How Emigrants Settled Western Virginia and Beyond

Genealogy Tips by Jeannette Holland Austin

1763 Proclamation Map. When we consider researching our ancestors, it is important to do a thorough review of the history of settlements in the American colonies. The reason is, to find the port of embarkation from Ireland, Scotland, England and Germany into the country. If we know across what terrain emigrants moved, then we can ascertain the landing ports. Next, take up a map and trace the historical groups searching for a home. During the seventeenth century the frontier was advanced up the Atlantic river courses just beyond what was known as the "fall line." As a result, the tidewater region was settled. However, during the first half of the eighteenth century another, traders followed the Delaware and Shawnese Indians into Ohio country. Thus, in 1714, Governor Spotswood of Virginia made an expedition across the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Scotch-Irish and the Palatine Germans moved into the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia; also settling along the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. Meanwhile, the Germans in New York pushed the frontier up the Mohawk River to the German Flats. In Pennsylvania the town of Bedford indicates the line of settlement. Settlements soon began on the New River, or the Great Kanawha, and on the sources of the Yadkin and French Broad. In 1763, the King of England attempted to arrest the advance by his proclamation of 1763 which forbade settlements beyond the rivers flowing into the Atlantic, however, in vain. The 1763 Proclamation Line of King George II defined the boundary intended to separate colonists from Native Americans. After Virginia relinquished its claims to the Northwest Territory across the Ohio River to the Congress in 1781 and Kentucky became an independent state in 1792, Virginia no longer claimed lands that were still occupied by Native American tribes. By the time of the Revolution the frontier crossed the Alleghanies into Kentucky and Tennessee, and the upper waters of the Ohio were settled as well. When the first census was taken in 1790, the continuous settled area was bounded by a line which ran near the coast of Maine and included New England except for a portion of Vermont and New Hampshire, New York along the Hudson and up the Mohawk about Schenectady, eastern and southern Pennsylvania, Virginia well across the Shenandoah Valley, and the Carolinas and eastern Georgia. Meanwhile, continuous settlements occurred in Kentucy, Tennessee and Ohio, with only the mountains intervening between them and the Atlantic area. more articles on Shenandoah Valley

Most regional libraries have a collection of Pennsylvania county records (in the genealogy section). Common temporary settlements in Pennsylvania of the Scots and Germans during colonial immigration days was Berks and Bucks Counties. This is where to begin. However, it is a good idea to scan each county in Pennsylvania, as well as Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of Quaker Genealogy beginning in Maryland. The quakers were a migration unto themselves, going from Meeting House to Meeting House, and State to State. Remember, that surnames were being anglicized, so all versions should be written down.

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