Looking at my ancestors I see two groups: the movers and the stickers. The movers are the ones who pull up stakes. They are either pioneers, moving to newly opened lands, or they move to communities already established. They nearly always move for economic reasons—better land, better jobs. Sometimes their moves were tied to military involvement. Sometimes they move because other family has moved to the new location first. The stickers are the ones who stay and become established. They have families and businesses and may become political leaders in an area. They live lives that are entwined with institutions for decades.
Sometimes the movers can become stickers. And vice versa.
Elijah Webb Fuller was a mover in early life. He was born in Virginia, migrated west (and North) to Illinois, and then to northwest Missouri. His life covered half a continent. He started his family with Almariah Chowning in Illinois with the birth of Minerva Jane Fuller. But the rest of their eleven children were born in Gentry County, Missouri, where all grew to adulthood. When Elijah and Allie settled in Gentry County, they settled. Some of the children turned out to be movers and some turned out to be stickers.
I don’t know—yet—why this Fuller family moved to Gentry County, Mo., from Coles County, Illinois. I do know that there were other Fuller families who also migrated. As yet, I do not know the exact connection. Talitha Cumi Fuller, who married John Keller, also made the same move, but she and Elijah do not appear to be siblings. Her father, Henry Fuller, also came from Russell County, Virginia. The connections remain murky at this time, generally for my own lack of investigation, though other researchers may know the ins and outs of these Fullers.
Elijah’s daughter Sarah Mariah Fuller (middle-named after her mother) married William Stam, whose family had also migrated southward but from Wisconsin. This Stam family and several others moved to the new Oklahoma Territory when it was opened, although they were not part of the original “Sooners.” My grandmother, their daughter Clara Ann Stam, was born in 1905. She always said she was “older than Oklahoma,” which attained statehood in 1907. She and her husband migrated along with oil-field jobs in the 1930s, but when my father grew to school age, they became stickers. She lived in their house in Haskell County, Kansas, for more than fifty years.
My father’s paternal grandfather was a mover most of his life. Born in Ohio, raised a family in Iowa, reportedly died but really married a young girl in another part of the state and started a new family, divorced in South Dakota, sold tamales on the streets of St. Joseph, Missouri, moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he branched into the popcorn wagon business, selling popcorn, gum, and peanuts on Main Street until the day he died.
What are you? A mover? Or a sticker? Or a combination?