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Genealogy HowTo
Issue: Jun 3, 2009

A Family Migration Study

by Karen Clifford, AG®, FUGA

On the back of an old photograph found in a family album was listed the name of Benjamin, born 1908. There were five other children in the picture, with the youngest, Ben, seated on what appeared to be his mother's lap. According to the stamp on the picture, the photographer was in a town in California. Benjamin looked to be nearly two years old. How could more details be learned about Ben's family? He was the end of the line for this researcher.

Looking at the state-wide birth index for California, Benjamin was indeed found to be born in 1908. The names of his parents were John and Mary. A specific town and county was recorded. Since Ben was born in 1908 in California, a search was conducted of the 1910 federal census for that state. A family with the same number of children, and parents named John and Mary was found on that census in the county next door to where he was born.

Name Age Birth Place Father's Birth Mother's Birth Occupation
John 35 Michigan Pennsylvania Virginia Farmer
Mary 27 Michigan Ireland Ireland
Susan 12 Oklahoma Michigan Canada
Jack 10 Texas Michigan Canada
Eleanor 8 Colorado Michigan Michigan
Frances 6 Nevada Michigan Michigan
William 4 Colorado Michigan Michigan
Benjamin 2 California Michigan Michigan

Upon seeing the census record, a family member said, "I remember grandpa saying his parents were born in the Midwest." So the family jumped immediately back to Michigan, but couldn't find John and Mary because they needed more information.

Using the place of birth from the 1910 census shown above, what state would you search in 1900 (ten years earlier) to find this same family? Did you say Texas? If you did, you just used migration studies to guide you to another record and locality.

You discovered that ten years previous to 1910, the son, Jack, was born in Texas. That is why you elected to look in Texas in 1900. In the federal census records between 1850 and 1870, the birth states and countries are given for the individuals listed; and between 1880 and 1930, the birth places of each individual's parents are also provided. In addition, a more exact place of residence for the family during the year of the census is provided.

However, when searching the 1900 Texas census, you almost gave up. Texans love initials and nicknames. You don't know the full name of each person. But a family is found that works when the all the information is considered.

Name Age Birth Place Father's Birth Mother's Birth Occupation
M. J. 26 Michigan Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Laborer
S. M. 25 Lower Canada Wales Wales
Susie 2 Oklahoma Michigan Lower Canada
John 3/12 Texas Michigan Lower Canada

It is not uncommon for individuals to reverse their initials or use a nickname on different census enumerations. Maybe John's father was also named John, and the father may have lived in the same county, so John, age 35 on the 1910 census, decided to go by his initials in this Texas census.

Analyze each person individually, as well as the family collectively. Susie and John's age, birth place, and mother's birth country agreed, but why had their mother aged only two years between 1900 and 1910? Perhaps the 1910 census listed a second marriage for John. In the 1900 census, the mother's birth place is Canada, while by the time John moved to Colorado where Eleanor was born, his wife was younger and born in Michigan. This idea is supported by comparing the birth places of the other children born after 1900.

Ask yourself questions. Could the same man marry a woman from Michigan when they were living in Texas two years before the birth of their daughter, Eleanor, in Colorado? Such questions will guide you to new records. For example, what year was John, the father, born? Did you say about 1874/1875? Good.

In the 1900 census, John's occupation was a laborer. What kind of laborer? Another column on the census indicated he was a laborer in a coal mine. Many people forget to transcribe all clues on these census records. In this family that would have caused the loss of a great clue. All the states, and towns, where John moved his family had active mining areas. This is an example of an occupational migration.

Look closely at the birth places of the parents for the husband and wife. They too were born in states where mining was an occupation. This can lead to occupational records but only if you know a more exact location than a state. You find more exact locations by locating vital records in specific localities where they lived, by following the children forward in time on later census and death records. Now you can search county-wide records because these later records lead you to a place in which the children had moved, married, or attended school. Marriage, death, and alumni records contain more specific information on a person's birth place and parentage.

