Question of the Week: Have you found your immigrant ancestors?

+51 votes

Where are they from? What do you know about their journey to their new country?

You might benefit from one of the many projects on WikiTree that can help you find other members who are working together to research their immigrant ancestors.

Wishing all of you the happiest of new years and success in your search for your family!

in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (426k points)
retagged by Abby Glann

My Great Grandfather, Carl G. Laurin, came to New York from Visby, Gotland, Sweden on Sept.10, 1881. He made his way up to Lowell, Massachusetts and continued his trade as a stone cutter. I firmly believe that I would not be here if he and my Great Grandmother (from Klara, Stockholm) hadn't immigrated from Sweden.


My childrens paternal Grandmother

Frieda (Lotz) Weatherford

Born 16 Mar 1897 in Saxony (Sachsen), Germanymap

Frieda's mother died when she was young. Don't know what happened to the father. There were several siblings and all were farmed out to different homes. Some were used for labor and Frieda worked for a German General, keeping house.

Frieda told me stories of living out of town on a farm, riding a horse to town and the horse would get her back after dark; German officers,

  • Frieda met an American soldier in WWI stationed in Coblenz Lutzel, Germany
  • Harvey and Frieda were in their late 70's or early 80's when a friend and I asked them how they met. Harvey told us, A soldier buddy pressured him into a blind date that he refused several times. A reluctant Harvey finally gave in with the clarification that if he didn't like it, he was leaving. The guys entered the home and Frieda stuck her head around the corner of the kitchen to say hi. Harvey told me, "Right then and there, I took my hat off! I knew I was staying."
  • Harvey Weatherford, applied for a Passport to travel to Germany and Belgium 26 May1922 and planned to depart from the States in Jul.
  • Frieda arrived in Ellis Island 13 Jul 1922
  • Married  about 1922
Frieda told me stories of returning to visit Germany during Hitler's reign, people greeting her with a Heil Hitler! salute. She would reply, "nein"

1980's I met Frieda's Nephew, Herbert Lotz, married to Hildagard (? ) Lotz, kids Angelic / Anjelic? and Wolfgang. Herbert's father was Frieda's Brother, a POW held by Russians in Siberia.

They married had 8 children and lived in Colorado then El Monte, L.A, CA, U.S.

My 3rd g. grandfather John Acres b. abt 1795 in Nenagh, County Tipperary Ireland. The Acres brothers were owners of tenant properties in Ireland and these two sold their properties to leave Ireland.John and brother Thomas probably left Limerick June 25, 1819 together on the Camperdown with 256 passengers and arrived in Quebec Sept 7, 1819 losing only four settlers on the journey. The original homestead still is in use. Other lineage from this branch were Scots. 

 A serious depression at the end of the war with Napoleon left many people in Ireland homeless and poor. Crop failures occurred in 1800, 1807, 1817. Farmers were targets of terrorist gangs such as the Whiteboys who burned crops, Anglican small farmers could see no future and left while they still had money to buy passage it was cheaper to go to British North America than the USA. There were 6,000 Irish immigrants in 1819 including the " prosperous farmers" such as the 256 who left Limerick on the Camperdown described as "one of the best appointed vessels which has cleared this port in a long time." Most settlers were bound for the Military Settlements (E.G. at Richmond) or the Northern Tipperary settlements in the Ottawa Valley or London Area. Another group settled York (now Toronto). John and Pheobe died close together and were buried November 24 at the Christ Church in Huntley. 

My 6th g. grandfather Beals/Bales b. 1650 in Wales. was a Quaker. John Beals came to Pennsylvania sometime prior to 1677. In a 1691 court case in Chester County, Pennsylvania, John testified that he had plowed the land in question some fourteen years earlier, placing him in Chester County in 1677. He would have come somewhat earlier. His father in law, William Clayton, had come in 1677 and he may have arrived at the same time. There is no arrival record that exists today.

One researcher states that John Beals, yeoman, arrived aboard the ship Griffin in 1675 and settled first in Fenwick's Colony. There is documented proof that the Clayton family arrived on board the ship Kent on August 16, 1677.
Linda Davis, you are one lucky person to find such a dedicated

and sharrp genealogy volunteer.  She/He deseerves a medal.

