Tuesday, December 30, 2014

DECEMBER 30, 1811

203 years ago in Washington Township, Harrison County, Indiana Territory, two men of German ancestry obtained their titles to land in the Brock Creek Valley.  These titles were the eleventh and twelfth deeds issued by the Commissioner of the General Land Office for land that would be located within Washington County, Indiana.  These two men in the vanguard of settlement of the Indiana Highlands were Joseph Ryman/Reiman[Reyman]and Jacob Shreader[Schroeder].

The 160 acre tract claimed by Joseph Reyman was the southeast quarter of Section 5, T2N, R4E.  Brock Creek flowed through the southeast corner of this quarter section.  It was located near the trail that led from the ford at “The Forks” of the Driftwood and Muscatatuck Rivers to Royse’s Lick.  George Brock was the nearest neighbor as his burgeoning homestead bordered on the south. Reyman’s land is seen today at the address of 2279 N SR 135 which is ten furlongs north of the present city limits of Salem.   This real estate was originally claimed by Adam Coonrod of Jefferson County, Kentucky.  Coonrod sold his claim to Reyman and then made a claim in Harrison County, Indiana in the upper Indian Creek basin northeast of Corydon.

The land purchased by Jacob Shreader was the southeast quarter of Section 33, T3N, R4E, which was immediately northeast of the Coonrod/Reyman ground.  It is located today in Washington Township at the northwest corner of Lewellen Road and John Bell Road.  Shreader bought out the claim for this land from his brother in law Martin Pottorff.  Pottorff used the proceeds from his assignment to make the down payment on the land that bordered on the west of the Shreader tract.

Joseph Reyman and Jacob Shreader had similar backgrounds.  Both were of German descent.  Reyman was born in 1766 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.   Shreader was born in 1771 in Berks County, Pennsylvania.  Reyman migrated south down the Great Valley Road to Shenandoah County Virginia where he was married in 1793 to Elizabeth Houshauer who was also of German descent.  The Reymans then came to Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap and settled in Fayette County, Kentucky where they were living when the Indiana claim was purchased. Shreader migrated south down the Great Valley Road and west through the Cumberland Gap and settled in Jefferson County, Kentucky.  He was married there in 1793 to Eva Elizabeth Pottorff who was also of German descent.

Although Reyman and Shreader shared common heritage and experience in much of their lives, they differed greatly in how they used the land they invested in on the Indiana frontier.  Shreader went on to buy additional land patents from the U. S. government in Morgan County, Indiana and in Edgar County, Illinois.  However, Jacob Shreader never left Kentucky and finally settled in Oldham County, Kentucky.  The primary reason that Shreader never came to Indiana with the Pottorffs is that he was a slave owner.  In the 1810 Federal census, the Shreaders were listed as owning seven slaves.  In the 1820 Federal census, they were listed as owning ten slaves.  Although Shreader could have temporarily brought his slaves to Indiana to assist in clearing his newly purchased land, he could not bring them to Indiana for permanent residency.  Jacob Shreader remained a slave owner and Kentucky resident for the duration of his life.  He died in Oldham County, Kentucky in 1837.


Unlike the Shreaders, Joseph and Elizabeth Houshauer Reyman left Fayette County, Kentucky in 1811 and spent the remainder of their lives in Washington County, Indiana.  Joseph Reyman was a Lutheran and hosted services at his home near Brock Creek until a log meeting house was built in 1822 on a ridge southwest of Spurgeon Hill.  Besides farming, Reyman was a carpenter and cabinet maker and according to the Stevens Centennial History built the first frame building in Salem which may have been the first store building of Jonathan Lyon. The Reyman children remained near Salem and married into the McMahan, Lindley, Trueblood, Moore and Cutshaw families. Joseph and Elizabeth Houshauer Reyman both died of a common illness on  August 26, 1835. There are hundreds of Reyman descendants living in Indiana today.  Seventy two acres of the original homestead from 1811 is still owned by the Reyman family today.


                                          GOOGLE EARTH VIEW OF JOSEPH REYMAN
                                             AND JACOB SHREADER LAND PATENTS



                                                 HOOSIER HOMESTEAD FARM SIGN
                                          AWARDED TO FARMS OWNED BY HOOSIER
                                                    FAMILIES FOR OVER 100 YEARS



                                                               JOHN W REYMAN
                            SON OF JOSEPH AND ELIZABETH HOUSHAUER REYMAN


Sunday, December 28, 2014

DECEMBER 29, 1814

200 years ago today in Washington County Indiana, Territory, its residents were unaware that the Treaty of Ghent had been signed on December 24, 1814 thereby establishing the terms for the ending of the War of 1812.  As the treaty was signed in the Netherlands (now Belgium), the transmittal of the dispatches and the treaty itself traveled for weeks by sailing ship across the Atlantic to reach Washington, D. C.  The British Parliament ratified it on December 30, 1814 as the document only had to cross the English Channel and take a coach ride to reach Westminster.  The US Senate ratified it on February 18, 1815 just a few days after the news and text of the treaty was received by President James Madison.

The end of the War of 1812 was a mixed blessing for Washington County, Indiana Territory.
The embargos that led up to the War of 1812 had a devastating effect on commerce and agriculture in the states along the Atlantic Coast as there were no longer export markets to keep commodity prices up.  The war itself was bankrupting the young American nation.  Many farmers and small merchants left Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina and came to the Indiana Territory for cheap land and a new start in life.  The farmers in the Indiana Territory had a good market for any surplus livestock and crops they could grow as demand to feed the U. S. military and State and Territorial militias made for good prices on the frontier.  Once the threat of Native American resistance to settlement was abated, the War of 1812 was a boon to the settlement of Washington County and the Indiana Territory.  John DePauw  and his land speculating contacts in Kentucky were concerned whether the pace of settlement in Salem and Washington County would continue once the war was over.  On the other hand, peace would hasten the process of the US Congress enacting legislation to make Indiana a state.

President Madison and his cabinet had determined in mid-1814 that the war was at a stalemate and should be settled.  This decision was immediately reinforced when British forces invaded the American capitol and burned the Capitol Building and the White House on August 24, 1814.  Madison appointed a five member delegation to travel to Ghent, Netherlands to negotiate the end of the war.  These negotiations commenced in August of 1814 and took over four months.  These American negotiators were: 1.) Henry Clay of Fayette County, Kentucky who was the Speaker of the House; 2.) John Quincy Adams of Suffolk County, Massachusetts was serving as the Ambassador to Russia; 3.) Albert Gallatin of Fayette County, Pennsylvania who was the Secretary of the Treasury; 4.) James A. Bayard of New Castle County, Delaware had been a Senator; and 5.) Jonathan Russell who was serving as Minister to Norway and Sweden.

