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Individuals migrated to the United States for many reasons. They may have come to avoid religious or political persecution. They may have immigrated to have the opportunity to own a piece of land. They may have been a criminal forced to migrate to the United States. Economic hardships in their homeland may have been a contributing factor to their desire to migrate.

Chronology of Immigration

In the back of the book, They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins (pages 241-247), there is an immigration chronology covering the years 1562-1990. A few of the significant immigration dates are given below.

  • 1607: Jamestown, VA founded by English colonists
  • 1614: 1st major Dutch settlement was founded near Albany, NY
  • 1620: The Mayflower arrived with the Pilgrims
  • 1629-1640: The Puritans migrated to New England
  • 1648: Religious intolerance in Germany motivated large numbers of Germans to leave for America. These were mostly non-Catholic, non-Lutheran, and non-Reformed religions.
  • 1681: Quakers founded Pennsylvania
  • 1683: 1st German settlers (Mennonites) arrived in Pennsylvania
  • 1697: Slave trade expanded rapidly among New Englanders
  • 1707: Scottish migration began
  • 1717: Transportation of English criminals to American colonies made legal as a form of punishment
  • 1718: Large numbers of Scotch-Irish emigrated as a result of discontentment with the land system
  • 1730: Germans and Scotch Irish from Pennsylvania colonized Virginia valley and Carolina back country
  • 1771-1773: Severe crop failure brought new influx of Scotch-Irish to American Colonies
  • 1775: British government suspended emigration due to the hostilities in American colonies (American Revolution)
  • 1783: Immigration resumed, especially large numbers of Scotch-Irish
  • 1798: Unsuccessful Irish rebellion sent rebels to the United States
  • 1807: Congress prohibited the importing of black slaves into the United States
  • 1812: The War of 1812 between Britain and the United States brought immigration to a stand still
  • 1815: The first great wave of immigration to the United States; brought 5 million immigrants between 1815 and 1860
  • 1818: Liverpool became the most-used port of departure for Irish, British, Germans and other Europeans
  • 1820: 151,000 new immigrants arrived in the United States
  • 1825: 1st group of Norwegian immigrants arrive; country overpopulated
  • 1846-1847: Crop failures in Europe; large Irish immigration due to the potato famine
  • 1848: Failure of German revolution resulted in the immigration of political refugees
  • 1855: Castle Garden opened
  • 1861-1865: The Civil War significantly reduced the number of immigrants to the United States
  • 1880: 5.2 million immigrants entered the country between 1880 and 1890
  • 1882: Chinese immigration slowed down due to the establishment of the Chinese exclusion law; sharp rise in Jewish emigration to the United States prompted by the outbreak of anti-Semitism in Russia
  • 1892: Ellis Island replaced Castle Garden; immigration of Chinese prohibited for 10 years
  • 1906: Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization established
  • 1910: The Mexican Revolution brought many to the United States looking for employment
  • 1914-1918: World War I halted a period of mass migration to the United States
  • 1933: Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany
  • 1942: Japanese-Americans removed to detention camps; Mexican laborers strongly encouraged to come to the United States to ease the shortage of farm laborers caused by World War II
  • 1945: Large numbers of Puerto Ricans emigrated to the United States to escape poverty
  • 1954: Ellis Island closed, marking the end to mass immigration
  • 1959: Increase in refugees from Castro’s Cuba

Another good book about immigration includes, They Came in Ships, by John Philip Colletta. Another book, The Source (pages 440-519), dedicates an entire chapter to the discussion of immigration.

Immigrants would tend to settle in their own ethnic groups. This generally happened so they could communicate among themselves, feel more at home, and provide assistance to each other.

More detailed analysis of emigration to the United States is discussed in the book, We the People: An Atlas of America’s Ethnic Diversity. There are numerous maps showing ethnic diversity in 1980. Each chapter focuses on a different ethnic group and some discussion pertaining to the history of the migration is included.

Passenger Lists

The United States did not require a listing of passengers until 1820. Consequently, comprehensive ship passenger lists are not readily available prior to 1820.

There were many ports of access into the American Colonies and later, the United States. In the book, American Passenger Arrival Records by Michael Tepper, on pages 96-100, there is a table listing many of the known ports that passenger lists exist. These include such ports as Alexandria, VA; Baltimore, MD; Beaufort, NC; Belfast, ME; Boston, MA; Bristol, RI; Charleston, SC; Galveston, TX; Georgetown, D.C.; Key West, FL; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Port Townsend & Tacoma, WA; Sandusky, OH; and San Francisco, CA. These passenger lists can be found at the National Archives.

