Migration Patterns

As I continue researching my genealogy, I am picking up on migration patterns into Appalachia that I was not aware of before.  In the past, I assumed the majority of migration into that area came from the Scotch-Irish who were seeking cheap land that was no longer available on the coast.  However, I now see it somewhat differently.  More likely than not, your average migrant went west because he was NOT the first son of a planter family in eastern Virginia and needed to strike out on his own to make his fortune.  You see, "primogeniture" was, by law or custom, still in effect in the colonies and required most of the inheritance to go to the eldest son.  An example of this in my lineage is the case of Moses Ball (1717-1792).  Even though he had several sons, he followed the custom and left most of his estate to the eldest one.  His other sons were left to fend for themselves and most coped with this by moving a little farther west in the Virginia colony.  My 4th great grandfather George Ball, the son of Moses, was one of these and died in Ewing, Virginia much farther west than where he was born.  His son, Moses III, moved on to Pike County, Kentucky dying there many years later. 

Another reason for the early migrations west was the practice of the new government in bestowing lands in those areas to Revolutionary War veterans as part of their pensions.  Time after time, I see this with my ancestors based on land grant records.  Ultimately, you had Scotch-Irish, Colonial English, and even German settlers moving into the western parts of the Virginia colony.  Those individuals led a tough life what with Indian raids and the harsh terrain and this required them to develop a level of savagery themselves just to survive it all.  I think this explains why outsiders to Appalachia view this area as being backwards and hostile whereas, the people are simply products of a difficult environment.


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