As noted in Descendants of Sir William Blackstone, a historical puzzle, I have reason to believe that a (potential) ancestor of mine came to America somewhere in the years 1790-1810. He would have come from England, and he would have been travelling with at least one (and potentially up to three) son(s).

His name was Ebenezer Blackstone, and the son(s) he may have been travelling with are William, Hugh Benjamin, and Nathan. I have looked for his name in the immigration documents available at ancestry.com and have been unable to find him. I used the search string Blakstn so as to catch most of the potential spelling variations.

My question is whether there are any other good sources of information relating to immigrations from this time period. I assume that the ancestry.com data is not complete, and I was hoping there'd be something more complete elsewhere.

  • I would not assume that any data set, especially from this period, was complete. Remember that most of the records we use were created for some other purpose, not genealogy, and once their intended purpose was over, many are likely to be discarded. Even when an archive wants to assemble a complete collection, we don't know how many records were lost before the collection effort began, what may have been lost through damage, and so on. Consider this example: do you have a complete set of your own bank statements from the time you first opened a bank account?
    – Jan Murphy
    Jul 15 '14 at 23:30

Joe Beine's bibliography Finding Passenger Lists Before 1820 lists books, cd-roms & online databases. Some resources are available both online and offline.

Another thing to consider is how you might be able to search, or gather more information, without searching by name, which leaves you at the mercy of unexpected spellings and inconsistent indexing.

If there are other family members, or friends, neighbors, and associates in the area where he lived who might have traveled from England, look for their records as well. See Quicklesson 11: Identity Problems & the FAN Principle at Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained website.

Google Books can be a good source of background material for context. If you can find accounts of voyages from others who came to the US from England in the same time period, it may lead you to other clues that eventually lead to more records.

  • 1
    Thanks! This is pretty much exactly what I as looking for. I was unable to track down Ebenezer through the ancestry databases, but at least now I have a few more places to look. Jul 15 '14 at 12:02
  • Joe Beine's site is full of great resources -- it was a huge help to me when I was first starting my research.
    – Jan Murphy
    Jul 15 '14 at 15:10

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