are shown graphically on the map below.

If you had ancestors who went from the Chesapeake to the interior of North Carolina in the middle 1700s; or if you had ancestors who arrived in America during the 18th century and immediately headed for the western area of North Carolina now known as Tennessee; then you may like to know how they got there.

The first farming communities in the interior of North Carolina were established by a group of people who came from the tidewater area of Maryland and Virginia. They brought with them a good understanding of how to raise tobacco, the chief crop of the tidewater region of the Chesapeake, which became a primary crop of North Carolina. Many of these people were second and third generation Chesapeake residents, but a sizeable number of them were newcomers to America, a group of people who are often called the Scots-Irish.

Crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains

Before 1746, travelers from the Chesapeake into western Virginia were compelled to first go north to Philadelphia, then west on the Lancaster Road, then southwest on the old Philadelphia Road through York, on to the Potomac River, and connecting with the Shenandoah River Valley. A key historical event which influenced the migration of people from the Chesapeake to points west and southwest was the opening of the first wagon road across the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1746. It became known as the Pioneer’s Road, and allowed for wagon traffic from Alexandria to Winchester, the westernmost town in Virginia at that time. Winchester was located on the Great Valley Road. By traveling from Alexandria overland to Winchester, the route to access the Great Valley Road had been shortened dramatically. The trace today of the Pioneer’s Road is very close to that of the modern U.S. Hwy 50, which crosses the Blue Ridge Mountains via Ashley’s Gap.

As a result of the opening of the Pioneer’s Road, thousands of Scots-Irish immigrants to America changed their travel plans after hearing from relatives in America. Before 1746, the primary port of entry to the American colonies was Philadelphia. After 1746, Alexandria, Virginia on the Potomac River became an important port of entry for the newcomers coming from the Irish Sea.

Who were the Scots-Irish?

“Scots-Irish” was a name given to the people who came to America from about 1717 to 1775 by way of northern Ireland, or Irish Sea ports on either side of the border of Scotland and England. Border clan people had first gone to northern Ireland beginning about 1603-1610, the first few years of the reign of James I, the first monarch to rule both Scotland and England. Soon after an English take-over of the Province of Ulster, and with the support of King James I, thousands of border clan people were encouraged to leave their traditional clan homes along the English-Scottish border and take up tenant farms in northern Ireland. The inducement was a parcel of tenant land, which the borderers could have as their own for a lease period of 100 years. Over the next century, the system worked reasonably well. Working on tenant farms as share-croppers, the border clan people established thriving flax fields in northern Ireland, and built a linen trade that was the envy of Europe.

Although many lived in Ireland for decades, these folks did not think of themselves as Irish, and if asked would probably say something like, “We’re no Eerish bot Scoatch.” In fact, most of the clans of the borderlands considered themselves Scottish rather than English, whether their traditional lands were on the English side or the Scottish side — they had a history of taking whatever land they wanted and were famous for their centuries of fighting Scottish kings, English kings, or each other — it really didn’t matter.

Another big change in the lives of the border clan people took place in 1707 with the official unification of Scotland and England into the United Kingdom of Great Britain (UK). The border clans became intolerably resistant to the English, who were attempting to combine the small crop farms along the border into more profitable sheep ranches. The Scottish Thanes were replaced with English landlords, mostly absentee landowners living in London. As a result, thousands of borderers were faced with seizures of land, and removals to Northern Ireland. This time, the clan people were not given very good treatment, with higher rents and shorter leases, and as earlier leases ran out, the tenants were replaced with new border clan people at higher rents. Beginning in about 1710, terrible droughts, famine, and the collapse of the linen trade in Northern Ireland put the clan people into dire straits, and living there became nearly impossible.

By 1717, dispossessed Scots-Irish began moving to America, and over the next 50 years or so, it is estimated that over 275,000 of them went to the American colonies. Most of them found themselves traveling into the wilderness of colonial America, mainly the Appalachian region, stretching from western Pennsylvania to Georgia. Almost exclusively Scots-Irish immigrants settled these areas. In keeping with the Scots-Irish desire to leave the populated areas of America and head into the wilderness areas, it was these folks who created a demand for new wagon roads.

