Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Pratt Migration-Travel and Transport II

Moses Pratt moved his family from Nantick, Massachusetts to Dublin, New Hampshire about 1771 or before. I don't really know why. It couldn't have been for the fertile soil. Remember the quote from Dublin's Home Page ?  "One can barely imagine the hardships undergone by the early settlers in wresting a livelyhood from the thin, rock-strewn soil..." The early migrations of younger sons in Massachusetts and Connecticut tended to be northward rather than westward.
Here are some extracts from "The Yankee Pioneers-A Saga of Courage" by Samuel B. Pettingill (1971):
"Why did the tide of migration push to the north? It could not have been from population pressure...Some people think the settlers were fools to go to hilly, rock-stewn country rather than to the ', flat and rock-free meadow lands...' west of the Alleghenies. These critics do not know the economics of transportation. The narrow wagon trails westward were almost impossible in winter and spring mud. And even in dry weather, transportation costs by ox-team were prohibitive. While this explains the logic of northward migration in the late 1700' does not tell why the settlers moved at all. Although there was plenty of land left in lower New Englad, nevertheless as it became more settled it began to have greater money value. Hence it was logical for the younger generation to think of the practically free land in northern New England." Then the author talks about lumbering, the potash trade and fur trapping still being available in northen New England. Continuing: "...The laws of inheritance probably influenced some of the migration to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The old English system of primogeniture and entail of land to the oldest son never got firmly rooted in New England, nevertheless, the laws of Massachusetts and Connecticut provided that when a man died intestate, the oldest son inherited a double portion of the land...this meant that the oldest son got twice as much land, in value, as each of his younger brothers...Daughters inherited no land if there were sons. These laws of inheritance did not promote brotherly love. They were bound to make the younger sons and daughters, and the wives of the younger sons, unhappy with their lot."
Another advantage of northen New England was the availability of water transportation. The Connecticut River, which forms much of the border between New Hampshire and Vermont, flows south to Long Island Sound. Lake Champlaign; on the border between Vermont and New York, provides outlets both north and south after portages, the Hudson River south to the Atlantic; and the Richelieu River north to the St. Lawrence. Maine has several rivers that flow easterly to the Atlantic.
Dublin is about 80 miles northwest of Nantick.The migrant family would have included Moses, his wife Jemima and probably seven children including our ancestor Asa, then about 13 or 14. The youngest would have been 1 or 2. Such a family for such a distance would have required wheeled transportation. I am guessing at least two ox-drawn carts with the father and older boys walking. Their biggest problem? Probably finding forage along the way for their oxen.
To follow their route on today's roads find Massachusetts Route 119 northwest of Boston and go northwest to the New Hampshire state line, then continue northwest on New Hampshire Route 119 to US 202, then north to Route 101, then west to Dublin. Their first leg would have been from Nantick to Boston, then the center of Colonial roads.
NEXT: Off to Vermont.

Emailed Oct. 29

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