Ports of entry could be found all along the eastern shore, western shore, and the southern shore of the United States. In addition, ports of entry were found along the Great Lakes. Many researchers get caught up in the most commonly heard ports, such as Castle Garden, Ellis Island, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston that they forget these were just a few of the many ports available for immigrants. Unfortunately, there is no single database that lists all immigrants. The closest source would be the Passenger and Immigration List found through Ancestry Library Edition. This database also includes other immigration and naturalization lists that may be searched “globally.” In addition, the Filby series, now published by Gale, is well known. Many of the entries in the Filby series are now in electronic format available through Ancestry Library Edition.

Much confusion occurs with the Filby series with the novice user. The first three volumes are labeled A-G, H-N, and O-Z. In each of the subsequent years, beginning in 1982, a supplement was published. Many researchers believe the supplement covers those individuals who migrated for that year. For example, the 1993 supplement would include only those individuals who migrated to the U.S. in 1993. This is not the case. The whole series is a work in progress. As new resources are found, the names are abstracted and indexed. The 1993 supplement would include passengers from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The books indexed may be declaration of intentions, oaths of allegiance, passenger lists, early immigrant settlers, or any other resource including information pertaining to immigration. There are now 33 supplements to the original publication and new supplements are added yearly.

Each entry is not a complete abstract of the passenger list, naturalization records, etc. Rather, it gives a source number in bold print. The user must refer to the front or back of the book to know which source the name is found in. On page 53 of the 1993 supplement, we find the following entry:

  • Braun, Marie 20; New York, N.Y., 1864 9983.12 p22

This entry is for the immigrant Marie BRAUN. She is age 20. She either arrived or was naturalized in New York in the year 1864. The source code 9983.12 refers to the book, German Immigrants: Lists of Passengers Bound from Bremen to New York 1863-1867, with Places of Origin, volume 3. The record can be found on page 22. The researcher would need to track down the source to access the original entry. You may use our library’s online catalogue to see if any Clevnet library owns the book, or you may use WorldCat which is a national online catalog.

Our department has many publications listing passengers. They are too numerous to list here. Most of the passenger list publications may be shelved by the Dewey decimal number. There are a few publications that cover only one state. These would be shelved with the state it covers.


Some of the most commonly used resources include the following:


  • Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Baltimore 1820-1834

New York-Immigration

  • Early New York Naturalizations
  • Passenger Arrivals at the Port of New York 1820-1829
  • Passenger Arrivals at the Port of New York 1830-1832
  • Passenger Ships Arriving in New York Harbor vol. 1: 1820-1850
  • Palatine Families on New York 1710 (2 volumes)


  • Irish Immigrants in Nineteenth Century Ohio: A Database
  • Irish Immigrants in Nineteenth Century Ohio Naturalizations
  • Early Nineteenth-Century German Settlers in Ohio, Kentucky, and Other States


  • German Immigration into Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania German Roots Across the Ocean
  • Swiss and German Pioneer Settlers of Southeastern Pennsylvania
  • Thirty Thousand Names of Immigrants (commonly referred to as Rupp’s book on immigrants)
  • Passengers and Ships Prior to 1684: Penn’s Colony, vol. 1
  • Emigrants to Pennsylvania, 1641-1819


  • German Immigrant Servant Contracts Philadelphia, 1817-1831
  • Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819
  • Pennsylvania German Pioneers (commonly referred to as Strassburger’s book)


  • Early Virginia Immigrants

Dewey Decimal

  • List of Emigrant Ministers to America 1690-1811
  • Immigrant Ancestors: A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America before 1750
  • Irish Passenger Lists 1803-1806
  • Irish Passenger Lists 1847-1871
  • Pennsylvania German Immigrants 1709-1786 (should be shelved with PA books)
  • Rhineland Emigrants: Lists of German Settlers in Colonial America
  • American Migrations 1765-1799
  • Passenger Arrivals 1819-1820
  • Famine Immigrants: Lists of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the Port of New York 1846-1851 (6 volumes)
  • Ship Passenger Lists: National and New England (1600-1825)
  • Ship Passenger Lists: New York and New Jersey (1600-1825)
  • Ship Passenger Lists: Pennsylvania and Delaware (1641-1825)
  • Ship Passenger Lists: The South (1538-1825)
  • Wuerttemberg Emigration Index (7 volumes)
  • Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633 (3 volumes)
  • Great Migration: Immigrants to New England 1634-1635 (3 volumes)
  • German Immigrants: Lists of Passengers Bound from Bremen to New York 1847-1871 (4 volumes)
  • Passenger and Immigration Lists Index (36 volumes)

Passenger lists may be found on the Internet as well. The Ship Transcriber’s Guild has many passenger lists. More is added to this site on regular basis. Other websites may be found through our department’s website or go to Cyndi's List to view links to other immigration records.