The American goal in the Ghent negotiations was to restore the United States borders to their 1812 configuration (status quo ante bellum).  The British goal was to delineate the North American borders as won and occupied during the conflict (uti possedetis).  As the Americans had not been able to successfully invade and occupy Canada during the war, the British proposed the creation of a buffer state out of Northwest Territory from Ohio to Wisconsin that was to remain managed territory for the Indians.  This would include most of the central and northern portions of the Indiana Territory. If that had been agreed, the “dead line” which formed the northern border of Washington County, Indiana Territory would have remained the dividing line between the county under settlement and land reserved for Native Americans. The British also sought the demilitarization of the Great Lakes and navigation rights on Mississippi River.  American victories on Lake Champlain and at Baltimore Harbor caused the British to moderate their demands. As a result the Americans achieved their goal and the American/British North American borders were restored to their 1812 locations.

The Treaty of Ghent included in its Ninth Article an agreement to restore the rights to all Indian tribes to their 1811 status contingent upon the ending of hostilities by all tribes against both the Americans and the British in Canada.  This would have abrogated the 1814 Treaty of Greenville and left much of the Indiana Territory in control of the Delaware, Miami, Potawatomie, Shawnee and affiliated tribes.  However, Native Americans were not directly represented at Ghent and both sides knew that this provision was unenforceable.  The Americans ignored this provision and “purchased” settlement rights for much of the central part of the new state of Indiana through the Treaty of St. Mary’s signed on October 6, 1818.

The American and British armed forces fighting in the War of 1812 did not learn for months that the end of the war had been negotiated an ocean away so there was no truce while the Treaty was being transmitted for ratification.  Several battles were fought after December 24, 1814 including the Battle of New Orleans, Cumberland Island, Fort St. Philip, and Fort Bowyer.  Andrew Jackson’s decisive victory over the British at New Orleans on January 8, 1815 ostensibly maintained American control over the Mississippi River and made the future acquisition of West Florida possible.  However, the battle that made Andrew Jackson a war hero and facilitated his future presidential campaign had no actual effect in ending the war.  In fact, many British did not know of the Battle of New Orleans until 1959 when the Johnny Horton recording of “The Battle of New Orleans” became an international hit.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS



                                                                    HENRY CLAY



                                                            ALBERT GALLATIN



                                                 SIGNING OF TREATY OF GHENT
                                                             AMEDEE FORSTIER
                                          SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM



                                                              GHENT, BELGIUM
                                                     GEHNT, NETHERLANDS IN 1814


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

DECEMBER 24, 1814

200 years ago today in Washington County, Indiana Territory, legal business was conducted on Christmas Eve.  The Washington Circuit Court met in a special session out of term as there were two prisoners that needed to be afforded the commencement of the legal due process to which they were entitled under the Constitution of the United States.  As there was no jail yet constructed, one can guess that Sheriff William Hoggatt implored the judges into special session so that he did not have to keep the offenders in his personal custody during the Yuletide.  The prisoners were Absalom Morris and Werner Baner.  Their alleged crime was grand larceny.  Specifically, they were accused of hog stealing. The record does not reveal who owned the alleged purloined pork.

As there was no court house ready for use, the sessions of the court had been held at the residence of William and Mary Pitts Lindley on the knoll south of Blue River and the Salem plat.  However, as December was not the regular term of court, Sheriff Hoggatt was unable to use the residence of the Lindleys on short notice for this occasion as they were making domestic use of their home and their saw mill was busy sawing the framing lumber for the new court house that was under construction.  Hoggatt prevailed upon John G. Clendenin for the use of the home he was occupying on North Main Street that had been built on one the lots Zachariah Nixon had purchased from John DePauw on May 27, 1814. Nixon sold the lot to William and Charity Glover on credit for the sum of $38.  The Glovers built a substantial house on this lot even though they did not yet have legal title.  The Glovers then sold the house and lot to Clendenin on credit in late 1814.  The Glovers completed their payment on June 28, 1815.  Clendenin then completed his payment of $105 on December 14, 1815.  Clendenin then sold the property to Nathan Trueblood on February 15, 1816 for $110.  John G. Clendenin then moved to Orange County, Indiana and became a state representative in 1822.

A grand jury of sixteen freeholders was summoned to the Clendenin/Glover/Nixon house to review the evidence to determine if an indictment should be returned. Sheriff Hoggatt brought Morris and Baner before the court. Prosecuting Attorney John Ross presented the bill of indictment to the court.  Judges Lamb and Coleman charged the jury with the case.  The grand jurors called to duty included some of the more prominent settlers of the area.  These jurors were: Absalom Little, foreman; Arthur Parr; Joseph Spurgin; Jacob Garrott; Godlove Kamp; Samuel Lindley; Jeremiah Lamb; Isaac Stolz; John Smiley; Henry Dawalt; Joseph Latta; William Kennedy; Richardson Hensley;  Jesse Stanley; John Boyd and Jacob Mendenhall.

The bailiff who was to manage the grand jury during their deliberations was Tertius Fordice who had been a member of the local militia and was serving as a township constable. He was married to Elizabeth Shipman and was buying out the land claim of his brother, Jarius Fordice.  The Fordice land was the  southwest quarter of Section 27, T2N, R5E, which is now located off of the southwest corner of the SR 160 and Conway Church Road intersection. The Fordice family must have been very familiar with the New Testatment as Tertius Fordice was named after the scribe that wrote down the epistle to the Romans as dictated by Paul.  Jarius Fordice was named after the synagogue leader whose daughter Jesus raised from the dead in the Book of Luke.

It is hard to visualize how this assemblage of no less than twenty four men squeezed themselves into the Clendenin house for this grand jury session.  While the jury was deliberating on whether Absalom Morris and Werner Baner should stand charged with hog stealing, the two judges, sheriff, prosecuting attorney and the two defendants must have stood outside in the cold gathered around a fire with other curious bystanders. The grand jury eventually advised Bailiff Fordice that they had reached a decision. All present were notified and jury foreman Alexander Little announced to the reconvened court that the bill of indictment was not a true bill.  In other words, the grand jury found that there was insufficient evidence to charge Morris and Baner with the hog larceny. Judges Lamb and Coleman immediately order the prisoners released.

The modern cliché is that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich if the prosecutor so desires.  However, this was obviously not the case in Washington County, Indiana Territory in 1814 for this alleged theft of ham on the hoof.  Absalom Morris and Werner Baner received their freedom as their Christmas present but probably did not get to enjoy roast pig for their Christmas dinner.


                                                            ROAST CHRISTMAS PIG



                                           MARTYRDOM OF TERTIUS OF ICONIUM
                                            SOURCE OF TERTIUS FORDICE NAME




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

DECEMBER 23, 1814

200 years ago today in Salem, Washington County, Indiana Territory John DePauw sold lots 5, 6, and 136 of the Salem plat to Jonathan Lyon for the total sum of $295.  With this transaction, DePauw had now issued deeds for 10 lots in his plat of April 4, 1814.  Lots 5 and 6 comprised the northwest quadrant of the lots on the Public Square.  Lot 136 was a larger lot located at the southwest intersection of North Water and West Walnut Streets.  This was where the ford over Brock Creek was located that connected the Original Plat to DePauw’s First Addition.  As the Washington Circuit Court had awarded the contract for the construction of a Court House to John DePauw for the sum of $2,940, the sight of a rising seat of justice gave a sense of permanence to prospective businessmen such as Jonathan Lyon who were interested in the opportunities presented by a growing new community.

