No ancestor of mine, so far as I know, was in North America before 1492. I am the descendant of immigrants. “Simple men but true,” says one of the family geneaology books. Another book tells of a Scottish forebear who announced he was taking his wife and children to the New World, and the rest of the family pleaded with him to leave his children at home, for safety’s sake. “But lave the bairns he would’na,” someone recorded, after the man took his wife and children across the ocean and they didn’t sail off the edge of the world. If current immigration policies were in place a few centuries ago, most of us wouldn’t be here.
Family records show that the first Lybargers (my mother’s family) first arrived from Germany to Philadelphia in 1732, on the ship the Snow Betsy. THEIR NAMES didn’t speak English or have much money or know what would be expected of them. They may have done indentured work for some years, to pay off their fare. They had another son. They found land to farm. They helped start a Protestant church. There are now more than 20,000 Lybargers in the family genealogy.
I’m grateful that my great-grandfather Edwin L. Lybarger, my grandparents Harry and Ethel Lybarger, and their daughter Nancy Lybarger Rhodes, never threw anything away. All the papers and records came to me, and I can now share what I found out about the Lybarger family and what they did after they got here.
Because of what I learned and couldn’t learn, I wrote a novel, The Color of Prayer.