Ohio Emigration and Immigration

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The "Emigration and Immigration" section of the United States Research Outline lists several important sources for finding information about immigrants. These nationwide sources include many reference to people who settled in Ohio. The Tracing Immigrant Origins FamilySearchWiki article introduces the principles, search strategies, and additional record types you can use to identify an immigrant ancestor's original hometown.

Pre-statehood settlers of Ohio generally came from Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey. Most of the early settlements were along the Ohio River and other waterways. By 1850, immigrants from Germany, Ireland, and England traveled on Zanes's Trace, the National Road, various canals, and Indian trails. One "story map" of Ohio during the period of the American Revolution is:

Ohio, Trailways to Highways 1776-1976. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1977. (Family History Library film 1015821 item 2.)

An illustrated explanation of the migrations to Ohio based on the 1850 census is:

Wilhelm, Hubert G. H. The Origin and Distribution of Settlement Groups. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University, 1982. (Family History Library book 977.1 W2o; fiche 6093835.)

The Western Reserve in northeast Ohio was heavily settled by New Englanders. Settlers in the Virginia Military District of southwest Ohio were mostly from Virginia and Kentucky. Scotch-Irish and Germans settled in the east and south part of Ohio, and the Irish most often settled in cities. The Germans tended to choose farms in rural areas. Many immigrants from England, France, Canada, Wales, and Scotland moved to Ohio between 1850 and 1880. In 1880, 15 percent of Ohio's people were foreign born. Until 1914, Italians, Russian Jews, Slovenes, Hungarians, and Poles were attracted to Cleveland and cities in northeastern Ohio. Today, about 10 percent of Ohio's population is African American.

Railroads were in Ohio by the 1830s. Ohio's population tripled between 1820 and 1840 but only increased by about 50 percent from 1840 to 1860.

Although Ohio had ports of entry on Lake Erie, no passenger lists for ships are available. The majority of the immigrants arrived through eastern ports (New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore) and New Orleans. The library has records for each of these ports from 1820 to about 1920 or later. Philadelphia records start in 1800. Records of persons coming from Canada to the United States were not recorded until 1895. For records after 1895, see "Canadian Border Crossings, 1895-1954" in the "Emigration and Immigration" section of the United States Research Outline.

Records and books on the Irish, Germans, Blacks, and American Indians are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under OHIO - MINORITIES. Records of small groups of Alsatians, Russians, Norwegians, and Welsh are listed under OHIO - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION.