Tuesday, April 8, 2014

family migration

Visiting my Dad this summer, he voiced the opinion that families shouldn't move so far away from each other. "Children should just stay in their home town and raise their families close by their grandparents". 

I'm sure he was just missing being near us. 

Not withstanding the greater picture of human migration that allowed us to escape from hostile environments, famine and pestilence, humans move for perceived better opportunities and the sheer thrill of adventure. Seriously, what would have happened if we actually had stayed where we were born?

Just going back to the generation before him, I'll look at the migration of his parents and my maternal grandparents to see where we've moved and then the impact of those moves on our family history. In this examination, there are five marriages (three generations), only one of which was possible without someone migrating.

Move 1. My paternal grandfather left his hometown in Canon GA to move to Asheville NC to find work. He was a printer in a family that had been printers for several generations in the same area. He was one of 7 brothers, all printers. Canon didn't have that much room for that many printers, so the brothers started moving out.

While in Asheville, he married a local woman whose family had been in Asheville for several generations. My great-grandfather was in the furniture business there. Here we have the first move, from GA to NC, that resulted in a marriage of two people who otherwise would not have known each other. 

My maternal grandparents actually both grew up in the same town they married in, Lock Haven PA. I doubt they would have met, however, if my maternal great-grandfather hadn't moved from a farm outside town to town to take a term as sheriff, living over the jailhouse, near where my other maternal great-grandfather was a merchant. Here is the only example in our recent family history of a marriage that might have taken place without migration.

Move 2. My paternal grandparents moved from NC to Long Island NY so my grandfather could find better opportunities in printing. My father was born there.

Move 3. My maternal grandparents moved from PA to Long Island NY so my grandfather could find better opportunities in banking. My mother was born in PA before they moved. My parents married while living in the same town, but only one of them had been born in the general area. My father's family had moved over a few towns as higher income allowed them to seek better schools and neighborhoods.

Move 4. My father and mother moved from Long Island to Guilderland NY, for a job my father took as an engineer with GE. My sister and I were born in Guilderland.

Move 5. My husband's parents moved from Binghamton NY to Guilderland NY after Army service in Fort Knox KY. My father-in-law had work in the State Education Department in Albany. My husband was born in Fort Knox. We married in Guilderland.

Move 6. My father then moved with his job to Nashville TN. My sister married a man whose family lived in Nashville, although I'm pretty sure he was not born there, as they had moved around with her father-in-law's job as a headmaster. My sister married in Nashville.

Moves 7 and 8 are completed, but have not resulted in any marriages of the next generation yet. Move 7 was my two children, one to Los Angeles CA and the other to Las Vegas NV, both for job opportunities in the film and hospitality industries. Move 8 was my sister's family to Fort Worth TX so my brother-in-law could partner with some college friends to start their own film production business. Their two children still reside in Fort Worth, while they complete secondary school.

So, wow, Dad! That's a lot of moves! And if not for the first one, you wouldn't have been born.

the family unit, 1969, Guilderland NY