Thank you for sharing that Never Give Up story.
The question of immigration is a tricky one. Supposedly, when my ancestors arrived to Finland, there may not have been any nation-states, so where to immigrate to? -and from? Dna research tells me, my genome is all Finnish made, yet I belong to the oldest European male haplogroups, I1, and have distant cousins e.g. in the British isles; especially in Lanarkshire. This branch of the dna tree was separated from mine over 1,500 years ago. Following the dna mutations it can be concluded that my forefather arrived to the south-western coast of present-day Finland some time 700 - 1,300 years ago. A Danish tradesman? Swedish Viking? Could be. But if this adventurous man stayed here and started a family, do we call that immigration? Immigration to me is a relatively new concept, it hints to state level bureaucracy and the burdens of the organized society. I'm inclined to say, I don't have immigrant ancestors; they just wandered here and stayed.

I have a great many immigrant ancestors whom I have discovered and some who are quite close to me. I will start with my mother:  Gladys Turner who married my father in London, England during WWII and came to Canada as a "War Bride". My Labossiere line goes directly back to my 5X GG grand father, Jean Baptiste Laboissiere  This summer, we are celebrating the 300th. anniversary of his arrival in New France.  In addition, I am directly descended from at least 35 Filles du Roi ancestresses; four Filles à marier and nine Carignan soldiers, all who were early immigrants to the new world.  In addition, I have at least 100 other GG grand parents of various levels ( 5X to 10X) who were also early immigrants to New France.  Notable, among these many ancestors, is Louis Hebert who is my earliest known immigrant ancestor to arrive in 1606.  He is a 10X GG grand father to me.  I also am descended directly from two of New France's blackest sheep, Gillette Banne and her husband, Jacques Bertault.  They are one of my sets of 8X GG grand parents.  I am proud and honoured to be descended from such a varied group of pioneer people.



I've found several interesting immigrant ancestors. My family has always passed down the lineage from Henry "The Puritan" Way, who arrived on the John & Mary in 1630. Then there are Thomas Fox and Thomas Woodford, whom wikitree thinks are descended from noble houses and royalty. I'm slowly realizing just how difficult those lines are to verify, however. I've even been forced to question our descent from Henry Way, since I've discovered there's controversy over whether his "son" George was his son, brother, or cousin!

Julie Ricketts:  This conversation is so intriguing, and all of us have immigrants at one time or another in our families' histories. If we had a category (as in: we would be consistently reminded to place a tag or/and a project membership on our profile pages. It's a refresher for the users and when someone checks out or into another tree, the information is automatically indicated--and then even more steps toward a unified one-world family tree are taken.

Please consider at least adding a tag. The Project establishment took me a year of work to do, and it just simply drove my life during that year. Way too much work involved for some people, yet we would be happy to use one.
The main question remaining is, Immigrants to where from where?  I've had immigrants to "Canada" from Scotland, from New York colony, etc.  I've also had immigrants to the 13 original colonies from elsewhere including immigrants to New Netherlands from Holland.

We must remember we serve a worldwide audience.

59 Answers

+9 votes
Best answer
Easy - ALL of them.
by Roy Lamberton G2G6 Mach 5 (54.4k points)
selected by Shelley Heath
(Sorry, I couldn't resist....)
Can't resist either: Zero.
That is the answer for me being an Australian as I have not found any Indigenous links in my direct lines they all came out from the UK over the years. The earliest being William James Chittleborough who was on the Buffalo to South Australia. The most recent being my mother who came from Scotland via England.
Bravo, Roy!
Isn't that the single hallmark of Australia and New Zealand? The "founding families" were all from England?

Everyone came from somewhere else (even the original peoples, who came over the from the Indo-China area? (or is that my misunderstanding the great migration patterns supported by DNA evidence.)

My mother always thought there was an American Indian in our heritage because of our family's facial features in the women (high cheekbones) - but DNA that I've done disproves all of that, although there are middle eastern roots to our family - people with "high" cheekbones.
Since I have native American ancestors, I can't say that all my ancestors were "immigrants."
Technically, even the Native tribes came across the Bering Sea, (or whatever they called it) so they "immigrated" to what became North America.....
As Homo sapiens migrated from Sub Saharan Africa to Asia and then to Europe, Australia, and the Americas, it would be possible for someone born in Sub Saharan Africa to have no immigrant ancestors, but this would be most unlikely.  Even in Africa, south of the Sahara, there was a lot of migration to and from different parts of Africa.