Roads to Tennessee and North Carolina

As early as 1740, the Shenandoah Valley was the route of The Great Valley Road of Virginia, which continued as a wagon road as far as Big Springs, Virginia (now Roanoke). During the middle of the 1700s, the route was often called “The Irish Road,” because most of the travelers were Scots-Irish immigrants. Today, the trace of the Great Valley Road is nearly the same line as U.S. Highway 11 (or I-81). In 1746, travelers on the Great Valley Road at Big Springs had to leave their wagons and use pack horses to continue, either due south into central North Carolina, or continue into the valleys of the Clinch, Powell, or Holston Rivers leading into western North Carolina, now Tennessee.

But in just a few years after the opening of the Pioneer’s Road in 1746, the Upper Road became a wagon route as well. The Upper Road took off from the Fall Line Road (which is the same as U.S. Hwy 1 today) at Fredericksburg, Virginia, and paralleled the Fall Line through Virginia, but reached North Carolina some 60-70 miles west of the Fall Line Road. A look at a modern road atlas of North Carolina shows the main population centers along Interstate 40 as Raleigh, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem – all communities that were first settled as a result of the Great Valley Road or the Upper road (The Upper Road is the only colonial wagon road that does not exist today as a modern highway – it crossed several streams and rivers that are now large man-made lakes). Virtually the entire Piedmont region of North and South Carolina was settled via the Great Valley Road during the latter half of the 1700s.

The first land grants in north central North Carolina were in 1746, coinciding with the advent of a wagon route (the Pioneer’s Road) that became possible in the same year. Before that date, land sales in North Carolina were limited to the coastal areas and up a few rivers. The interior land grants came as a result of Lord Granville, the proprietary governor, who opened the northern tier of North Carolina’s modern counties for sale in that year. The area became known as the “Granville District,” which attracted thousands of migrants from the north, particularly people coming via the Chesapeake region of Virginia and Maryland.

Some traffic came from eastern North Carolina into the western regions, but the first wagon roads came from the north. For example, many Quakers who had settled around Albemarle Sound before 1700 were to head west into the interior of North Carolina, but were later than the first wave of immigrants coming down from the Chesapeake, e.g., Quaker communities in Randolph, Caswell, and Orange counties, did not begin until the early 1770s.

Follow the Markers

Dollarhide’s Genealogy Rule No. 17: Finding the place a person lived may lead to finding that person’s arrest record.

As a genealogist, understanding the migration routes my ancestors followed has helped me find markers they dropped along the way. Since most of the colonial wagon roads can now be identified on modern maps as county, state, U.S. or Interstate highways, it is possible to draw a line through the modern counties through which the old routes passed. That makes for a research list of counties where records can be searched – and I have found evidence of my ancestors in counties I never would have thought to look otherwise. The most useful records have been land and tax records, which confirm that a person lived in a certain place at a certain time. Land records are more complete than virtually any other genealogical source record and are easier and quicker to use than other record types. They act as my place finder in determining where a particular surname may be located. Often, it is an understanding of the wagon roads they took that will lead us to the right county where the records still exist.

But, in addition, an understanding of the routes will lead a genealogist to the location of regional record repositories. For example, the McClung Collection at the Knox Public Library in Knoxville, Tennessee is a gold mine of information about people coming down the Great Valley Road into eastern Tennessee. Other great repositories are located at Bristol Public Library, Bristol, VA; Roanoke Public Library in Roanoke, VA; Jones Memorial Library in Lynchburg, VA; and the Handley Regional Library in Winchester, VA. These are specialized collections in which migrations along the Great Valley Road can be found. And, of course, the collections at the Library of Virginia and Virginia Historical Society in Richmond are outstanding, as are the collections at the Maryland Hall of Records in Annapolis.

So, get on board the Great Valley Road — it may be the clue to where your ancestor left markers for you to find.