Our department owns several passenger lists on CD-ROM. These can be found on our CD-ROM computer. Everything is stored on the virtual drive so the actual CD-ROM does not need to be installed. Ships

Many researchers try to find information and/or photos of the ship their immigrant ancestor came on. We do have one book in our collection, Ships of Our Ancestors, that includes photos of actual immigrant ships. The name of the ship is indexed in the back of the book. If the researcher’s ancestor arrived through Ellis Island, their may be links to a photo of the ship through the Ellis Island. Two other books that give information on ships include (1) Ships from Scotland to America (2 volumes) and (2) Ships from Ireland to Early America 1623-1850.

Wayne County, Ohio Immigration

In the binder titled, “Immigrants residing in Wayne County, Ohio from 1850-1880,” there is a detailed list of the immigrants (head of household) residing in Wayne County, Ohio in the 1820 and 1830 census. For the U.S. census years 1850-1930 (except 1890), there is a break down of the number of individuals born outside the United States and listed under particular countries.

Here is an overview of the total number of immigrants to the best of the department’s knowledge.

  • 1820 => 35
  • 1830 => 656
  • 1840 => unknown
  • 1850 => 3,133
  • 1860 => 3,158
  • 1870 => 2,978
  • 1880 => 2,745
  • 1890 => unknown
  • 1900 => 2,229
  • 1910 => 2,047
  • 1920 => 1,969
  • 1930 => 1,019

Immigrants residing in Wayne County, Ohio from 1850-1880 and its companion volume, Immigrants residing in Wayne County, Ohio from 1900-1930 provide a list of residents in Wayne County, Ohio who were not born in the United States. In addition, numbers are given showing the breakdown of the different ethnic groups.

For the census years 1850-1930 with the exception of 1890, here is a break down of the top five ethnic groups, providing the name of the country and the number of people born in that country.

Nineteenth Century Immigration Statistics, Wayne County, Ohio
1850 1860 1870 1880
Germany, 1077 Switzerland, 851 Switzerland, 775 Switzerland, 765
Ireland, 555 Germany, 666 France, 432 Ireland, 345
Switzerland, 513 France, 447 Ireland, 365 Germany, 266
France, 480 Ireland, 389 Germany, 323 Prussia, 225
England, 196 England, 180 England, 239 England, 208

Twentieth Century Immigration Statistics, Wayne County, Ohio
1900 1910 1920 1930
Germany, 775 Switzerland, 517 Switzerland, 458 Switzerland, 211
Switzerland, 685 Germany, 500 Italy, 293 Italy, 170
France, 157 Italy, 234 Germany, 283 Germany, 114
England, 152 England, 123 Austria, 157 England, 52
Ireland, 135 Austria, 114 England, 99 Hungary, 46

As a word of caution, some of these numbers can be deceiving. In the various census years, some of the inhabitants reported their birth place as Alsace, Baden, Hamburg, Hesse Cassel/Kass, Hesse Darmstadt, Hesse/Hessen, Hohenzollern, Mecklenburg, Oldenburg, Rhineland, Saxony (Weiman Elsenach), Schleswig Holstein, Schwarzbert, and Rudolstadt. Many of these places are provinces or towns in Germany. A more thorough study of the various places during specific time periods during specific countries would need to be done to have a more accurate picture of the ethnicity of Wayne County, Ohio. For now, suffice it to say that a large percentage of the immigrants residing in Wayne County, Ohio were from Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, England, Austria, and Italy.

Some places of key interest for settlement include “Little Italy,” located less than 2 miles east of downtown Wooster. Kidron has a large population of Swiss immigration. Near Kidron was the Sonnenberg settlement. Mt. Eaton had a large French population. A little French community located in Holmes County was Calmoutier. We do have a book on “Little Italy”, the Sonnenberg settlement, and Calmoutier. Refer to these books for more information pertaining to each community.

Note The term emigration refers to individuals leaving (exiting) the country. The term immigration refers to individuals entering (coming in) the country. Migration refers to moving from one place to another.


