“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”
1492 was quite a long time ago – 520 years to be exact. Various Indian tribes lived in what is now the United States. Whether Columbus was the first to find the new world is debatable, but he did set in motion what would become a vast immigration of people from all over the world. And after Ellis Island opened January 1, 1892, more than 20 million individuals came through the processing center. What a world of people!
The first permanent settlers came to Jamestown 115 years after Columbus, in 1607. The colonial days I find most interesting. Being the pampered people we are today, I find it very difficult to imagine coming to live in a part of the world where there was nothing – especially for the first colonists. So this led me to think about my first ancestor to reach the new world. Nicolas Martiau, a French Huguenot, first moved to England and was naturalized by royal decree. He was educated as a military engineer – which was his primary reason for coming to Jamestown in 1620 – only 13 years into its existence! He built fortifications at several strategic locations, including a high wooden palisade extending from the James River to the Charles River (now York River). For this he was awarded land along the York River in what became Yorktown, York County, Virginia. During the regrading of Buckner Street in 1931, the remains of 17 burials were found and relocated to Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery – Nicolas Martiau and his family!
Other early ancestors are my Linton family, which were in Virginia about 1650. Peter Montgomery came from France about 1720, as well as Peter Carrico. My Hill family was in Madison County, Kentucky, by 1795 – or earlier – and came over the mountains from Virginia. George Yates came from Essex County, England, about 1660. In fact, all of the members of both my parents’ family were in Kentucky before 1800 – except Captain John Linton who brought his family from Loudoun County, Virginia, to Washington County, Kentucky, in 1818.
Most of Ritchey’s ancestors were latecomers compared to mine. Henry Hertz, his great-great-grandfather came to America about 1840; and George Klein, his great-grandfather came about 1850 – both from Darmstadt, Germany. However his Ritchey and McKee lines were in Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War.
Who was the first of your ancestors to arrive? Were they some of the early colonists – or perhaps one who came through Ellis Island? I’d love to hear your stories!