I am enmeshed in writing the story of my grandparents, including how they ended up in the small, middle-of-nowhere place in East Tennessee where they lived and died. I have always been a history buff, so seeing how the movements of my ancestors are so intimately connected to American history has been a fascinating and educational endeavor.
One fact keeps coming into focus, albeit unsettlingly. The movement from the original colonies was usually for two main reasons: Cheaper land and freedom from increasingly oppressive governments.
I ask myself lately, "Would I pull up roots and leave my home and (at least part of) my family to escape a socialist America where I do not feel free to express myself. Where I no longer have a real voice in the affairs of my life?"
One group of my ancestors began in Scotland and fled to (now Northern) Ireland for religious freedom. A couple generations later, when they faced intolerable rents and ruthless landlords in Ireland, they boarded ...