My Ultimate Genealogy Road Trip

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

So I haven't talked about it on here too much (though that's likely to change in the future), but I freaking LOVE genealogy. It's pretty much my favorite hobby (other than reading, that is -- I don't think anything will ever surpass my love of books -- though it's a very close second).

As I discover more and more about my family's history, my desire to see the places my ancestors once walked increases. I would love to someday travel to the countries my family originated from (would I ever!), but since funds will probably not allow for that for many, many years (if ever), hitting the major high points here in the United States is a much more attainable goal. The places on this list are just a smidgen of places where my ancestors lived, and I definitely want to experience as many of the other places as well (thankfully, my more recent ancestors, other than my maternal grandpa's family, were all in Indiana or Champaign, Illinois, which is less than two hours away), like Coshocton County, Ohio, and Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

I have no plans for when I will take this trip yet (especially since we're going to be saving up to go to Disney again next year), but I figure these areas are the biggies that I want to check off.

Stop One - Bath County, Kentucky

Daniel Boone National Forest (photo from the WildForests wiki)

Heading south to Kentucky seemed like the natural way to start a road trip from Indiana. Bath County (specifically somewhere called Pebble, I believe, which seems to be such a small town/area that it doesn't even really count) is where my maternal grandpa was born. He and I were very close, though he died when I was six. His family moved to Alexandria, Indiana, when he was a toddler, but being so young when he died, I never really got to ask him about his family or Kentucky. I'd like to be able to see the natural beauty of the area; with the Appalachians and the Daniel Boone National Forest, there's plenty of it!

Stop Two - Bell Buckle, Tennessee

(photo from StyleBlueprint)
I didn't know my grandma's family very well; she had only been close with her paternal grandparents, who were both dead before my mom was ten. I had always especially felt disconnected from her mother's side. Though I knew my great-grandmother (kind of), I knew that my grandma's childhood had been tumultuous, and she didn't really have anything nice to say about anyone in her mom's family, so I hadn't really thought about them much when I was a child. As I got into genealogy, and I started tracing the lines back, I began to think about them more. That only increased tenfold when, while cleaning out my grandma's house, I found a scrapbook of that side of the family. I have faces to go with names, and photos of Bell Buckle in the 1920s. I want to learn more about who they were. Plus my mom says she thinks we still have some distant family down there.

my great-great-great-great-grandmother, Nancy Elizabeth (Jones) Lance - 1920, Bell Buckle, TN

Stop Three - Alamance County, North Carolina

Cane Creek Meeting historical marker (photo from the Hinshaw Photo Album on Rootsweb)

My family has a lot of history in Alamance County. The cabin my 7x great-grandfather, John Allen, built for his wife, Rachel Abigail Stout, and their children is located at Alamance Battleground. The Cane Creek Friends Meeting, the first Quaker community in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, was founded by my 8x great-grandfather, Simon Dixon, and my 9x great-grandmother, Abigail (Overman) Pike, was a member there before going off to preach at patriot camps during the Revolutionary War. Since both my grandmothers' families were largely Quaker (and connected, if you go far enough back -- my parents share 7x great-grandparents), several of my lines from both side of my family converged around Snow Camp, North Carolina, where the Cane Creek Meeting is located.

Stop Four - Jamestown & Williamsburg, Virginia

the Virginia House of Burgesses in Williamsburg (photo from
My first ancestors to come to the United States (at least as far as my research has shown), my 12x great-grandfather Jeremiah Clements and his mother Elizabeth Fuller (and his siblings), arrived in Jamestown in 1617, so of course I'd need to stop there. A few miles away is Williamsburg, where my 11x and 10x great-grandfathers (father and son, both named Thomas Ballard), served in the House of Burgesses. I'd also like to stop by the College of William and Mary; the younger Thomas Ballard sold off 330 acres of the family plantation so there would be a place where the college could be built. I'm currently in the process of trying to join Daughters of the American Revolution through one of my Ballard ancestors.

Stop 5 - Middletown, New Jersey

Penelope Stout Commemorative Coin -- I'd love to own one someday! (photo from

I would be so incredibly excited to go to Middletown, because that's where my favorite ancestor, my 11x great-grandmother Penelope (Kent or Van Princis) Stout, lived. She was of either English or Dutch descent, and ended up being a complete badass. After arriving in the United States (around Sandy Hook, New Jersey), her first husband was killed, and she was disemboweled and partially scalped. She crawled into a hollow tree where she held her intestines in and lived off of moss for a week. When some Native Americans came by, she begged them to kill her, but instead, they took her back to their village and healed her. She was then supposedly sold to the English at the Gravesend settlement in New Amsterdam (now in Brooklyn), where she met Richard Stout. They married, moved to New Jersey, and helped to found the Middletown area. Her friendship with the man who had healed her helped her to save their settlement from an impending Native American attack, which then helped foster relations between the settlers and the Wampanoag. When she died at the age of 110, she had hundreds of living descendants. When operational, the Spy House Museum features an exhibit on her.

Stop Six - Barnstable & Plymouth, Massachusetts

Plymouth Rock (photo from Wikipedia)

As a Mayflower descendant, no road trip to important genealogical sites in my ancestry is complete without a stop in Plymouth. However, my 12x great-grandfather, Samuel Fuller (the son of Edward Fuller, not his brother) moved to Barnstable around 1639; many of my other early American lines, like the Dunhams and Fitzrandolphs, lived in the Barnstable area as well (though most of my Barnstable lines ended up moving to Piscataway in New Jersey). Plymouth Rock is a must-see, of course, though I'd also love to see the area of Cape Cod settled by my ancestors.

Again, these are just a few places I'd love to visit to get in touch with my family history, but they're definitely on the top of my list!

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