Migration Pattern of the Scotch-Irish Moore's

Created: Thursday, 27 February 2014 Last Updated: Thursday, 27 February 2014 Written by Nathan Zipfel Print Email


By David G. Moore

Part #1 (Introduction)

Some of the more knowledged members in our MOORE discussion group will probably have a good chuckle over this "3 part article" but that won't keep me from sending it. I'm by no means bashful and don't profess to "know it all". But I am certain that there are other of my peers who will find the content informative and surprising. And for those of you who are laughing, I wonder why YOU didn't share this short-cut with the rest of us struggling amateurs. Perhaps someone has but it's obvious that many who share info over the net are not aware of these basic facts as I was not.

I apologize for the following paragraph but I know someone will want to know what Moore family am I kin to and I'm trying to head off the attack. I am convinced that my MOORES, were of IRISH descent (possibly SCOTCH prior to that). My JAMES MOORE b c1755 (parents and/or siblings UNKNOWN - please don't ask... for I have no idea about his family prior to that - possibly kin to one of those large PA MOORE families who settled in VA in the 1740's). He married Elinor HAMILTON b. c1757 d/o William HAMILTON & Margaret WALKUP GAY. They wound up in Owsley County KY by the year 1795 from Augusta County VA (there were only about 1000 James Moores so you can see why I don't know who in the heck he is). Actually, I first found them in the Tygart River Valley in what is now WV-signed on the petition to form Monogalia County in 1776).

Most or "probably most" persons in that area of the Tygart Valley at that time (1770's) were of IRISH descent... SO, I started to search out and study the MIGRATORY habits of the IRISH and have been "STARTLED" to say the least at what I have found. Of course this same migration pattern works for all SURNAMES and a great deal of us are of SCOTCH or IRISH descent (up to 50% I'd guess).

A few years back I rented a book from the Hoenstine Rental Library in Holidaysburg, PA 16648, (414 Montgomery Street). The book is titled: "The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania", and it was written by Wayland F. Dunaway about 1944. It appears that it was copyrighted by the University of North Carolina Press and I'm certain that they too, will be after me, when this article hits the streets, due to the use of so much of their worded material. It's a good book to put on your list.

I can only HOPE that it is normal for persons, from inland areas, to assume that once we have determined our eldest known ancestor as being from a COASTAL BORDERING STATE, such as NC or VA or SC, that they landed on the coast-line of that state and proceded to move WEST. Well, at least that's what I thought. My COMMON SENSE suggested that when the ships left Europe in those very early days of yesteryear, they "AIMED" them West towards America and praised GOD if they "crashed" on dry land (no matter where it was). I guess I didn't give those ship captains enough credit for being able to control their point of entry or landing (call it ignorance or whatever you wish).

There is no way that My MOORE family of Kentucky researchers for over 50 years could even possibly relate to ANY of our kin-folk being from Pennsylvania, OR, that they could have even PASSED BY that area for that matter... The generations of those who came to Kentucky 200 hundred years ago did not pass along that important piece of information with the family tradition. It was probably of little importance to those brave souls.

Those of my family that I love so dearly that still live in Kentucky today would tell you something like this... "Hit just haint so" - they'd say... "Our Moores were plain old poor farm folk from Virginy. They lived out of they shirt pockets and by the trace... They haint no way they'd be even remote kin to those high-falutters from PA. Were country folk! Thats all we eber been and thats all wheel eber be..."

After seeing, (on the NET), time and time again, people obviously lost on where there people PROBABLY came from, not only in the MOORE discussion group, but most of the lists I belong too, I felt obliged to share with other researchers some of the more interesting highlights contained in this "very valuable book" written by Mr. Dunaway. Perhaps the info will put you on the right track.

Part #2 (near the beginning)

From the book ........ "The greatest relative importance of Irish migration to America was from 1717 to 1775. Oh sure, there were some earlier and some later - however this is the "bulk" of the Scotch-Irish). 1st wave 1717-1718 (many hundreds of ships arrived)... 2nd wave 1727-1729 (even greater in number)".