General Overview

To become a naturalized citizen of the United States, it was generally a two step process. The individual seeking citizenship would need to a file a declaration of intent. A few years later, they would file the actual naturalization papers. The declaration of intention and the actual naturalization need not be in the same county or even in the same state. Many immigrants declared their intention to become U.S. citizens but not all immigrants followed through and filed the actual naturalization papers.

The first law regulating naturalization was not passed by Congress until 1790. As a general rule, the two step process would take a minimum of 5 years.

Colonial Naturalization

Since the American colonists were subject to the British Crown, they considered themselves as inhabitants of the colonies. They assumed protection of the laws of Great Britain. In order to own property, to qualify for public office, to vote, or to own a ship, individuals needed to become naturalized British citizens. Full citizenship status could only become possible through parliamentary action. However, the transfer of property and real estate to heirs could be done through letters of denization, a process used to gain citizenship to foreigners.

Those citizenship records that have survived from the American colonies are mostly lists of oaths of allegiance. These were normally signed by individuals as they disembarked from the immigrant ships.

Declaration of Intention

Declaration of intentions is often referred to as the first papers. Usually, the immigrant would make his declaration within 3-7 years before becoming a citizen. The immigrant could begin the process after residing in the United States for two years. Sometimes the first papers may be found near the port of entry.

Naturalization Records

Naturalization records have several variable names. Sometimes they are referred to as petition for naturalization. Other times they may be referred to as an oath of allegiance or a certificate of naturalization. Oaths of Allegiances were most commonly found in Colonial North America. Naturalization papers are commonly referred to as the final papers.

Generally, the final papers could be filed 3 years after the declaration of intention was filed. However, three main exceptions to this rule exist. These are best summarized through the website of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

The first major exception was that "derivative" citizenship was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens. This also meant that an alien woman who married a U.S. citizen automatically became a citizen. (Conversely, an American woman who married an alien lost her U.S. citizenship, even if she never left the United States.) From 1790 to 1940, children under the age of 21 automatically became naturalized citizens upon the naturalization of their father.

The second major exception to the general rule was that, from 1824 to 1906, minor aliens who had lived in the United States 5 years before their 23rd birthday could file both their declarations and petitions at the same time.

The third major exception to the general rule was the special consideration given to veterans. An 1862 law allowed honorably discharged Army veterans of any war to petition for naturalization--without previously having filed a declaration of intent--after only 1 year of residence in the United States. An 1894 law extended the same no-previous-declaration privilege to honorably discharged 5-year veterans of the Navy or Marine Corps. Over 192,000 aliens were naturalized between May 9, 1918, and June 30, 1919, under an act of May 9, 1918, that allowed aliens serving in the U.S. armed forces during "the present war" to file a petition for naturalization without making a declaration of intent or proving 5 years' residence. Laws enacted in 1919, 1926, 1940, and 1952 continued various preferential treatment provisions for veterans.

The naturalization laws changed frequently. For a more detailed description, refer to the following two books:

  • Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States by Christina Schaefer and published in 1997.
  • They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins by Loretto Dennis Szucs and published in 1998.

A timeline showing the important dates of naturalization records can be found on pages 5 and 6 of the Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States. A discussion of immigration laws as they relate to Chinese and Japanese Americans can be found on pages 6-8 of the same book. Immigration as it relates to German and Italian Americans in World War II is discussed on pages 8 and 9.


Sources Used to Assist in Locating Citizenship Information

There are many resources available to help locate citizenship information.

Census and Mortality Schedules

One of the most common resources used to find citizenship information include the census and mortality schedules. Some commonly used abbreviations include:

  • Pa – Papers, immigrant has petitioned the court of citizenship
  • Na – immigrant is a naturalized citizen
  • Al – immigrant is an alien
  • NR – immigrant information not reported

In summary, the 1890 through the 1930 U.S. Census gives specific information regarding immigration. Sometimes the census requested the date of immigration. Other times it requested whether the individual was an alien or naturalized citizen.

The 1880 through 1930 U.S. Census includes not only the birth place of the individual but also the birth place of the individual’s father and mother.

The 1850, 1860, and 1870 U.S. Census provides the birth place of each individual. The 1870 census also asked if the person’s parents were of foreign birth and if males over the age of 21 years were U.S. citizens.

The 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 mortality schedules give the place of birth of the deceased. The 1870 and 1880 mortality schedules list the parents’ place of birth. The 1880 mortality schedules also ask how long the deceased was a citizen or resident of the area.

