E is for Emigration

What causes a person to leave his home, friends, all that he’s known, and move to a new country or place he’s never been before? Your ancestor’s emigration story is an important part of YOUR story–who you are and where you came from, and why. Religious or political persecution? Economic hardships? Thirst for adventure?

“There is an overarching phenomenon that sociologists call a Migrant Advantage. It is some internal resolve that perhaps exists in any immigrant compelled to leave one place for another. It made them especially goal oriented, leading them to persist in their work and not be easily discouraged.” Larry H. Long and Lynn R. Heltman of the Census Bureau wrote in a 1975 report. p 264 The Warmth of other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.

Sooner or later we all come upon our ancestor who emigrated from another country. It’s helpful to learn of the history of the area from which your family came. Did your family emigrate due to political unrest (Palatines in the 1700), natural disasters (Irish Potato Famine of the 1800s), religious persecutions (Pilgrims in 1600s), or the quest for adventure? Sometimes whole groups left an area together and settled together in the New World. If you are unsure of where they settled, following the typical migration patterns of fellow countrymen can shed some light.


Signature of Mathew Grant

Family Vignette

The first ancestor on my Grant line was Matthew Grant, who was born in England on October 27, 1601 and emigrated from Plymouth, England to the New World with his family on the ship Mary and John, arriving in Massachusetts on May 30th, 1630. He settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts for a few years, then went with a party of men in October 1635 down the Connecticut River and founded the town of Windsor, Connecticut.  Matthew was a carpenter, a surveyor and Deacon of the first church. He was Town Clerk from 1652-1677, and Selectman for many years. Dr. Stiles, in his History of Ancient Windsor says,

“few men indeed, filled so large a place in the early history of Windsor, or filled it so well, as honest Matthew Grant. His name figures in almost every place of trust and early records of the town show that his duties were always conscientiously performed.  Matthew was also the compiler of the Old Church Record, which has furnished the basis for the history of most of the families of ancient Windsor. He was a pious, conscientious Christian man, and a model town clerk. He was a type of the best settlers of New England and left to his descendants an untarnished name. His quaintly comment on his own work was, “I have been careful to do nothing on one man’s desire.”

The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut, VolumeBy Henry Reed Stiles

There are a lot of sources to help you find answers. Here’s a good place to start https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Tracing_Immigrant_Origins

Part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge


About Gail

Genealogist, librarian, writer, traveler, Mormon
This entry was posted in A-Z Challenge, Books, Family, Genealogy & Family History and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to E is for Emigration

  1. Marie Abanga says:

    Wow, Great Post Gail and thanks for sharing that ancestry history with us.
    As for me, I recently emigrated to Belgium for further education, and to try sta

  2. kentuckygal50 says:

    I don’t have to go far. My mother emigrated from Switzerland to the United States in the early 50s. Her brother was already here. Their mother visited, but remained living in Switzerland. She herself had emigrated from the US to Switzerland in the early 1900s. Her father came from Germany.

    LuAnn Braley
    AJ’s Hooligans @AtoZChallenge
    Back Porchervations

  3. Great article and personal info. I know there were multiple reasons – French revolution, persecution, new opportunities.
    There has to be a bit of an adventurous spirit for someone to emigrate. There is so much unknown.
    Happy A to Z and thanks so much for your kind and supportive comment.
    Best to you!!
    Dragon tail wagging

  4. Lynn Miclea says:

    Very interesting! My husband emigrated from Romania when it was communist, sneaking out and going to a refugee camp in Italy before coming here (to the U.S.), with no money and not knowing a word of English. These people who emigrate have such strength and courage. Thank you for a beautifully written piece on this.

  5. helenrj says:

    Enjoyed the post…family history is fascinating. (And I love the ‘God-wink’ phrase.)

  6. anneyoungau says:

    Hi Gail, the why of migration is fascinating and not something I feel I really understand with many of my forebears. Australia is so far away that almost all of my forbears who were the first generation of Australians never saw their family and friends again. They must have been very determined.

    I have US forebears too, my 8th great grandfather Richard Dana arrived in Massachussets in 1640 and my 9th great grandfather Charles Chauncy in 1638 but I know very little of that bit of the family history. Some generations later some descendants moved back to England and then later generations to Australia.

    Anne from Ballarat, Australia

    • gapark says:

      There is possibly a lot you could discover on those Massachusetts pilgrims. Interesting that the line didn’t stay in the US.

