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View Full Version : When did Monroe's family move to America?



Dagger Gordon
Dec-29-2009, 9:53am
Bill Monroe's name is Scottish, actually usually spelt Munro. Indeed their ancestral base is quite near where I live, and the current clan chief is a friend of mine.

It is often noted that some of the origins of bluegrass come from Scotland.

Can anyone please tell me when did Bill's family move from Scotland, and which of his ancestors made the move? I would be interested to know if it was his father, grandfather or great-grandfather - to get an idea of how 'Scottish' Bill's own background was.

GDAE
Dec-29-2009, 11:39am
A quick bit of genealogical research shows that Bill's father James B. was born in Kentucky, James' father John J. was born in Kentucky, and John's father Andrew (Bill's great-grandfather) was born in Virginia in about 1795. So, at least on the Monroe side, Bill was pretty far removed from his immigrant ancestor.

evanreilly
Dec-29-2009, 12:03pm
Bill would sometimes also obliquely refer to the Buchanan branch of the family tree and let it be known that he considered himself related to two Presidents, both of whom came from the area above and beyond Hadrian's wall.

Fretbear
Dec-29-2009, 12:47pm
A quick bit of genealogical research shows that Bill's father James B. was born in Kentucky, James' father John J. was born in Kentucky, and John's father Andrew (Bill's great-grandfather) was born in Virginia in about 1795. So, at least on the Monroe side, Bill was pretty far removed from his immigrant ancestor.

According to Richard D. Smith in "Can't You Hear Me Callin'":

The Monroe's had a warrior heritage. President James Monroe's first ancestor in America is believed to have been a Royalist Highlander who fought Cromwell's Puritans in 1648; Sir Robert Munro was the first colonel of the famed Black Watch, leading them in 1745 against Bonnie Prince Charlie's rebellion. John Monroe, patriarch of the Ohio County Monroes, was a soldier of the Virginia Line during the Revolutionary War and one of many veterans rewarded for his service with land grants in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

John Monroe (Andrew's father and Bill's great-great-grandfather) was born November 10, 1749, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, where President James Monroe also resided. (It is quite possible that they were distant cousins, making Bill Monroe at least a collateral descendant of the fifth American president) John moved to Kentucky in January 1801, bringing his family with him. By April 1832, he had made a permanent home in Ohio County, Kentucky, where he died in 1837.

GRW3
Jan-09-2010, 11:16am
Scots Irish is most likely, like a substantial amount of the people who populated the Appalachian region. I just read James Webb's Born Fighting, which is a pretty good introduction to their history, one that I wish I had read thirty years ago to understand my mother's family (and later my wife's) a little better.

A5-L
Feb-03-2010, 8:44pm
Nobody mentioned his mother's family (still 50% of his ancestry).

The Vanderver or, as originally written, van der Veer family originated from the city of Veere, province of Zeeland in The Netherlands.
That would make him of Scots/Dutch ancestry.
He confirmed this in a radio interview when he played over here in the 1970-ies.

evanreilly
Feb-05-2010, 9:39pm
Bill's mother was Malissa Vandiver. Maybe a variant of the above, or not....

Ivan Kelsall
Feb-06-2010, 2:19am
A5-L - It all depends how far back you wish to go. England has been invaded / settled by so many other peoples,that i could be of Italian (Roman),French,German ,Norse etc.( & through my father,Polish)ancestry.
There is obviously a Dutch connection with the Vandive(i)r van der Veer name,but that could have been many generations ago - it is there none the less,
Ivan

Dagger Gordon
Feb-06-2010, 2:57am
The Dutch connection is certainly quite interesting, and I don't want to demean the significance of his maternal line.

My original question was really to see how Scottish his family background was - would Scottish music be played in the home, for example -in order to get an idea of how directly Scottish music could be said to have inflenced him, and therefore been a major influence on bluegrass.

If his great-great grandfather was born in Virginia in 1749, it seems to me that (as GDAE notes) he was indeed far removed from his immigrant ancestor. Still, there are plenty of similarities between Scottish fiddle music and bluegrass so I'm sure it must have been an influence.

Mike Bunting
Feb-06-2010, 3:21am
What part of Scotland are his forefathers from?

Ivan Kelsall
Feb-08-2010, 3:24am
I very much doubt that 'pure' Scottish music (or English or Irish for that matter),would have been played in Monroe's home. But,many of the tunes that would have been played,would have been 'derivatives' of 'tunes/songs' taken to the New World by the settlers.
Monroe was rightly proud of his Scots / Irish ancestry,no matter how far removed. Many of the folk i've met & talked to in the US,think of England,Scotland & Ireland,& indeed many other countries as the 'old country' from which their personal ancestry derives - that's how it should be (IMHO),the same way that i'm proud that my father was from the USA,
Ivan;)

Tripp Johnson
Feb-18-2010, 6:53pm
Many of the folk i've met & talked to in the US,think of England,Scotland & Ireland,& indeed many other countries as the 'old country' from which their personal ancestry derives - that's how it should be (IMHO),the same way that i'm proud that my father was from the USA,

Well said...