Saturday, July 27, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Ancestors' Transcontinental Travel (Not by Airplane)

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is from a suggestion I made to Randy Seaver recently.  I'm glad he liked the idea.

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Each week, The Weekly Genealogist (published by NEHGS) asks a survey question, and readers respond to the question, usually just selecting one of the answer options and sometimes with paragraphs of information.   Reader Janice Sellers suggested using this week's question.

(2) On 24 July, the question was:  Have you or any of your ancestors traveled across the United States by car, train, wagon, or some other form of transportation that was not an airplane? (You can decide what constitutes a cross-country trip, but since the distance from the east coast to the west coast ranges from 2,500 to 3,500 miles, depending on the route, we suggest it should be at least 1,500 miles.  Canadian cross-country trips also count.)

(3) Answer the question above in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook post.

Okay, here are the ones I know about.

• I'm not one of my own ancestors, but I have driven from Florida to California.  I went from Fort Walton Beach, Florida to Riverside, California and then north to Oakland.

• My parents, Bertram Lynn Sellers, Jr. and Myra Roslyn (Meckler) Sellers, drove from Miami, Florida to Whittier, California, leaving within a few days after having been married on October 21, 1961.  Even years afterward, my mother would complain about how it took three entire days to drive across Texas.  I don't know what reason or excuse my parents gave to their families for leaving so quickly after the wedding, but years later I pieced together that my mother was already three and a half months pregnant with me and she didn't want her parents to know.  I was told that my godmother in Whittier learned my mother was pregnant before my grandparents did.

• My paternal grandfather, Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr., drove from New Jersey to somewhere "out west" and stayed in the west for a couple of years.  I learned this from a list my grandfather compiled of all the places he had lived in his life.  He wrote, "1928–1929 Traveling thru west no perm. Add."  Unfortunately, I received the papers years after my grandfather had died, and my aunts were too young at that time (born in 1925 and 1928) to remember anything about him not being home.

• I believe my maternal grandparents, Abraham Meckler and Lillian (Gordon) Meckler, drove from New York to Miami when they moved south, probably sometime around 1949 or 1950.  And they likely drove from Miami to Las Vegas when they moved out there.  I don't know what year that was, but it was early enough for my younger uncle to graduate from Las Vegas High School in 1968.

And that's it for my ancestors traveling cross-country, at least ones I know about.  I do have one collateral relative, my great-grandmother's brother David Brainin, who went from New York to California before 1910 and spent at least seven years out west.  He registered for the World War I draft in Butte, Montana and served in the Army at Camp Lewis, Washington.  And before 1920 he had returned to the East Coast, where he stayed for the rest of his life.


  1. Your ancestors ventured much farther from home than mine did! I'm the only one who has traveled coast to coast in my family.

    1. Yeah, those recent generations were pretty adventurous, weren't they? But everyone else pretty much stayed put!

  2. Because we live in California, I had a better chance of cross-country travel. But I think my husband and I have traveled more cross-country than our ancestors.

  3. Considering how many of your ancestors traveled cross-country, the two of you must have done a lot!

  4. I just went to the Bonnie and Clyde ambush site. I want to go to niceville,Florida soon

    1. Cool! Did you go to the site strictly because of Bonnie and Clyde? (Or is there any other reason to go to Sailes, Louisiana?)

      I'm supposed to be visiting Niceville in September. Maybe you can go then and we can meet up!


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