Gateway and Immigrant (Original) Ancestors

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.My local Genealogy Group[i] recently met via Zoom and discussed “Gateway Ancestors” and “Immigrant Ancestors.” A Gateway Ancestor is one that you find that can be the individual that, once you have a direct connection to that person, there is an established genealogy back to royalty. For example, The Order of the Crown of Charlemagne (in the United States) has a list of Gateway Ancestors that lead to a direct lineage to Charlemagne. Although my wife has a lineage back to Charlemagne, her “Gateway Ancestor” isn’t included in their list. I don’t believe I have any royal ancestors. Certainly, nothing going back to Charlemagne.

Another site,, provides “Gateway Ancestors” that can help you join The Baronial Order of Magna Charta and The Military Order of the Crusades. Again, I don’t have any known ancestors that connect with either organization.

Then we talked about our known “Immigrant Ancestors.” Using the sorting and selection capabilities of Family Tree Maker 19 for Mac, I quickly determined many of my immigrant ancestors.

My Most Recent Immigrant Ancestors – Sarah H (Blackhurst) Barber & Fanny (Taylor) Blackhurst.

I wrote about Sarah previously. She was born in 1847 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. In 1848, her father, Stephen Blackhurst, came to the United States. In 1850, his wife, Fanny, and daughter, Sarah, came to the United States. They originally lived in Auburn, Cayuga County, New York, and lived there for about ten years. Then the family moved to Sheridan, Calhoun County, Michigan. Stephen and Fanny lived there until their deaths, in 1869 and 1889, respectively. Sarah moved from Calhoun County to Detroit, Wayne County, about 1899 and lived there until she died in 1928.

My Earliest Known Immigrant Ancestor – Thomas Sanford (1607-1681)[ii]

Flag of New Haven Colony Courtesy Wikimedia

Thomas is my 10th great-grandfather in my Brown Line. I know very little about Thomas. However, I believe he was born in August 1607 in Essex, England. His son, Samuel Sanford, was born in 1643 in Milford, New Haven Colony (now part of Connecticut), so it is clear Thomas came to America before that. Thomas died in 1681 in Milford.

Other Early Immigrant Ancestors

My 11th great-grandfather, Frances Posey, was born in France about 1615. His daughter Anne was born in “Old Charles County” Maryland, in 1650, indicating Frances came to America before 1650.

My 9th great-grandfather, Joseph Parsons, was born in Beaminster, Dorset, England, in 1620. His son, Joseph, was born in 1647 (probably) in Massachusetts.

My 8th great-grandfather, James Blackwell, was born in 1647 in York County, Virginia Colony. I have not learned his parents’ names yet or their immigration dates.


So, I have 17th-century immigrants that came from England and France to the Province of Maryland, Massachusetts Bay Colony, New Haven Colony, and Virginia Colony.

With so many 17th and 18th century immigrants in my tree, I think I’ll add an “immigrant” fact to those individuals known to have immigrated. For example, a woman born outside America but had children born in America, but I don’t have a death location is likely an immigrant ancestor.


[i] Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society (

[ii] I have not personally research the Sanford line after my 4th Great-grandfather, Ezra Clugston Sanford (1763-1813). Ancestors before him are tentative/speculative.

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