Jonathan Lyon was a businessman who laid out Madison, Indiana with John Paul and his father in law, Lewis Davis, in 1810.   John Paul was a soldier, major land holder and frontier entrepreneur.  He was the owner of the newspaper, The Western Eagle, where notice of the sale of lots in Salem was published by John DePauw.  Lyon and Paul engaged in several joint business ventures including the operation of a ferry across the Ohio River. William Hendricks who was a young attorney in Madison often came to Salem in 1814 to represent clients before the Washington Circuit Court.  Hendricks became the son in law of John Paul in 1816. He must have been impressed with the prospects of Salem and Washington County thereby encouraging Lyon to consider moving to Salem.

Lyon was born in Fayette County Pennsylvania in 1774.  His grandfather came to Maryland from England. His parents would have taken the Braddock Road to move from Maryland to southwestern Pennsylvania contrary to the Proclamation of 1763.  He moved to Columbiana County, Ohio where the Ohio River entered the Territory of Ohio.  He married Elizabeth Davis there in 1804.  They followed the Ohio River downstream to Madison Township, Clark County, Indiana.  After buying the lots in Salem, Lyon moved his family here in 1815 and opened the first general store in Salem on the Public Square.  Lyon’s business partner was his cousin, Christopher Harrison, who also came to Salem from Madison. Lyon’s commercial dealings were lucrative for him as he invested his profits in land.  He invested in  42 different registered land claims with the General Land Office in 6 different Indiana counties. These numbers do not include any real estate that Lyon purchased from private landowners. For example, on August 19, 1822 Jonathan Lyon bought 80 acres and a mill on Blue River built by William Lindley which he then sold to my great, great grandfather Eli Wright on March 26, 1832.  The foundation stones for the dam and the mill race are still visible today.

When Jonathan Lyon relocated his family and business interests from Madison, Indiana to Salem, Indiana in late 1814, this meant that a critical mass of social and economic forces had formed to build the foundation of an enduring community on the frontier of the Indiana Territory.  Jonathan and Elizabeth Davis Lyon remained in Salem for the remainder of their lives.  One of their sons, Dawson Lyon, was a pillar of the Salem and Washington County business community as was his father.   Lots 5 and 6 remained in the Lyon family for over sixty years.  The part of the Public Square now occupied by PNC Bank, Salem Apothecary, Ernie’s Pizza, and the Hair Elite salon is still known as the Lyon Block.  Dawson and Martha Newby Lyon lived for many years in the 300 block of North Water Street.  After Martha Lyon died in 1907, her family granted this residence and lot to the Salem Schools for the construction of a new high school  in 1909.  A separate gymnasium was was built in 1926 and was named Lyon Hall.  It served as the community sports arena, theater stage, concert hall and banquet hall for many years.  The Salem High School yearbook has always been The Lyon.  And finally, the Salem High School athletic teams have been the Salem Lions since the Salem-Washington County Centennial of 1914.


                                            JONATHAN LYON GRAVE MONUMENT
                                       CROWN HILL CEMETERY, SALEM, INDIANA


                                                 LYON HALL, SALEM, INDIANA
                                        DAVID L. DEJEAN POSTCARD COLLECTION


                                                     SALEM HIGH SCHOOL MASCOT
                                                                   SALEM LIONS



Monday, December 22, 2014

DECEMBER 21, 1814

200 years ago today, William Lindley recorded a deed with Washington County Recorder Basil Prather that he had been holding in safekeeping since December 29, 1813.  The deed had been witnessed by Samuel Lindley and Benjamin Brewer. This was one of many deeds that some the settlers of Washington Township, Harrison County, Indiana Territory were holding until a new county and county seat could be established and located.  The roads from the upper Blue River Basin to Corydon were not quickly travelled.  To record a deed with the Harrison County Recorder often required an overnight trip which entailed the expense of lodging and the livery of a horse. Once word was spread that the creation of a new county out of the northern half of Harrison County was imminent, settlers who were buying land from other settlers during the year 1813 waited to record their proofs of title until a more convenient seat of government was located.

The tract of land that Lindley had purchased was described as six acres and forty poles in the southwest corner of the southwest quarter of Section 2, T2N, R4E.  This six plus acres is located today at 2041 North Quaker Road in Washington Township in the Blue River Friends neighborhood. James and Mary Thompson Blair had paid off their land claim for this quarter section on June 8, 1811. They were among the earliest settlers to take up land in the area along the trail leading from the Royse’s Lick trading post to the summer camp of Old Ox and his band of Delaware Indians at the base of the knobs where Elk Creek Valley entered the Muscatatuck bottoms.  William Lindley paid the Blairs only $13 which was the $2 per acre price that the US General Land Office was charging for public land at the time.  William Lindley owned two quarter sections next to the Blairs so he was anxious to buy neighboring land when it was offered for sale.

James and Mary Thompson Blair exemplified the nomadic course of early American settlement.  Blair’s father, Alexander, came from County Amargh in Ulster (Northern Ireland).   James Blair was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1772.   When he was twenty years old he married Mary Thompson in Orange County, North Carolina in 1792.   They then left North Carolina and passed by Ruddle’s Mill in Bourbon County, Kentucky where Blair’s mother, Elizabeth Cochran Blair, had been a widow since 1798.  James and Mary Blair came to the Indiana frontier in about 1810 when they filed their land claim.  Mary Thompson was probably related to Joshua Thompson and Lewis Woody who were Quaker settlers in the immediate vicinity of the Blair land patent.  As James Blair was a Presbyterian, they could not be part of the Friends faith in which she was raised.  As their neighborhood was being heavily settled by Quakers from North Carolina, the Blairs sold the remainder of their 160 partially cleared land and moved to the very northwestern part of Washington County in what was to become Lawrence County, Indiana in 1818.  In the next seventeen years the Blairs made land claims for 760 acres and took final title to 440 acres. Most of this acre     age was in the uplands along Dewitt Creek in present day Shawswick Township.  One of the Lawrence County land claims was assigned by Blair to Benjamin Brewer, Jr. whose father owned the land that was bought by John DePauw as agent for the platting of Salem.  Benjamin Brewer, Jr. soon thereafter married Rebecca Blair who was one of James Blair’s daughters.  


James Blair died in July 1835 and was buried in Leatherwood Cemetery.  Mary Thompson Blair then moved to Coles County, Illinois with the family of her son Thomas Garrett Blair where she died in 1855.  The laws of descent and distribution did not leave a surviving wife with much to show for her domestic efforts in nurturing and sustaining her husband’s acquisition of land and property.  On the expanding frontier of the former Northwest Territory many widows became members of the households of their sons or sons in law who moved further west for their own land and opportunities.  Consequently, many husbands and wives such as the Blairs were buried separately in different counties or states.