By comparing the above family's migration with a time line of historical events, it was discovered that John lived during the time of a national federal military registration--another record that asks for a birth place. He did register and gave his birth county in Ishpeming, Michigan. Studying the records of Ishpeming on the 1880 census, John was found with his father, who was listed as a farmer. Studying the county history, it was learned that men worked in the mines to obtain cash to pay the taxes on the farm. While mining brought in needed funds, land ownership was the ambition of this family; land ownership is a yearning dream for an immigrant. John's father was born in Pennsylvania, but the 1880 census indicated John's grandparents were from Ireland. (John himself fulfilled this dream and owned land in California.)

What other federal records could give a clue to John's grandparents? Did you say land records? Yes, absolutely! They might have applied for a homestead. And in the homestead application they would have been asked to supply their naturalization papers. There would have been depositions given. Each paper could contain another place where this family lived. But without plotting the migration, a researcher could ignore records scattered in several states and counties.

John's grandfather might have served in the military in order to expedite his citizenship. Military records contain wonderful migration clues. By plotting the family movements in chronological order, with the location listed by each date, you will be lead to more ideas and more records.

Did John marry his wife's sister? Did she travel from Michigan to help at the death of her sister? Was one sister born after coming to the U.S.A. from Canada? Could their families have had similar occupations, or been of the same religion? Finding the marriage records for both might answer these questions.

In the above case study, this family's migration lead to using census records which gave evidence as to the family's ethnicity, birth place, and a knowledge of the father's occupation. Causes for the family to move can be recorded in local newspapers or histories. Later, as a child in this family recorded his own life story in a school alumni record, the hypothesis about why they moved was verified.

By following the common migration movements of other groups who settled in an area of interest, more clues can be found. People very seldom traveled alone, and usually moved short distances at a time. Links by association can occur. When people of the same ethnic group traveled with those who spoke their language, who worshipped in the same religion, or who had traveled with them from the old country, it is called an ethnic migration.

Those who followed fixed routes set by previous travelers make migration studies helpful. There are hundreds of publications that cover the ethnic and occupational movements of people. Many migration presentations cover existing documented and named migration trails and how to find clues from them. Several sources were given in the last newsletter. Those trails should be studied because what has been gathered by historians and statisticians can accelerate the learning process and point to new resources of information.

With so many people of the same name and approximate age found with modern search engines, family migration research can point the way to new localities with repositories that could contain records with evidence to identify the next generation. Thus plotting a migration has the potential to lead a researcher to extend those difficult brick-wall family lines.

Article written by Karen Clifford, AG®, FUGA, from Genealogy Research Associates. Newsletter by MyTrees.com.

Copyright ©: 2011 Karen Clifford. All rights reserved.

No reproduction of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author.

Newsletters

Select Newsletter by Issue or Topic:

Genealogy HowTo
Issue: Jun 3, 2009

A Family Migration Study

by Karen Clifford, AG®, FUGA

On the back of an old photograph found in a family album was listed the name of Benjamin, born 1908. There were five other children in the picture, with the youngest, Ben, seated on what appeared to be his mother's lap. According to the stamp on the picture, the photographer was in a town in California. Benjamin looked to be nearly two years old. How could more details be learned about Ben's family? He was the end of the line for this researcher.

Looking at the state-wide birth index for California, Benjamin was indeed found to be born in 1908. The names of his parents were John and Mary. A specific town and county was recorded. Since Ben was born in 1908 in California, a search was conducted of the 1910 federal census for that state. A family with the same number of children, and parents named John and Mary was found on that census in the county next door to where he was born.

Name Age Birth Place Father's Birth Mother's Birth Occupation
John 35 Michigan Pennsylvania Virginia Farmer
Mary 27 Michigan Ireland Ireland
Susan 12 Oklahoma Michigan Canada
Jack 10 Texas Michigan Canada
Eleanor 8 Colorado Michigan Michigan
Frances 6 Nevada Michigan Michigan
William 4 Colorado Michigan Michigan
Benjamin 2 California Michigan Michigan

Upon seeing the census record, a family member said, "I remember grandpa saying his parents were born in the Midwest." So the family jumped immediately back to Michigan, but couldn't find John and Mary because they needed more information.

