Without a doubt, this book is invaluble for Westfall family researchers. In my opinion, it is the best researched Westfall family history book, bar none, that I have come across in thirty plus years researching our family history. It is extremely well written and full of interesting stories connected to the Westfall family. Even family historians whose Westfall ancestors did not come through western Virginia will benefit just from Lynn's history of New Netherland, Kingston, New York and the Minisink Valley in New Jersey. Lynn died recently from inoperable cancer, a terrible loss. However, I have was recently contacted by Lynn's brother Larry who informed me that there are many copies of this book still available. As soon as Larry sends me his address I will publish it here so family historians can order it directly from him.
The extracts below are from the preface and introduction by W. Lynn Hutchison
PREFACE [extract] by W. Lynn Hutchison
"This project began over thirty-five years ago when I discovered my ancestor was likely the original Westfall immigrant who came to American with the Dutch in the 1600's, but I lacked the evidence connecting my mother's family to his descendants who made their way to antebellum western Virginia, now West Virginia. As there were no family traditions going back to the 18th century, this project started with journeys to courthouses and state archives to research the original records. I had amassed material covering many branches and generations. Still unable to make the connection, I reached out to others actively researching the first Westfall family in America. I shared a detailed summary of my material, which I titled Westfall Notes, containing speculated family reconstructions looking for useful leads from the recipients. Three of these correspondents had a book as their goal as well. After Genevieve Lentz (Mrs. Ruby Wilmore) published Westfall Research containing much of my data, the project was shelved for the time being even though my personal line had not yet been connected to the immigrant.
"One correspondent was Ann Westfall. Not herself born a Westfall, she had been collecting Westfall data for many years prior to making contact. Her intent was to pass down her research to her children. She persisted in sending me her family groupings for review and I reciprocated by sending extracts from the more recent records (post-Civil War) while I needed to research in old Virginia records where pioneer Westfalls first settled in the 1740's.
"Reconstructing all of the families of that time and locale seemed to be the way to identify which family was my direct line. This led to tracing Westfalls westward to Ohio and Indiana. At the same time, the records of the first Westfalls in America were researched in New York and New Jersey records. Ten years ago, I moved from Ohio back to my birth state of West Virginia making it easier to research unfilmed records in the courthouses. The process of elimination identified my known ancestor's father, a deed proved it beyond a shadow of doubt. By this time Ann had passed away and could not share in the joy of discovery. With a renewed vigor, the book was resumed. Several interesting roles in America's history were uncovered. The project changed from a simple family history to a narrative of the Westfalls' direct involvement in American history intertwined with the descriptions of the families. While the narrative ends with the Civil War, families Ann and others had researched are presented in an appendix."
[At the end of the Preface, Mr. Hutchison lists those who contributed directly or indirectly to his research along with their residences at the time of their correspondence]
"According to publicprofiler.org, West Virginia has the highest concentration of people with the surname Westfall on the entire planet with a frequency of 735 per million over 4 times the rate as the next place, Ohio. Within the state of West Virginia, the highest concentrations are in the north-central counties. This book focuses on the ancestors of these Westfalls from the first immigrant to the first to settle western Virginia. It then follows sons of these first settlers to the Northwest Territory and a few that later made their way to the Pacific Ocean.
"These early Westfalls were primarily farmers in search of arable land which drove their migration westward forcing them to deal with the original landholders, American Indians. Before there was the Hatfield and McCoy feud, there was the Westfall and Swartwout feud which affected the shape of two states. Westfalls served their colonies and states in time of war. The Civil War pitted Westfall against Westfall. This book will follow Westfalls through the years, into battle, in scandals, presenting both the good and bad. The reader may learn more obscure American history than he cares to absorb, but with a lack of personal memoirs, it is the best way to get an understanding of their involvement in history or how events affected them. This account contains no pompous characterizations found in older histories. It is left to the reader to make inferences from their actions. When reading the Civil War chapter, grab a map and follow our ancestors on the campaign trail.
"The story is presented chronologically using geographical chapter headings as America's settlement progressed in time. Within many chapters an individual and his immediate family is the center of focus. A Westfall ancestor may be the subject of two such subheadings as he migrated west. Where sufficient information is known, family groups of two or more generations are presented in smaller font to summarize that ancestor's progeny. The largest presentation of family groups appears in the final appendix for Westfalls that existed at the time of West Virginia's statehood.
"The author has reconstructed families as accurately as public records permit. All sources are documented in footnotes. The narration contains very few speculations; however, there are many relationship mysteries that remain. Discussion of these is relegated to a special chapter where they are extensively analyzed. The same holds true for myths that the author feels must be laid to rest. Introduction continued in the book]