Resources for Researching American Pioneer Ancestors

+4 votes
I just ran across a helpful article on resources to use for tracking American pioneer ancestors and wanted to share it with the community:
in The Tree House by anonymous G2G6 Mach 3 (32k points)

3 Answers

0 votes

Every state would benefit by having such a format for its pioneers. As of June 25, 2017, nothing more has happened in our scope with this idea. Why not? Let's go!

by Roberta Burnett G2G6 Mach 2 (26.4k points)
Roberta. What proposal are you referring to ?
Jillaine, Hi, --The original of this idea was limited to the pioneers for one state only. I wanted (still want to) suggest that each state have a place to recognize its own pioneers. I live in a fairly new state, Arizona, and don't know anything about OUR pioneers. I'm pretty sure they would all be deceased by now, but we should be glad. The work they did would not only be manual but the intelligent and thorough work needed through brainpower should be recognized, or rather, MUST be recognized.  

Those who responded as shown below pretty much got it. --"By God, they've GOT IT!"

If you have a specific proposal for a specific project related to [fill-in-the-blank] pioneers, by all means propose it. But that is not what the original post of this thread was.
Then, Jillaine, wouldn't  you feel free to edit it so it reflects what YOU mean?
Sorry, Roberta, I have no idea what you're talking about.  The original post here from 2017 was a link to a resource.  There was nothing in it that was a proposal. It sounded like you had a proposal for something. I was suggesting you make one.
Jillaine, I suggest that we drop it. I think my comments above are ok (as in clear), and if someone wants to do something about broadening the content of the suggestion made by someone else, I'm sure that person will.
+1 vote
These resources do more to confuse the definition of pioneer than to clarify it. For example, California technically did not have pioneers, or rather, it had extremely few pioneers. A Pioneer (noun) is someone who moves to a territory before it becomes a state, and settles the area and develops the area, so that the territory can support a government. OTOH, a pioneer (adjective) is a metaphor. Someone can be the first of something and be called a pioneer in that field. Pioneer and pioneer are homonyms, not synonyms.

For genealogy purposes, a Pioneer is an important class of people who contributed to the founding of a State government.

By the time California became a State, there were already railroads being built across the US. Wagon trails had already blazed trails and were made into roads. People moving to California could bring a wide assortment of tools and supplies to immediately build houses and businesses. This is nothing like the Pioneers who walked or boated into hostile Indian territory with a gun and an axe, and built a log home.

California was a territory for just two years, between 1848 and 1850. During that period was the California gold rush. The settlement of California began as a commercial enterprise in an age of technology. It was a completely different experience from the Pioneer periods in what is now the Eastern and Central US.
by David Thomson G2G6 Mach 1 (12.5k points)

Skipping my invaders proposal, I would think David that you would get more acceptance of your definition if it was qualified.  May I suggest State Pioneer for your category.

I sure feel strongly that my Dutch ancestors that came over in 1614 and shortly thereafter were pioneers, but they were not out to create a state, those that brought the folks that came wanted them to hold a place, set up trade and gather beaver hides to be picked up and taken back, colonization for profit, New Netherland bought land from the natives, and deveolped communities in Manhattan, and up the river in what would become Albany, later to be conquered by the English.

Others came a little later in the name of freedom to worship how they wanted north in Boston and that area, again States were not the aim at that time.

My Scots, My Irish, come to flee endless war and famine respectively did not aim to make a state, all my people were here before the State thing began, are they not pioneers?

State Pioneer is certainly a step in the right direction. It helps point out the difference between Pioneer (noun), pioneer (adjective), and pioneer (verb).

The Pioneer (noun) was used widely in the 1800s to describe military and civilian construction engineers, who would enter an undeveloped area to pave the way for others to follow. These people usually walked or traveled by horse, and their main tools were a gun and an axe. They built log cabins and stone buildings and drew their sustenance from the land.

You are correct that other emigrants were also pioneers in the sense of pursuing new trades, and new resources. In this case, they were emigrants who engaged in pioneering actions and behaviors. They were exploring something new, and were among the first to do so in their particular field. They didn't consider themselves as pioneers, but we do while looking in hindsight.

The use of the word "pioneer" is part of the language that was handed down to us, it is not something that I hope to establish as something new. The historical writers from the 1800s made these distinctions.

Especially in regards to where genealogy meets history, such as in the popular County History books throughout the US, ancestors who settled an area before it became a State, were singled out as Pioneers. The early historians from throughout the US understood the dangers faced by the early settlers (their parents and grandparents), and the skills and fortitude they required to survive and prosper. It is these historians who tell us what our ancestors considered to be Pioneers. This is not my definition.

People, today, have no direct knowledge of what a Pioneer was. Some people take the time to visit pioneer reenactment villages, read older historical accounts of Pioneers, and investigate the details of their life, but that knowledge does not include the actual experience of the hardships, and the skills, and the endurance that was required to survive. This knowledge will continue to fade from our awareness if we do not make an effort to keep these ideas sharply focused in our historical records.

