LOWER-DELMARVA-ROOTS-L ArchivesArchiver > LOWER-DELMARVA-ROOTS > 2006-02 > 1138891267
From: "Family Tree Bookshop" <>
Subject: Removed to the "Western Country"
Date: Thu, 2 Feb 2006 09:41:07 -0500
Good Morning Fellow Rooters:
Quite a few days ago, Joe Lake wrote the list and asked :
Is there someone on the list, a historical buff on "Early Days" Eastern Shore beyond the ordinary, who would care to comment on the following couple of items.
As a "history buff" I felt compelled to answer, although I fall way outside the parameters of being "beyond to ordinary" and am more suited to the category of "beyond the mundane." I apologize to Joe and others for not answering sooner, or at least beginning the dialogue, but unfortunately I am also a "historical buff" and thus all the concommittant aspects of being a "historical buff"--that is aches, pains, arthritis and most importantly "senior moments" and "brain farts" has prevented me from adding my two cents worth.
If all of you remember, Joe was asking in part about motivation for the westward movement out of Delaware--in particular--and the east in general in the early 19th Century. t is not an easy question to answer although some generalities can be made which might help develop your research along. The easiest explanation for the movement west was a result of pressure being put on the settled parts of the country and if one looks at a map it becomes readliy apparent that the shore would be an area quick to feel the pressure. What I mean by pressure is "population." In the case of Maryland for certain-- I am not sure of Delaware--you will find that throughout the provincial era, the population doubled every 10 years. Because we are talking about an agricultural based economy the population boom presents a particularly difficult situation for those living here. The reason for the population boom was not --as it had been in the 17th century--due to a large influx of immigrants such!
as indentured servants, but due to a relatively healthier native population which meant that family size began to explode as more and more children survived childhood and made it to their adult years. With average family size beginning to hover around 8-10 children per family and more and more surviving into adulthood, the pressure on the land to support the population was reaching a crisis point. Add in the fact that most property was being transmitted to children by means of "partiable inheritance" and the amount of parcels of land to be devised became smaller and smaller making it difficult for those --in particular--sons to start and raise a family. In abstracting the land records for both Sussex and Dorchester at the turn of the 19th century, I have noticed more and more commissions being appointed by the court for the partitioning and distributing the lands of intestates have made returns to the court stating that the lands could not be partitioned without loss and i!
njury to the parties --meaning that the distributive shares, if the land was divided--would be too small to support them. In these cases either one of the parties involved--ususally the petitioner to the court--took the land at valuation paying a proportionate share of the value to his brothers and sisters, or the land was exposed to public sale and the money was divided. This is best illustrated in the following case from the Dorchester records:
Whereas Woolford Eskridge did by his petition the justices of the county that Anthony Tall of the county has lately died intestate and seized in fee of a tract of land called Anthony's Regulation" and also another tract of land called "Cragg's Disappointment"and leaving the following representatives being John Tall, Lily Eskridge, wife of Woolford James Tall, Levin Tall, William Tall, Anthony Tall, Martin Tall, Joseph Tall and Elizabeth Tall, the 4 last of whom are minors, that since the death of the said Tall, his eldest son John Tall, also deceased leaving children as lawful issue being James and Margaret who are also minors and that according to the acts of assembly in such cases maked and provided and the said petitioner's wife and her said surviving brothers and sisters are equally entitled to the said lands and that the children of the said James are entitled to a share of the said lands, and ought to obtain a just partition of the said lands , the petitioner therefore!
prays that the justices would appoint 5 discrete and sensible men to make a partition and direct a commission and which' said petition the justices thought proper to grant the request . . . .Return made: that after giving notice and meeting with the representatives of Anthony Tall, deceased and after having the land sureye don the 18th of February 1797 and finding the qualtiy of the land so small that they would not divide without loss and injury they did value the vacant land added called "Anthony's Regulation" cont. 20 1/2 acres to be 4 pounds 10 shillings current money per acre and also the lands called "Craig's Disappointment" cont 7 acres at 37 shillings and 6 pence per acre . . . .At March term 1799, Woolford Eskridge who made the petition before the court gave the justices to understand and be informed that the respective representatives of the said Anthony Tall entitled by law to make their election to take the said lands and tenements at teh valuation made by the!
commissioners, had severally refused to accept of the same and prayed the advise of the court in the premises and the court being fully satisfied of the trust of the information, it is therefore ordered that the said lands and tenements be sold under the direction of the commissioners and to be sold at public auction for thebest price that can be obtained.