Homestead Applations and Donation Land Claims

Another source used to find out naturalization information is the Homestead Applications and Donation Land Claims. Only citizens of the United States could apply for land so they would have to show proof of citizenship when submitting the application. Occasionally, an affidavit showing the date and court of naturalization is included in the file. More information about the Homestead Act of 1862 is discussed in the chapter on property.

Passport Applications

Passport applications may be another source used to provide information on naturalization. Although passports were not required of U.S. citizens traveling abroad before World War I, approximately 2.6 million passports were issued by the U.S. Passport Office between 1795 and 1929. There was a short time during the Civil War when passports were required.

Passports usually show where the person planned to travel. Many times, this could be his home town. Other information on passport applications include the name, age, and signature of the traveler; place of residence; personal description; names or number of persons in the family intending to travel; date; date and court of naturalization; date and place of birth of applicant, spouse, and/or minor children; and the date, ship, and port of entry into the U.S. Passport applications are found at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Voter Registration

Voter registration lists sometimes include information on immigration. On 23 March 1867, Congress passed an act requesting registration of qualified voters. The qualified voter had to be male, twenty-one years of age, a resident of the county, and had to take an oath of allegiance to the U.S. government. Voter registrations may contain the following: date and court of naturalization, port of arrival, date of arrival, name of ship, and country of birth.

Consular Records

Consular records are one of the least known resources for genealogical information. These include correspondences involving naturalization cases. They can be found in foreign service posts of the U.S. Department of State and those of foreign governments.

One example of consular records is the registers and indexes of correspondences of the British Foreign Office in Cambridge, England. They have information pertaining to British subjects including vital statistics, applications for U.S. citizenship, and deportations. These dates cover the years 1793-1919.

A second example includes the records of the Russian Consulate offices in the United States, 1862-1928. These records contain information on Russian Empire subjects, including Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Finns, etc. These records include passports, passport applications, visas, nationality certificates, certificates of origin, inheritance information, contracts, and correspondences. Some specific information include name, date of birth, place of birth, details on family relationships, relatives living in the U.S. and Russian, physical description, photographs, details of military service, reasons for immigration, date and place of immigration, and religion. These records are located at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Wayne County, Ohio Resources

Several resources have been compiled by Genealogy and Local History staff to assist researchers with immigration research. In the 1820 U.S. Census, there were 35 “foreigners not naturalized.” Thirty-one of these immigrants settled in Sugar Creek Township. The remaining four were residing in Wooster City. See the table below.

In the 1830 U.S. Census, the numbers increased significantly. Here is a summary table for each of the townships.

U.S. Census Indicating Number of Foreigners not Naturalized
Township 1820 1830
Lake 19
Chester 14
Franklin 14
Salt Creek 1
East Union 35
Paint 53
Sugar Creek 31 203
Wooster Town 4 6
Wooster 26
Wayne 24
Green 103
Jackson 21
Baughman 65
Milton 40
Chippewa 32
Total 35 656

The 1840 U.S. Census did not provide information regarding foreigners not naturalized. Also, no place of birth is listed on this census.

Surnames and Countries in the Wayne County, Ohio Naturalization Records 1838-1859 was compiled by staff member Christina Walton in 2003. Based on the book, Wayne County, Ohio Abstracts of Naturalization Records 1812-1903, Christina compiled a list of surnames by particular country. Countries included Austria, Bavaria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prussia, Russian, Sardinia (Italy), Scotland, Switzerland, and Wales. The countries with the most names included Switzerland (8 pages), Germany (7 ¾ pages), France (5 ¼ pages), Ireland (4 ½ pages), Bavaria (2 ½ pages), England (2 pages), and Prussia (1 ½ pages).

Other notebooks of interest include:

  • Surnames and Their Meanings
  • Native Countries listed in the Wayne County Naturalization Records (1812-1859)
  • Examples of: Wayne County Common Pleas Court Naturalization Records and Wayne County Probate Court Declaration of Intentions and Naturalization Records
  • Other States and Ohio Counties found in the Wayne County Naturalization Records

All of the notebooks listed above are shelved under, “Ohio – Wayne – Court – Immigration.”

As a notation, the naturalization records from 1812 through mid-1859 and the applications of intent from 1812 throu 1855 were recorded in Common Pleas Court records. Beginning in 1852 through 1903, they were recorded in Probate Court records. From 1903 through 1906, these records should be available in U.S. District Court, Ohio Northern District, Eastern Division, in either Cleveland or Akron.

