Immigration Paths in America

Tracing the path your family took from the port where your immigrant ancestors arrived at where you were born is an essential part of your family history.

In Colonial America, ports developed where colonists had developed goods for exports such as tobacco, dried fish, timber, and flax. Shipping routes between Europe and America developed primarily to take American exports to Europe. The ships made the Atlantic passage to pick up raw materials in the American colonies. For the return voyage to America, the ships carried finished goods ordered by colonial merchants and also new immigrants. Some immigrants freely determined their destination and paid their passage to one of these ports. However, many other were recruited by colonial governors or land speculators to settle in specific colonies. Immigrants were needed to settle and clear land and make money for those who the British government granted land charters. The arrival port was determined by what group paid the captain to bring the indentured immigrants. After our ancestors landed, they usually moved away from the seaport seeking available land. Late arrivals moved further west, pushing against what was considered the frontier and Indian territory. They also turned south down the Great Valley Road into the Shenandoah Valley and further into the Piedmonts of North and South Carolina.

Colonial roads usually developed over already established Indian trails. As settlements were established, roads expanded to handle carts and wagons, and more immigrants came. Two exceptions were Forbes and Braddock’s Roads which British soldiers built over previous Indian trails to handle cannon and wagons during the French and Indian Wars of the 1750s. After the Revolutionary War, settlers pushed westward through the Appalachian Mountains to find new land in western New York, Ohio, and Kentucky. They used and expanded Daniel Boone’s Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky and Tennessee. They followed the Indian trail along the New and Kanawha Rivers to the Ohio River and Kentucky. Forbes and Braddock’s Roads transformed from a military road to a westward migration road as settle pushed to Pittsburgh and the Ohio River, which became a major natural highway to new lands in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Settlers in the Northeast used the Mohawk and Catskill Turnpikes to push into western New York and then Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan,

Use land transactions, tax records, and probate records to determine where your ancestors settled in colonial history and the early 1800s. Census records after 1850 make tracing the migration path much easier. If they arrived in the late 1800s or early 1900s, find the train route they took from the port to where they found work. Identify why their friends or relatives were there – they were your ancestors’ destination.

Map the route, find accounts of life in these areas when your ancestors were there. Did any historical events happen around and affect them?

Find their story, write about it, and save it for your future generations.

Get Organized!

Success in our genealogy research will come more accessible if we are organized. Being organized allows us to quickly access what information we have and keep us on the correct path to find more information.

Being organized means we can quickly find all of the information we have on an individual to do the next search. I also believe it means we can quickly review what we have for an individual to restart our search for his documents after being away from his details for a while.

I do not rely on rows of cabinets and piles of color-coded folders to retrieve my information. I found storage space is always in demand and never enough when you have paper copies. So I now save only electronic copies. My laptop, thumb drives, and external hard drives give me all the space I need to store my copies. They are also easier to carry when I am going to a library or archive to do research.

The most challenging aspect of saving electronic copies is labeling my files with a consistent naming system. Our computers will automatically sort our files alphabetically, so our files need names that place them in a predictable order. In addition, the naming system will allow us to find and review the documents quickly.

However, the most critical aspect of my organization system is prioritizing compiling the information from my documents into summaries for each ancestor. This step is because summaries are the core document in my research method and organization.

Benefits of Summaries

  1. Lists everything I have found for an individual in one place
  2. I can quickly find the criteria  needed to do the next search
  3. The summaries make my research efficient
  4. I spend less time searching my files and more time finding more documents
  5. The system also allows me to analyze the summaries to see what I need to do next and see the stories in the information I found.
  6. Its format is flexible, and I can easily add information in a logical order
  7. It is readable and understood by our non-genealogist family members so we can exchange our treasure-trove of stories
  8. Listing the information in chronological order allows our ancestor’s story to develop and reveal itself to us as we do our research.
  9. Combining the individual summaries is the beginning of our written family history.

Saving the documents using an organized system is essential, but organizing the information that is in the documents is critical to our success. The summaries are the core of my research, and the family histories that I publish for my grandchildren come directly from these crucial narratives.

Begin compiling your data into summaries to be more successful and having more fun!

Christmas Suggestions for Your Czech Friends and Relatives

Legacy Family Tree Webinars

Great News! Legacy Family Tree Webinars us celebrating their 10th Anniversary and are unlocking for free viewing of their top Webinar from each of the past ten years.

https://familytreewebinars.com/top10

Remote access for Ancestry Library Edition has been extended

Great News!! Proquest/Ancestry.com just extended remote access for Ancestry Library Edition through our local public libraries to Dec. 31, 2020.

Polish Genealogy Websites

PGSA (Polish Genealogical Society of America) has compiled a list of over 45 websites that give us access to Polish records or information about local history and customs.

https://pgsa.org/polish-sites/

Join me for a webinar tonight 6/8

My new book: German Immigration to America

Why did your German ancestors immigrate, when did they leave, where did they leave, how did they get here?

