The Tracy Family History

Off to America

The Mariner's Museum, Newport News, Virginia

    Scotland, theoretically, and off and on, was an independent country until their union with England in 1707. The Scots never established themselves, by charter, in the American colonies. Other countries established colonies in America, but there was never a Scottish Jamestown. They would come as individuals, sea captains, etc..., but never as a country.

   There were many Scots in the colonies before our Woods and Wallaces arrived in 1724. The poorer Scots would sell their services in advance for a number of years, receiving free passage, room and board. After a specific agreed upon number of years as indentured servants, they were free to go on their own. Many Scots were shipped to the colonies as prisoners of war after they had lost battles with the English. Cromwell sent many Scot prisoners to America.
    The Scots would provide cheap labor and expertise in almost all areas. Many would become the nations' presidents.

Four things were apparent when our people got on board that boat in Ulster in 1724:
1. There were a lot of our people on that ship.
2. If our Woods were English, they were now no longer Episcopalian. There are simply no records, or family history, of any of our people being Episcopalian in the colonies: Except! I will come to this later in chapter 31.
3. Michael Woods, although English, was the leader of our clans. The Lowlanders would immigrate to the colonies as individuals, establishing themselves by use of their individual talents. The Highlanders had a tendency to immigrate as families, clans, headed by the chief. This is another reason to believe our Wallaces were originally Highlanders. It is possible that Michael Woods traveled from England to Scotland, where he married, then on to Ulster. (Note: Elizabeth Woods was the oldest at the time of immigration. Her age was 42. Her husband Michael Woods was 40.)
4. So massive were the immigrations that over the years fully one-third of the population of Ulster would immigrate. This means that two-thirds of the population remained in Ulster. It is known that many of our people stayed behind during the exodus of 1724. There is every reason to believe that we have cousins in Ulster today.

“This Mrs. Barrett referred to in Note 5 is personally acquainted with quite a number of Woodses now living in Ireland, who are descendant of John Woods and Elizabeth Worsop and who occupy positions of prominence and honor in the various walks of life. – Neander Woods, 1905

    As for the time of passage crossing the Atlantic: The library researched the subject and said that if the weather was good, the voyage from Ulster to the Colonies in those years took 7-8 weeks. The McDowells cross in 1729 taking 4 months, twice the normal time. Nothing is certain. The McDowells come back into our story.