I think as we can see, Tall's case provides a good example of the population pressure being exerted on the land. So, what is a person to do. I think in part, Joe is correct that many faced with diminishing prospects of land ownership resorted to tenant farming. However in an agricultural economy and one which relies heavily on cash crops--particularly grains on the shore--boom and bust cycles made tenant farming a dicey way to make a living. A few bad years and the debts mount up making it impossible for many ever to succeed. This is where the westward movement--especially in areas like the shore--kicks into gear. Joe asked if the process was in any way "scientific." I think only scientific as far as "behavioral sciences" are considered scientific. What we have here is a process and one --which we ourselves make use of. As I think I have said in the past, the engine of historical change is driven in large part by "self-interest." We make those choices in life which w!
e believe to be in our best interest and will lead us to some measure of security and success. One historian--Ray Billington--believes (and I think rightly so) that the westward movement was in large part a process and those who made the move west were propelled by a combination of "deficiency motivation" and "abundency motivation." In terms of the former--we are motivated by the need to survive and the desire for security in our lives, and we also look for the means to escape what we percieve as dangers, anxieties. etc. In terms of the latter or "abundancy motivation" we are propelled by a desire for new adventures, new experiences, achievements and looking for striking it rich or at the very least to find a better way of life.
Obviously, we cannot--without substantial evidence--say for certain exactly what proportion of these two motivations were in play when our ancestors moved west--although, mounting debts which may show up in court records, or other things that show up in the records may give us a strong hint as to why our relatives "removed to the western country."
I am not so sure that "leasing land" for a few years--kind of analagous to our age "renting" an apartment until we can secure a down payment on a house--was they way most operated in moving west. As I said, I think in many cases, tenant farming was a last resort as it was not a profitable enterprise. And to interject here your notion of "young married couples" -don't forget that marriage was still pretty much a "business proposition" although by the 19th century we are seeing more and more marriage for reasons of "affinity" but even then there probably be no marriage unless the couple had some property to "set up housekeeping" and this would have come as a result of property being transmitted either by "deed of gift" or by will--or perhaps "Dad" advanced the couples property or money which --as is indicated in many wills--he kept account of on his books and at the end of his life it was usually deducted from the proportionate share devised to that child. Instead of "renti!
ng" to save, there were other means of getting the capital together to make the move west.
Probably the best known of these methods were through "land bounties" given by the states and also the Congress during the Revolution to entice recruits so that the states could meet their quotas and the Continental army could secure re-enlistments. It is rather interesting that promises of land were used as a recruitment tool. If we look at who made up the ranks of the Continental army we will find that in larger part it was made up of younger sons whose prospects of inheritance were less than their elder brothers. Additionally, if younger brother went into the army --with the prospect of gaining land, should he survive the war--then this reduced the pressure on the land at home both during the war and afterwards.
I believe the other means of raising capital by many was through deed of release where they sold their right, title, claim and estate interest in the lands they stood to inherit --mostly to other brothers and sisters. Others I think, sold out their personal property --either that which they already held, or that which they inherited by the death of their parents, siblings, etc. Among the best illustration of this is the following land deed from Sussex County:
Folio 10 Grantor: ELIZABETH BROWN, daughter of White Brown of Ross County, Ohio
Grantee: JOSEPH VICKARS
Whereas a certain Abraham Clarkson, deceased did by his last will and testament bequeath to LucretiaBrown, the former wife of White Brown a parcel of land cont. 240 acres lying in North West Fork Hundre being part of 2 tracts of land called " Clarkson's Forrest" and " Addition to Four Tracts" and the said Lucretia Brown dying intestate and leaving 5 children: being Mella, Anna, Rebecca, Elizabeth and Lucretia and the said White Brown being desirous to remove out to the western country did by and with the consent of his children sell part of the aforesaid lands and premises to the above named Vickars, by deed dated the 26th of October 1801, now this indenture further witnesseth that in and for the consideration of the sum of $40.00 Brown conveys and makes over to Vickars all those tracts or parts of tracts within the metes and bounds of the above referenced deed.
Signed: Elizabeth Brown
Witnesses: Isaac Cook
In terms of where the migrants from the shore went and the manner in which they moved one is faced with a number of possibilites. In many cases, one of the members of the family made the move-if they found a place to their liking where land was cheap and abundant and where their social aspirations might be met, then they settled and sent for the rest of their family. In other cases, an entire family moved--as in the above example. If, after moving, the area did not meet expectations, many sold out and moved on. This was quite normal as well and may explain Joe's families frequent moves to Ohio and then Indiana. After a few years of farming where they were they sold their land at a profit (not unlike today) pulled up stakes and moved farther west where land was cheaper and they could buy more. Other choices to be made were --whether to go west into the Old Northwest Territory--being the Ohio Valley, and into Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, etc. or to go down the Appalachians!
to the south and particularly at the turn of the 19th century into Georgia and then later into the "Old Southwest" being Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and then into Texas.
As this is really getting long I will end with a response to the question:
3.) America was then mostly an agricultural economy, so what in fact were the options for this young Eastern Shore couple ?
Actually, most did go west during this time frame when Amercia was pretty much "pre-industrial" However as the century progresses and particularly as the railroads reach farther west, farming in the east becomes less profitable (shipping rates favored the western farmers rather than the easterners) many left the land and moved to the cities and into factory life. But for this couple the options were mostly to find a part of the country where they could farm and hopefully acheive success.
Any questions, class? --any comments?
Hope this finds all well--and I think my mind is coming back after the nicotine and tars have left my system
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