For further reading , see:

Getting Stumped on Zane’s Trace

The following article was written by my friend, Bill Dollarhide:

Do your ancestors have you stumped? Well, it could be that some of your ancestors were stumped too — on Zane’s Trace. Here is a bit of history on the earliest wagon roads your ancestors used to travel to their new lands in the Ohio Country.

The First Western Migration Routes

After the Revolutionary War, emigrants discovered the Ohio River as a convenient highway to the newly opened public lands in the west. Brownsville, Pittsburgh and Wheeling became the first gateways to the west, where a migrant family could stop and built a flatboat to float down the Ohio River to their new lands. The main overland routes to access the Ohio River were roads built during the French and Indian War; and routes developed during the Revolutionary War. Virtually all of the western migrations overland to the Ohio River were along one of these routes during the last half of the 18th Century. There were four (4) main routes:

1) Braddock’s Road, constructed in 1755, followed the same path as today’s U.S. Highway 40 from Cumberland, Maryland to Uniontown, Pennsylvania; then PA highway 51 into Pittsburgh.

2) Forbes Road, built in 1758, followed a route nearly the same as today’s Pennsylvania Turnpike from Harrisburg to Bedford, PA, then along the present route of U.S. Highway 30, also terminating at Pittsburgh.

3) Allegheny River. This water route began at Olean, NY, and led to Pittsburgh, PA. The Olean landing saw travelers arrive from northern points (such as Buffalo) as well as from eastern points (such as Albany).

4) Gist’s Trace/Monongahela River. Gist’s Trace began as early as 1782, as a wagon road that left Braddock’s Road at Uniontown, PA, and followed the same route that Interstate 70 follows today to Brownsville, PA, located on the Monongahela River. Brownsville was the first waterborne access point to the Ohio River, by floating north on the Monongahela, some 35 miles to Pittsburgh, the start of the Ohio River.

A By-Pass Route

In 1796, Gist’s Trace was extended overland to Wheeling, located on the Ohio River. Wheeling, VA, now entered the picture as a new gateway to the west, with a new route that by-passed Pittsburgh as another way to the Ohio River. Generally, people leaving Philadelphia, Lancaster, or Harrisburg, all points along old Forbes’ Road, now called the Pennsylvania Road, continued to follow that route as the most direct way to access the Ohio River at Pittsburgh. But with the new by-pass route in 1796, wagon traffic from points as far east as Baltimore or Alexandria could take the old Braddock’s Road, now called the Cumberland Road, and continue using the same wagon all the way to Wheeling, VA.

The Wheeling Ferry and Zane’s Trace

Ebenezer Zane was a Virginian who established Fort Henry on the Ohio River in 1769, the site of what was to become the city of Wheeling, Virginia, now West Virginia. Zane and his brothers defended Fort Henry during the Revolutionary War, and he was given the commission of Colonel by the Virginia Militia for the duration of the war. After the creation of the Northwest Territory in 1787, Zane ended up with control of both sides of the most advantageous ferry crossing site on the Ohio River for emigrants moving into the new Northwest Territory. Most locals still referred to the area as “the Ohio Country,” which became the focus of the first western land speculations in America. Initially, the Ohio Country was promoted by private land developers with large tracts of land along the Ohio River. After some ten years experimenting with a new land surveying system, the federal government got into the land sales business in a big way. The first federal tracts of land opened for public land sales and settlement in 1796. As a result of his strategic location near the first public land sales, and with a monopoly on ferry crossings, Ebenezer Zane would soon become a wealthy man.

Colonel Ebenezer Zane was known for another accomplishment as well. He was in charge of the construction of the first wagon road into the Ohio Country, which became known as Zane’s Trace. In 1796, Zane made a deal with the U.S. Federal Government to construct a road, beginning at his ferry landing across from Wheeling, and heading west into the public land areas of what was to become the state of Ohio. Zane said he would build the road from Wheeling, Virginia to Limestone (now Maysville, KY), in exchange for land grants where the new road intersected the Muskingum, Hocking, and Scioto rivers.

