Missouri – because of its central location and its large and intricate network of highly navigable waterways – became a hub of early American migration in and through the state. As a result many of us have a heritage that either ends or passes through the “Show Me” State.
The challenge for genealogists is how to trace that often very elusive migratory path. The good news is that Marilyn Moore has compiled an amazing resource in Gone to Missouri… that makes the finding easy and the discoveries fun!
In this reference guide she has indexed more than 16,000 names of early American settlers and cross-country migrants gathered from three genealogy-rich resources. Those sources are:
- Missouri Miscellany – a multi-volume series
- Missouri Pioneers – another multi-volume series
- Genealogical Notes from the Liberty (Clay County, MO) Tribune
Moore has seemingly focused on these sources because they more than most offer answers to the ever-nagging, ever-perplexing question, “Where did you come from?” Those darn settlers. If they would have stopped moving and have left a better paper trail we wouldn’t be in this fix, would we?
I’ll give you a couple of examples of the types of records found in these three sources and indexed in Moore’s Gone to Missouri.
- Patrons of the County Atlas Lists – You may be familiar with the plat maps of the late 19th and early 20th Century. They are genealogy-gold in that they have a veritable visual directory of all of the farmers that live in each township, their neighbors (read: family members), and sometimes the topography. But the reason a portion of them are transcribed in Missouri Miscellany and Missouri Pioneers and indexed in Gone to Missouri… is the genealogy-platinum material found in the patrons lists. Someone – seemingly your ancestors and mine – had to pay for the cost of printing the atlases through sponsorship or “advertising.” As a result of their patronage, they were listed in the front of the book – with the town/county/state/country from which they came, the year they migrated and the township/county they settled in. Fabulous!!
- “The Old Men of Clay County” Lists – If your ancestor either settled in or migrated through Clay County, Missouri (that’s just northeast of Kansas City), you have a bonus treasure awaiting. Moore tells us that the Liberty Tribune Newspaper ran a series of articles listing citizens in the county who were over the age of 60 in 1870. Most, if not all, had to have been migrants by virtue of their age. Further, Moore says that often a biographical sketch – sometimes a lengthy one – is attached to the list. Pay dirt!
The Gone to Missouri… index includes names from other sources beyond these. You will find references to the expected birth, marriage, death, and probate records where they reference place of nativity. And there are unusual and unique sources like tax lists, cemetery lists, and military lists all either directly or by inference point to “from whence they came.”
Bonus Tip – Moore has also indexed the 1850 & 1860 Mortality Schedules. What? If your ancestor died in 1850 or 1860, their name would be captured in these unique schedules along with their place of birth. Seriously, if you’ve either not known about this resource or blew it off thinking, what are the odds of my ancestor or a family member dying in the census year, look again. There may be the missing piece of information you’ve long sought.
So don’t overlook these unsung heroes of early American migratory research. With one good peak you may have finally caught that elusive ancestor in his migration tracks!