For sure Roy, that is the single hallmark of being an Ozzie or a Kiwi :) ... unless as an Australian one has indigenous roots. My migrating ancestors came to NZ between 1847 and 1876, except grandad who came in 1938. It could have so easily gone another way when you think about it - if all those people hadn't come from all over and then thier descendants met up, I'd just be millions of microscopic brainless specks floating about the universe :/ Instead, I'm alive! BIG Thanks for coming down-under all you ancestors!

I watched a doco on the origins of the Maori, and if I remember correctly you are right - way back they came from I think it was Taiwan?

+16 votes

Yes, Have found ancestors that immigrated to Maryland from England. Just to name a few, research still in progress! Have a Great New Year, Julie and everyone!

John Selman (abt. 1680 - 1716), John Sellman (abt. 1645 - 1708)   William Sellman (abt. 1613 - 1657)John Sellman (abt. 1574 - 1611)John Sellman (abt. 1554 - 1612)

by David Selman G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
It must be a exciting/wonderful feeling to know you carry the surname of your ancestors from the 1500s!  (Well, except for the lost 'l'.)

Hi R., there are some that still use the two ll's in the name. But most of them have no blood relation to me that I have found. But as always will keep researching.
Even if we can not document them, I think most of us carry the surname of an ancestor from the 1500s.
I probably do: Burnett was my middle name and I took it for my legal surname after 1978 or -9.
Could be a repeat: My father Rudolf/Rudy/Ralph and his mother Anna Elisabeth/Anna were immigrants to USA in 1906 and 1911, respectively. From Germany, regions of Baden-Baden, and its larger area Baden-Wurrtemberg; she fled. His gma Rosa Baer brought him by steamship after Anna was "settled" and left for home after a brief visit.
+17 votes

Yes, First migration circa 1632 .. From France to Nouvelle France .. Ancestral Nouvelle France Barbeau, Barbot Occupations : Farmers, Homemakers, Soldiers, Filles A Marier s , Fille Du Roi , Company of 100 Associates, Shoe makers, Voyageurs , Ship Builders, Businessmen ... etc 

Yes, second migration circa 1722 From France and Nouvelle France to Louisianne : Ancestral Louisianne Barbeau, Boisdore occupations : Soldiers, Shoe Maker, Farmers, Plantation Owners, Cattlemen, Joiners, Voyageurs, Businessmen, Surgeons, Builders ... etc   

C'est Bon Magnifique .. 

by Stanley Baraboo G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Too many too list. Australian so I have way too many immigrant ancestors lol
+21 votes

Many of them, but not quite all! My dad's side of the family consists almost entirely of French Canadians who arrived in the 1600s. I have most lines going back to the immigrants from France, but there are a few brick walls here and there.

My maternal grandpa's parents both came from England, so that side of the family was easy to get back to immigrant ancestors. Now I'm at the point of struggling to get back into the parish records in England!

My maternal grandma's family has mostly been in Canada for a while and is a real hodgepodge of origins. Most lines do go back to immigrant ancestors from England, Scotland, and Sweden, but I still have 2 brick wall ancestors born in Canada: Julia Ann Orange and George Watts.

by Lianne Lavoie G2G6 Pilot (425k points)
My Paternal grandmother, Marie Eveline Archambault McCauslin, was the daughter of Jean Louis Archambault and Chantal Desormier who came to South Bend, Indiana, just after the American Civil War..  We are direct descendants of Jacques Archambault who came to Montreal in 1643.  I learned all this through the work of the members ofthe Quebec organization, Les Archambault d’Amerique.

Her husband, my paternal grandfather cane from Canada in 1899.  His father, Andrew McCausland came to Canada in the early 1800’s, but from what part of Ireland I cannot trace.  Maybe Antrim?

Lianne and I share a lot of ancestors on my father's side, tracing back to old Antoine Desrosiers. My great-great grandfather Zeph Desrosiers dit Lafreniere immigrated to the US from Lower Canada some time before Confederation.

My mother's paternal ancestors, like old Hugh Ross immigrated from Northern Ireland in about 1770.

And how in heck do I link to my ancestors' Wikitree profiles in this forum?
Hi Ross - since we only keep 1 profile per person, if you begin to add an ancestor, it will pop up potential duplicates to review before you reach a point to create the new profile. So when you review the list and find your ancestor already added, you just link them to your tree and keep going.

