Excellent! I was ready to do the DNA test too, but there's no sense more than one of us facing the big needle. Thank you, Ronnie!
Yes, I tried to make the most of my free trial membership, which ran out a week ago. Man, am I feeling my wings clipped now!
Even so, I have over 40 pages of notes to follow up on in tracking Lideral's parents. Here's the latest theory (in brief):
"Virginia" between 1795 and 1798 was a whole lot bigger than today's Virginia, including present-day West VA. Because of the likely poverty of our Ford ancestors, the physical barrier of the Allegheny Mountains, and the convenient free propulsion available via the Ohio River, I've been imagining them starting out from present-day West VA rather than from present-day VA. I learned from a couple of 19th-century sources about emigrants to the Northwest Territory making an "ark" at some embarkation point along the river, piling all their belongings onto it, and floating on down the Ohio to a likely place to disembark and look for a place to settle down. Their disembarkation point reached, they would sell the timber or use it to make a barn or a cottage. Or perhaps they would travel north from there via oxcart and rely upon the help of others to gather timber and build what they needed. More likely, in the case of our ancestors, they hired themselves out on somebody else's land until they could afford to build for themselves.
Between 1795 and 1798, there weren't a whole lot of towns established where our ancestors could sell their timber or find supplies, employment, or conveyance north. Attached is a map of OH counties and main towns in 1802 (the nearest in date I could find to the time of their travels). They could have put in anywhere between Steubenville and Manchester. They could have gotten out anywhere between Marietta and Cincinnati. I would favor the last for two reasons. First of all, we locate them (more than 30 years later, it is true) in Champaign Co. (Hamilton Co. on this map), whence they migrate gradually north and east (until, of course, Daniel's sons all light out for ID). If they're related to anybody that I know in this extended family, they would abide by the first rule of family travel: Never go back. So I don't see them making their way north along the Scioto Trail (roughly along the Scioto River in the middle of the state), because that would take them to present-day Columbus, and they'd have to go west and then east again to be in Champaign in 1830 and Union in 1850.
Secondly, although this middle route is rich with Indian trails (http://www.railsandtrails.com/Maps/OhioArch1914/OHArchAtlas1...
), it is poor in towns in the late 1790s. And because our ancestors are poor, I see them needing towns--for supplies, for aid when the time came to build, and especially for employment to build their funds. Cincinnati (laid out in 1789) would have offered plenty of opportunity to buy, sell, and hire themselves out to finance the rest of the journey. Moreover, a military road north from there had just been opened by General Wayne at the end of the Northwest Indian War that concluded with the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. Even more attractive than the road, however (and this is a third reason for favoring Cincinnati as a place for them to disembark), is the Great Miami River. Migrating *upriver* is not nearly as attractive as migrating downriver; however, this is some pretty flat territory, and as it turns out, the first inhabitants of Dayton, one of several towns established along the Great Miami in the late 1790s, did indeed pole up the river on barges.
On this well-peopled route, our ancestors could have found towns at several places along the way to either provision themselves to pole on up toward where we find them in 1830 or to hire themselves out as farm labor and/or domestic labor to save money and move on when the work runs out.
Though I haven't found any mention of our Ford ancestors (yet) in any of the early counties, Champaign County, once it gets established in 1805, is positively lousy with Spains! I'm just sure Daniel gets his middle name from some friend or benefactor from the days in Champaign County. Maybe an employer?
Turns out there's historical fiction about life on the Ohio River in this era! I've been reading _Mike Fink: A Legend of the Ohio_ by Emerson Bennett--very entertaining stuff (if you can get past the gratuitous racial epithets!), though I'm afraid the story leaves the territory of Ohio rather early on. I think the villain is taking the abducted maiden in distress to New Orleans. :)