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From the North of Ireland to the North River of the Shenandoah

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 21, 2005


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by Lee K. Ramsey

James and Margaret Ramsey, an Ulster-Scot Farming Family in Augusta County, Virginia, c. 1741–1778

"FROM THE VICISSITUDES of the agrarian, plantation life in Ulster, came a young couple to colonial America, to face the uncertainties of a new world. Having endured the hardships of their journey at sea, the steady traffic of ships plying the Delaware River must have been a welcome sight.

As this new land reflected in their eager eyes and their hopes were rekindled for a new way of life, they would soon make their way into the Virginia Valley, lying between the beautiful Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains, to the pioneer settlement of Augusta County, Virginia, most likely under the guidance and indentureship of John Smith, a well known captain of the Augusta County militia and a lesser known promoter of emigrants from the north of Ireland.

The Ramsey family’s early history reveals a traditional 'Scotch-Irish' heritage, with the familiar migration and settlement patterns following the ‘Old Wagon Road’ from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, cross the Susquehanna River down into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia; and, by 1769, the trek made by their children to the North Carolina Piedmont and the Yadkin River Valley region to the Catawba Valley in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina; and, by 1803, they would follow the trails to Tennessee."

This article examines the lives of James & Margaret Ramsey, and their migration to America, into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.