Migration Pedigree Chart

J. Paul Hawthorne started a bit of a phenomenon, whether he meant to or not, earlier this week on Facebook, when he created a migration map of his own ancestors using Excel to reflect his pedigree chart.

You can view Paul’s chart here.

Wanting to do something similar, I created two separate charts, one for my mother’s side and one for my father’s side, one underneath the other. My father’s pedigree, from Appalachia, is on the top.

I’ve also included birth years in addition to the birth locations. I think that gives a time perspective to a very visible migration path.  It was also interesting to note the range of birth years in the oldest generation, from 1759 to 1823.

migration pedigree

On my father’s side, you can visibly see the westward migration from Virginia and North Carolina into Tennessee and eventually, in the 19-teens into Indiana as tenant farmers. Had that not happened, my parents would never had met.

My mother’s side is generally much more immediately European – although not exclusively so, as her Connecticut line reaches back to the Mayflower.

The cells labeled “New England” are my Acadian ancestors after the deportation and that is what subsequent church records show as their birth location.  Given the history of the people and location where they settled in Canada, they were likely born in Massachusetts, but we don’t know for sure.  Before that, they were from Canada, a mixture of French and Native American dating from the early 1600s.

We Americans really are a melting pot. My ancestors 5 generations ago were born in 8 different states (counting New England as Massachusetts) and different locations in three foreign countries.  The New England group subsequently moved TO a foreign country FROM the US, only to move back again a generation later and request citizenship.  That’s a bit unusual.

I’ve added percentages above the various columns. That is the approximate percentage of the DNA of the individual ancestors in that column that I carry.  If you look at the column furthest to the right, I carry 3.125% of each of those ancestors, on average.  When we think about autosomally matching other descendants of those ancestors who also carry perhaps 3.125%, it’s amazing that we match common segments at all, but we often do.

These percentages are also relevant to ethnicity. For example, my one English ancestor is a bit deceiving, because all of those Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina ancestors had to come from someplace.  As I work those lines backwards in time, I can place many of them in British Isles locations and confirm it with various kinds of DNA matching.  For example, my Campbell male cousins have Y DNA tested and we are confirmed matches to the Campbell Clan in Scotland, my Estes’s to the Kent, England Eastes line, and so forth.

In many cases, I know more than is displayed on these charts. For example, on my mother’s charts, I know that both the Maryland and Pennsylvania families are entirely German, so while their birth location was in the US, their heritage isn’t reflected here.

Just the same, if you’re looking at migration patterns and origins for more recent immigrants, this provides a fun way to take a look at your family history. It’s also a nice, visual way to engage children and young people in both history and family history.  If you look at migration patterns and begin to ask questions like why and what would have prompted that migration at that place and time in history, you’ve begun to engage in the same kinds of thoughts and decisions as those ancestors as they pondered moving on to the next destination.

What stories does your migration pedigree chart tell you about your family?



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35 thoughts on “Migration Pedigree Chart

  1. I love your chart, Roberta!!! I like how you took it a step further! I’ll have to do one now. Thanks!

    • And I obviously love yours too. It would be interesting and fun to do a second one for the same ancestor to be the states where they died. For example, had I not included myself in my Dad’s chart, Indiana would not have shown up at all because his parents moved there when he was a child. So the birth states beside the death states would be a true “one generation” migration map:) I know you don’t have anything else to do today:) Me either!

  2. I’m not skilled enough, but it seems that a programmer type could figure out how to do a pedigree for any facts captured in a family tree. For example, the number of children or the year of marriage, or education level, age at first marriage, cause of death, etc. It’s basically a way of looking at trends for a particular piece of data in our family trees. Know anyone up to the task?

  3. It seems this location chart might be helpful for an adoptee also. I was born in the 50’s in Kansas City, Missouri. The problem with this is that (all though I have my non-ID paperwork, my birth mother was from out-of-town). From my research, it seems that the mid-West was almost a clearing house for people to send their daughters away from home to hide pregnancies since it was so central. I have been doing some mirror trees and keep noticing Tennessee a lot. I think I might start doing these location charts for both my mirror trees and also for any of my DNA matches who have trees. This might help narrow things down a little and/or help with some sort of break through

  4. Excellent idea, Roberta. Your adding the dates also allows one to see some of the disparate time-frames of ancestors in different family lines but from the same generation. Of course, this is due to birth timing factors… i.e. some women had 14-16 children over a 3 decade time span. If one descended from the first-born, or the last born, your family lines will be skewed in time as relates to other family line generations in time.

    Which brings up another intriguing possibility… how about a spreadsheet where the top axis was a time-line expressed in time periods (10,20,30 yrs?) and each generation along a family line is skewed (width lengthened or shortened appropriately) to fit the time-line?

  5. All you are really saying is that each generation may or may not have come from somewhere else. It is just the location and distance can vary dramatically, perhaps more so if the folk involved came to America from 1800 onwards. But even in Britain, such charts can be educational. Did your ancestors migrate out of Scotland or Ireland? Did some of them make their way to London, where about 1/6th of the population has always lived? Did the families live in the same area with the same local market town, or did they migrate further afield. And if the latter, what drove them to migrate? These questions are both universal and timeless in family history, just the modes of transport and the job opportunities change through history.

    • I apologize for butting in, but I am interested in corresponding with a Brian Swann who has done research on Swann family in colonial Virginia & possibly shared it with the Shirley Association Genealogical Research Website. I am a Swann descendant. By the way, the migration charts are quite interesting. I have not done any DNA testing. Primarily because I was not sure which kind of test would be most informative.

  6. This is an interesting twist to the usual pedigree chart. I didn’t realised you had so much Europeans so close on your mother’s line… You haven’t done brethren lines yet, right? I can’t remember much about them…

    Mine would be boring unless I can go two more generations at least, when I get 7 Acadians, a Flanders Dutch and a Scottish woman.

    • The Brethren lines are the 4 grouped together that are Maryland, Pennsylvania and the two from Germany in the 1780s. Maryland is Miller, PA is Schaeffer and the other two are Lentz and Mosselman. I have only written about some of the Miller lines and none of the others yet. So many ancestors, so little time:)

      • I meant, you haven’t yet done your brethren lines in your weekly series. Sorry for the confusion. But now you mention it, I think I remember you talking about your… grand mother? great-grand-mother? who had special white hats, plus some guys in Switzerland and Germany fleeing to America…

        “So many ancestors, so little time”

        Indeed. I admire you for even trying such a huge project (and I enjoy reading every step of it). Although, things are progressing neatly, with 116 entries already.

        • I’ve done a few of my Brethren ancestors, but not all of them by any stretch. If you search the blog for Miller you’ll find the ones I’ve done. Also Berchtol.

  7. This is truly awesome. It makes so much sense as it enables visual connections easily. What format did you use for the template? Thanks so much!!

  8. I can’t seem to get to the Template for the file. It says page not found. I would really like to try something like it. I’m not great at Excel.

  9. I like your birth location perspective of a family tree and also the other variants suggested by the comments. I’m inspired, I’m going to work on one. Thanks.

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