If you need more detailed instructions, let me know. It's always a happy day to find the next one in the list already there, ready and waiting for you.
I meant linking like Lianne's links, in her reply, to the profiles of Julia Ann Orange and George Watts. I do know my way around the site otherwise, mostly ...
On a computer, you can highlight text in your question/answer/comment, then click the little link icon (looks like a link in a chain) and enter the URL you want the text to link to. However, I just tried to respond here on my phone and none of the editing buttons appeared there, so I'm not sure if it's possible on a phone.
Thank you, Lianne!
Sorry about that Ross - I need to learn to post less and read more when running low on caffeine...
+15 votes
I have found quite a few immigrant ancestors, much thanks to their coming over during the PGM and living in MA, CT and ME. I still have many brick walls though!
by John Stephenson G2G5 (5.0k points)
what is PGM? I tried to answer that myself but with no luck
+14 votes

My ancestors came to the United States over a six-decade period, beginning in 1890 with the arrival of my great grandfather, Joseph Lavoie.  The last of my ancestors to arrive, Antoinette (Chilo) Lavoie, flew from France to the US in late January 1947 to marry Joseph’s son, Armand.

Some paths were not entirely direct, though.  While Antoinette came directly to the US, the Cuvelliers emigrated from France to Canada and spent about five years there before arriving in the states.  In addition, the massive wave of French Canadian immigrants to the New England mill towns often involved family members moving back and forth across the international border.  The first of my direct ancestors to be born in the US, Cyrille Labrecque, was the only one of his parents’ 18 children to be born in the states.  He later spent time on both sides of the border, only permanently settling in the US in 1934.  My grandmother was born in Buckland, Québec and didn’t arrive in the US until she was seven years old.

Most of my Canadian ancestors immigrated to New France during the 17th century.  The only significant brick wall is my 4th great grandfather, Charles Hambelton.  He seemed to appear out of nowhere, marrying in Québec for the first time in 1795.  A mariner, he later became the first lighthouse keeper of the first lighthouse along the Saint Lawrence River.

by Greg Lavoie G2G6 Pilot (341k points)
+17 votes
Oh my goodness! Thanks for making me look. Of course all of my direct ancestors connections/sources and then the older connections need to be checked, but I have found 74 possible immigrant ancestors with existing profiles, most of whom apply to PGM. It sounds like enough to keep busy for a lifetime, and I have not even started on one grandmother. The latecomers were one set of great grandparents who arrived in the mid 1850s.
by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (477k points)

Ok, testing to see if I can get a link. Obviously there is some more sourcing to be done to get the connection, but John Scranton is one of my ancestors, as is Thomas Whitten

I hope you watch the show FINDING YOUR ROOTS, Kay. So many ways to benefit for knowing something but not "enough."
+10 votes
I've found a few. The most recent was easy -- my father came to the United States (from New Brunswick, Canada) when when he was a toddler.Then there were great grandparents from Quebec about 1865. Then a number of early colonial immigrants. Still working out others.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (449k points)
+12 votes
Yes, but in NZ immigration started around 1840 and continued all the way up to the 2nd WW. New immigrants now arrive by plane and not by ship.

I have found most of my ancestors who came to NZ by ship. but there are one or two still hiding - or their manifestos are lost..

Graeme Olney is a wonderful project leader or category in managing all the passenger immigrant ships that arrived in NZ. He has an excellent database of ships, voyages and passenger profiles, each linked to their relevant voyage.
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
Graeme is amazing and I don't know how he does it. If I mention a ship name on a profile without adding a category because it hasn't been created yet, the next day the category is created.

The only two immigrants I can't find are my gg grandfathers, both notable, who arrived about 1862-64. My thought is that they came through Australia so somehow did not get recorded. One worked for the other briefly about 1880 so I wonder if they came on the same ship.

Some third cousins 4 times removed sailed to New Zealand on the Aurora.  Thanks to you comment here, I was able to add the category to their  profiles.
Thank you, Graeme, I will now make sure I put the ship details on all my migrant and convict ancestors.  Actually, some of my ancestors started in Australia and moved to New Zealand.

And for many of those ships from Australia to NZ, their passenger lists are also available as well.
+15 votes
That is easy.  I AM my immigrant ancestor. England to Canada in 1956 and Canada to USA in 1959.

One 3G grandfather immigrated from (Wick) Scotland to (Chard) England in 1815.

