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by Gary J. Ford
"With this brief entry, my family's life began in America. It meant my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, James Russell, a newly-arrived immigrant from Northern Ireland, received 300 acres of land in the colony of South Carolina.
The entry appeared in a listing of 62 other names in the journal of the Colonial Council of South Carolina on 17 January 1771. That entry for 17 January (as well as for 10 January) appears at the end of this article.
For hundreds of Irish immigrants who arrived in the port of Charles Town (now Charleston) in the South Carolina colony, their first footsteps in America are tracked across the pages of the Council Journal. The council was the governing body of the colony, and the journal a transcription of its daily business, such as recording land transactions for arriving protestant immigrants from Ireland.
As such, the Council Journal provides an excellent source for genealogists picking up the trail of families who sailed to South Carolina in the mid- to late-18th century. I know, however, where my family went after James Russell crowded into the Council Chamber in 1771.
When I look across the gray chop of Charleston harbor today, I want to know where his journey began. Therefore, the entry of 17 January 1771, points me east toward Ireland instead of west to America."
In this article, the author looks at the life and journey of his ancestor, James Russell - an immigrant from Northern Ireland to South Carolina.