Using the place of birth from the 1910 census shown above, what state would you search in 1900 (ten years earlier) to find this same family? Did you say Texas? If you did, you just used migration studies to guide you to another record and locality.

You discovered that ten years previous to 1910, the son, Jack, was born in Texas. That is why you elected to look in Texas in 1900. In the federal census records between 1850 and 1870, the birth states and countries are given for the individuals listed; and between 1880 and 1930, the birth places of each individual's parents are also provided. In addition, a more exact place of residence for the family during the year of the census is provided.

However, when searching the 1900 Texas census, you almost gave up. Texans love initials and nicknames. You don't know the full name of each person. But a family is found that works when the all the information is considered.

Name Age Birth Place Father's Birth Mother's Birth Occupation
M. J. 26 Michigan Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Laborer
S. M. 25 Lower Canada Wales Wales
Susie 2 Oklahoma Michigan Lower Canada
John 3/12 Texas Michigan Lower Canada

It is not uncommon for individuals to reverse their initials or use a nickname on different census enumerations. Maybe John's father was also named John, and the father may have lived in the same county, so John, age 35 on the 1910 census, decided to go by his initials in this Texas census.

Analyze each person individually, as well as the family collectively. Susie and John's age, birth place, and mother's birth country agreed, but why had their mother aged only two years between 1900 and 1910? Perhaps the 1910 census listed a second marriage for John. In the 1900 census, the mother's birth place is Canada, while by the time John moved to Colorado where Eleanor was born, his wife was younger and born in Michigan. This idea is supported by comparing the birth places of the other children born after 1900.

Ask yourself questions. Could the same man marry a woman from Michigan when they were living in Texas two years before the birth of their daughter, Eleanor, in Colorado? Such questions will guide you to new records. For example, what year was John, the father, born? Did you say about 1874/1875? Good.

In the 1900 census, John's occupation was a laborer. What kind of laborer? Another column on the census indicated he was a laborer in a coal mine. Many people forget to transcribe all clues on these census records. In this family that would have caused the loss of a great clue. All the states, and towns, where John moved his family had active mining areas. This is an example of an occupational migration.

Look closely at the birth places of the parents for the husband and wife. They too were born in states where mining was an occupation. This can lead to occupational records but only if you know a more exact location than a state. You find more exact locations by locating vital records in specific localities where they lived, by following the children forward in time on later census and death records. Now you can search county-wide records because these later records lead you to a place in which the children had moved, married, or attended school. Marriage, death, and alumni records contain more specific information on a person's birth place and parentage.

By comparing the above family's migration with a time line of historical events, it was discovered that John lived during the time of a national federal military registration--another record that asks for a birth place. He did register and gave his birth county in Ishpeming, Michigan. Studying the records of Ishpeming on the 1880 census, John was found with his father, who was listed as a farmer. Studying the county history, it was learned that men worked in the mines to obtain cash to pay the taxes on the farm. While mining brought in needed funds, land ownership was the ambition of this family; land ownership is a yearning dream for an immigrant. John's father was born in Pennsylvania, but the 1880 census indicated John's grandparents were from Ireland. (John himself fulfilled this dream and owned land in California.)

What other federal records could give a clue to John's grandparents? Did you say land records? Yes, absolutely! They might have applied for a homestead. And in the homestead application they would have been asked to supply their naturalization papers. There would have been depositions given. Each paper could contain another place where this family lived. But without plotting the migration, a researcher could ignore records scattered in several states and counties.

John's grandfather might have served in the military in order to expedite his citizenship. Military records contain wonderful migration clues. By plotting the family movements in chronological order, with the location listed by each date, you will be lead to more ideas and more records.

Did John marry his wife's sister? Did she travel from Michigan to help at the death of her sister? Was one sister born after coming to the U.S.A. from Canada? Could their families have had similar occupations, or been of the same religion? Finding the marriage records for both might answer these questions.