                                             VIEW OF COUNTY ARMAGH, ULSTER
                                          BIRTHPLACE OF JAMES BLAIR'S FATHER


                                       GOOGLE EARTH VIEW OF 6 ACRES SOLD BY
                                   JAMES AND MARY BLAIR TO WILLIAM LINDLEY



                                LEATHERWOOD CEMETERY, LAWRENCE COUNTY, INDIANA
                                                      BURIAL PLACE OF JAMES BLAIR


Thursday, December 18, 2014

DECEMBER 18, 1813

201 years ago in that part of Harrison County, Indiana Territory that would soon become Washington County, four tracts of land were transferred from the public domain to private ownership as part of the expansion of the United States into the Northwest Territory.  These new landowners were George Henton, Samuel Herron, John Robertson and John Robinson.

GEORGE HENTON was living in Shelby County, Kentucky when he decided to come to Indiana.  George Henton first purchased a land patent on Blue River east of the Vincennes Road ford in 1812 before moving northwest to a tract that was in the Mitchell Plain/Crawford Upland transitional terrain.  He made land claim at this location in his own name and bought out the adjoining registered claim of his brother in law William Rigney.  This 320 acres of land was located in the south half of Section 5, T1N, R2E.  Henton’s homestead is seen today in Stampers Creek Township, Orange County, Indiana one half mile south of SR 56 just west of the Washington County line.  George Henton was born in Shenandoah County, Virginia in 1759.  Henton served in the Virginia Militia in the Revolutionary War rising to the rank of First Lieutenant.  He married Mary Rigney in 1785 before crossing the Cumberland divide into Kentucky. George Henton, Evan Henton, James Jeffery Murphy and William Rigney came to Indiana together in about 1810 and were among the very first settlers of the Stampers Creek area.  After the location of Salem as the county seat was determined in February of 1814, Henton successfully lobbied to have a public road running from the Lick Creek neighborhood to Salem established on the edge of his intended farm.

SAMUEL HERRON selected for acquisition the northeast quarter of Section 18, T2N, R5E, on the high ridge east of Royse’s Lick.  This acreage is presently located in Franklin Township on the west side of Elliot Road a half mile south of the New Philadelphia Road.  Richardson Hensley sold this claim to Herron who made the balance of the installment payments to the U. S. government. Samuel Herron was born in Pennsylvania in 1768.  He came to Kentucky and married Alice Combs in Nelson County, Ky in 1798.  Samuel and Alice Herron never moved from Nelson County, Kentucky even though they had purchased the Indiana tract.  Their son, William Herron, came to Indiana and cleared his father’s land.  William Herron had married Margaret Huston in 1810.  They moved their family onto the Washington County plantation and bought it from Samuel and Alice Herron on September 3, 1817 for the sum of $1,000.  Apparently, deeds executed in Kentucky at this time required the witnessing of two justices of the peace. Benjamin Grayson as the Clerk of Nelson County, Kentucky certified on the deed that the two justices of the peace, in fact, held that public capacity.  Proctor Ballard was the Judge of Nelson County, Kentucky that certified that Grayson was the Clerk.  This type of formality is no longer required for the recording of deeds executed out of state although it is still required to certify out of state court records before they can be used in local legal proceedings.

JOHN ROBERTSON settled on the northwest quarter of Section 18, T2N, R5E, on real estate adjoining the Samuel Herron tract on the west.  Daniel Gray registered this claim with Samuel Gwathmey at the Jeffersonville Land Office and then sold it to Robertson.  Robertson’s land is now in Franklin Township on the east side of
Howell Road about a half mile south of the New Philadelphia Road.  John and Polly Robertson sold their farm to John Mitchell for $1,040 on January 6, 1817.  The deed to Mitchell was drafted and witnessed by Justice of the Peace William Kelso.  Although Indiana officially became a state on December 11, 1816, Justice of the Peace Kelso did not yet know that 26 days later as he wrote that the deed had been witnessed in Washington County, Indiana Territory (not State).  Robertson was one of the first trustees of the Franklin Church when it received donated land for its meeting house and cemetery in 1822.  After sale of his first homestead, John Robertson registered a claim for the southwest quarter of Section 9, T2N, R5E.  This is where Daniel Gray had squatted in 1810 as one of the early residents of Franklin Township.  Robertson died in 1827.   The deed from the U.S. General Land Office was issued on August 20, 1827 to the heirs of John Robertson as tenants in common and not as joint tenants.

JOHN ROBINSON obtained his deed from the Commissioner of the General Land Office on this date for the southwest quarter of Section 13, T2N, R4E.  William Rodman from Shelby County, Kentucky had made the claim for this site but sold it to Robinson. This homestead is now in Washington Township south of Canton at the northwest corner of Harristown Road and Canton-South Boston Road.
Robinson was born of Scoth-Irish heritage in 1775 with some of his ancestors having lived near Pittcastle, Parthshire, Scotland.  He first married Sarah Teague in Guilford County North Carolina.  She died after the birth of their sixth child.  Robinson then married Sarah Woolem and moved to Surry County North Carolina.  Fourteen children were born to Robinson’s second marriage. The Robinson’s sold their Washington County land patent in two tracts in less than a year after receiving title.  An area described as100 acres and 80 poles was sold to Samuel Price on August 22, 1814 for $555.  The remaining 59 ½ acres was sold to James McCraskey on October 22, 1814 for $200. John and Sarah Robinson moved to Vigo County where they took out a land patent on Honey Creek for land that is now in the southwest glide slope to the Terre Haute airport.  The Robinsons continued to follow the opening American frontier and bought land on the southeast edge of St. Joseph, Missouri when it was established in 1843 as the “jumping off place” for the Oregon Trail.  John Robinson did not live to enjoy this entrepot to the Wild West as he died there in 1845.


Old public records were often approximate in the spelling of names. In the public records of Washington County, Indiana the names of John Robertson and John Robinson are recorded as Robertson/Robinson/Robison/Robeson.  They were two different persons as their grantor deeds listed different spouses. Over the years there have been several John Robertson/Robinson/Robison (s) in Washington County, Indian and in the many counties of Kentucky, Virginian and North Carolina from whence their ancestors originated.  This post is a good example of the challenges presented in doing historical research.


                                           GEORGE HENTON GRAVE MONUMENT



                                                     FRANKLIN CHURCH MEMORIAL
                                                   JOHN ROBERTSON TRUSTEE 1820


                                           PITTCASTLE, PARTHSHIRE SCOTLAND
                                         ANCESTRAL HOME OF JOHN ROBINSON


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DECEMBER 16, 1812

202 years ago today in Washington Township, Harrison County, Indiana Territory, three frontiersmen were granted title to land claims that they had made shortly after the land acquired through the Grouseland Treaty was surveyed and opened for settlement.  These men were ROBERT GILCHRIST,  DAVID PARR and JAMES YOUNG.

The land that ROBERT GILCHRIST had selected in the former Northwest Territory was the northeast quarter of Section 33, T3N, R4E.  This farm is now in Washington Township in the upper Brock Creek basin at the southwest corner of the intersection of Delaney Park Road and Glen Miller Road.  This claim was originally registered with Samuel Gwathmey at the Jeffersonville Land Office by James Perkins.  Gilchrist bought out Perkins and made the balance of the $2 per acre payments. Perkins would later payoff a claim registered by Nathaniel Jenkins for the west half of the northwest quarter of Section 25, T3N, R2E which is now in Brown Township in the karst uplands northeast of Campbellsburg.

