Ancestors Traveling

It was traditional for families to stay in the same general area or locations for generations. As the new United States expanded with acquired lands further west, it encouraged people to settle these new frontiers, leaving the family homes in the eastern region of America. In fact it might be very unusual if you have a family lineage going back to the 1700s where all the descendants stayed in the same general area. My mother’s lineage stayed all those decades in the southern Pennsylvania and northern border of Maryland (York, Adams Counties of PA and Carroll and Frederick Counties of MD), so making the family tree research much easier.

Yet, it is a fact, many did settle the frontiers – the areas along the Appalachian Mts., the Ohio Valley, the Great Lakes, the area along the Mississippi River and others. Even into the early 20th century, there was still wilderness areas for individuals to homestead in Florida.

What makes this information fascinating is how long travel took even within the eastern region. To travel overland in 1800 from New York City to the southeastern portion of PA (say York Co.) took 3 days – about 157 miles. To travel to southern Maine took 7 days and was 325 miles. To travel to the eastern side of Lake Michigan that would take at least 6 weeks and a distance of 664 miles.

Using the rates of travel map from NYC in 1800 to other locations you can see other time frames and miles. Do the same for travel in 1830 (click the arrow in the upper right corn to next). Travel and roads had improved in those 30 years. So to travel from NYC to northern Florida was one week and 860 miles.

Examine the rate time and distances across the United States in 1857. From NYC to the area of Denver, CO took 3 weeks and 1 day and was 1,636 miles. Do the next arrow, and travel in 1930 using railroads. Your ancestors could travel from NYC to the state of Washington in 4 days and 2,155 miles. Do the next arrow and see air travel in 1930.

Keep using the next arrow to see the river routes, canals, and the early stage coach routes of 1774. There are many other examples of dates and travel methods and times.

You will find this fascinating and really makes you appreciate just the travel involved for your ancestors.

Photos: Train travel 1840s-50s; stage coach travel 1800; and travel on the canals.

Related Blogs:

Travels of the American West

Our Brave Ancestors

Homestead Lands

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