    Taking an Atlantic crossing by sail was not like a Carnival cruise. There were storms, sickness, always many deaths, even starvation.
    Our people landed at New Castle, Delaware. (Some say Philadelphia.) This entire area was a stronghold for the Presbyterians. It was a few miles south of Philadelphia. It became a rallying point for the Scotch-Irish from Ulster.
    The Presbyterian immigrant ships would, also, land in the ports of the Southern colonies (preferably those ports controlled by the Quakers), avoiding the northern ports of New England. The Puritans controlled the New England colonies.
    The Puritans fled the tyranny of England to establish their own tyranny in the New England colonies. They were really mean. No man could vote unless he was a member of the church. He must not only be a member of the church, but also a member in good standing. The Baptists were run out. They would take a red-hot rod and run it through the tongues of the Quakers. Then the Quakers, with holes in their tongues, were ordered out of New England. If they did not go fast enough they were hanged.
    The Puritans did not treat their own any better, including the elite. They hung one of their own ministers because he did not believe in witchcraft. (He was obviously not a member in good standing.) The Scots gave a try at living in the New England colonies. Our "barbarians" were not welcome. They were treated rather shabbily.
    After 1720, the Ulster Scotch simply stayed away from the Puritan ports. Now you see why our people landed at New Castle. (America was founded upon the principle of religious freedom?)
    Not all of the Scottish or Ulster Scot immigrants were poor. There is no reason to believe that our people were destitute when they landed in America.
    I do not believe that our people just boarded a ship one day and sailed off to America without planning in advance. I suspect that they had relatives already in the colonies and were probably met at the dock, taken in and helped by kin. Our cousin Mildred Bailey in Leeton, Missouri, (She has done a lot of research, see chapter 9.) tells me what I always suspected: Our people lived in communities together, immigrated together, established new communities together, and intermarried. In some cases she has documentation. The clans always provided for one another.
    They were unique in this respect. The other nationalities quite often immigrated as church congregations: Not the Scotch-Irish. Their ministers rarely immigrated with their congregations.
    The Presbyterians crossed Maryland, but did not settle there. To live in Maryland you had to pay tithes. Our people had bitter experiences with tithes in Ulster. The Scots would establish themselves, temporarily, and sometimes permanently, in Pennsylvania. By the time of the Revolutionary War, one-third of the population of Pennsylvania were not just Scots, but Ulster Scots.
    Many Scotch immigrants took the following route: From Ulster to Pennsylvania, into Virginia, then North Carolina, and then into the “Waxhaws” in South Carolina. The “Waxhaws” is an Indian name…and would remain in bitter memory of the Wallace cousins to this day. That is getting ahead of the story.
    William Penn's father was highly placed, being Admiral of the Navy. He counted among his friends the King and those of highest birth and position. Penn's father had loaned the King a large sum of money. When the father died the rights to the estate went to the son. The King, unable to repay the loan, gave the son the entire colony of Pennsylvania.
    Being Quakers, they were overly honest. Penn purchased the land of Pennsylvania from the Indians, although he had a legal grant from the King and had no legal obligation to give the Indians anything. He could have treated them just like the Irish. Thus, the land was purchased twice. Not only did he buy the land from the Indians, but also paid fair market value.
Although it was the western frontier, it was no longer Indian Territory.
    William Penn wanted to set upon the earth "Utopia," called Pennsylvania. All were welcome, almost. However, only those who believed Jesus Christ to be the Son of God were allowed to settle.
    For the time, the colony was unbelievably liberal, and democratic. All men were treated equally, almost. There was democracy and freedom for all, almost. There were elected legislatures. An accused was to be tried before a jury in their own land. Indians were allowed to sit on the juries with the whites. They did not believe in Kings. They did not believe in witchcraft.
    However, many prominent Quakers owned slaves. They were needed to work the plantations. William Penn himself owned slaves. However, he provided that upon his death they would be freed. When he died the family sold the slaves. In 1729, the slave market in Philadelphia was flooded with slaves.
    In early American history, everyone, and I mean everyone, was involved in land speculation, including George Washington. The American philosophy was to gain rights to a large tract of land, then sub-divide and sell the land to the mass of foreign immigrants, or existing farmers who wanted a better deal. You can easily understand the math. The math almost never worked out as the American land speculators rarely, if ever, made a profit. (As we shall see, some of the colonial land speculators made a fortune. However, the Americans after the Revolutionary War did not fare so well.)
    We have seen that the English philosophy was totally opposite. Their theory was to gain title to the land, then rent it forever and ever. They did not sell. In England today the upper class still owns the land that has been in the family for hundreds of years. And, they still rent. The largest landowner in England today is the queen.
    Upon receiving the grant, William Penn immediately sold large lots to his wealthy Quaker friends in order to raise the large amount of money to create "Utopia."
    Now cometh, in the year of 1724, our people…to Pennsylvania. William Penn had died a few years earlier, but the family, and their wealthy Quaker friends, still owned the land. There was a classic breakdown in communications between the ruling Quakers and our Scotch-Irish. Our people came into the colony under the British flag. It was their understanding that any unsettled land was free for the taking. They owed no allegiance to the colony of Pennsylvania.
    Michael Woods led our clan to the west of the settled country in Pennsylvania, to land that was vacant. They selected the high land, with few trees, easy to clear. According to the custom of the time, they would have built log cabins. This clearing of the land and using the trees to build log cabins would be a pattern repeated by our people for many generations.
    Historian, Ruth Petracek, believes our people to be, at least, of the upper-middle class. It is possible they had enough money to have cabins built for them in advance of their arrival.
    I point this out because there were many Scots who arrived in the colonies destitute. They had used their last penny for passage. (Note of historical interest: Passage in 1723 was $22.50.) Those who had not enough money would bind themselves to work for three to six years to repay the shipmaster for their passage. If a man died at sea, the widow was then obligated for the passage of the husband, herself, and the children. When reaching port, the families would be literally ripped apart with the women and children taken by different owners to work off their debts as indentured servants. The children would face a long bondage as they could be indentured for eighteen to twenty-one years. If you had a cruel master, being indentured or bonded could be as brutal as being a slave.
