Our Immigration Stories: Rebekah Niblock Staff Attorney

Whether they came over the Bering Strait, the Mayflower, or are first generation Americans, our staff and volunteers are guided by their own immigration stories in everything that they do in serving immigrants in downstate Illinois. These are the immigration stories of our agency.

This is Rebekah Niblock’s Immigration Story.


Rebekah Niblock has been an Immigration Project Staff Attorney since 2013.

She is the descendant of Scottish immigrants through her paternal line. They arrived throughout the 1700s to escape famine and political instability.  Her ancestors were among the earliest colonial settlers in the Appalachian regions of what later became the United States. Her immigration story is the story of two families: the Niblocks and the Caldwells.

Rebekah’s Caldwell ancestors have a rich history. The Caldwells were sailors and other sea-farers that served and worked  in the Mediterranean during the fourteenth century. Afterward, they settled in France where they remained until religious persecution under King Francis I forced them to flee to Scotland.

Upon arriving in Scotland they purchased land under the condition that they would send sons and fighting men to help King James V of Scotland.

One of the Caldwells, John Caldwell, married and relocated to Ireland, as many of Rebekah’s Scottish ancestors would do prior to resettling in the colonies. John did not feel Ireland was safe for his new family and sought to join family members already in the American colonies.

The Caldwell family arrived in the colony of Delaware in 1727, then relocated to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and later relocated again, this time in Virginia in 1742. Other Caldwells joined them to Virginia and formed the “Caldwell Settlement.” Many descendants of the Caldwell Settlement also relocated to other colonies and, after the American Revolution, different states throughout the east coast.

Her ancestor that bears her surname, William Niblock, came to North Carolina circa 1750. He arrived with other colonists to Pennsylvania and settled in the northwest corner of Rowan County, North Carolina.

William was a Scotsman who, prior to arriving to North Carolina, moved to Ireland seeking better economic and political conditions. However, famine in Ireland and continued political turmoil compelled him to seek new opportunities in the colonial United States. The land William was able to purchase remains in the Niblock family.

Today Rebekah helps many people with immigration stories similar to her own ancestors. Hundreds of years ago John Caldwell sought to reunite with family already in the Americas. Now, Rebekah helps clients sort through the complicated immigration system that often stands as an obstacle between them and family reunification.

Rebekah helps immigrants fleeing persecution as her own ancestors fled religious persecution in France and later fled political turmoil in Scotland and Ireland. Today Rebekah’s ancestors would have been called “asylee seekers” or “refugees.”

Her ancestors also made the journey to the colonies in order to escape famine in Ireland. Countries in such dire conditions today sometimes qualify for “temporary protected status,” something Rebekah helps immigrants in downstate Illinois apply and re-apply for today.

The Immigration Project is the principal provider of high quality low cast immigration legal services in downstate Illinois. To learn more about our mission and how you can contribute please visit us at  immigrationproject.org, you can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.


By Hanna Tarbert