Ancestry Blog » Anne Gillespie Mitchell The official blog of Ancestry Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:53:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ancestry Weekly Roundup: October 20th Edition Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:08:53 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Blog Posts


CNN Roots


]]> 0
Migration in the South: Textile Mills Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:18:28 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> One thing I’ve noticed about my southern ancestors is that many of them in early 1900s started moving. But why? A look at their occupations gives us a clue. They stopped being farmers and began working in mills. Cotton mills, mostly. Why the change?

Before and right after the Civil War, most of the textile mills were in the north. But with the economy still faltering in the South in the late 1800s, textile manufacturers saw an available cheap labor pool and started building mills from Virginia to Alabama.

Wages were low. Just like on the farm, men, women and children worked long hours and the women and children earned less than the men. They usually worked 12 hours a day, six days a way and in the 1880s averaged about 12 cents a day.

In the years before World War I, the workers lived in mill villages which were viewed as a unique working culture – one that created a sense of family mimicking the same culture that rural families had in the south in farming communities.

Kinleygarten, Library of Congress, “…Kinleygarten.. Lynchburg, Virginia,” colored digital file from original negative, Lewis Hines Wicks, 1911.

Kinleygarten, Library of Congress, “…Kinleygarten.. Lynchburg, Virginia,” colored digital file from original negative, Lewis Hines Wicks, 1911.

Young children of the mill towns usually went to school. But the Kinleygarten picture from Lynchburg, Virginia gives us a reminder that children usually went to work when they were old enough:

The “Kinleygarten” (the mill policeman called it) at Lynchburg (Va.) Cotton Mills. The children of the mill settlement, from 6 to 8 years attend. Several older boys (see exterior photo, 2169) were hanging around and joining in when they could. Also a mother and babe. I asked Miss Carrington, in charge, where the children from 8 to 14 go, and she said that few of them at those ages care for education. They are just waiting to become old enough to get into the mill. The only available school for them is a long way off. Lynchburg, Virginia.

Photographer Lewis Wickes Hines when he was photographing the Loray Mill, Gastonia, North Carolina  in 1908 discovered children secretly working at the mill:

Warping Machine, Library of Congress, “Girls running warping machines...Loray Mill Gastonia, N.C.,” colored digital file from original negative, Lewis Hines Wicks, 1908.

Warping Machine, Library of Congress, “Girls running warping machines…Loray Mill Gastonia, N.C.,” colored digital file from original negative, Lewis Hines Wicks, 1908.

Girls running warping machines in Loray mill, Gastonia, N.C. Many boys and girls much younger. Boss carefully avoided them, and when I tried to get a photo which would include a mite of a boy working at a machine, he was quickly swept out of range. ‘He isn’t working here, just came in to help a little.’


Look at any census page in the mill towns and you will see that the mills employed many people in a variety of jobs. Most children are not marked as working in the mills. Around 1910 a child could earn between 60 and 90 cents a day. Photographer Lewis Wickes Hines:

Warping Machine, Library of Congress, “Boy with coat…Loray Mill Gastonia, N.C.,” colored digital file from original negative, Lewis Hines Wicks, 1908.

Warping Machine, Library of Congress, “Boy with coat…Loray Mill Gastonia, N.C.,” colored digital file from original negative, Lewis Hines Wicks, 1908.

Boy with coat in hand is 11 years old. Been there 9 months. Started at 50 cents a day. Now gets 60 cents. Loray Mill. “When I sweeps double space I gets 90 cents a day, but it makes you work.” (Look at the boy.) Two “infants” appeared at the door, and vanished back immediately on seeing me.

During World War I, the mills boomed as many were given large military contracts to support the war effort. But after the war, the sense of community lessened as mill owners became more focused on profits and increasing production.

In March 1929, the workers in the Loray Mill in Gastonia, North Carolina conducted a strike that is credited with elevating the labor movement to a national level. Check the 1920 and 1930 census records and see if your ancestors were working in one of the many mills in that area.

When you notice your ancestors start moving or when they start changes occupation, the next question is always: Why?  Some of our ancestors were nomads, but most stayed put until reasons arose that had them pick up and look for something better.

]]> 4
Ancestry Weekly Roundup: October 13th Edition Mon, 13 Oct 2014 20:52:56 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Blog Posts



From the Barefoot Genealogist:

]]> 0
Migration to America in the 1700s Mon, 13 Oct 2014 15:06:06 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> As you work backwards in your tree, do you find that the trail seems to go cold in the 1700s? Lack of census records and passenger lists can leave you scratching your head and wondering how exactly they suddenly appeared in Pennsylvania, New England, and Virginia. The answer may be in some of the major migrations of settlers to the colonies in the 1700s.

Two major groups that arrived during that time were the Germans and the Scots-Irish.

Detail of Palatine Church, early German immigrants. Library of Congress, “FRAMING DETAIL OF ROOF. - Palatine Church, State Route 5, Nelliston, Montgomery County, NY,” digital file from originial negative.