      • anneyoungau says:

        Descendants of the Chauncys and Danas did stay, just some descendants of both lines returned to England. I really must find out more! I shall add it to my to do 🙂

  7. eejaygee says:

    My father’s grandfather came from Ireland to Australia in the 1880s in search of a better life. On my mum’s side, my Nanna was on her way to Australia looking for a job when she met one of the sailors on the ship. They married when they arrived in Queensland. He continued with the merchant marine for several years before becoming a lighthouse keeper.

  8. Deaf Mamma says:

    E for Emigrant is Eager to Succeed, Empower Self ! I belong to a sleepy religious small town, somewhere between Delhi and Taj Mahal, Agra. But being born in a family of educationists and doctor, i got the opportunity to receive decent education and that means having to prove my worth through migration to a bigger city.

    Mumbai was my dream place and i got there. Since India is so huge, within states people label us with our origin and detest for taking us their jobs. Incredible India. Through out my 12 years of journey afway from my native, i have enjoyed trespassing biased bigger states than mine, everytime with better pay and stronger network of people who love me or hate me for who i am;p

    Was it a migrant advantage or a vantage point !

    Looking forward for your thoughts on my motherhood journey.

    • gapark says:

      I’ve heard a lot about Mumbai but have never traveled to that part of the world. We have the same bias and prejudices here from people who resent migrants taking jobs. It is a very difficult journey to leave one’s home and go to a new country.

  9. kborman says:

    Personal family histories are always so interesting. Thank you for sharing a snippet of yours!

    Kate at Daily discovery

  10. Wow that is amazing! I have no idea why my ancestors came here. I just assumed for liberty & the pursuit of bacon pancakes 🙂 now I’m very curious. Ill be seeing if my family know this. Very interesting post!

  11. I love Matthew’s quote. It sounds like something a New Englander would say. An awesome New Englander.

  12. lv2trnscrb says:

    I’m first generation American on my dad’s side; 2nd generation American on my mom’s side so I know from their history the emigration of our family. My dad emigrated from Poland after WW2 for a better life in the United States. He had to have a sponsor (his cousin who had come over earlier) before he could emigrate and later becamse an American citizen. My mom’s dad and mom emigrated in 1901 also from Poland, newly married, looking for a better life. Interesting, I found it fascinating that while my dad learned English, my grandparents never did. I’m not sure why since they were still relatively young when they emigrated, but at the time they moved into a community of other Polish emigrants, went to a Polish church, etc. My mom learned English at school from the Catholic sisters.


    • gapark says:

      That’s so cool that you have so much information on your emigration journey. have you ever been back to Poland to get a better feel for your parents’ and grandparents’ story?

  13. Elsie Amata says:

    I’m always envious of people who know their true roots. I’m adopted so it’s something I’ll never know. Well, maybe my biological parents will put their names on the registry but after forty years, they haven’t.

    I also read your thankful post. Those purple heathers are beautiful!! I have the same kind of list going in my head. It changes all the time!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. 🙂

    AJ’s wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

  14. G.B. Miller says:

    Interesting post. A myriad of reasons much like what you wrote about made people emigrate to other lands, then as well as today. Returning the favor of your stopping by mine.

    A-Z Challenge at Father Nature’s Corner

  15. Great post! As a sort of accidental emigrant I can relate to the hope and heartbreak involved in changing countries–it’s a bittersweet thing, lots of good, lots of not-so-good… But how boring would the world be if every single person lived and died in the same place they were born, right? 😉 So cool that you’ve done so much research on your family’s history!

    Thanks for stopping over at Quiet Laughter yesterday 🙂

    • gapark says:

      You’re very welcome. Yes, it is a wonderful melding of diverse cultures and personalities that make the world (and the blogging world!) so interesting!

  16. Hi Gail! Thanks for visiting The Road We’ve Shared. My grandfather emigrated from Poland. I think it’s a fascinating story, but have only found bits and pieces so far. Thanks for sharing yours.

  17. My husband and I emigrated from South Africa to Australia eleven years ago, and we haven’t looked back. On my husband’s side, both his parents had emigrated, too–his mother from Holland and his father from England–so for him it was almost tradition. My ancestors had been in Southern Africa many generations, but I’ve always felt my roots were English. Funny how things turn out.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Good luck with the rest of the challenge 🙂

  18. Jemima Pett says:

    Still being in the UK, I’m lacking in immigrant ancestors, but a lot of my forebears have emigrated – USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand being the main destinations. I don’t count my Scots ancestors who emigrated to England, though I might have to in future 🙂
    Blogging from Alpha to Zulu in April

  19. My brother’s genealogy research still hasn’t brought us over on a boat, and he’s back to the early 1700’s. We truly are a long line of Missouri hillbillies!

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