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.
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, Volume. By 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