In 1796, Zane’s Trace was created as a rough path, and first amounted to a horse path cut through the giant trees of the wilderness, following an existing Indian path. Zane built ferries at each of the river crossings. After Zane built a ferry at the mouth of the Licking River, a small town developed, eventually named Zanesville, which is today the county seat and largest city in Muskingum County. Later, Zanesville’s most famous native was author Zane Grey, a descendant of Ebenezer Zane.

Getting Stumped

In 1800, the road was widened from Wheeling to Zanesville, but it was steep with deep ruts, making travel difficult. However, the Trace was the only major road in Ohio until after the War of 1812. Ebenezer Zane’s woodsmen cut down trees to make a trace of a road. But, there was not a lot of care in the tree felling, and stumps of the fallen trees still remained along the entire route. After 1800, Horse-drawn wagons could negotiate the trace, but often the tree stumps were so high or close together that a wagon would become high centered, or stuck between stumps. Travelers began calling the experience of getting stuck on left-over tree stumps as “getting stumped,” a term which continues today — when we are stuck on something.

In 1803, after Ohio received its statehood, the state legislature set aside money to improve Zane’s Trace and make it accessible by wagon. Trees were cut down to make it 20 feet wide and bridges were built. Soon travel by wagon from Wheeling to Chillicothe was then possible. Settlements sprang up along the way, with businesses such as taverns and inns that catered to the travelers. Farmers used the road to transport their crops to market.

The very first public land sales in America took place near Zane’s Trace — it is how your ancestors gained access to their new lands in the interior of the Ohio Country. Zane’s Trace was the primary access to the entire U.S. Military District and the upper portion of the Virginia Military District, two reserves of public land set aside for bounty land given to soldiers of the Revolutionary War. Although many of the soldiers sold their bounty land grants, many of the people who used them to acquire land in the Northwest Territory followed Zane’s Trace to get there.

In Lancaster, Ohio, Zane’s Trace crossed the Hocking River. German settlers used the road for their westward travels, many arriving from Pennsylvania. The Trace provided the way for such a large population of German settlers that by 1809, Lancaster was publishing a Germany language newspaper, Der Ohio Adler.

The Line of Zane’s Trace Today

Going west from Wheeling to Zanesville, the line of Zane’s Trace is identical to what became part of the National Road by 1820, then U.S. Highway 40, and today, very close to the path followed by Interstate 70. From Zanesville, the route followed a southwestern direction; the first portion along the same route now called U.S. Highway 22; and from Lancaster, Ohio, close to what is now OH Highway 159 into Chillicothe. From Chillicothe, the roadway continued southwest on what is now OH Highway 104, which merges with U.S. Highway 23, then south to Waverly, and back on OH 104, continuing southwest to OH Highway 32 (the James A. Rhodes Appalachian Highway), passing by the village of Elm Grove, and continuing to the junction with OH Highway 41, just south of the town of Peebles. Continue southwest on OH Highway 41 to West Union, then Bentonville, and finally, the Ohio River. The 1796 route connected to the Ohio River again at present-day Aberdeen, a ferry-boat ride across the river from Limestone (now Maysville, Kentucky), where one would find a wagon road to Lexington, Kentucky.

Dollarhide’s Rule 17: Finding the county where a person lived may lead to finding that person’s arrest record.

Since the original trace of the first wagon road into Ohio can be followed by using a modern map, take these descriptions of the routes to Google Maps or your Rand-McNally Road Atlas. Find the modern routes mentioned and then find the modern counties the trace runs through today. If you think an ancestor may have traveled this way, the county list is a “to do” list for looking at the records available for each county. Go to the FHL catalog ( and see what records for that county have been microfilmed. If there were a lag between the time your ancestor was known to have been in a Pennsylvania county and later shows up in an Ohio county – you now have the route the family followed, the counties they passed through, and, a method of finding the right county where they may have stopped for some time en route.

