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The American Farmer in the Eighteenth CenturyA Social and Cultural History$
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Richard Lyman Bushman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300226737

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300226737.001.0001

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Family Mobility

Family Mobility

The Lincolns of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois

(p.183) 10. Family Mobility
The American Farmer in the Eighteenth Century

Richard Lyman Bushman

Yale University Press

In many parts of North America in the eighteenth century, as many as 40% of the people in a given area would move over the course of a decade, heading for frontier areas or cities where their prospects were better. Highly mobile farm families though common but are hard to trace because few names were unique. It is hard to know if a name in a new town’s records is the same person as the name in a former town. Lincoln family genealogy is useful in illustrating how moving families fared. Lincoln’s first American ancestors arrived in Hingham, Massachusetts, in 1637 and by the end of the century began to migrate, first to the Middle Colonies and later to Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois. They were motivated by the need for additional land for their offspring. For the most part they succeeded, although President Lincoln’s grandfather Abraham did not. He was killed by Indians, and his son Thomas, Lincoln’s father, never flourished despite multiple moves. President Lincoln gave up on farming and chose to make his living as a postmaster, lawyer, and politician.

Keywords:   Mobility, Frontier, Abraham Lincoln, Family, Land

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