Halt! Who Goes There!
Who hasn’t heard the phrase while watching an old movie? Not just a movie trivia question, that phrase is one of the United States Armed Forces General Orders for Sentries, and used especially when securing borders. Tracking travelers, however, didn’t start in the U.S.
We are a people on the move; we have been since the dawn of existence. At first, the search was to fill basic needs – food, shelter, protection for our bodies. Then someone decided to see what was over the horizon, just because it was possible. Along the way, settlements and countries evolved. With that came the desire to delineate borders and keep track of who went where. There are The Great Wall of China and Hadrian’s Wall, city walls, and castle moats. England, and later Great Britain, was one of the earliest countries to start tracking travelers.
So who were the travelers? Who determined whom to allow in and whom to keep out? What happened to the records? The paper trail that genealogists love to follow began.