In the above case study, this family's migration lead to using census records which gave evidence as to the family's ethnicity, birth place, and a knowledge of the father's occupation. Causes for the family to move can be recorded in local newspapers or histories. Later, as a child in this family recorded his own life story in a school alumni record, the hypothesis about why they moved was verified.

By following the common migration movements of other groups who settled in an area of interest, more clues can be found. People very seldom traveled alone, and usually moved short distances at a time. Links by association can occur. When people of the same ethnic group traveled with those who spoke their language, who worshipped in the same religion, or who had traveled with them from the old country, it is called an ethnic migration.

Those who followed fixed routes set by previous travelers make migration studies helpful. There are hundreds of publications that cover the ethnic and occupational movements of people. Many migration presentations cover existing documented and named migration trails and how to find clues from them. Several sources were given in the last newsletter. Those trails should be studied because what has been gathered by historians and statisticians can accelerate the learning process and point to new resources of information.

With so many people of the same name and approximate age found with modern search engines, family migration research can point the way to new localities with repositories that could contain records with evidence to identify the next generation. Thus plotting a migration has the potential to lead a researcher to extend those difficult brick-wall family lines.

Article written by Karen Clifford, AG®, FUGA, from Genealogy Research Associates. Newsletter by MyTrees.com.

Copyright ©: 2011 Karen Clifford. All rights reserved.

No reproduction of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author.

Newsletters

Select Newsletter by Issue or Topic:

Genealogy HowTo
Issue: Jun 3, 2009

A Family Migration Study

by Karen Clifford, AG®, FUGA

On the back of an old photograph found in a family album was listed the name of Benjamin, born 1908. There were five other children in the picture, with the youngest, Ben, seated on what appeared to be his mother's lap. According to the stamp on the picture, the photographer was in a town in California. Benjamin looked to be nearly two years old. How could more details be learned about Ben's family? He was the end of the line for this researcher.

Looking at the state-wide birth index for California, Benjamin was indeed found to be born in 1908. The names of his parents were John and Mary. A specific town and county was recorded. Since Ben was born in 1908 in California, a search was conducted of the 1910 federal census for that state. A family with the same number of children, and parents named John and Mary was found on that census in the county next door to where he was born.

Name Age Birth Place Father's Birth Mother's Birth Occupation
John 35 Michigan Pennsylvania Virginia Farmer
Mary 27 Michigan Ireland Ireland
Susan 12 Oklahoma Michigan Canada
Jack 10 Texas Michigan Canada
Eleanor 8 Colorado Michigan Michigan
Frances 6 Nevada Michigan Michigan
William 4 Colorado Michigan Michigan
Benjamin 2 California Michigan Michigan

Upon seeing the census record, a family member said, "I remember grandpa saying his parents were born in the Midwest." So the family jumped immediately back to Michigan, but couldn't find John and Mary because they needed more information.

Using the place of birth from the 1910 census shown above, what state would you search in 1900 (ten years earlier) to find this same family? Did you say Texas? If you did, you just used migration studies to guide you to another record and locality.

You discovered that ten years previous to 1910, the son, Jack, was born in Texas. That is why you elected to look in Texas in 1900. In the federal census records between 1850 and 1870, the birth states and countries are given for the individuals listed; and between 1880 and 1930, the birth places of each individual's parents are also provided. In addition, a more exact place of residence for the family during the year of the census is provided.

However, when searching the 1900 Texas census, you almost gave up. Texans love initials and nicknames. You don't know the full name of each person. But a family is found that works when the all the information is considered.

Name Age Birth Place Father's Birth Mother's Birth Occupation
M. J. 26 Michigan Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Laborer
S. M. 25 Lower Canada Wales Wales
Susie 2 Oklahoma Michigan Lower Canada
John 3/12 Texas Michigan Lower Canada

It is not uncommon for individuals to reverse their initials or use a nickname on different census enumerations. Maybe John's father was also named John, and the father may have lived in the same county, so John, age 35 on the 1910 census, decided to go by his initials in this Texas census.

