They Came from Faraway Places

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Old German Homestead

All my ancestors came to United States in the 1800’s from faraway places.  They came from Germany, France, Belgium, Scotland, England, and Canada.  The first ones to come to the United States came in 1834 from Scotland, but didn’t stay in the US.  They went to Canada and most stayed there except for my Great-Great Grandmother (born in Canada), came to US in 1865.  Her husband came to the US in 1851 from England.  Both the ancestors from Scotland and England came on sailing ships which meant the average trip took 43 days.  There was usually a lack of food, sea sickness, lack of privacy, and the spreading of illnesses.  Once here they had to travel to their final destinations.

In the case of the Scottish Ancestors, they made their way to Nassagaweya, Halton, Ontario.  They arrived in New York on August 12, 1834 so I assume they were traveling to Canada in good weather.  I also assume they traveled by wagon and possibly a boat to cross one of the great lakes.  They had to travel through wilderness to get to Nassagaweya.  In fact, Nassagaweya was the wilderness back in 1834.

The English Ancestors that came here in 1851 came on a sailing ship too.  Steamships were just starting to be used in the 1850’s.  Their ocean voyage experience was probably much the same as the Scottish ancestors. Again, once here they had to travel to their final destinations.  Some settle in Syracuse, New York, but my direct ancestor settled in Ottawa, Illinois.  I don’t know what brought him to Ottawa other than he had a step-brother who owned a farm near Ottawa.  By 1850 there were trains so he might have taken a train at least some of the way to Ottawa, Illinois, and then maybe by wagon, carriage, or boat.  In the 1850’s he would be traveling though wilderness too.  In fact there were Indian wars going on around that time too.

The ancestors from Belgium, France and Germany came in the 1870’s and 1880’s by steam ships so their journeys were shorter 10 to 14 days.  Still it was quite an adventure even then.

Not only do you have to think about the ocean voyage and their trip though the United States or Canada, but in their home country they had to travel to get to the port of departure.  Most did not live near port city.

I admire the courage to travel to a strange country and to leave their home country.  What was the chance they would ever go back to see their families?  Probably never!  Today, France, Belgium, Germany, Scotland, and England don’t seem so faraway because of air travel.  I think we should honor those ancestors who were brave enough to leave their homeland, families, friends, and their way of life behind for a new life in a strange land.

I posted this a couple of years ago and thought is was appropriate for this weeks topic for  52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  “so far away”.

Copyright © Gail Grunst

5 thoughts on “They Came from Faraway Places

    • Isabella that my ancestor, Alexena, was living with in 1861 census maiden name was Davidson. I don’t know how she is related to Alexena. So she is not Isabella Fraser. I did find through DNA that I am connected to Hugh Fraser and Elizabeth McBean. So I do believe that Alexena is their daughter, I just can’t find papers to prove it. I found a 4th to 6th cousin through DNA that has Hugh and Elizabeth Fraser in her family tree. I did write an update back in December. I found a Catherine Fraser living in Michigan that lists Hugh and Elizabeth as her parents and she also lived in Ottawa , Illinois in 1865 and 1866 the same time that Alexena came to Ottawa. Catherine married a William Sexton and had a son James born in Ottawa, Illinois. I still trying to sort it all out.

  1. My ancestor is Isabella Fraser daughter of Hugh Fraser who moved to Nassagaweya from Scotland. She married George Mckay Thomas of Lowville/Mount Nemo, Halton, Ontario. I have no idea where and when she died. If you have found any info on this I would appreciate hearing from you.

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