When I wrote about the migration of my ancestors across the United States last, on 14 July 2015, I left off with my grandmother and her father and sister just leaving Virginia for Missouri. That was in 1894. Many of her sisters and brothers, with their families, had already migrated west. The rest of her siblings but one would follow within a few years.
Asa Harvey McDaniel, my great-grandfather, along his two youngest daughters, Martha Alwilda Jane (my grandmother) and Sarah Carnelia, left their Virginia home for the last time just before Easter 1894. We have a copy of a letter written to Asa by another daughter, Mary Saphronica (Molly) Davis, dated 18 April 1894 that acknowledged a letter from him sent from Missouri. Asa and the girls had travelled to Tarkio, MO, near where daughters Virginia (Jennie), Elizabeth and Rebecca – all of whom had married men of the Slemp family in Virginia – and son George McDaniel lived. Two other of Asa’s children, with their families, had also moved west by then: Eliza Bundy to Savonburg, KS in 1885; and John McDaniel to Norman, OK in 1892. Other brothers were to join their siblings later: James McDaniel to Norman in 1896; William McDaniel to Neosho, MO in 1899; and Isaac to Savonburg about 1906.
Map showing the probable routes taken by Asa McDaniel and his children in their move west
Asa and his daughters likely travelled by wagon from Virginia, possibly to Louisville where they might have boarded a train for the remainder of their journey. There was no easy route across the Cumberland Mountains at that time. When McDaniel families had moved west in the 1880s, the trains were just beginning to branch into Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Land was opening up in the region which spurred migration of people seeking to start over or acquire new lands to farm. The McDaniels were part of that great push into the plains in the latter half of the 19th century and their moves appear to be directly tied to the development of the railroads.
(Map acquired 6 June 2016 from Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum website)
Maps showing the railway lines as they developed offer a great perspective on how, when and why families moved to certain areas of the country. Prior to their arrival in the plains, it was an arduous task for people, especially those with children, to travel and the only way was in a wagon train.
Other information that has allowed me to put together the times of the moves are the research done by my aunt in the 1960s and ‘70s, correspondence between relatives and the various censuses taken in the regions. From these I found out when and where Asa’s grandchildren were born. This narrowed down the places where the families resided and the dates they lived there.
By the time Asa arrived in 1894, his children were well established in Missouri and Kansas. New land was opening up in Oklahoma which prompted the move of John from Virginia and Rebecca and her family from Missouri. Both settled near Oklahoma City. Rebecca apparently took her newly-arrived younger sisters, Martha and Sarah, with her when she moved from Tarkio, MO, to Yukon, OK.
Yukon is where my grandmother met my grandfather, Edwin Miller, and where they were married in 1895. (I will detail how the Miller family arrived in the area in a subsequent post.)
Asa moved south to live with his son, John, within a year or so of his move west. He remained there until his death in 1901.
By the turn of the 20th century all but one member of the Asa McDaniel family, Mary Saphronica Davis, were living in the Great Plains and a new era in our history was under way.
Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated