As a self-confessed history-geek, one of the biggest perks of my job is getting to dive in and learn about new places and times. This week I got to learn about the “Constitution State” (or “Nutmeg State” if you prefer). As I dug into early Connecticut, one of the things that struck me was the importance of knowing the history of the places where our ancestors lived. When we learn the history, the migration patterns of our ancestors all seem to make more sense.
While Connecticut’s early settlers were Dutch, many more of its residents were from the early Massachusetts colonies. At various times through its history it has drawn immigrants seeking employment in the fishing and whaling, textiles, ironworks, and gun-making industries, to name a few.
Emigration has also spread from Connecticut. While the Dutch had control of New Netherlands, New Englanders were crossing the Long Island Sound and establishing towns on Long Island. The town of Southold was at one point part of the New Haven Colony.
At the time of its charter in 1662, Connecticut extended to the Pacific Ocean. In the late 18th century, there were Connecticut residents living in what’s now Pennsylvania (and what Pennsylvania felt was Pennsylvania then—see the Pennamite-Yankee War in the timeline), and it wasn’t until 1795 that Connecticut sold its interest in the Western Reserve in northern Ohio to a private land company.
So if you’re wondering why/how your ancestors came to be where they were, take a look at history. Aha moments await. And if you have roots in Connecticut, we hope you enjoy our latest free state research guide. You can download Connecticut here or see the complete list of states we have available. If we haven’t tackled your state yet, stay tuned, it’s coming.
About Juliana Smith
Juliana Szucs Smith has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 16 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.