  • 568 United States Courthouse; Federal Building; Two South Main Street; Akron, Ohio 44308-1813; Phone: (330) 252-6000
  • Carl B. Stokes United States Court House; 801 West Superior Avenue; Cleveland, Ohio 44113-1830; Phone: (216) 357-7000

The naturalization records and declaration of intent papers from 1903 to 1906 may be housed locally at the:

  • Administration Building; Microfilm Records Office and Services; 428 W. Liberty St.; Wooster, OH 44691.

Declaration of intentions and naturalization records from 1906 through 1967 can be found at the:

  • The National Archives and Records Administration; Great Lakes Region; 7358 South Pulaski Road; Chicago, IL 60629-5898.

Early declaration of intent papers and naturalization records did not give much detail. At most, the age, place of nativity, year of emigration and term of court the application was filed. On the rare occasion, the month and year of birth, place of birth, port of arrival, and date of arrival may be given. The naturalization records generally provided the age of the individual, place of nativity, year of emigration, witnesses, and the term of court the record was filed. Physical descriptions were not given until around the turn of the 20th century.

Wayne County, Ohio Abstracts of Naturalization Records 1812-1903 provides abstracts of declaration of intentions and naturalization records for the dates indicated by the title. The Common Pleas Court Journal in which the record can be found is given. The first column gives the page number. The second column indicates whether the document is a declaration of intention or a naturalization record. The third column provides the abstract of the record.

Looking through the abstracts, the researcher will notice that many immigrants will be listed under one entry. This was a common practice in the 19th century.

On pages 35-41 and 47-60 of the aforementioned book, there is a four digit file number given. These are located in the Wayne County, Ohio Probate Court files located in the both the Genealogy and Local History Department and in Microfilm Records Office and Services in the Administration Building. On pages 41-46, the Probate Court file number is included in the third column. From pages 61 to 125, the microfilmed copies of the records can be found in Microfilm Records Office and Services in the Administration Building. There is an index in the back of the book. Copies of the declaration of intention papers and the naturalization records found in Probate Court can be found in a five-volume binder set. These file numbers include the following:

  • Vol. 1: 7837-7939
  • Vol. 2: 7941-8100
  • Vol. 3: 8101-8300
  • Vol. 4: 8301-8990
  • Vol. 5: 9035-9984

There is no index to the names provided within this five-volume set. However, the file numbers may be obtained through two different books:

  • Index to Probate Court Records, Wayne County, Ohio 1812-1917
  • Wayne County, Ohio Abstracts of Naturalization Records 1812-1903

Migration to and from Wayne County, Ohio

General Overview

Carrie Eldridge has published a series of books on migration patterns in the United States. These are found in our map/atlas case. The following is a list of those publications.

  • Appalachian Trails to the Ohio River
  • An Atlas of German Migration and America
  • An Atlas of the Northern Trails Westward from New England
  • An Atlas of Settlement Between the Appalachian Mountains & the Mississippi-Missouri Valleys
  • An Atlas of Southern Trails to the Mississippi
  • Atlas of Trails West of the Mississippi River

Each book includes detailed maps showing migration patterns. Background information on many of the trails is included.

Individuals usually migrated in groups. They may have moved as a family. They may have moved as a group of friends. They may have migrated as a cultural or religious group. They may have moved as neighbors. Knowing that individuals moved as part of a group may help locate a researcher’s missing ancestor. By using the “10-rule,” researchers may be able to find out where their ancestors migrated. The 10-rule takes into consideration the 10 families living on either side of the researcher’s ancestor. There is a good possibility that where you find one of those 20 families, the researcher will find his ancestor. This can be extremely helpful when working with pre-1850 census records and with common names such as Smith, Miller, and Jones.

Modes of Transportation


Individuals would travel on waterways (including rivers and canals), old Indian trails that later became roadways, and railroads. As the “wild west” would open up, more and more individuals migrated westward to seek their fortune in land.

In an article published in the Daily Record, date unknown, it was reported that many of the European emigrants who came to Wayne County journeyed most of the way by waterways. They sailed into New York and was routed up the Hudson to Albany, then across New York on the Erie canal. From there, they traveled Lake Erie to Ohio ports.

The Killbuck Creek in Wayne County was an important means of transportation for the Indians as well as the early settlers. The Killbuck Creek ran down to the Muskingum River which empties out into the Ohio River. The Killbuck Creek also meets up with the Tuscarawas River (east) and the Walhonding River (west). On pages 231 thru 233, Douglass includes some reminiscences from early pioneers about the Killbuck and Salt Creek creeks.

