3) God’s frontiersmen. Your Scots-Irish ancestors were always on the move into frontier areas where formal government structure did not exist: into New Hampshire and Maine; into Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio; into Pennsylvania and western Maryland; through the Great Valley of Virginia into western North Carolina and Georgia. They organized their own government by agreement or covenant and all signed their names to the document. Examples include the Mecklenburg Declaration (NC) and the Lost State of Franklin (TN, KY, VA, NC, GA). They traded and intermarried with Native Americans to live among them in peace; formed commercial alliances to create prosperity.
Sources to search:
- delinquent tax rolls for both real estate and personal property which often state their next place of settlement
- “First Settlers” rosters and certificate programs sponsored by most local genealogy societies and some lineage groups
- quarterlies, journals, and family files of historical and genealogical societies
- Draper Manuscripts Collection
- oaths of allegiance at all levels of government
- military rosters at local forts
- private account books—especially for those who traded with the Indian tribes
- government permits to travel across Indian lands
- records of the big trading companies in the South–Panton and Leslie, Buchannans of Greenock and Glasgow
4) Fierce Land Hunger. Land was the source of wealth; the basis for political power and voting rights; the anchor for family stability and growth. Your Scots-Irish ancestors earned or bought military land warrants from soldiers as a commercial investment–they speculated in Western lands. They bought up military warrants from soldiers who offered them for sale and advertised the “best prices” for those warrants. And your shrewd Scots-Irish forebears carefully marked and protected their boundary lines– they processioned these lines every 2-3 years by actually walking the boundary lines with their neighbors from the age of 16 years on. Every male resident in each military district knew his neighbors’ boundaries as well as his own and could so testify in a court of inquiry to prevent boundary disputes.
Here is your checklist of sources to search:
- property records including pre-emptions, land entries, surveys, bounty awards for iron, mills, and stockades
- deeds, including mortgages if recorded separately. In Georgia, deeds often include the exact travel itinerary your ancestors took to arrive on their lands
- land warrants and assignments are especially valuable because these will be the earliest records for the Scots-Irish
- court minutes covering local boundary squabbles as well as the formal process of walking the boundaries, including which local men were assigned to each district
Stay tuned. Clue Number 5 is perhaps the most important of all to cross the ocean to origins, your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle http://arleneeakle.com
PS Of all ancestral strains that settled America, the Scots-Irish have the most thorough documentation of all–and these rich sources are usually overlooked and neglected–don’t fall into this trap. Search them all.