Wikitree is a historical record, and we should endeavor to keep each aspect of the historical record as clear and sharp as we can, so that new generations can appreciate the older generations as they were in their own periods. (I believe it serves the public interest to also include all the dark and dirty "secrets" that we uncover.)

This is why I support your use of the word, "invaders." There can be no doubt that from the perspective of Native Americans, the Europeans were invaders. It is a legitimate perspective of the Europeans (who also happen to be my ancestors). We want Wikitree to reveal the total truth of the past, and not just a one-sided propaganda blurb.

If the word, "Pioneer," was actually used by your Dutch ancestors, then yes, they should be considered as Pioneers. However, I do not believe it was the nomenclature of the period for describing your ancestor's part in the world. Do you see what I am saying here? Our terms on Wikitree should reflect the vocabulary of the people in our profiles during the period in which they lived. Otherwise, we are rewriting history.

The Southern Pioneers Project on Wikitree is populated mostly by ancestor profiles who were not actual Pioneers. Anybody who uses that category for learning about Pioneers is going to be misled as to what it meant to be a Pioneer in those states during the true Pioneer periods.
At this time there are no plans to change the Immigrant Pioneers category definition or scope.
The way I see it, there is plenty of time to wait for clearer minds to prevail.
David, while wikitree does have a principle to "use their convention, not ours," this typically refers to the names they used and the places they lived. Wikitree Project names and even categories do not always follow the same principle because both projects and categories are used to (among other things) find and organize information, profiles and volunteer activity around *current* shared interest or identity.

The men and women who emigrated to New England between 1621 and 1640 did not necessarily consider themselves members of a Puritan Great Migration but we have a project (and category) so named here to improve and group the profiles of families who migrated during that time (whether or not they were "puritans"), largely following Anderson's Great Migration series published in the late 20th and early 21st century.

Hi Jillaine, I think you are making my point. But let me ask you to verify what you just said. Are you saying that Wikitree is concerned more about the people writing history, than it is the people who made the history? Is it okay to label someone a Puritan migrant who wasn't, just as it is to label someone a Pioneer who wasn't?

To hear this from you surprises me. You have a reputation on Wikitree for being precise when writing profiles with information and references, and are you now outright saying it is okay to mis-categorize people? If this is what you are saying, could you please provide some more background on this topic so that I can understand how you rationalize the two approaches to recording information on Wikitree?

Were these people who are being called Puritans, Puritans, or not?

I am saying none of those things. And no we don't call non Puritans, Puritans.  But we do say that a person migrated during the period of time called the Puritan Great Migration.
There have been other Great Migrations, so adding "Puritan" to describe this one is useful.

David, it seems to me that clearer minds have already prevailed.  You are the only one who insists that "Pioneer" is a word but "pioneer" is merely an adjective, a verb, or a metaphor.  Revising WikiTree categories based on the usage of 19th-century historians would not enlighten anyone.
I think if you both look it up, Puritan does not refer to a period of time, but rather it refers to a behavior. Neither of you seem to care that you are imposing a stereotype on a class of people, who may or may not actually reflect that behavior. It is a form of insensitive prejudice.

Unless every one of those people being categorized as Puritan Great Migration were Puritans, then the characterization of the non-Puritans is wrong.

If the religions of those people were other than Puritan, it would be more appropriate to describe those persons' migration in terms of their point of origin, or their dates of origin, just as we do for anybody else. You might say that they traveled along with Puritans, but you can't correctly state that they were part of a Puritan migration.

From the way you are describing the Great Puritan Migration Project, it is not an equal comparison to the Pioneers. A Pioneer can be accurately labeled because of their behavior, location and time period. Further, Pioneer was defined in the period in which it refers. There is no question about what determines who a Pioneer is (except to modern people who do not know or respect their history).
I can agree with David to a certain extent - I can accept that my John Schoonover that went from New Jersey between 1805 and 1810 west and helped build Canal Winchester in Madison County was a pioneer, while his  grandchildren were not - until they with their mother (following her husband's death from cholera) moved on westward staying in Illinois but then forging into a set of homesteads in North Dakota in the late 1800s were.

I can see the distinction he is making somewhat - and would agree that my mother's sisters who hopped trains to come to California in about 1930 were not pioneers would still argue that the 49ers and those who came before them to California to build were in fact pioneers
+2 votes
One way to find ancestors is to simply type in the names of the ancestors, e. g. Descendants of John and Jane who Doe, in the search engine.  The result can be the history of counties in territories and their migration across the US.  These histories tell the names of families and the contributions they made to the building of our nation.  Ended up in a gold mine in Utah during the Gold Rush like this the other day.  Where they were is an important piece of information in getting their complete story.
I withdrew my comment, the last in this queue.

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