Individuals of Wayne County received goods from Coshocton. The good traveled by way of the Killbuck into the mouth of Apple Creek stream. Apple Creek stream neared what is now Madison Avenue. Residents would go in droves to obtain supplies from the boats.

The Ohio Canal was built between 1825 and 1850. At one time, it was planned to come through Wayne County, Ohio. However, it is believed that it missed coming through Wayne County by one vote. This was reported in Douglass’ history on page 261. The canal was chosen to go through Massillon instead. As a result, the towns along the Ohio Erie canal grew and prospered. Although the canal was about 30 miles away from Wooster, it provided an outlet for transporting early Wayne County, Ohio wheat, other farm crops, and some livestock. Farmers would either go to Massillon or Canal Fulton. These were the two principal terminals used by the residents of Wayne County, Ohio.

Indian Trails

One of the most important east-west Indian trails was the “Great Trail.” It started around the Delaware and Chesapeake bays, ran westward to the forks of the Ohio River, continued to run westward through present day Wayne County, Ohio and started to take more of a northwesterly turn around Mohicanville, Ashland County, OH and headed toward Sandusky Bay. There at Sandusky Bay it went around the west end of Lake Erie to the junction with the trails leading to the country around Lake St. Clair. It follows the similar path as present day US Route 30 until western Ashland County and eastern Richland County. A more detailed description of this route can be found on page 167 of Douglass’ History of Wayne County, Ohio. A discussion on other Indian trails through Ohio is written in the Preface in Archeological Atlas of Ohio.


The earliest road in Wayne County, Ohio was cut in 1808. It went from Massillon to Wooster, following a similar path of old Route 30. In 1824, there was a road cut from Cleveland to Wooster. This was known as the Ohio turnpike, which later became Route 3 and 42. Many of these early roads were gravel. In some cases, they were “corduroyed.” Corduroy roads were built on pieces of timber, especially in the low lying areas. Many of the early roads were closed during the Spring thaw and the winter time when drifting snow made it difficult for passage. Over time, roads continued to expand, connecting towns in one county to another as well as towns within the same county.

Another early road in Ohio was the Cumberland Road originating in Cumberland, Maryland in 1811. By 1818, it passed through Wheeling, Virginia (West Virginia) and into Zanesville. Another early route was known as Zanes Trace. This route later became the National Road. Zanes Trace went westward through Zanesville into Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, Terra Haute, and ending in Vadalia, IL.


By the time the Ohio Canal was build, efforts had been underway to bring the railroad to Wooster. In August 1852, the first Pennsylvania train arrived in Wooster. At that time, it was known as the Pittsburg, Ft. Wayne and Chicago Railroad. Loading stations were eventually built at Burton City, Orrville, Wooster, and Shreve. More information on the railroad of Wayne County, Ohio can be found in the Railroad notebook and other publications about railroads.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Interurban railroad grew in popularity. It has also been known as the electric train or trolley and was a key mode of transportation in Wayne County for more than 25 years. The Medina-Wooster line operated from 1901-1931. It was known as the Cleveland, Southwestern and Columbus Railway. We have a book in our collection about the Interurban railroad. Also, other information may be found in the lateral files.

Migration Pre-1850

Long before the surveys of Joseph Larwill and John Henry, several Indian villages existed in what is today Wayne County, OH. At least six are known to exist. There was one village in Plain Township, one village in Franklin Township, and 4 villages in Wayne Township.

The main Indian tribes in Wayne County, Ohio included the Delaware, Wyandots, and the Shawanese. Douglass mentions them in his book on the History of Wayne County, Ohio. However, when reading through the history, keep in mind that Indians were thought to be “savages” during the 18th and 19th centuries. Through Douglass’ words, it can easily be seen that his world view on the Native Americans was full of hostility. By 1812 most of the tribes had moved out of the area. Many had moved to the Sandusky area. It is also important to note that Ohio was more or less a hunting ground for Native Americans. The permanent villages did not have tepees but rather log cabins. Many of the Ohio Native Americans adopted this idea from the Pennsylvania Germans.