Robert Gilchrist was born in 1772 either in Scotland  or Virginia.  He was living in Nelson County, Kentucky when he married Margaret Adams in 1791.  They moved to Mercer County, Kentucky where they lived when the Indiana land claim was purchased. Gilchrist’s tenure as an Indiana pioneer was brief as he died on October 23, 1813.  His family being more practical than sentimental buried him on nearby unclaimed land in what was to become the Peugh Cemetery in southern Monroe Township.  His widow moved to Johnson County, Indiana with three of her sons after it was opened for settlement in 1823.  Margaret Adams Gilchrist died on August 18, 1827. Her children made an agreement whereby James Gilchrist and his wife Mary Duncan bought out his brothers and sisters to retain the original 1812 homestead.  The Robert Gilchrist heirs were: Robert, Jr. and Elizabeth King Gilchrist of Johnson County, Indiana; Eli and Charlotte King Gilchrist of Johnson County, Indiana; Joseph and Nancy Gilchrist Young of Johnson County, Indiana; William and Nancy Duncan Gilchrist of Vigo County, Indiana and John and Jemima Gilchrist of Vigo County, Indiana.  Robert Gilchrist must have had a pronounced Gaelic/Appalachian accent and have been of limited literacy as all Washington County land records pertaining to him and his family spelled the family name as either Gilcrease or Gilcrees.

DAVID PARR obtained  his title on this date to the northeast quarter of Section 24, T2N, R4E, at the northeast base of Spurgeon Hill south of the trail from Royse’s Lick to the Old Trace Gap at the Pigeon Roost.  This pioneer homestead is presently located on the east side of Harristown Road at the former site of the Harristown station and post office. Parr was rather young to be a frontier landowner as he was only 23 when he received his deed having been born in Rowan County, North Carolina in 1789.  Parr came directly from the North Carolina Piedmont to the Indiana Territory with his father, Arthur Parr, Jr,; his brothers, Enoch Parr and John Parr; his brothers in law, David Fouts, Solomon Bower and Thomas Hodges; and his future brother in law Noah Wright.  This Carolina cohort was here no later than 1810 as David Parr signed a petition that year in Clark County, Indiana Territory supporting the right to vote for any male resident over the age of 21 with military service.  Parr had the rank of sergeant in the 5th Regiment of the Indiana Militia under the command of Captain Henry Dawalt.  He  probably fought in the skirmish with the Pigeon Roost raiders at Sand Creek that resulted in the death of John Zink.

David Parr was one of the first purchasers to make a down payment on a lot in the plat of Salem.  After making the 25% down payment he transferred his purchase agreement to his younger brother John Parr who completed the $47 purchase of lot 130 on April 18, 1815.  John Parr was only 20 years old when he became the owner of the lot where the lower City parking lot is now found at the southeast corner of West Walnut and North Water Streets.

David Parr died of unreported causes at the age of 27 on January 15, 1816.  As the extended Parr family was part of the Sharon Baptist Church congregation, his bodily remains were probably buried in the cemetery by the Sharon Meeting House about a mile east of Royse’s Lick. His widow was named Elizabeth but there is no record of her name or the date and location of their marriage.  Marriages in the far reaches of Clark and Harrison County that became Washington County in 1814 were not recorded until 1815 when registration with the County Clerk was first required.  When David Parr died, Elizabeth Parr’s dower interest in his 160 acre partially cleared farm was a half interest as they were childless.  If David Parr had left a child surviving him, Elizabeth’s dower would have been a third interest. Only 36 days after her husband died,  Elizabeth Parr sold her dower interest to her eight siblings in law but reserved possession of the home until March 4, 1817.

The United States conveyed title to JAMES YOUNG on this date to the northwest quarter of Section 4, T2N, R4E, in the mid Brock Creek basin.  This land was approximately one mile south from the tract that Robert Gilchrist acquired on this same date.  This land is now located in Washington Township at the southwest corner of Lewellen Road and Jim Day Road.  Young operated a horse mill on this farm for the grinding of corn and grain in the immediate neighborhood.  In addition to his farm, James Young purchased lots 71 and 72 in Salem on September 14, 1815 for the sum of $49.  These adjoining lots were located at the northwest corner of East Mulberry and North High Streets.   The Youngs held these lots for ten years without building on them until they were resold ten years later for $250 to Nathan Albertson.  James Young was a respected citizen as he was appointed  in May of 1816 as one of  the three inspectors to determine if the first Washington County Court House was ready for use and occupancy.  This committee declared that the Court House had been built according to the plans by John DePauw and that his performance bond of five thousand dollars should be released.  Young’s committee also noted that the exterior stairs built to reach the second story entrance to the building were of insubstantial design.   The Court entered an order that new steps be built.  The bid was awarded to Michael Wood for the sum of $99.

Young was living in Clark County, Indiana Territory at the time he registered his claim for this land.  He was born in North Carolina and was married to Elizabeth Davidson in Rowan County, NC in 1784.  James Young was the son of Alexander Young and Anne McWhorter.  Young’s father was from the Banff area of Scotland.  His mother was from a lowland Scottish family that had settled in Northern Ireland before coming to the American colonies. James Young died in late March of 1829 and was buried on his farm.  His son in law, John G. Henderson, and his friend, Andrew Weir, serve as the Coexecutors of his will and estate. One of his sons, Joseph Young, married Nancy Gilchrist who was a daughter of his neighbor Robert Gilchrist.


                                                   ROBERT AND MARGARET GILCHRIST
                                                   GRAVESTONE AT PEUGH CEMETERY



                                            GOOGLE EARTH VIEW OF DAVID PARR
                                                        LAND PATENT OF 1812



                                             HORSE MILL EXAMPLE SUCH AS OPERATED
                                                              BY JAMES YOUNG


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

DECEMBER 9, 1814

200 years ago today in Washington County, Indiana Territory, John DePauw sold Lot 19 in the plat of Salem to Samuel Gwathmey for $69.  Gwathmey was only the 4th person to buy a lot in Salem as Lot 19 was the 7th lot for which a sale had been closed since April 4, 1814.  Although John DePauw’s sale ledger is not known to presently exist, one must assume that there had been many down payments of 25% made on other lots with final payments pending by this date.  The lot purchased by Gwathmey was located on the east side of South Main Street one block south of the Public Square.  Gwathmey held the lot for almost two years and sold it to Joshua Trueblood for $120 on February 28, 1816. The lot is found today in that part of the display lot of Eddie Gilstrap Motors that lies north of the Main Auto Supply building.