Other than that, I have not yet found any ancestors that immigrated to England
by Janet Gunn G2G6 Pilot (121k points)
I too am also my ancestor immigrant since I have immigrated from New Zealand to Canada!!  my son has 400 years of Canadian history on his fathers side and is a first generation canadian on his mothers side!! LOL

It turms out that I am not the only Kiwi in my family to immigrate from NZ to Canada. I know of 2 cousins (one a second cousin and the other a third cousin)  who have moved from NZ to Canada. Both married Canadians and have settled down in this wonderful country. .
My father and his mother are my immigrants on his line.

In my mother's Burnett and Owen lines the immigrants go back to the first landings from England. And what awful voyages they'd made. Some even died on reaching the ports on the Eastern Seaboard. The few who had seriously strong constitutions carried their DNA South and then West. My second most Western ancestors were in SW Texas with a home-fo-all in that part of SW Texas that could stand the deprivations of crossroads towns. These were strong people, with the women being able to "save" their own lives by leaving the SW Texas area on trains for California with daughters.
+12 votes
My mother is my immigrant ancestor, She came from Serbia to Germany.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+9 votes
no I don't even know if my g great grandfather was an immigrant yet. My grandfather was not even listed in Census in Mississippi or elsewhere before 1920's.  Hopefully DNA will come thru for us one day : )

Happy New Years,

by Lisa Ryals G2G6 (9.8k points)
+9 votes
My fifth great grandfather, Heinrich Bullinger arrived in Philadelphia on the Winter Galley Sept. 1738.
by Clyde Bollinger G2G Crew (470 points)
+9 votes
Barely. Some ancestors arrived in the Netherlands around 1600-1700 from what is now Belgium and northern France, but given the changing borders it's hard to say if it really was immigration.
by Lennart van Haaften G2G6 Mach 1 (17.9k points)
+9 votes
Not so far and I'm back in to the early 1800s. Some researches indicate some lines came to America in the 1740s but those profiles are not sourced.
by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (343k points)
+9 votes
No.  they came out of the Chesapeake area in the 1600s.  Not much left.
by Christine Henderson G2G6 Mach 1 (12.2k points)
+11 votes
Oh Yes. My ancestors came to Poland from Italy about 200 years ago. I havent fount any traces of them in "the old country". Their family name was Papi.


by Kasia Marchlińska G2G6 (8.3k points)
+9 votes
A whole bunch of them from England, Wales, Ireland, Germans in  Poland, Austria and Hungary. So many records, so little time to organize and add to my profiles.
by Lori Harlan G2G6 Mach 1 (14.3k points)
+11 votes
Hi Julie!

I have several immigrant ancestors in my Family Tree, but the most interesting is my GrandFather Ollie Hindy-(Hindy-4). He came from Lebanon, starting his journey at the age of 8, with a goal in mind-to reach the United States. It took him five years to land at Ellis Island, by then 13.
He made his way to Israel, caught a boat to Italy, then to Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, another boat to England, then finally a boat to America. In his journey he learned 6 other languages, besides the Hebrew and Arabic he already knew as a boy. He had 13 cents when he arrived in NY, which he bought 2 loaves of bread and a gallon of milk with. He run errands for businesses, until he had enough money to invest in a Fuller Brush salesmanship and some lambs. He made his rounds from New York City down through the mid eastern states selling his products and mutten, until he ran across a Farmer's daughter that stole his heart in Ohio. Although she already had two children from another relationship. he married her, and moved first to Chicago, then to southern West Virginia, where he opened up one of the first moving picture theaters in the state, along with a dry good store. Since he knew so many languages, he quickly became a favorite for people from miles around in this multi heritage mining town environment, and very successful. he became friends with Devil Anse Hatfield and his family, as well as the McCoys. There my Father met his daughter and they married. He later sold everything, and moved to Middleport,  Ohio, where he opened and ran another movie showhouse. He won the heart of everyone he came in contact with as well as mine, with his kindness. He taught me a lot, what short time I had him in my early years. To have made such a journey,and without any formal schooling, became such a well known and successful businessman, still astounds me. he was one of my alltime Heroes in life.
Have a wonderful New Year and Blessings to all!
Don Hindy Crum (Crum-348)
by Living Crum G2G6 Mach 2 (20.7k points)
What a great story. It's great to know so much family detail. There's enough in there I think to make a really good TV mini-series!
+7 votes
Yes, I have traced many of my ancestors to the point of immigration.  The most recent came from Germany in the 1832 while others were part of the Great Migration of the 1630s.  The Wellman line has but only one hope to be continued.  That being my grandson, now 7.  He is the last male heir with that name.  Sad.

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