The search for the 1718 emigrants can be summed up in a familiar Biblical phrase known to many- 'Why do you seek the living among the dead?' Our ancestors who died in the pioneer towns of New England, Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina and other colonial states left little behind to remind us of their lives. The daily work to create a farm, a land, a living leaves little time to appreciate the effort, and even less time to document those events. The history of America was a part of English history until 1776. Even after that date, one does not see a proliferation of history books being published about the history of the new America. Not until the early 1840s do you begin to see numerous books written about the histories of families, towns, counties, and states. The awareness of our history as a nation most likely began when people realized that the Revolutionary War heroes were all but lost into undocumented history. The rush to write this history can be seen in the many books that were published in the nineteenth century; for instance Rev. Edward L. Parker’s 'History of Londonderry' in 1851, and Charles W. Brewster’s 'Rambles about Portsmouth' in 1869, and The History of Portland [Maine]' by William Willis in 1865. These men wrote with the distinct disadvantage of having little or no direct connection to the earlier settlers of their towns more then 100 years before. Their books lack the proof of documentation, but their stories carry the veracity of years of handed-down legends and tales associated with old artefacts and relics from the past. The Bible records and town records the authors refer to may have long been lost, but the inherent accuracy of these old histories provides a good foundation for researching early settler families.
The modern researcher has a much more pressing problem. How do I find my Scotch-Irish ancestor? Many modern Americans can take their ancestry back two or three generations with the use of basic census and vitals records research. However, the rapid expansion of America from East to West during the 1800’s created a huge gap in record keeping and documenting the pioneers. Fortunately, the Internet has opened a door to those records and the families of the 1800’s. The key to modern genealogy is to always start where YOU are. Find the records of the living first. Old Bibles, letters, census and vital records can give key names and places. Search those key locations; town histories, county records, land deeds, and military records are a goldmine of Scotch-Irish activity. The histories of Mid-Western and Eastern counties in the 1800’s and early 1900’s are famous for their massive amount of genealogical biography. Some highlight a few legends of the past, but many are well documented and accurate in their genealogical information. The majority of my finds relating to 1718 ancestors have been made within the nineteenth century histories of the counties and towns laid out by people who had migrated onward from the areas in which the 1718 shipmates first established themselves. Many such histories are stuffed into the shelves of old, dusty town libraries, neglected over the course of time.
There is no centrally located Scotch-Irish repository in America. Our history is as vast as the land and as diverse as the people. Finding our history requires an open mind and diligent search. It is the author’s hope that this website will begin the process of providing a central location for all researchers in Ireland and America to share in their search for the origins and descendants of the 1718 Scotch-Irish emigrants to America.
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