Samuel Gwathmey was part of the early leadership of Clark County, Indiana Territory.  His primary source of influence was probably the fact that he was the nephew of General George Rogers Clark and William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  Gwathmey was born in King and Queen County, Virginia in 1779.  His family moved from the Virginia tidewater country to the Falls of the Ohio around 1800.  Gwathmey must have received a good education as he was appointed Clerk of Clark County, Indiana Territory shortly after he moved across the river from Kentucky.  In 1802, he was appointed Clark County Treasurer and helped lay out Jeffersonville.  In 1805, Gwathmey began his single term in the Indiana Territory Legislative Council.  In 1807, he received a federal appointment as the Registrar of the United States Land Office in Jeffersonville.  Samuel Gwathmey held this position until 1829.  Almost all of the early land claim registrations and payments by the early settlers of Washington County, Indiana Territory passed through Gwathmey’s hands.

As the Registrar of the United States Land Office in Jeffersonville, Gwathmey probably gained more specific information about  the land of Southern Indiana than anyone else would have known.  Gwathmey used this information shared with him by pioneer land claimants for his personal economic advantage.  In the 19th century frontier, the use of such “insider” information for personal profit was not considered illegal or unethical.  While serving in his federal capacity, Gwathmey had a stake in no less than twenty six (26) land claims in Indiana. Eleven of these were outright purchases of land claims that he registered for himself. Ten of these were claims that he registered for himself and then sold to others for final purchase.  Five of his land transactions arose from his buyout of claims that others had originally registered in his office.  Through these “self help” land claims and patents, Gwathmey had land interests in eleven different Indiana counties.

Gwathmey’s land investments in Washington County, Indiana included  six different dealings in U. S. government lands.  Two of these were purchased land patents.  The first one was obtained on July 12, 1819 for the northwest quarter of Section 32, T2N, R4E.  This land is located today along Hoggatt Branch west of SR 135 just downstream from Lake Salinda.  The second one was deeded to Gwathmey on December 31, 1819 for the southeast quarter of Section 5, T1N, R5E.   This tract is located now in Polk Township where Motsinger Road intersects with Olive Branch Road. Gwathmey also filed land claims for four tracts in Washington County that he sold to third parties.  The first of these was an assignment of the northwest quarter of  Section 23, T1N,R4E, which John Wilson acquired on November 1, 1818.  This 160 acres in now located in Pierce Township on the ridge overlooking the bottoms of  Mutton Fork of Blue River at the northwest corner of the intersection of Martinsburg Road and Short’s Corner Road.  The second land assignment by Gwathmey was the northeast quarter of Section 34, T2N, R4E, which was purchased by Frederick Whitmore on November 25, 1819.  This area is now in Washington Township on the ridge between Hoggatt Branch and the Middle Fork of Blue River just west of  SR 60.  The third claim flipped by Gwathmey in Washington County was located in the west half of the northwest quarter of Section 13, T3N, R5E.  David Sayre bought this claim from Gwathmey and received his deed on October 22, 1828.  This 80 acre tract is now in Gibson Township where Mill Road meets Scifres Road about a mile west of Little York.
The fourth claim assigned by Gwathmey in Washington County was in the northeast quarter of Section 15, T3N, R5E, which was deeded to Henry Fulton on August 30, 1841.  This land is today located in Elk Creek Valley in Gibson Township on the east side of Pumpkin Center Road where Pulltight Road ends.


Land speculation by U. S. government officials was not unique to Samuel Gwathmey.  Three of  the land claims bought out by Gwathmey in Floyd County, Indiana were purchased on November 12, 1813 from Josiah Meigs who was the United States Surveyor General.  In a few months, Josiah Meigs became the boss of Samuel Gwathmey when he became the Commissioner of the General Land Office.


                                            WILLIAM CLARK PORTRAIT
                                          BY CHARLES WILSON PEALE
                                       UNCLE OF SAMUEL GWATHMEY




                                           GRAVE MONUMENT OF SAMUEL GWATHMEY


Monday, December 8, 2014

DECEMBER 6, 1814

On Tuesday December 6, 1814, Josiah Meigs as Commissioner of the US General Land Office issued deeds to eight settlers of Washington County, Indiana Territory in the name of President James Madison.  These pioneers were: Ezekiel Blanchard, the Bullitt Brothers, Charles Coulter, Jeremiah Lamb, Joseph Sires, George Short, Richard Wall and Noah Wright.

EZEKIEL BLANCHARD perfected his land claim on this date for the southeast quarter of Section 31, T2N, R3E.  He had purchased the rights to this claim from William Ervin of whom nothing is known.  Blanchard’s land today lies west of the intersection of SR 56 and West Washington School Road. This tract was highly prized in late autumn as it was a prime flatwoods wetland replete with migratory birds.  Ducks and geese had been harvested here in abundance in the pre settlement days.  Wetlands such as this one were found where the slight southwest tilt of the Mitchell Karst Plain  butts  up against the outlying ridge of the Crawford Upland thereby ponding the surface water of the area. The northeast corner of this tract was crossed by the road that led from the Poplar Cabin store of Abraham Reiff to Beck’s Mill.  This road also forked east to Salem just east of Blanchard. 

Ezekiel Blanchard was born near Rutland, Vermont in 1779.  He may have been the only Green Mountain state native to settle in Washington County when Indiana was still a US Territory.  He was a bachelor when he purchased his land.  He married Elizabeth Colglazier in 1819.  She was born in Clermont County, Ohio in
1794 and had come to the Indiana Uplands with her parents, David William and Christena May Colglazier. The Colglaziers were living in 1819 on a land claim where Goose Creek enters Mill Creek on the new road to Salem.  Fifteen years later Ezekiel and Elizabeth Blanchard moved to Des Moines County, Iowa Territory where they purchased 520 acres from the US.  Their time in Washington County, Indiana must have been productive for them.

CUTHBERT AND THOMAS BULLITT purchased the northeast quarter of Section 20, T2N, R4E, on this date.  This real estate bounded the William Lindley farm on the east with Royse’s Fork of Blue River flowing through the northern part of it.  The land was on the road that went from Salem to the Falls of the Ohio. Some of the Roscoe C. Morris Additions to Salem are located within this tract. This is where John DePauw was living while serving as the commander of the local militia unit and while acting as the agent for the establishment of Salem.  DePauw sold this claim to the Bullitt brothers who he was aggressively cultivating as investors in the nascent Washington County seat of government.  John DePauw continued to rent from the Bullitt Brothers until he selected a site south of the Brewer Blockhouse for his home in his second addition to Salem in 1824. The Bullitt family was one of the founders of Louisville, Kentucky and was a major holder of land in the Louisville, Kentucky area.  They were active in land speculation throughout Indiana once it became a state in 1816.  This purchase of the DePauw claim was the beginning of their extensive Indiana land dealings. Bullitt descendants are still involved in the Oxmoor complex of properties in Louisville, Kentucky today.

CHARLES COULTER selected the southwest quarter of Section 21, T1N, R2E, as his land claim.  This 160 tract is presently located in Madison Township between Locust Grove Road and the Orange County line in a north facing valley surrounded on three sides by hills on the east face of the Crawford Upland. Coulter lived in Henry County, Kentucky at the time he registered his land claim.  Shortly after starting to clear the land on his claim his wife died in 1813 making him a widower with seven minor children.  He was remarried in 1818 to Elizabeth Fisher of Orange County.  They had three children together. Many of Charles Coulter’s descendants still live in western
Washington County.

