Tuesday 19 July 2016

My Family in Maryland

I am just beginning to learn about my ancestors’ history in Maryland, USA. I knew, of course, that several of my lines originated there – or at least lived there, many for several generations. All of them had come from Europe, primarily England and Scotland and most in the 17th century. It was not until the late 1700s and early 1800s that many families started moving west, to Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana.

The precise locations in Maryland where many direct-line ancestors were born, married and buried are not yet known. Several researchers show different places for the same people, sometimes mixing up parish and county names.

What is instructive is to look at historical maps of the region to see what areas were developed and when. There are a great set of historical maps of Maryland on the JSCHOLARSHIP website.

The map below shows the approximate time frame when my 8th great-grandfather, George Keith #1 probably arrived in Maryland. We call him #1 because there are four successive generations of men with the name George. The only way to keep them straight is by using a number.

We don’t yet have documentation that confirms his migration. According to information in a database of immigrant servants on the Price & Associates website an indentured man by the names of George Akeith came to St. Mary’s Colony in 1665 with his wife, Dorothy. While we are not sure of the spelling of his surname (It is probably a mis-transcription) it certainly sounds like my ancestor.

By the time their son, George #2, my 7th great-grandfather, was born, they were living in Charles County. The families remained in that area for a couple of generations.

George #4 and Monica Pidgeon were apparently married in Prince George’s County. The birth information of their first three children is confusing as some researchers have shown birth places as Charles and St. Mary’s Counties. Their last seven children appear to have been born in Prince George’s County, between 1761 and 1774. We know George #4 sold land in Charles County in 1755 so that may mark his move to Prince George’s County.

My 4th great-grandfather, Richard Keith (born 1756 in St. Mary’s County) married Sarah Mason in Prince George’s County, in 1784. She had been born there. Their first child, Samuel Adkins, my 3rd great-grandfather, was also born in that county in 1786. Their next four children, however, were born in Montgomery County next door, between 1788 and 1794. Around 1795 the family packed up and left for Kentucky. Five more children were born after their move to Bourbon County.

Development in Maryland was progressing rapidly during the latter half of the 18th century and eventually became too crowded for the growing population. Expansion of the mid-west USA attracted many families, including the Keith families to go in search of new opportunities. By 1800, George Keith #4 and all of his children had moved west, eventually settling in Kentucky, Indiana or Missouri.

We can track the dates of the moves by the births, marriages and deaths of family members. George #4 and his wife, Monica, must have been in Kentucky by 1790 as she died there that year. Richard Keith, his brother, Gerard, and sister Joanna Carrico, were in Kentucky by 1796 as they all had children born there about that time. I will be looking for information on their siblings now to see when they moved as most died in Kentucky or Missouri.

Gradually I am sorting out where various families lived in Maryland and, from that, how members met and married. Since several of my family lines overlapped in time in various Maryland counties I wonder if they ever met. They all went quite their separate ways and never connected through marriage until they were out west. Without copies of actual documents one has to rely on the work of others, not always a safe choice.

Some data from other researches show different counties for births, marriage and deaths. Even within individual families the data is mixed up. Tracing them using maps such as those shown here has given me a much better idea of where they lived and how and when they moved. I have adjusted some data entries for several individuals based on the patterns emerging from the maps. I still need good documentation but perhaps using the maps might help in locating the appropriate record repositories that might have them.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy in several family history society journals. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated