Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Which Way Did They Go?


Is it just me, or is it not unusual to have a founding immigrant ancestor's life documents appear in one location while his point of arrival in the New World be a distance removed from that residence? In many of my own family's case, the boat arrived in New York harbor, and that is where the freshly-arrived family settled--sometimes for generations afterwards.

Not so, apparently, for my mother-in-law's ancestors in Mathias Ambrose's family. While his later years were spent in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, a good portion of his adult years had been spent across the border in the British colony of Maryland. Neither place, however, was where the Ambrose family first landed after their trip from Germany. Hence, my question: just exactly which way did they go after their arrival in the New World?

Fortunately for me, someone else has captured the sequence of events on the Ambrose family's arrival and timeline and posted it on a website to share with all. If what was posted on the Ambrose site is correct—and thankfully, several footnotes and a bibliography help lay out the route of discovery—it appears that our Mathias Ambrose's father, also named Mathias, arrived in 1732, landing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

That detail was gleaned not from an original record, but was attributed to a transcription published in an 1876 book called Thirty Thousand Names of Immigrants in Pennsylvania. Despite the 1876 publication date for Professor I. Daniel Rupp's book, I am not concerned too much about access; the book has supposedly been reprinted by the Genealogical Printing Company in 1985. Still, that means locating the book in a library, unless I intend on purchasing the thirty eight year old volume, myself.

Fortunately, there are several libraries in the local area which carry genealogical reference books. The challenge is to determine which one actually has the Rupp book in its holdings. Some libraries do include their collections in the WorldCat system; others do not. I know that from experience, as the thousands of genealogical material our own local society donated to our city's library cannot be found in the WorldCat system; to find those entries, I'd need to know to look at our library's own website.

I tried testing out the system to see whether I could find Professor Rupp's old book. It's a good thing I did a test run. I discovered a few details of interest, the first being that that is not exactly the title the original edition was known by. Back in 1876—er, make that 1856 for the original edition—the title was more typical of that era: A Collection of Upwards of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French, and Other Immigrants in Pennsylvania From 1727-1776. If I wish to drive to Sutro, the large genealogical library in San Francisco, I can peruse its 583 pages for myself. Better yet, if I opt to purchase an updated copy for myself, it still would be possible—but not under the date provided in the Ambrose site's footnotes.

Frustrated that the details from the WorldCat entry didn't match up with the information on the more modern reprint, I took my search directly to Google, just in case. Thankfully, a single page entry in the website of the Gallia County Genealogical Society in Ohio filled me in on some pertinent details. Although it also stated the original publication date as 1876, the information page provided one useful tip: despite an updated version being published recently, the original is still available online via Internet Archive. And that edition does indicate the 1876 publication date.

Thanks once again to the help of research trailblazers—despite the occasional errors—following the trail can help us verify for ourselves the information provided by others. We can retrace the steps others took, a task which might otherwise have kept us wandering in circles for much longer.

Even so, there is quite a bit more I'd like to uncover about this Ambrose family after their arrival in the New World. Specifically, I'll need to confirm the other lines in Mathias' family, siblings who made up the collateral lines to my mother-in-law's second great-grandmother, Mathias' daughter Elizabeth. These will become the outer reaches of matches from my husband's autosomal DNA test results. Thankfully, now that I have an outline of the whereabouts of the Ambrose family following their arrival in Pennsylvania, I can work on locating the records of those collateral lines.

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