It’s been six years since I met Richard Barons, Executive Director of the East Hampton Historical Society, when he agreed to talk with me about Long Island history, as it may relate to the Dayton family. Now that I’ve had years to review his statements and reflect on them, I am even more impressed by his knowledge and I am able to more fully appreciate his insight and observations.
Much of what he said is still on my mind but I’d like to share again one point in particular because the work has the potential for significance to many early Long Island families.
I explained to Mr. Barons that we wanted to trace the migration of several people in Ralph’s congregation at Ashford, with the hope that the information might lead us to more interesting discoveries, as patterns were identified. We believed a study of this kind might even provide answers to questions not yet asked. Beyond migration patterns in America, such information might even lead us nearer to the story of the Ralph Dayton family crossing. I then asked Mr. Barons if our plan was a good approach. He replied:
“The best, and probably the most interesting approach to finding the most probable means of crossing is to substantiate records of those in his congregation. This is something genealogists don’t do. I don’t believe that approach has been utilized…all of the flesh is interesting, but they are only concerned with the skeleton.”
You’ve got this generation that has not really been studied in quite the historicism we’d like.
You’ve got this first and second generation with this wanderlust who really don’t make roots, a lot of them don’t make roots. I mean, a lot of them leave part of their family here, often to take care of the land they have here, because that’s an investment, they don’t want to lose that, but then they go off to New Jersey, they go off to upstate New York in the early 19th century…some historians say this is unique to those two generations but…nobody’s really put it together to make a story yet.”
If determined researchers would meticulously trace and document movements of other Kentish immigrants such as Richard Brook, Thomas James, (James left the colony in 1645) Benjamin Price and John Osbourne, especially from Ashford and surrounding parishes, it is reasonable to think that many Long Island family histories could be greatly advanced.