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Identifying Gateway Ancestors

By Joe Crouch in Lexington, Kentucky, USA

In the mid- to late-1800s it was popular in
Kentucky and Tennessee for
biographical sketches to be written and published in newspapers or
books. The biographer would come through, make notes based upon personal
interviews and then go back to their home office, typeset the sketch,
and publish it.

One such book was the "History of
Illustrated." The
biographical sketch on William H. CROUCH of
Montgomery County,
, one of my collateral relatives, indicated that his parents,
Harding CROUCH (born
16 June 1772) and his wife were both from England
Yet Harding CROUCH was the grandson of my particular apparent CROUCH
immigrant ancestor -- Richard CROUCH of
Goochland County Virginia
immigrated to
Virginia from England
in 1726.

Another such book was the "History of
Todd County, Kentucky
" with a
biographical sketch on George W. JESUP whose grandfather, James E. JESUP
(born December 1762 in
Wilton, Connecticut
) is also listed as an
Englishman. James E. JESUP of
Wilton Connecticut
was the great-great-
grandson of James JESUP who came to
New England
prior to 1649.

How could these individuals be listed as Englishman, yet both clearly
were grandsons or great-great-grandsons of immigrants? The only apparent
rational for this mistake, I believe, was that Harding CROUCH and James
E. JESUP, like all other Colonial Americans born before American
Independence from England, were legally and technically Englishman and
thus subjects of the King of England. Thus the statements that the
previous generation were Englishman and leading to the assumption that
their parents came straight from

I've seen other sketches where similar wording was used indicating the
parent or grandparent was from
. However, one should not accept
at face value the statements in those 19th-century biographical sketches
that say their ancestors were Englishman or from
as they may
have several generations more to go before they really were from

[Editor's note: In a 20th-century biography about one of my pioneer
Alaskan relatives, it was claimed that he was a "Dutchman." Ja! His
immigrant Vanderpool ancestor arrived in
New Netherland
in 1644, but he
was born in
Missouri in 1865.]