Here’s a PDF chart showing every ancestor of our father’s family I can find who came from elsewhere. It shows their dates of arrival but not the ships they came in on; that information can be found here. I separated the immigrants into four lines based on the families of our paternal great-grandparents: Josephs, Wilson, Pearson, and Stott. Altogether I’ve found 228 Josephs forebears who chose to emigrate to this country, and 95% of them got here in the 1600s. Moreover, 85% of them were part of the Great Migration and were here by the 1640s.
To save space I didn’t include their countries of origin. That’s because there are effectively only three in this family line – England, Germany, and Holland – and you can tell by people’s surnames and destination which is which. We do have two Irish interlopers, William Wilson and Robert Oliver, showing up in the 1770s so you’ll just have to remember them as exceptions. Some of our Jewish forebears came via Amsterdam, but we don’t know where they were before that. There are other exceptions – Switzerland, Alsace-Lorraine – that you can read about in the full history section if you’re so inclined, and when I get around to writing it. (So far I’ve just done the Wilson piece.)
The first and last arrivals happen to be from the Stott line. The Van Kouwenhovens showed up in 1625 to buy Brooklyn, and Jonathan Stott got himself captured during the War of 1812. In between those dates is everyone else: first a huge Puritan wave of Pearson and Josephs ancestors, then the Wilson and Stott families bringing up the rear.
It’s a little soon to draw conclusions since the ink is barely dry. But let’s do it anyway! Here are some first impressions, very generalized of course and with many caveats.
- The Stott forebears mostly didn’t organize their lives around religion. The few who came in the company of the Puritans quickly left Massachusetts and moved on to more relaxing environments like Rhode Island or Dutch-flavored New York.
- The Wilson forebears did care about religion but mostly lack the Puritan gene. They were Quakers, German Lutherans, Virginia royalists, or, in one case, an extremely smart Irish businessman.
- The Pearson line is full of Puritans, to start with anyway. They boast some first-rate hairsplitters like the reverends Chauncy and Bulkeley and the lay theologian William Pynchon. But soon much of the clan started edging up toward New Hampshire and got on with their favorite business of damming streams, building mills, getting murdered in swamps, etc.
- The Josephs line: Oy, so serious. There’s a saying in colonial history circles: “If you weren’t good enough to live in Massachusetts, you moved to Rhode Island. If you were too good to live in Massachusetts, you moved to Connecticut.” Our Josephs forebears pretty much led the charge to Connecticut, just saying. And the Josephsian Jews who began arriving in the 1690s had, by definition, to be pretty serious about their religion given the climate of the day. Of course besides religion there’s also the engineering strain, the business gene, and plenty of other facets to this line. I’ll know more when I get around to writing it up.
Please take all of the above with a grain of salt. I reserve the right to reverse my opinion with new data. Also, the chart is already out of date and will be replaced periodically as I learn new things.
All data guaranteed 80 accurate.