JEREMIAH LAMB completed his payments for the northwest quarter of Section 6, T2N, R4E, in order to receive his deed on this date 200 years ago today.  Lamb’s acreage is found now at the southeast corner of the intersection of Water Tower Road and Highland Road.  This land had access to the trail between the ford on White River and Royes’s Lick where his father, Simeon Lamb, owned the trading post from about 1804 to 1814.  Jeremiah Lamb married Rachel Hoggatt in Clark County, Indiana in 1810 as that was then the nearest public office for the registration of the marriage. Lamb registered a second land claim in this neighborhood for the northeast quarter of Section 1, T2N, R3E. This claim was sold to Adam Cauble on January 4, 1830 when the families of Jeremiah and Simeon Lamb moved to Crittenden County, Kentucky on the Ohio River downstream from Shawneetown, Illinois.  This second land claim of Lamb was where the Washington County Landfill is located today. The Lambs were Quakers from Guilford County, North Carolina. Simeon Lamb was the only physician in the early days of settlement in this area and was of considerable influence as he was appointed by Governor Thomas Posey to be one of the first three judges of the Washington Circuit Court.  The failure of Simeon Lamb’s commercial ventures with Jacob Mendenhall left him in an impecunious state.  One of Washington County’s founding fathers moved to Kentucky with his son’s family to leave his creditors behind. The Lambs must have had a saline imperative as the former operator of the locality’s only store at Royse’s Lick moved to a location on the Ohio River near to the productive salt springs of Gallatin County, Illinois.

JOSEPH  SEIRS took title to land located in a fractional part of Section 15, T5N. R4E, in Driftwood Township of Washington County, Indiana Territory.  This tract laid along the Grouseland Treaty line.  A full section could not be surveyed at this location because of the northeast/southwest bearing of the 1804 treaty line.  Seirs’ claim was located on a consolidated sand dune that gently sloped west toward the Driftwood Fork of White River.  This homestead was located on what the early settlers called the “dead line”.  This name came from the fact that the area to the northwest of the Grouseland Treaty line was still under the control of the Indians that were free to occupy the area.  Many of the deaths of early settlers at the hand of Indians taking exception to their presence occurred within a few miles of this treaty line. The Seirs homestead is located today at the southwest edge of Brownstown at the US 50/SR 135 intersection.  Joseph Seirs was born in Hampshire County, Virginia.  He married Elizabeth McDade in Greenbrier County, Virginian in 1787.  They settled in Dearborn County, Indiana Territory in 1806, served in the Indiana Militia  and lived in Franklin County, Indiana Territory when they registered their claim on the “dead line”.  The Seirs would have come to this northern part of Harrison/Washington County along the Cincinnati Road that ran from Vincennes to Cincinnati along Kibbey’s Trace. Their trip to Jeffersonville to enroll their claim and make their land payments would have followed a trail that skirted the Knobs along the general route of SR 39 in northeastern Washington County and Old Bloomington Road in Scott County.  Joseph Seirs did not live to enjoy the fruits of his trailblazing as he died on May 2, 1816.  There are several variants of the spelling of his last name in various records.  These include Sires, Sawyers and Cyrus.  Given regional accents and illiteracy, many pioneer names took alternate forms.

GEORGE SHORT perfected his claim to the southwest quarter of Section 14, T2N, R4E, which was immediately east of the saline reserve where Royse’s Lick was located.  Short’s claim was in the center of the most heavily settled part of the county.  The two tributaries of the Harristown Branch of Royse’s Fork of Blue River flow meet as they flow through this land.  George Short married Catherine Monical in 1809 in Nicholas County Kentucky.  The Shorts sold their land next to Royse’s Lick to Peter Simpson of Jessamine County, Kentucky on April 10, 1818 for $980.  The proceeds from this sale were used to make final payments  two claims for 320 acres  in the east half of Section 35, T2N, R4E.  This land lies today on both sides of the Middle Fork of Blue River east of the SR 60 bridge. George Washington Short was born in Botetourt County, Virginia to Jacob and Eva Gottschalk Short.  The Short name was derived from the German name Schwartz.  Family research of George Washington Short is somewhat confusing as there were at least four different members of this family with this name in Washington County, Indiana.

RICHARD WALL who was born in Pennsylvania in 1777 obtained his first title in the Indiana Territory on this date to the northwest quarter of Section 10, T2N, R2E, on the north bank of Lost River where Claysville is located. Wall bought the adjoining northeast quarter on September 30, 1818 and sold his unperfected claim to the east half of the southeast quarter of Section 3 to Joseph Bates.  Richard and Theodocia Wall came to this area from Shelby County, Kentucky.  They didn’t put down roots in Lost River Township as they patented three different parcels totaling 160 acres in Bartholomew County, Indiana in 1821 through 1823.  This Bartholomew county land was located on the west bank of the Driftwood Fork of White River upstream from the inflow of Sand Creek east of present day Jonesville, Indiana.  This was about a mile north from where Nagonin and his band of impoverished Delaware Indians had camped seven years before. The Walls sold their Washington County holdings shortly thereafter.  Richard Wall apparently decided that he didn’t want to dedicate years to the development of the swampy bottoms of the Driftwood as he moved north to Tippecanoe County, Indiana after it was established in 1826.  The Walls took out four different land patents there totaling 160 acres in the 1830s.  They lived in the Clark’s Hill area for the duration of their lives.  Richard Wall died in Laurimie Township, Tippecanoe County, Indiana on March 30, 1861.

NOAH WRIGHT began building his Indiana domain on this date with the acquisition of the southeast quarter of Section 25, T2N, R4E, which was well drained land located north of the Middle Fork of Blue River.  The farm was a short wagon ride southeast of Royse’s Lick and is seen today on the east side of County Farm Road south of SR 160.  Wright had first come to Clark County, Indiana in 1803 from Randolph County, NC.   He manufactured brick and then farmed for the Isaac Holman Estate near Charlestown, Indiana. He then served in the Indiana Militia.  He later worked clearing land for Arthur Parr and married Susannah Parr on July 28, 1814.  His brother, Levi Wright, came to Indiana with him and took out a land patent nearby.  Noah Wright became Washington County’s second sheriff in 1816 and was elected to the first state legislature when Indiana became a state that year.  There apparently was no prohibition at that time from holding multiple public.  The office of Sheriff was often lucrative as the collection of taxes provided for a percentage of the revenues collected. Wright apparently did well as he started investing in 15 land patents in Lawrence, Bartholomew, Marion and Hamilton Counties.  In 1831, Washington County determined that a poor farm/asylum was needed.  The county bought Wright’s farm for the sum of $1000 that year.  Noah and Susannah Parr Wright moved to one of their properties in Perry Township, Marion County, Indiana where they lived out their lives.  Noah Wright’s financial success in serving as Washington County Sheriff caused Levi Wright also to be interested in public service.  He followed his brother in this office while acquiring 12 different land patents in Washington, Harrison, Putnam and Marion Counties, Indiana.  It would appear that the office of Sheriff in Indiana in the 19th century was quite a political plum.