The entire length of Zane’s Trace covered about 220 miles, passing through the 1796 Northwest Territory counties of Jefferson, Washington, Ross, and Hamilton. Today, the line of the same route passes through the modern Ohio counties of Belmont, Guernsey, Muskingum, Perry, Fairfield, Pickaway, Ross, Pike, Adams, and Brown. If your ancestors moved into these areas early, the route they followed to get there was undoubtedly the wagon road known as Zane’s Trace. If they stopped en route, one of the counties mentioned may have records of their stay in that location.

Dollarhide’s Rule 47: Your ancestors may have you stumped. But, if your ancestors traveled on Zane’s Trace, they may have been tree stumped!

Zane’s Trace vs the Ohio River Flatboats

Many of the first migrations into the Ohio Country were via Zane’s Trace, but another large group of migrations never left the Ohio River. While Zane’s Trace was being developed, and continuing on for the next twenty years, the flatboat era saw thousands of people use the Ohio River route to access their new public land grants.

The Flatboat Era

From about 1787 to 1815, the main family transportation on the Ohio River was by a flatboat designed for a one-way trip. The first flatboat in America was built by Jacob Yoder of Brownsville, Pennsylvania. In 1782, Yoder proved to the world that America’s waterways could be efficient transportation highways. He began his first commercial flatboat voyage loaded with flour at Brownsville, located on the Monongahela River, and floated north some 35 miles to Pittsburgh, where three rivers merge to form the Ohio River. He then floated down the entire length of the Ohio River to the Mississippi, and then all the way to New Orleans. His commercial venture was a huge success, and within a few weeks, dozens of flatboats were making the same journey.

Ohio River Flatboat. From a drawing in 1796 in Victor Collot’s Voyage dans l’Amerique Septentrionale, published in Paris, 1826.

The commercial applications of the flatboat caught on immediately, but migrating families soon discovered their value as well. After the creation of the Northwest Territory in 1787, migrating families heading to the Ohio River via horse-drawn wagons might stop at Brownsville or Pittsburgh. There they would construct a custom-built flatboat capable of holding wagons, household furniture, barrels of food and commodities; plus horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, and children. They would first hire a boatman, usually recruited out of a local tavern.

The for-hire boatman would supervise the construction of a large, steerable, flat-bottom vessel. The flatboats were constructed of lumber and nails that would later be disassembled as building material. The boatmen were experts in navigating streams, and provided another long-rifle to ward off bandits en route. After arriving at his client’s destination, a boatman would walk back up river to his starting point (or to the closest Tavern). The migrating families would use the flatboat lumber for their first shelters upon their arrival at their new homesites along the Ohio River and tributaries.

Whole new industries and occupations were created to cater to the building and outfitting of the flatboats, and specialists in the building and handling of the boats were in great demand. The main flatboat towns of Brownsville, Pittsburgh, and Wheeling, developed sawmills, ironworks, and fabricators – producing lumber, nails, tools, cooking utensils, barrels, wheels, and other manufactured products that led to the town’s rapid industrial growth. Pittsburgh contributed the most, and after greatly benefiting from the flatboat boom era, Pittsburgh became the steel capital of the world.

The Ohio River water route from Pittsburgh to Wheeling first flows northwest, followed by an 180 degree bend that comes back southwest to Wheeling. During the flatboat era, that stretch of the Ohio had sections where the summer water levels were often too low for boats to navigate. During the times of low water, the flatboat traffic out of Pittsburgh came to a halt. As a result, there was a need for a way to by-pass the low water sections. The answer was to use the route of Gist’s Trace, extending that wagon road overland from Brownsville to Wheeling, an extension that by-passed Pittsburgh altogether. The Gist’s Trace extension was completed in 1796, allowing Wheeling to become a new Gateway to the West.

With the construction of Zane’s Trace soon after the Gist’s Trace extension, western migrations could continue overland directly into the interior of the Ohio Country. The new wagon road was a great attraction to those who had military bounty land warrants from the Revolutionary War. The U.S. Military District and the Virginia Military District were both accessible via Zane’s Trace. But, flatboat voyages along the Ohio River was still the preferred method of travel if the destination was to points in the southern portions of present Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

Although the first steamboats were introduced on the Ohio River in 1812, they did not dominate river transportation until the classic flat-bottom steamboat design took hold in 1815. That was the end of the flatboat era.