Pennsylvania was their favorite Colony, however, the coastline area was already over-populated, in their opinion, so they had to settle West of Philadelphia in Lancaster County (about 45 miles). No doubt some had arrived earlier and were in Philadelphia and New Jersey and Maryland, Mass, NY and everwhere else, but again we're talking about the "bulk" of the Scotch-Irish.

In the 1720's & 30's they spread West towards what is now the Cumberland Valley and probably a few even dared to cross the mountains farther West toward what is today Pittsburg. There were ill feelings between the Germans camps and the Irish camps in Pennsylvania around 1740 and many a riot took place during election times. I quote from the book - "As a result the Penns instructed their agents in 1743 to sell no lands to the Scotch-Irish throughout this region, but to make them generous offers of removal to the Cumberland Valley, farther to the Westward". When they reached the foothills of the Alleghenies their movement was "checked" for awhile by the mountain barrier and their migration was deflected even further South into the Maryland and what is today called West Virginia.

The beginning migration of the IRISH "inside" America was to the Cumberland Valley between 1720 & 1730. The early offers of removal to the Cumberland Valley were so liberal, many of the Scotch-Irish accepted them, and all the more readily as they were inclined to be "clannish" and were glad to remove to a district that they could call their own. Many of them had been merely squatters on the land they occupied and, having no legal titles to it, found it of no great hardship to remove to a beautiful and fertile section.

They also were beginning to be hedged in by increasing numbers of Germans on all sides and they were finding themselves in an uncongenial environment. Other Scotch-Irish families, however, of the Lancaster County area, were more deeply entrenched and were not as easily persuaded to give up their rights to the land on which they lived. As some of the Scotch-Irish were moving out of the Lancaster County PA area, the Germans and the English were moving in, expanding their claims to the westward.

Such was the first phase of the Scotch-Irish settlement in Pennsylvania, extending from the Delaware to the Susquehanna and from the Susquehanna to the Alleghenies.

and then... "On to Virginia"

When the "Valley of Virginia" opened up for settlement, beginning in the mid 1730's, the clannish Irish moved forward once again, to these un-populated areas in masses. Land in the "Borden Grant" and the "Beverly Grant" in Virginia was mostly bought by the Irish of Pennsylvania, founding towns like Staunton, Lexington and Fincastle (along about a 90 mile stretch). By the early 1740's a steady stream of IRISH were pouring out of Pennsylvania and into the Valley of Virginia.

Your money during these times would buy you 3 times as much land in Virginia as it would in Pennsylvania. Then too I assume that the plantations owners would like for the Irish to move to the frontier to cushion them from Indian attacks.

The hardy-stock of the Scotch-Irish clan appeared nearly always to be on the leading edge of the migratory movement. As Pioneers, they were the advance guard blazing the trail through the wilderness far out on the frontier. They were the first line of defense against the savages, bearing the brunt of the Indian wars, and courageously enduring the hardships of pioneer life.

"During the 1740's the swelling tide of emigration gathered force and rolled ever farther Southward and Westward. It should be said that it is not claimed that ALL persons in the Valley of Virginia were Scotch-Irishmen & immigrants from Pennsylvania, or elsewhere in the colony for that matter, but only that a MAJORITY of them were".

from there... "into North Carolina"

Part #3 (from there... "into North Carolina")

Again, quoting from the book... "The emigration of Pennsylvanians into North Carolina beginning about 1740 and getting well under way by 1750, continued in an increasing stream until the Revolution. Composed of Scotch-Irish, Germans, and smaller numbers of English and Welsh Quakers, it added a substantial element to the population of that colony. The Scotch-Irish were the LARGEST SINGLE GROUP in this immigration". Some came from Pennsylvania to Virginia and then on to North Carolina". Governor Tyron reported, "In 1764 alone, over a thousand immigrant IRISH wagons have passed through Salisbury NC".

