"This past summer and fall have been so cold and miserable that I have from despair kept no account of the weather. It could have been nothing but a repeatation [sic] of frost and drought."[Citation from http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/almanac/arc2009/alm09jun.htm].
Many settlers chose to move westward at that time. One famous sojourner was Joseph Smith, of Mormon fame, who moved from Vermont to New York. How did your ancestors fare in 1816? It wasn't a census year in the United States, but we can look to migration records to see if that might have been a trigger for travel. And if not, we can know they weathered a difficult time.
Image of volcano is from allvacationplace.com