While I was doing some research a few days ago, I found a most interesting interactive map on the New York Times website that shows the movement of people in and out of each of the 50 states between 1900 and 2012.
When I looked at North Carolina, I was interested to learn that there are twice as many people living in NC who were born in New York than those who were born in South Carolina! When I lived in Asheville, in the mountains, we called local New Yorkers “Half Backs” because they usually moved from New York to Florida and up to NC to escape the summer heat – thus, they moved half way back!
Thinking about this phenomena in today’s community, I wondered what migration trends people witnessed in the 1700s and 1800s. Maybe they had pet names for those trends, too. Some of our family moved further south from the NC mountains for Georgia, Alabama and Texas seeking new land to farm and mining for gold. Maybe there was a “Georgia Gold Rush”? So I Googled it and found out one did exist and started in 1828, around the time my people went south in the early 1830s! In fact, there was so much gold being mined in GA that the state government held a “Gold Lottery of 1832″ which awarded land to settlers – in 40 acres plots – that was previously held by the Cherokee. The federal government even got into the act by building a branch mint in Dahlonega, GA. That town was said to have supported 15,000 miners at the height of the gold rush.
Our cousins still live in northwest Georgia, in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, and when researching their ancestors’ land deeds they found the earliest ancestor did in fact own a gold mine – one they set up and mined themselves. Apparently there were many such personal mines in the area so it was competitive. They didn’t get rich because it was hard work to get the gold out of the granite, but they were happy with the extra income.
Now I am even more inquisitive about family migration – there were usually good reasons to move, and those reasons will add generously to the ancestor’s stories. I really must go to north Georgia to explore the area. I’ve heard the Pine Mountain Gold Mine and Museum in Villa Rica, GA is a good example of the mines that sprang up in the 1830s. I want to get a feel for the gold fever that my ancestors felt!