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Summerlin Family Home Page

Updated February 9, 2011

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The Summerlins appear to have moved to Mississippi in the 1800 mainly from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The Mississippi country was opened to settlement in 1798 when Congress organized the Mississippi Territory. (Until it became a separate territory in 1817, Alabama was part of Mississippi.) During the first two decades of the nineteenth century, Americans moved west in such great numbers that historians refer to that mass movement as the “Great Migration.”
During the first phase of the Great Migration, which began in 1798 and continued until 1819, two distinct waves of immigrants swept into the Territory. The first wave began when the Territory was organized and subsided when the War of 1812 began. The second wave developed after the war ended in 1814. It peaked in the years 1818-1819 and receded after the Panic of 1819 brought about a general economic depression. In the period from 1798 to 1812, the flow of immigrants was steady but unspectacular, at least by comparison with the 1815-1819 period.
In the first period, settlers moved primarily into three general areas — the Natchez country, the lower Tombigbee River basin, and the Tennessee Valley. Closely linked to the notion that Mississippi offered exceptional economic opportunities for the immigrant was the widespread belief that the Territory was an idyllic“ “Garden of Eden,” an unlimited expanse of fertile country “like the land of promise, flowing with milk and honey.”

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