My Genetic Genealogy: 1775-1825

Continuing on through my genetic genealogy timeline, my DNA has been found to match with 1,000+ 4th cousins or closer relatives who now live as far north as Vermont, span southward down the eastern coastline into Georgia, and inland to the now midwestern states of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas,  Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio.  We also can see the largest numbers of my ancestors are centered in the Southern regions of Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.  Primarily my paternal ancestors lived and prospered before the Civil War in Virginia. In fact, some of my kin from several generations back, moved into two of the gulf states of Mississippi and Alabama.  But, let’s focus our attention backwards in time for a moment to when Jamestown, the first colony, was settled in 1607–some 412 years ago to learn in what order the first 13 colonies were settled.  Next, we will proceed forward yet again to nearly two hundred years (180) to the 13-year-span 1787 to 1790, when the first 13 colonies joined the Union and became the first states in the United States of America.   

Below is an interactive map of States by order of their entry into the Union, followed by a table the shows the names and dates colonies were settled in proximity to their dates of entry as states.

StateEntry DateName of ColonyDate Colony Settled
1. DelawareDecember 7, 1787Delaware1638
2. PennsylvaniaDecember 12, 1787Pennsylvania1682
3. New JerseyDecember 18, 1787New Jersey1664
4. GeorgiaJanuary 2, 1788Georgia1732
5. ConnecticutJanuary 9, 1788Connecticut1636
6. MassachusettsFebruary 6, 1788Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay1620
7. MarylandApril 28, 1788Maryland1633
8. South CarolinaMay 23, 1788South Carolina1663
9. New HampshireJune 21, 1788New Hampshire1638
10. VirginiaJune 25, 1788Jamestown, VA1607
11. New YorkJuly 26, 1788New York1626
12. North CarolinaNovember 21, 1789North Carolina1653
13. Rhode IslandMay 29, 1790Rhode Island1636

Next, let’s look more closely at the characteristics of those colonies where my ancestors settled and how their lifestyles and beliefs were the same or differed across the thirteen. 

Economic Characteristics 

In general, a strong belief in private ownership of property and free enterprise characterized colonial life.

King James would Charter New England in 1620. Shortly after the Mayflower, the Puritans settled Massachusetts Bay, which became the most influential colony in New England. Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire beginnings can be traced back to that settlement in Massachusetts. Many of my maternal ancestors came over on the Mayflower and initially settled in New England.

New England’s main source of commerce was its fish and timber. Whales were common along the coast and became a valuable resource for the colonies.

Timber and furs were often exported back to England to be sold. By the time of the American Revolutionary War, New England had become a wealthy haven for merchants.

Many of my maternal “Lathrop” ancestors moved from New England into the middle colonies which included: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
Maryland, and Delaware. Their economies were based on shipbuilding, small-scale farming, and trading. Similarly, in the mountains and valleys of the Appalachian foothills, the economy was based on small scale farming, hunting, and trading.

Cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore began to grow as seaports and commercial centers.

My paternal”Blair, “Bolling,” and “Lee,” ancestors were well-known for their government, societal, and leadership roles in the economy of the Southern colonies and Virginia (eastern coastal lowlands). They were among those who owned large plantations that grew “cash crops” to export to Europe such as tobacco, rice, and indigo.

The middle colonies were home to multiple religious groups who generally believed in religious tolerance. Several of my maternal “Lathrop” ancestors were ministers in their home country as well as in the colonies. The religious groups in the middle colonies included the Quakers in Pennsylvania and the Catholics in Maryland.

The middle colonies had more flexible social structures and began to develop a middle class of skilled artisans, entrepreneurs (business owners), and small farmers.

Social Characteristics

Virginia and the other Southern colonies had a social structure based on family status and the ownership of land. Large landowners in the eastern lowlands dominated colonial government and society. The large landowners in the southern colonies maintained an allegiance to the Church of England and had closer social ties to England than in the other colonies.

In the mountains and valleys, further inland society was characterized by small subsistence farmers, hunters, and traders of Scotch-Irish and English descent.

The “Great Awakening” laid one of the social foundations for the American Revolution. It was a religious movement that challenged the established religious and governmental order. The “Great Awakening” swept both Europe and the colonies during the mid-1700s, resulting in rapid growth of evangelical religions such as the Methodists and Baptists.

The growth of a plantation-based agricultural economy in the hot, humid coastal lowlands of the Southern colonies required cheap labor on a large scale. Some of the labor needs, especially in Virginia, were met first by indentured servants, who were often poor persons from England, Scotland, Germany, or Ireland. Eventually, the South’s labor needs exceeded the numbers of indentured servants available. Ship captains would next forcibly fill their ships with Africans. These journeys of Africans to America became known as the “Middle Passage” in the triangular trade route that comprised England, Europe, Africa, the Americas, and the West Indies.

The development of a slavery-based agricultural economy in the Southern colonies led to the eventual conflict between the North and South and the American Civil War.

Crime and Punishment in the Colonies

Like today’s public court proceedings, the colonies used public punishments to discourage defendants from repeating their crimes and as swift lessons to onlookers–to detract them from committing crimes against the social order. Use of the death penalty varied among the colonies and was more often used in the southern colonies. Murder and rape were main capital offenses.  Capital punishment also extended to those repeat offenders of other serious crimes.

Hangings were not commonplace, but were performed in public places. Whipping posts were built next to courthouses so punishments could proceed immediately following the defendant’s trial and generally attracted spectators. The court’s goal was two-fold: repentance of the convicted and swift lessons for the onlookers.  For example, the court could whip, fine, or place unmarried men and women caught having sexual relations in stocks and pillories;  single women bearing illegitimate children were often whipped.  Punishments by the court also extended into the churches.  Churches scolded defendants, denied them certain privileges, or the ultimate punishment—excommunicated them. 

Other forms of public punishments including branding, cutting off ears, and placing people in stocks and pillories. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter (1850),  described men and women convicted of certain crimes forced to wear letters such as a capital A on their clothing in clear view for conviction of adultery or a B branded on their forehead for burglary. Banishment was the most extreme punishment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s