For additional information, see:
Map Guide to American Migration Routes, 1735-1820, by William Dollarhide.
Highway History, U.S. Department of Transportation. For a short history of Zane’s Trance, see

Finding American Arrival Records for Your Ancestors

For all the disagreement we hear today about immigration from Mexico and Asia, migration issue have been argued from one corner of this country to the other for well over a hundred years. Between 1880 and 1890 the foreign-born population was twice that of the native population. Most of the new immigrants came from Europe. The mass migration period, lasting into the early 20th century is just one part of the immigration story of America.

Choosing the best search methods and resources for finding and uprooting records for your ancestor’s arrival in America depends in large part on when they arrived. Did they arrive in Colonial times, or during the mass European migration period, or more recently? American Passenger Arrival Records by Michael Tepper provides some answers to your key research questions. The book examines the types of records kept over the years, how they changed and where to find them.

The book also looks at changes in laws and reporting practices. Major ports are reviewed and consideration is given for those coming through some of the minor ports and across the border from Canada. Almost every U.S. resident has ancestors who came through one port or another. American Passenger Arrival Records provides the information needed, with plenty of sources, for researching your ancestor’s arrival records, making the book another must have reference for almost any home or family history library.


Table of Contents


1 The Colonial Period

  • Immigration Records
  • Emigration Records
  • Published Guides

2 The Beginning of Federal Passenger Arrival Records

3 Customs Passenger Lists

  • Background
  • Characteristics and Limitations
  • Original Lists
  • Copies and Abstracts
  • State Department Transcripts
  • Records at the Principal Ports of Entry
    • Boston
    • New York
    • Philadelphia
    • Baltimore
    • New Orleans
  • Other Ports
  • Where to Find the Records
  • Table 1: Customs Passenger Lists in the National Archives

4 Immigration Passenger Lists

  • The Beginning of Mass Migrations
  • Immigration Legislation
  • The Passenger Lists
    • Boston
    • New York
    • Philadelphia
    • Baltimore
    • New Orleans
  • Canadian Border Entries
  • Table 2: Immigration Passenger Lists in the National Archives


  • Appendix A: The Hamburg Emigration Lists
  • Appendix B: Checklist of Passenger List Publications


Get a copy of American Passenger Arrival Records from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: GPC8700.

A Look at Some Central & South American Records at FamilySearch

In our discussions on research topics, we so often spend a great deal of time focusing on our ancestors who have come to the United States from the East or the West. But what about those who came from the South? Fortunately, FamilySearch has not forgotten about them. While availability of European and U.S. records have been easier to access and index in the past, FamilySearch has made great efforts to include those vital records accessible from Central and South American countries. This includes the Caribbean. Here is just a short list of indexed records which have been made available this year for free at FamilySearch:

Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965, 125,830 records as of 17 Sep 2011
Argentina, National Census, 1895; 3,888,939 records as of 6 Sep 2011
Nicaragua, Civil Registration; 363,085 records as of 16 Aug 2011
Peru, Civil Registration, 1874-1978; 163,944 records as of 16 Aug 2011
Jamaica, Civil Birth Registration; 1,528,614 records as of 13 Apr 2011
Costa Rica Church Records, 1595-1992; 1,380,256 records as of 8 Apr 2011

With so many people vying to get into the U.S., and with a hot-potato topic like illegal immigration seemingly in the news every other day or so, its easy to forget people actually immigrate to countries other than our own. Brazil and Argentina saw mass migrations of Europeans during the great wars. Some of these individuals and families, or their descendants, later immigrated into the U.S. Immigration records from foreign countries may just come in handy to your research.

Other records, both browsable images as well as indexed, have been added over the past couple of years. There are millions of available records, most belonging to someone’s ancestor, just waiting to be found.