Thursday, October 9, 2008

Where Do You Go To?

So, the title of this post is a reference to the song Where Do You Go To? which really doesn't have much to do with this post, I just like the song and thought the lyric fit.

One thing about genealogy that I find interesting is migration patterns. I'm trying to figure out why some of my ancestors left their original family homesteads in the US. New England and Virginia migration is easier to understand since those areas were the first to be colonized and quickly became congested. Usually the oldest son inherited the family farm leaving the younger children to try and make a living elsewhere (unless they were clergy or craftsmen, which, in early America were minority positions compared to farming). Other events have also triggered migration (usually west) such as the Gold Rush in California which brought one branch of my family out west from New Jersey in 1850. Another reason for migration involves the economy of the place where the family originally lived (think of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl migration). Political upheavals also were a reason (I've always thought the rise of the fascists in Italy contributed to my Italian ancestors migrating to the states, but they were also from the famously "poorer part" of Italy, the rural south, which could also be the reason). I've also discovered that religious reasons are a factor in migration (besides the obvious, the puritans and Quakers who came to New England, I've also had ancestors who worked as missionaries and moving was just a part of the job). But why did my Wellons family leave Kentucky in 1850, the place where they had lived for at least two generations? And, after leaving Kentucky, why did they continue to migrate? Why did they eventually settle in Iowa in the 1870s? Why did their son, my ancestor, George Wellons go to Colorado, did some of his family go with him (bear in mind that this move to Colorado was long after Pike's Peak so that couldn't be a factor)? Why did my Webb family leave Indiana, where they had been since at least 1800 for Colorado in the 1860's (this is closer to the Pike's Peak migration boom there, but I doubt that was the reason)? What made California so attractive to my various ancestors (besides the Gold Rush and religious reasons)? Why did another branch of my Wellons family go to Washington (Yakima specifically) and THEN return to Iowa? I'm looking into these and other migration stories in my family tree right now (among other things I'll also blog about) so it is off to Wikipedia for me!

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