Detail of Palatine Church, early German immigrants. Library of Congress, “FRAMING DETAIL OF ROOF. – Palatine Church, State Route 5, Nelliston, Montgomery County, NY,” digital file from originial negative.

German Immigration to America

Around 1670 the first significant group of Germans came to the colonies, mostly settling in Pennsylvania and New York. In 1709 a group known as the Palatines made the journey from the Palatinate region of Germany. Many died on the way over on crowded ships, but around 2,100 survived and settled in New York.

Soon after that, multiple waves of Germans arrived in the Southeast and settled in Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. Another wave came and settled in New England.

Between 1725 and 1775 many Germans arrived and settled in Pennsylvania. By the beginning of the Revolutionary War, about 1/3 of the state was Germans.

Scots-Irish in America

Timber Ridge Church built by early Scots-Irish settlers in Virginia.

Timber Ridge Church built by early Scots-Irish settlers in Virginia. Detail of Palatine Church, early German immigrants. Library of Congress, “Old Stone Church, Timber Ridge, Rockbridge County, Virginia,” digital file from original negative.

In the 1600s, many Scots migrated to the Ulster area of Ireland as they tried to escape war, religious conflict, poverty, drought and conflict with the English.

Between 1710 and 1775, around 200,000 of these Scots-Irish emigrated to what was to become the United States for many of the same reasons that they left Scotland. The majority of these new immigrants ended up first in Pennsylvania. Looking for cheaper land, many then went south down into Virginia and the Carolinas and other southern points; many eventually migrated west to Ohio and Indiana.

Major Settlements, Immigration, and Naturalization in the 1700s

  • 1707: A new era of Scottish migration began as a result of the Act of Union between England and Scotland. Scots settled in colonial seaports. Lowland artisans and laborers left Glasgow to become indentured servants in tobacco colonies and New York.
  • 1709: In the wake of devastation caused by wars of Louis XIV, German Palatines settled in the Hudson Valley and Pennsylvania.
  • 1717: The English Parliament legalized transportation to American colonies as punishment; contractors began regular shipments from jails, mostly to Virginia and Maryland.
  • 1718: Discontent with the land system: absentee landlords, high rents, and short leases in the homeland motivated large numbers of Scotch-Irish to emigrate. Most settled first in New England, then in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
  • 1730: Germans and Scotch Irish from Pennsylvania colonized Virginia valley and the Carolina back country.
  • 1732: James Oglethorpe settled Georgia as a buffer against Spanish and French attack, as a producer of raw silk, and as a haven for imprisoned debtors.
  • 1740: The English Parliament enacted the Naturalization Act, which conferred British citizenship on alien colonial immigrants in an attempt to encourage Jewish immigration.
  • 1745: Scottish rebels were transported to America after a Jacobite attempt to put Stuarts back on the throne failed.
  • 1755: French Acadians were expelled from Nova Scotia on suspicion of disloyalty. The survivors settled in Louisiana.
  • 1771–73: Severe crop failure and depression in the Ulster linen trade brought a new influx of Scotch-Irish to the American colonies.
  • 1775: The outbreak of hostilities in American colonies caused the British government to suspend emigration.
  • 1783: The revolutionary war ended with the Treaty of Paris. Immigration to America resumed, with especially large numbers of Scotch-Irish.
  • 1789: The outbreak of the French Revolution prompted the emigration of aristocrats and royalist sympathizers.
  • 1790: The first federal activity in an area previously under the control of the individual colonies: An act of 26 March
  • 1790 attempted to establish a uniform rule for naturalization by setting the residence requirement at two years. Children of naturalized citizens were considered to be citizens (1 Stat. 103).
  • 1791: After a slave revolt in Santo Domingo, 10,000 to 20,000 French exiles took refuge in the United States, principally in towns on the Atlantic seaboard.
  • 1793: As a result of the French Revolution, Girondists and Jacobins threatened by guillotine fled to the United States.
  • 1795: Provisions of a naturalization act of 29 January 1795 included the following: free white persons of good moral character; five-year residency with one year in state; declaration of intention had to be filed three years prior to filing of the petition.(1 Stat. 414).
  • 1798: An unsuccessful Irish rebellion sent rebels to the United States. Distressed artisans, yeoman farmers, and agricultural laborers affected by bad harvests and low prices joined the rebels in emigrating. U.S. Alien and Sedition Acts gave the president powers to seize and expel resident aliens suspected of engaging in subversive activities.

This list originally appeared in “Immigration Records” by Loretto Dennis Szucs, FUGA, Kory L. Meyerink, MLS, AG, FUGA, and Marian L. Smith in The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy.

]]> 5
Early Migration in the United States: The Great Wagon Road Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:23:08 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Some of our ancestors stayed put for generations.  Some appeared to be nomads living in a different place in every census.

How did they get from point A to point B in the 1700s and 1800s?  Obviously they didn’t drive. They didn’t fly.  They didn’t look at a map and take the straightest path.  There were forests, rivers and often rather large mountain ranges that would have been in the way.

