It seems to me that people traveled more in the early to mid-1800s than we realize. Think about your ancestors. How many moved after 1810? I will wager quite a few had not yet settled in their last home. But, which way did they go?
In early days, the typical migration trails were from Pennsylvania and Maryland south to Virginia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and eventually Kentucky. Moving from Kentucky to the deeper south was a bit unusual, but that is exactly what a number of families did when they left their Caldwell County homes and headed toward Marengo County, Alabama. Marengo County was created in 1818 from land acquired from the Choctaw Indians and that appears to be about the time the folks from Caldwell County headed down there. Had there been an 1820 Marengo County census, I just bet we would find some familiar Kentucky names. As it is, some of these same families are shown on the 1830 Marengo County census.
One of the people who moved to Marengo County was Levi Greer, who had witnessed the will of Jesse Jenkins in Caldwell County on 18 August 1815. In August 1824, a commission was directed to Marengo County to take the attestation of Levi Greer regarding Jenkins’ will.
In July of 1811 in Caldwell County, Greer and William Barton had witnessed the will of William Gillehen. In Marengo County on 31 Aug 1846, Greer appeared before a justice of the peace and stated he was well acquainted with Stephen H. Doss and his wife, Minerva, now deceased but who was formerly Minerva Barton, daughter of William Barton, formerly of Caldwell County, Kentucky. He also stated that Minerva departed this life in 1825.
Giving a deposition at the same time was Thomas Ringgold, who stated he became acquainted with the parties stated above in 1818 in Marengo County when Minerva was living with her father, William Barton, but afterwards she married Stephen H. Doss. Thomas Ringgold stated that William Barton frequently stated in his presence that he moved from Caldwell County to Alabama.
Henry Woolf went to Marengo County and exchanged letters with his sons back in Caldwell County. Copies of these letters can be found in the family files of the Martin Genealogy Library, Princeton, Kentucky. An obituary for Henry Woolf provides wonderful details of his life.
"October 18, 1823
Died at their residence, in Marengo County, Henry Woolf in his 78th year and wife Elizabeth in her 76th year, after having lived together for nearly 60 years and raising 13 children, eleven of whom are now living. Both fell sick on 25th of September and expired within a few hours of each other on the 3rd and are buried in the same grave. He was a native of Virginia and fought in the Revolutionary War; he emigrated to this state from Kentucky in 1819, since which time he has resided in Marengo County."
Other Caldwell County people who migrated to Marengo County include Jarret Cherry (and possibly Henry and Joshua Cherry), William Selman, Thomas A. Holland and the Wood brothers (see the Hooper divorce mentioned in this blog on 12 January 2008). When you find your family in a new area, look around for families they may have known in their old county. Families usually migrated in a group for safety and convenience.
1. File marked "Notes 1846," Caldwell County Clerk’s Office, Princeton, Kentucky.
2. Pauline Jones Gandrud. Marriage, Death and Legal Notices from Early Alabama Newspapers 1819-1823, (Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1981), 8.