    Those who arrived destitute on the frontier were forced to live in caves or tents until they could earn enough money to build a log cabin.
    Our people were not from this poorer class. They probably financed the preparations, passage, and settling in the colonies, the standard way for the landed class in Ulster. Having lived in London, England, some years ago, I am familiar with their peculiar ways of dealing with property. In America, if you want to set up a business you drive down the street until you see a building you like with a “for rent” sign in the window. You sign the lease and in a few days you are in business. This is not the way it is done in Britain. Land is so rare that you first have a difficult time just finding a building available. When I was there in 1973, I was dealing with a Realtor who was desperately trying to find almost 20 locations for McDonalds, who were about to move into London. These buildings have long-term leases, more than 100 years. You must first purchase from the previous lease owner, the right to the lease. Let us say they want $50,000 up front for the right to take over the lease. Then you take over the annual lease (rental) payments. When you want to move out of the building, you now sell your right to the lease for let us say $75,000. Over the long life of the lease the building can go through as many as 15 to 20 different hands.
    The Ulster Scots would sell their rights to the long-term leases on the property (farms), thus financing their immigration.
Our people gradually worked their way from the Chitoques Creek to Swatara and on to Paxtang Creek.
    It is hard today to go back in time and understand the country as it then existed. There were a few port towns (not even big enough by today's standards to be called cities): Boston, New Castle, Philadelphia, etc.…Their populations were only a few thousand. Stretching for only a few miles inland were the farms: Beyond that were the unknown Indian Territories. As you can see from the map, our people settled in the area of Donegal, next to the Susquehanna River. This was only 70-80 miles from the port of Philadelphia (50 miles from New Castle) …beyond civilization.
    There was one little problem that our people had about the land they selected to live on…it was not for sale. The Quakers (By Quakers I mean the Pennsylvania government.) wanted long term leases, “quit-rents”. Our people had had it with renting land in Ulster. They told the Quaker officials that they were not going to take any long term leases, or short term leases, or pay any rent, period! They simply became squatters. The result was that many of our people lived in Donegal     Township for 15 years before they received a title to the land they lived on.
    From the beginning of the colony some fifty years earlier, William Penn provided the land at such a low rate that even the poor could afford to live there. If one could not afford to purchase than they could rent. It would appear that even if you purchased the land, in addition, you still had to pay an annual quit-rent.
    By 1729, when our people were in Lancaster Co., land sales and quit-rents made the proprietors wealthy. But not by our people! Our family was not going to pay rent to the Quakers. They were not going to pay rent to the British. They were not going to pay rent to the Indians. Our people simply were not going to pay rent... again, period!
    It wasn't just our people who refused to pay rent. There were thousands of Scots who went into this unsettled country, and flat-out refused to pay rents. They were"…bold and indignant strangers, saying as their excuse when challenged for titles, that we had solicited for colonists and they had come accordingly.”
    The historian Dr. William H. Egle explains: "The Scotch-Irish were not treated with the same consideration accorded the Germans or Swiss. The latter could locate ANYWHERE, the former, not! The Scotch-Irish settled on the manor Conestoga and were removed by FORCE. Their cabins were burned and they were told to go elsewhere. The Germans immediately occupied this land from which the Scotch-Irish had been driven and warrants for the land were granted to them shortly afterwards. All except 500 acres of this celebrated manor was taken up by German settlers. The Scotch-Irish were then pushed beyond Swatara an Conewago, where they were allowed to remain. However, in the case of many, it was ten or fifteen years before they were afforded the privilege to take out warrants for it. Applications were made AT ONCE but many years elapsed before the warrant was insured."
    The Quakers (The manager of Pennsylvania was himself Scot-Irish.) did not know what to make of our "Wild Scots." The other nationalities, especially the Germans (Deutscher), were more than happy to accept the Quaker's terms. They worked hard and prospered, even to this day.
    The Quakers tolerated the Scotch-Irish because they made a perfect buffer between the other peaceful settlers and the Indians. There were problems with the Indians. You never knew what they were going to do. For the first fifty years the Indians were relatively peaceful, then, when our people were there, the Indians started acting up. The Quakers were pacifists, but being pragmatic they would let the Scots fight the Indians for them, and look the other way. To our people, after what they had been through in Scotland and Ulster; being tortured and scalped by the Indians was a "piece-of-cake." So the Scotch-Irish were tolerated and given special considerations. They were allowed to locate anywhere and even exempted from certain taxes. These were concessions not given to the other nationalities. As in Ulster, the relationship between the rulers and our people would change from year to year. Sometimes, our people were left alone in Pennsylvania and given liberal treatment. Other times they were not treated so well-- treatment would ebb and flow.

    I have not been able to find a book on Pennsylvania that specifically tells what it was like living there between the years 1724 and 1734, when our people were there.
    Other nationalities lived in Pennsylvania before William Penn receive his charter in 1681. Pennsylvania would remain a colony until the Revolutionary War. Because it was a social experiment, there were many rapid changes. Forms of government were tried, discarded, modified, tried again. There were problems.
    I have taken from various sources the history of Pennsylvania as a whole, over many years, and tried to tell the story as I assumed it affected our people during the years they lived there.
    There are many books on William Penn and his founding of "Utopia," Pennsylvania, at your local library.

    In 1737, our people finally got title to their land in Pennsylvania. However, by that time they were long gone, to Virginia. "…so the land was never lifted or surveyed." I had to look that one up in the dictionary. "Lifted," meant to retire a mortgage, or raise the status of the land to a higher level, in this case from squatter to ownership.
    Thanks again to Ruth Petracek and other historians for information and graphics used in this chapter.


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