These are questions we all hope to find the answers.

This book discusses the history of the Germanic people and gives some insights into possible answers to the questions about your ancestors’ immigration.

The book also presents brief histories of most of the ports that were used by German immigrants for departure from Europe and the ports where they arrived. Also covered are details of life in steerage during the voyage and the process of examination of the immigrants to gain admittance to the United States.

Continuing our Genealogical Research during the Shutdown

Are you bored? Are you becoming a couch potato?

Our libraries, historical museums, and Family History Centers are closed. How can we do research?

Actually, now is a great time to do all the research we have been putting off because we did not have the time.

Before the shutdown, there are many online opportunities, and many were free.  Today, genealogy groups and companies are adapting to this new situation and trying to make many more resources available.

From home, we can do the following:

  • Officials have closed libraries, but online resources are still available from your home. An added feature is that Ancestry is allowing access to AncestryLibrary Edition from home. This database is an excellent addition to our online arsenal during the shutdown. Do not forget to scour through newspapers.com pages for your ancestors if your library has this fantastic resource in their collection. HeritageQuest and MyHeritage are two other useful resources that some libraries offer.
  • One downside to having your library closed is no access to Familysearch’s film library. So far, FamilySearch has not flipped a switch and made these digital images available from home. However, you can go to your library’s parking lot and should be able to connect to the library’s server as if you are inside the building. From the parking lot, you should have access to FamilySearch’s film library. This method is not the best-case solution but the only one available.
  • Some people have reported that they have been able to access Family History Files from the parking lot of their Family History Center. However, I believe that you may need a church sign on to do this.
  • Lastly, do not forget the free websites.

The shutdown also gives time to organize our information. This is a great time to organize and start writing your family history. The method I described in previous blogs helps you organize your information to do better research, but it also is the beginning format for your family history. Get organized now.

Now is a great time to improve your genealogical skills and knowledge. Genealogy conferences and local society meetings are canceled, but many groups are going online. Some state societies have been using online webinars, but now I see some local societies begin using this format. In fact, I gave my April program to DuPage County Genealogical Society as an online webinar. I have also seen some groups rescheduling their in-person conference to online webinars.

Other sources for online webinars on videos:

  • The Learning Center on FamilySearch.org has a vast collection of videos on most genealogical topics. This resource is free, and probably my first choice for a genealogical educational resource.
  • Another great resource is the webinar library is at com. This library is a collection of webinars that have been recorded from the live presentation. There is an excellent selection of topics, and all are well-done. The most recent webinars are free to view for a limited time after the live presentation. You will need a subscription to view the entire collection. The subscription costs $49.95 is worth it.

Stop being a couch potato. Keep going on your family history research. You have more time to do more.

Remember to have fun.

Niech Bóg Wam Błogosławi i otoczy opieką

God Bless and Stay Safe

International Tracing Service (ITS) – Where can we find the stories for Post-WW II Displaced Persons?

Did your parents or grandparents immigrate to the United States shortly after WW II? If so, they probably told you stories of staying in one or more of the refugee camps at the end of the war. The Allied forces established these camps to handle the masses of displaced persons coming from the German work camps or death camps or who fled their homes to escape communist rule.

Did your ancestors tell you the details of their lives during and after the war, or were they reluctant to talk about their experiences? The International Tracing Service had the task of saving the documents of the refugees and gives us hope to complete their stories.

The work of ITS began in 1943 when the Headquarters of the Allied Forces asked the British Red Cross to set up a registration and tracing service for missing persons. ITS grew out of the Central Tracing Bureau, which was approved on February 15, 1944. The bureau initially worked out of London but was moved from there to Versailles, then to Frankfort am Main, and then to its current location in Bad Arolsen, Germany. On July 1, 1947, the International Refugee Organization (ICRC) took over administration of the bureau on July 1, 1947, and changed the name of the bureau to International Tracing Service on January 1, 1948.

ITS collects and controls the documents, information, and research on Nazi persecution, forced labor, and displaced persons. The archive in Bad Arolsen contains about 30 million records from concentration camps, details of forced labor, and files on displaced persons. The archives have been accessible to researchers since 2007. Requests for information from individuals or descendants can be made by mail or on the ITS website (Home Page – https://arolsen-archives.org/en/). In 2015, ITS began adding records to an online database and today has over two million records in an online searchable collection of documents. Family historians should search the online archive at https://arolsen-archives.org/en/search-explore/ to confirm their ancestors are in the archive. However, the results will show one or two documents but not the complete file. Use the inquiry page (arolsen-archives.org/en/search-explore/inquiries/) to request the entire file. Be patient because the average delivery time for the files is about four months and can take as long as eleven months.