Analyze each person individually, as well as the family collectively. Susie and John's age, birth place, and mother's birth country agreed, but why had their mother aged only two years between 1900 and 1910? Perhaps the 1910 census listed a second marriage for John. In the 1900 census, the mother's birth place is Canada, while by the time John moved to Colorado where Eleanor was born, his wife was younger and born in Michigan. This idea is supported by comparing the birth places of the other children born after 1900.

Ask yourself questions. Could the same man marry a woman from Michigan when they were living in Texas two years before the birth of their daughter, Eleanor, in Colorado? Such questions will guide you to new records. For example, what year was John, the father, born? Did you say about 1874/1875? Good.

In the 1900 census, John's occupation was a laborer. What kind of laborer? Another column on the census indicated he was a laborer in a coal mine. Many people forget to transcribe all clues on these census records. In this family that would have caused the loss of a great clue. All the states, and towns, where John moved his family had active mining areas. This is an example of an occupational migration.

Look closely at the birth places of the parents for the husband and wife. They too were born in states where mining was an occupation. This can lead to occupational records but only if you know a more exact location than a state. You find more exact locations by locating vital records in specific localities where they lived, by following the children forward in time on later census and death records. Now you can search county-wide records because these later records lead you to a place in which the children had moved, married, or attended school. Marriage, death, and alumni records contain more specific information on a person's birth place and parentage.

By comparing the above family's migration with a time line of historical events, it was discovered that John lived during the time of a national federal military registration--another record that asks for a birth place. He did register and gave his birth county in Ishpeming, Michigan. Studying the records of Ishpeming on the 1880 census, John was found with his father, who was listed as a farmer. Studying the county history, it was learned that men worked in the mines to obtain cash to pay the taxes on the farm. While mining brought in needed funds, land ownership was the ambition of this family; land ownership is a yearning dream for an immigrant. John's father was born in Pennsylvania, but the 1880 census indicated John's grandparents were from Ireland. (John himself fulfilled this dream and owned land in California.)

What other federal records could give a clue to John's grandparents? Did you say land records? Yes, absolutely! They might have applied for a homestead. And in the homestead application they would have been asked to supply their naturalization papers. There would have been depositions given. Each paper could contain another place where this family lived. But without plotting the migration, a researcher could ignore records scattered in several states and counties.

John's grandfather might have served in the military in order to expedite his citizenship. Military records contain wonderful migration clues. By plotting the family movements in chronological order, with the location listed by each date, you will be lead to more ideas and more records.

Did John marry his wife's sister? Did she travel from Michigan to help at the death of her sister? Was one sister born after coming to the U.S.A. from Canada? Could their families have had similar occupations, or been of the same religion? Finding the marriage records for both might answer these questions.

In the above case study, this family's migration lead to using census records which gave evidence as to the family's ethnicity, birth place, and a knowledge of the father's occupation. Causes for the family to move can be recorded in local newspapers or histories. Later, as a child in this family recorded his own life story in a school alumni record, the hypothesis about why they moved was verified.

By following the common migration movements of other groups who settled in an area of interest, more clues can be found. People very seldom traveled alone, and usually moved short distances at a time. Links by association can occur. When people of the same ethnic group traveled with those who spoke their language, who worshipped in the same religion, or who had traveled with them from the old country, it is called an ethnic migration.

Those who followed fixed routes set by previous travelers make migration studies helpful. There are hundreds of publications that cover the ethnic and occupational movements of people. Many migration presentations cover existing documented and named migration trails and how to find clues from them. Several sources were given in the last newsletter. Those trails should be studied because what has been gathered by historians and statisticians can accelerate the learning process and point to new resources of information.

With so many people of the same name and approximate age found with modern search engines, family migration research can point the way to new localities with repositories that could contain records with evidence to identify the next generation. Thus plotting a migration has the potential to lead a researcher to extend those difficult brick-wall family lines.

Article written by Karen Clifford, AG®, FUGA, from Genealogy Research Associates. Newsletter by MyTrees.com.

Copyright ©: 2011 Karen Clifford. All rights reserved.

No reproduction of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author.

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