"The Pennsylvania contingent occupied a large area between the Catawba and the Yadkin. The Scotch-Irish settled in large numbers in the North Carolina Counties of Granville, Orange, Rowan, Mecklenburg, Guilford, Davidson, and Cabarrus, and also in the extreme northwestern limits of the colony. The Carolina Piedmont commonly involved two or three generations of Scotch-Irish and German pioneers, each new generation moving on a journey further into the wilderness. The area was fed from many sources, the MAIN STREAM flowing from Pennsylvania through the Valley of Virginia, while the LESSER streams of persons began at the ports of Charleston and Wilmington. The Scotch-Irish tended to follow the Valleys towards the mountains and their Pennsylvania German counterparts settled somewhat to the East of them.

and then... "On to South Carolina"

"The emigration of the Pennsylvania Scotch-Irish to South Carolina was likewise considerable but this time they were not accompanied by their German Brethren, except perhaps a handful. Although some Scotch-Irishmen entered South Carolina through the port of Charleston, the MAJORITY of them came by the route through Virginia and North Carolina". Their first settlement was in the uplands known as the "Waxhaws" and "the Long Canes". Five or six families arrived on the Waxhaw in May 1751. It started in earnest in the 1760's and continued until the Revolution".

The Scotch-Irish immigrants spread widely throughout the Uplands of South Carolina, settling in considerable numbers in the present counties of Lancaster, York, Chester, Union, Fairfield, Newberry, Abbelville, and Edgefield. Others settled in and around Spartanburg.

The data found in this book really made a lot of sense when I thought about my findings in search of the Moores and other families I have been tracking. I could not figure out how there could have been so many persons (or families) of the same names in so many different areas. The families were growing and moving... Some of them probably every three or four years. So when you lose them in one state, and understand where they probably came from or went to and what year was involved, (based on these patterns of migration), it opens up a whole new avenue of possibilities.

I think we will find that at least HALF of the residents of Virginia were first in PA (or at least their ancestors were) in the early 1700's (be they IRISH, GERMAN, ENGLISH, WELSH or whatever). I would imagine that the great deal of the "friction" between the different races of people during these very early years of settlement was caused by the "language" barrier (isn't ironic that we still have that problem today). As time went on and the Germans and French and others starting speaking English they began to communicate among the other groups, the hostilities began to subside and there developed a relationship between all AMERICANS.

I would guess that the same migration pattern of the Scotch-Irish would hold true to many other races or groups making their way West during the early years of this country. SO, in closing, when someone tells you, or you see it written, that your earliest "known" ancestor bought land in NC, there still is a good chance that "their" ancestors may have first came through VA via PA. Of course, it would be dependant on what year things were happening. The lack of substantial records makes it very difficult to prove a lot things, but the possibility should be pursued.

I recently purchased another book that is published in the same town in which I live, Knightstown, IN. The book was compiled by the man who owned the publishing company I think. His name was R. Thomas Mayhill and the publishing company was called Mayhill Publications. The 275 page book is entitled: DEED ABSTRACTS & REVOLUTIONARY WAR OATHS OF ALLEGIANCE of Lancaster County, PA. The book was first published in 1965 and has been revised, enlarged and reprinted 5 times. It contains Deed Books A through M for the years 1729- 1770. It is COMPLETELY INDEXED and is a "MUST" if you have traced your family back to before the year 1770 before losing them. The book sells for about $25 and is sold by "THE BOOKMARK", P.O. Box 90, Knightstown, IN 46148.

David G. Moore - Indiana

P.S. I would be very interested in more discussions about how this group could work together as a team on sovling the mysteries of the EARLY MOORE families of this country (say prior to 1800 to start with).

This was originally distributed to an e-mail surname list.
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Date: Tue, 14 Jan 1997 10:40:02 -0500 (EST)
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Subject: MOORE Migration PA-VA-NC-SC