Family Stories

When Did Your Ancestors Come to America?

After watching Genealogy Roadshow on PBS last night I couldn’t help but think about the differences in family history and when our ancestors came to this great land.  All my family lines were here before the Revolutionary War.  I have no ancestors who came during the waves of immigration from 1815-1865 and then from 1880-1920.  Not one of my ancestors came through Ellis Island.

  • Nicolas Martiau was a French Huguenot who left France for England, was naturalized English, and then traveled to Jamestown in 1634 as an engineer to build defenses against the Indians.  He is my 11th great-grandfather.
  • My Linton family was in Virginia before 1700 and married into the Barton/Scarlett/Hancock/Lewis/Mason families.
  • Peter and Paul Montgomery set sail from France to Maryland in the early 1700’s. Peter was naturalized a citizen of Great Britain in the early 1740’s.  My Carrico family was also in Maryland by 1710.
  • John Hill, Sr., was in Garrard County, Kentucky, by 1790, was originally from Virginia.  My Crow family was also in Kentucky at that time, and the Ross’ were from Madison County by that date.
  • My Coulter family came from North Carolina to Kentucky – first to Mercer County, then Washington County – by the late 1700’s.

And so by before 1800 all these ancestors – or rather their descendants! – were in Washington County, Kentucky, and were joined by the Linton’s in 1818 and the Hill family in 1860.  All in one county.  I find that pretty remarkable!  And makes for easier research since you don’t have to go from county to county – much less state to state – to find records!

Ritchey, on the other hand, has ancestors that are spread more around the country.  Some of his great-greats have been here a long time.  His McKee and Ritchey families were in Pennsylvania in the early 1700’s – immigrants from Scotland and Ireland.  But they didn’t stay in one place.  The first stop was Hardin County, Kentucky.  But the urge to move on to newer places was in their blood.  It was on to Indiana, then Rushville, Illinois, where they lived several years.  On to Nebraska, where they lived in sod houses!

His Jewell family is found in Maine in the early days of settlement there.  They, too, finally found their way to Rushville and married into the Ritchey family.

Jacob and Christine Klein traveled from Darmstadt, Germany, to the mid-west; as well as the Jungbluth and Becker’s.  Henry Hertz came to America from Germany in 1835 with his parents Johann Daniel Hertz and Christine Heydt.  Johann died while on the journey and was buried at sea.  Christine arrived in the new world a widow, with five children; the oldest, Henry, was only eleven.  They lived in Philadelphia for many years, Henry married and had a family of his own.  His wife died, and he married Amelia Probst, and they moved their family to Solon, Iowa.  The Leuenberger’s also lived in Solon, having moved there from Switzerland.  And there the Hertz son, George, married the Leuenberger daughter, Rosa – Ritchey’s great-grandparents.

And finally there is the mysterious Jolly family – who we’ve found in Livingston County, Kentucky – James Edwin Jolly, who married Esther, daughter of George and Rosa – even though he had a wife and family in California!

Sometimes I think my genealogy is rather boring, but if you think about the sacrifices made by those first generation American’s – who fought during the Revolutionary War and worked to make our country into this great land where we live today, it is actually remarkable!  I am very proud of all my family lines – but I still think a Russian relative would be exciting!

What are your stories about your families?  This is what makes genealogy so fascinating – it’s what makes us spend hours in cemeteries and court houses, looking through old records, hoping to find that little piece of proof that helps make us who we are today!



12 replies »

  1. do you have any information about George Reade and first wife Mildred before he came to Virginia? Did they have a son prior to his marriage to Elizabeth Martiau?

  2. It’s all so interesting, the first of my mother’s dads Watters clan came over in 1864 ,from Switzerland, and my mother’s mama’s Walker clan started out in Peterculter,Aberdeenshire Scotland, but by age 28 he was married and living in Botetourt Co. Virginia… with descendants finally settling in Caseyville,Ky. in Union County… Still looking and so enjoy following them from places to places and listening to and learning from the many stories and bits and piecesI find and along the way … 🙂

  3. My 7th great grandfather was Symon Janse VanArsdalen. He sailed from Holland to America in 1653. Ended up in Flatlands N.Y. Cornelius A. VanArsdall was born in N.J. and died in Mercer County. He also fought in the Revolutionary War. He is buried at the Mud meeting House Cemetery.

  4. The Grittons came to America from England via William Gritton, son of David Gritton. William was caught stealing a shirt off a chair and his sentence was being sent to America on a prison ship called The Laura. He ended up in Winchester Va

    • His son move to Pennsylvania and his son John, Jr. ended up in the Pennsylvania militia during the Revolutionary War. He was an Indian Spy. Landed in Mercer County, Kentucky and stayed.

  5. I have been pondering that question since I was in grade school. The town I grew up in was full of Italian and Polish immigrants who came to work in the coal mines of Southern Illinois. When I asked my grandparents, they didn’t have any idea either because their grandparents were also born and raised in Illinois. In Feb, 2015, I began my research with help from two aunts. Since then I have discovered that most of my people were here before 1800 as well. Most of them came to Illinois in the early 1800’s, via Kentucky. I am working to write/ document their stories one by one. I find it fascinating. There are many stories of these generations and their migrations to the Midwest before the civil war broke out. Maybe I will be one of the people who share them. I enjoy your posts!!

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