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Monday, September 13, 2010

Finding an Ancestor's Origin and Immigration to S. Carolina

Susan asked about early immigration records

I would like to know when, where my family of Gilliard, Gillyards or any other spelling of the name name arrived in America

It is stated by all family researchers I have spoken with that they arrived in Charleston, SC. But dumb me I want to have a document that shows me they arrived in Charleston or any other port if possible. I believe the name is French so how/why the families were in Spain is another mystery.

* Joseph Marion Gilliard b. 1770 Spain d.1850 Lowndes or Brooks County GA
* Joseph Jasper Gilliard b. 1789 Spain d. 23 July 1865 Alachua County

No one has absolute proof of the birth places; it's all so far just hear say.
ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hi Susan. It's very wise of you to want documentation of family stories! Family stories are often wrong, or have a bit of truth but are mixed up. So a good researcher will never rely on them absolutely, but will use a family story as a clue, then find documents to support it or prove it incorrect.

You haven't told me what sources you have already searched or found but your first item should be census records. Then I'd look for land records. Try to find some type of document that provides information on their land of origin - is it France or Spain? What does the 1860 census give for place of birth?

Also sometimes individuals from Portugal or Spain were listed as black or mulatto - have any records that you found for your family given this as ethnic origin?

Just because they settled in S. Carolina does not mean much in terms of immigration. They may have arrived elsewhere. You need to first develop some kind of time frame for their immigration. You haven't told me what year you first find documentation of them being in USA so it's difficult for me to help you with specific ideas of where to look for ships passenger lists.

Step 2: find out what ports of arrival were in use during the time frame of their arrival. Then find out what records have survived for those ports. Here is a starting point for ships arriving in South Carolina but they could have arrived via any port that was in use at the time, and then gone on to S. Carolina

Have you looked for obituaries of the two men you listed, and their wives and children? An obituary or death record might list the country of origin.

I would gather all the records you can on the family. Sometimes it is wiser to completely fill out ALL details of your ancestors in their new country before you attempt to find their immigration.

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