Migration Mid-1800s

According to Ben Douglass on page 178 of the History of Wayne County, Ohio, published in 1878, some of the earliest inhabitants of Wayne County migrated from Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and a few from the New England states. Taking a look at some statistics for the 1850-1880 census record, we verify this account of Ben Douglass. We can also expand indicating there were a number of individuals from New York and Virginia. In the 1850-1880 censuses, the top six birthplaces (excluding Ohio) given for the residents of Wayne County, Ohio were the following:

Migration to Wayne County, OH 1850-1880
1850 1860 1870 1880
Pennsylvania, 9,557 Pennsylvania, 7,718 Pennsylvania, 6,829 Pennsylvania, 5,713
New York, 546 New York, 360 New York, 335 New York, 318
Maryland, 310 Maryland, 262 Maryland, 225 Virginia, 279
Virginia, 295 Virginia, 210 Virginia, 165 Indiana, 236
New Jersey, 191 New Jersey, 119 Indiana, 114 Maryland, 179
Vermont, 99 Vermont, 60 New Jersey, 80 Illinois, 97

Migration Post-1880 through 1930

Migration to Wayne County, Ohio 1900-1930
1900 1910 1920 1930
Pennsylvania, 2,616 Pennsylvania, 1,987 Pennsylvania, 1,736 Pennsylvania, 979
Indiana, 245 Indiana, 383 Indiana, 578 Virginia, 389
New York, 201 New York, 184 Virginia, 528 West Virginia, 307
Virginia, 139 Virginia, 180 West Virginia, 394 Indiana, 258
Illinois, 104 Illinois, 113 New York, 217 Kentucky, 142
Michigan, 88 Michigan, 104 Illinois, 215 Illinois, 108

Between 1900 and 1930, Pennsylvania continued to be the top birthplace (with the exception of Ohio) of the residents of Wayne County, Ohio. However, from 1870 through 1920 we see that Indiana slowly moved to second place. By the 1930 census, Virginia moved up the ranks. This is partially the result of individuals moving northward from Virginia and West Virginia to look for work. By 1930, individuals born in Kentucky had started to migrate northward, also to look for work.

In summary, we see the general migration pattern shift from east to west, west to east, north to south (1900-1910), and finally from south to north. Some exceptions do exist, such as migration north from Virginia and migration southwest from New York. Through the years, individuals went from seeking land opportunities out west to seeking labor opportunities up north.

Department records

  • The Famine Immigrants 1846-1851
  • German Immigrants 1847-1871
  • Immigrants Residing in Wayne County, Ohio from 1850-1880
  • Immigrants Residing in Wayne County, Ohio from 1900-1930
  • Passenger and Immigration Lists Index
  • Passenger Arrivals: Port of Baltimore 1820-1834
  • Passenger Arrivals: Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819
  • Passenger Arrivals: Port of New York 1820-1829
  • Ship passenger lists
  • Wuerttemberg Emigration Index, vol 1-7

Department guides


  • Wayne County Airport (includes table of contents)
  • Expressway, Ohio Highway Patron (includes table of contents)
  • 3 booklets on the Cleveland Southwestern and Columbus Railroad
  • Railroads (includes table of contents)

External links

  • Ellis Island
    Throughout the last decade, widespread use of technology and the Internet have fueled significant advancements in the field of genealogy making it more popular now than ever before. In response to the frequent questions from the millions of visitors to Ellis Island each year, we offer some basic assistance to help you in the pursuit of your own family history.
  • Ethnic Index
    The Federation of East European Family History Societies (FEEFHS) was organized in 1992 as an umbrella organization that promotes family research in eastern and central Europe without any ethnic, religious, or social distinctions. It provides a forum for individuals and organizations focused on a single country or group of people to exchange information and be updated on developments in the field. While it primarily serves the interests of North Americans in tracing their lineages back to a European homeland, it welcomes members from all countries
  • Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild
    Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild is a website containing 9,000+ free passenger lists in 10 volumes for use in genealogical research.
  • Immigration Ship Passenger Lists
    Genealogy Resources & Records - Immigrant Ship Lists has actual Italian, Scottish, German and Irish ship passenger lists, as well as links to other emigrant ships manifests online.
  • Italian Passenger Lists
    This site contains passenger lists for immigrant ships from Sicilian ports of embarkation.
  • Steve Morse's One-Step Pages
    Steve Morse has a variety of indexes to choose from. He includes search tools to assist in find census, immigration and vital records.


  • Ohio-Wayne-Court
    • 2 volumes of “Immigrants Residing in Wayne County 1850-1880 and 1900-1930”
    • “Surnames and Their Meanings”
    • 9 other volumes pertaining to naturalization records in Wayne County, Ohio (see the chapter on Naturalization for a more extensive list and description)