“Just ’cause you’re followin’ a well-marked trail don’t mean that whoever made it knew where they were goin’…” Texas Bix Bender, Don’t Squat with your Spurs On, II
As we dig deeper into the world of the Scots-Irish, your study will be directed toward the actual records where their names appear and their identities begin. The best antidote to avoiding the wrong trail is to let the documents lead you by the hand from place to place. What you, the genealogist, need most is the opportunity to read documents or abstracts concerning the surname or place in which you are interested.
Jumping the Ocean too soon has always been a problem–for many emigrants stopped along the way for months and even years before they arrived in America.
Consider: The first Irish, came through Spain from Western Europe into Wales, Cornwall, and the western side of Ireland. These Irish tended to have dark hair and dark eyes. The Gaels came from Northwestern Germany and the Netherlands. These Celts had light brown/ blonde hair and blue eyes. They drove the earlier Irish into the mountains away from the coast. See the Rev. JAMES Barkley Woodburn, The Ulster Scot: His History and Religion. London: HR Allenson LTD., 1914): p. 18.
Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highlanders settled the Cape Fear area of North Carolina–where Gaelic is still spoken today. Many of these Highlanders were Tories in the American Revolution.
When the Scots Irish left Ireland, even though their ultimate goal was America, many stopped in the West Indies or on the Northern Isles of Canada before entering the United States. The great challenge is to link the 19th century people back to the 16th and 17th century. The 18th century is often very difficult.
This research strategy was suggested by Kevin Whelan at the FGS Conference in Ft. Wayne:
- Identify: ancestral areas–exact locations. Identify the surnames.
- Search the government surveys (1)–taken to determine who held the land in olden times, how much land they held, what lands were confiscated and re-granted, who got these lands.
- Link the family members together–under primogeniture, the eldest son got the land, and any title. Younger sons and family members leased the land as farmers or cottars.
- Identify the origins of the family–link collateral branches together–using the land as the base.
Leases of lives: In private estate papers across the whole country. [This is the system of land holding imported to America–especially into the Southern States. Watch for it.]
- Protestant families–3 lives until 1760’s. Three persons named, relationship to land owner stated, may include age and residence. May cover a whole townland–240 Acres to 2000 Acres, average size was 400 acres. In heavily settled areas, the estates tended to be smaller.
- Catholic families–21 year leases until 1798. Examine boundary descriptions, names of neighbors, names of land pieces in each lease.
Stay tuned for more–coming faster than you can assimilate. Just keep this Blog URL at the ready on your laptop or other devices. Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle http://arleneeakle.com
PS I told you the Scots-Irish considered themselves to be a mixed people!