And there weren’t a lot of roads.  So they probably took one of the few roads available when they were looking to move on and improve their lot in life.

Looking in the U.S. Map Collection, 1513-1990, we find a sketch of a few of the major trails and roads that developed over time in the U.S.



The Library of Congress offers us what is commonly referred to as the Jefferson Fry map which was drawn by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson in 1751.


This map covers the most populated areas of Virginia and the surrounding area and if we dig in a little bit deeper we can see The Great Wagon Road. This road sometimes known as the Great Warrior Road and been a path used by the Native Americans.  After multiple skirmishes, wars, and negotiations, the English got the right to travel it.  With use and effort it became wider and more passable.


On this particular cutout you can see the mountain ranges, rivers and creeks which might help you locate where your ancestors might have lived. This map shows us where breaks in the mountain ranges were – this is most likely where people crossed.  Much easier than climbing up and down mountains!

The Great Wagon Road stretched hundreds of miles from Pennsylvania down into South Carolina.  If your ancestor started in Pennsylvania and ended up in Western Virginia, North or South Carolina they very well may have travelled this road.

To look for other maps for various era check Library of Congress Maps and the David Rumsey Map Collection, both of which are free.

Happy searching!



]]> 1
Ancestry Weekly Update: October 6th Edition Mon, 06 Oct 2014 14:54:47 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Blog Posts




Between The Leaves
From the Barefoot Genealogist
]]> 2
Ask Ancestry Anne: Is the Family Civil War Story True? Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:41:41 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Question: My great grandfather Henry Melrose was with the 1st West Virginia Cavalry in the Civil War and was in the 1889 Oklahoma land run. What a life! I think he was at Gettysburg. At some point he was shot and left for dead but survived. Where and when was he injured? Was he a POW? Where are the muster rolls?

Answer: When researching Civil War soldiers, I start with two Ancestry data collections: U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 and U.S., Civil War Solider Records and Profiles, 1861-1865, which in this case tell us the same basic information: Henry was a private in Company C, 1st West Virginia Cavalry.


Next, the Compiled Military Service Records can be viewed on Fold3. Drill down to Civil War -> Civil War Service Records -> Union Records -> West Virginia -> First Cavalry and then look for Henry.



Henry has 30 Compiled Military Service Record cards for us to look through. Compiled Military Service Records were created as abstracts of original military records. Each card tells us some new detail about the soldier’s service.

It appears that Henry had an interesting experience in the War. He enlisted on August 30, 1861 for 3 years in what was then the 1st Virginia Cavalry, Union in Wirt County; Wirt County became part of West Virginia in 1863. He mustered into service in October at the age of 23.

Sometime in spring of 1862 he was detached from his usual service and sent on patrol. On May 7, 1862 he was wounded in the head and thigh and left behind by his patrol. He was later picked up by southern troops and released on “parole of honor,” promising to never bear arms against southern troops.


Henry was sent to Camp Chase, Ohio, a prisoner of war camp for Confederate prisoners and Union “parolees.” There he was to serve his “parole of honor;” he stayed there from May of 1862 until at least February of 1863.

April 1863 finds him back on duty and he was promoted to Corporal on July 1, 1863. He stayed with Company C until December 23, 1863; then on that date he enlisted as a Veteran Volunteer under General Order 191.305 and 324.


So why would someone reenlist before their current service was finished? A Complete Digest of Laws in Relation to Bounty has more information. From Order 191.305:

“General Orders No. 191….relative to recruiting veteran volunteers, is hereby amended…volunteers serving in three-years organizations, who may re-enlist for three years or the war, in the companies or regiments to which they now belong…shall be entitled to the aforesaid bounty and premium of $402…”

So it appears that Henry re-enlisted for another three years or the rest of the war for $402. When he mustered out on July 8, 1865 he had received $210 of his bounty and was due another $190. He also owed the US $30.10 for clothing.


So, Henry was shot. Whether he was left for dead or put into someone’s capable hands is up for interpretation. He was captured by southern troops, but his POW experience was at a northern Prisoner of War camp on “parole of honor,” which was no doubt not as severe as being in a Confederate prison camp. The 1st West Virginia Cavalry did fight at Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863 and since Henry was on active duty as of April 1863 it is reasonable to assume he was there.

It appears that the family legends are true.

Happy searching!

]]> 21
Ancestry Weekly Roundup: September 29th Edition Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:24:27 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Blog Posts


Between The Leaves
Five Minute Find
From the Barefoot Genealogist:
]]> 2
Ancestry Weekly Roundup: September 22nd Edition Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:45:19 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> pirate-ship-flagBlog Posts


Interview with Who Do You Think You Are? Production Crew

From the Barefoot Genealogist:
]]> 0
Ancestry Weekly Roundup: September 15th Edition Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:43:31 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Blog Posts


From the Barefoot Genealogist:

Between The Leaves

Five Minute Find

]]> 2