Family migration patterns: Sheffey migration to Michigan, Ohio, Maryland

This post wraps up the other notable migrations of the Virginia-based, African-American Sheffeys.

One notable migration I won’t be covering (or at least not yet) is the movement of entire family groups from Virginia to Maryland – Baltimore in particular. One small migration which also won’t be covered in this post is the small migration of Virginia Sheffeys to Washington D.C. For the most part, the Sheffey family groups which moved to Maryland and Washington D.C. maintained active links with their cousins in Virginia.

Another reason to not address these migrations is I have a better understanding of why so m any Sheffey family groups moved to Baltimore in particular. Their migration stated early – from the mid 1880s onwards. Baltimore simply offered more opportunities of work and, arguably, better pay than their native Virginia. It was a thriving port, a ship building hub and the city offered vast construction and building-related opportunities as it expanded during this period.
So let’s cast a glance at some of the migrations which took Virginian Sheffeys further afield…

Family migration patterns: Sheffey migration to Michigan
Glen Sheffey (1909-1970), son of Horace Sheffey (1855-?) and Sarah J Carpenter of Wythe County, VA, is the founding father of the Michigan branch of the Sheffey family. He’s another who has been difficult to trace through the records. However, in 1920 he was resident in Wythe County, VA. However, he was resident in Michigan at the time of his death.

Fontaine Sheffey (1925-1992), son of Adam Sheffey, Jr (1896-1962) and wife Anna D Cullins of Indiana, was resident of Detroit, MI at the time of his death. I’ve been unable to trace his move to Michigan in the census records.

Both men had roots in Wytheville, Virginia and were cousins related through two different branches of the family. However, with Fontaine Sheffey’s father, Adam Sheffey, moving from Virginia to Indiana around 1920 (see the Indiana section of this post below), it’s difficult to know whether Fontaine Sheffey had any contact with his Virginian cousins.

A few recent Facebook messages between me and one of my newly found Michigan relations confirmed that these two families didn’t know of each other’s existence. She’s a descendant of Glen Sheffey. A few years ago, quite by chance, she bumped into one of Fontaine Sheffey’s descendants. They both were amazed when they said their surnames. Over the course of the conversation they both talked about their families’ Wytheville, VA roots and had quite a laugh.

Family migration patterns: Sheffey migration to Ohio
Clarence T Sheffey (1886-1947), son of Giles P Sheffey (1831-?) and wife Sarah C Stephens of Wythe County, Virginia, settled in Columbus, Ohio by the time of the 1920 Census.

Franklin Sheffey (1892-1948), son of Harvey Sheffey (1857-?) and wife Anna Summons of Augusta County, Virginia, first settled in Dayton, Ohio (1929 State census) and was resident in Cuyahoga County, Ohio at the time of his death.

This is another instance of two distantly related cousins moving from Virginia to Ohio at roughly the same time. As with Michigan, it‘s more than likely that this was a coincidence. Roughly 140 miles apart, their families could have been unaware of other’s existence.

Further afield:
There are a few instances where Sheffeys left Virginia between 1920 and 1930, striking out entirely on their own. And the Midwest seemed to be the location of choice for these pioneering types who settled in Indiana and Arkansas. Perhaps it was in search of better land to farm, more land to own, a better life…you could speculate for days about the whys and wherefores. However, like many of the Sheffeys who moved as family groups, ties with Virginia ceased. All knowledge of the family’s Virginian roots disappeared within one to two generations.

2 thoughts on “Family migration patterns: Sheffey migration to Michigan, Ohio, Maryland

  1. Adding to the Glen Sheffey migration…when he left Virginia in the 1950’s, he moved to Ashtabula, Ohio (40 miles east of Cleveland on Lake Erie). He remained there until 1966 when he moved to Lansing, Michigan where his eldest son, Arthur had moved to years earlier to attend Michigan State University where he earned his degree. Between 1967 and 1973 all but one of Glen’s 6 children followed him to Michigan…James Rudolph and Sally Mae Sheffey in 1967…Mary Margaret Sheffey Jackson in 1968 and Helen Sue Sheffey Robinson in 1973, William remained in Ashtabula, where he still lives today. Glen’s wife, Lena stayed in Lansing until her death in 1993. All of his children are alive except James Rudolph.

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