                                                    KARST FLATWOODS EXAMPLE
                                                    EZEKIEL BLANCHARD CLAIM


                                                      BULLITT FAMILY HOME
                                                            OXMOOR FARM


                                                     CHARLES COULTER 1814
                                               CRAWFORD UPLAND/MITCHELL PLAIN

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

 DECEMBER 1, 1814

On this date Sheriff William Hoggatt summoned a jury of neighbors to meet him where the Vincennes Road forded Blue River downstream from where Mill Creek flowed into it.  Sheriff Hoggatt was acting under a writ issued by the Washington Circuit Court. George Beck had appeared before the Washington Circuit court on in late November 1814 seeking the issuance of a writ of ad quod damnum so that he determine whether to build a milldam on Blue River in the southeast quarter of Section 11, T1N, R3E.  Beck had obtained title to this land from the US Government on February 23, 1813.  Beck’s Mill was located in the diagonally adjoining northwest quarter of Section 11, T1N, R3E.  It was at this location in 1808 where George Beck and his sons had dammed the mouth of a cave spring that had its outflow into Mill Creek.  Mill Creek took its name after Beck’s Mill which was about 2000 feet west of the site where George Beck was considering building another mill. 

“Ad quod damnum” is a Latin phrase meaning “to what damage”’ It refers to a legal procedure where  the sheriff inquires of jurors under oath as to what damage a grant conferred by government would cause to various people if the government were to make the grant. It can best be described today as a private condemnation action. As many watercourses were either on unclaimed public land or on streams declared to be navigable, the local court was vested with the authority to control the use of rivers and streams.  As the damming of a river would both reduce the downstream flow and partially flood the river upstream, the value and use of riparian land by both the US government and landowning neighbors could be adversely affected.  By the assessment of damages by a jury, the proposing mill operator could determine if he wished to proceed with the construction of the dam. The downstream owners below Beck’s proposed milldam were the estate of Susannah Elliot and John Sheets.  The upstream owner with a potential claim was Jacob Copple.

On the day that John McPheeters received the verdict on the second slander suit he was litigating, he hired attorney William Hendricks to obtain a writ of ad quod damnum from the Washington Circuit Court so that he could construct a milldam on Lost River.  Sheriff Hoggatt summoned a jury to assemble at Lost River on December 3, 1814.  The McPheeters tract was described as the northwest quarter of Section 21, T2N, R2E.  This land today is bounded by Ike Drew Road on the south; Roger Green Road on the north and the Orange/Washington County line on the west.  Interestingly, McPheeters was seeking permission to build the milldam before he actually owned this riparian land along Lost River.  Although he had undoubtedly registered his claim for this tract of land, McPheeters did not actually make his payment in full until later which resulted in his deed from the US Government dated April 2, 1818. Upstream occupants with registered land claims from the McPheeters proposed mill site were George Arnold and Harvey Finley.  The downstream owner was the trustee of the School Section as Section 16 in each congressional township was reserved by the Northwest Ordinance to support public schools.  This land was leased by the agent appointed by the provisional circuit court.   David McKinney who had received his land title on October 1, 1814 was the next downstream owner.

The records of the Washington Circuit Court do not record what damage assessments these two juries determined.  As there was no operating watermill in this part of Lost River Township, McPheeters must have thought that he could get business in this area under settlement that was presently going to Beck’s Mill on Mill Creek and to Samuel Lindleys Mill near Half Moon Spring near Lick Creek. There is no record that a milldam was ever built by John McPheeters or anyone else on Lost River in Washington County, Indiana Territory.

The reason that George Beck was interested in building a milldam on Blue River within shouting distance of his well-known mill is unclear.  Maybe his first mill had so much business that he hoped to draw even more milling work by having a nearby mill to accommodate the demand for ground grain on the Washington County frontier.  Beck did not build a mill on his land on Blue River but, a flour mill was built about 1820 near this location and was operated by Green and then by William Rudder for over 60 years.

The legal procedure used by George Beck and John McPheeters in the late autumn of 1814 was seldom used by other settler/entrepreneurs who built dams for the operation of either grist or saw mills.  Mills built by William Lindley at three locations on Royse’s Fork of Blue River between Brock Creek and the Middle Fork of Blue River did not use formal legal procedures to have riparian rights declared.  These dams may have been built before there was a local court conveniently located to deal with riparian property rights.  The milldam builders may have informally made arrangements with upstream and downstream owners.  These informal agreements could have been compensated by free or discounted use of grinding or sawing services at the mill.

Disputes over the use of rivers and streams for milldams did arise in the early years of Washington County, Indiana.  In 1816, Zachariah Nixon built a milldam on Brock Creek downstream from the present day location of the Salem High School soccer field without using any legal procedure.  Nicholas Hubbard who lived upstream from the current site of the North Main Street Bridge took exception to Nixon’s dam claiming that his land was damaged by the impounded water.  Hubbard and Nixon entered into a written agreement to choose four arbitrators to assess any damages that were caused to Hubbard.  Nixon also agreed to post a $100 bond to guarantee payment of any damage award the arbitrators declared.   The costs of the proceeding were to be divided equally. The agreement was witnessed by Justice of the Peace John McCullough and Jacob Smith on May 23, 1817.  The arbitrators selected were Godlove Kamp, William Lindley, Lewis Crow and Jeremiah Lamb. These referees viewed the Nixon dam and the Hubbard property and determined Hubbard’s damages to be $90.  The finding was filed with Justice of the Peace McCullough who then ordered Nixon to pay the damages every six months in three installments of $30 each.

The result of the Nixon-Hubbard dispute is somewhat puzzling as George Brock owned land between the Nixon dam and the Hubbard land.  Looking at Brock Creek today, it is difficult to believe that a dam by the football practice fields would impound water beyond the bend in Brock Creek upstream from the SR 135 Bridge. Also the damage award seems rather generous as George Brock and Nicholas Hubbard only paid $320 for the 160 acres that Hubbard was protecting from impounded water.  Undoubtedly, early settlers highly valued having access to a free flowing stream.  Perhaps, this is why John McPheeters who had a successful mill on the Mutton Fork of Blue River never built a second milldam on Lost River.


                                                              PIONEER MILLDAM




                                GEORGE BECK'S MILL AND MILLDAM ON BLUE RIVER



                               PROPOSED MILLDAM OF MCPHEETERS ON LOST RIVER



NIXON DAM AND HUBBARD LAND
ON BROCK CREEK



Thursday, November 27, 2014

NOVEMBER 26, 1813

2001 years ago today in Washington County, Indiana Territory, three pioneers  received their land patent deeds from the US General Land Office.  These were Jesse Bogue, James Rodman and Adam Wible. These three settlers were representative of the Quaker, English and German backgrounds of the first residents of Washington County, Indiana.

Jesse Bogue had selected the southeast quarter of Section 34, T3N, R4E, in Washington Township of Harrison County, Indiana Territory as his land claim.  This land was located in the headwaters of the Brock Creek Basin at the northeast edge of the Blue River Friends community.  Today this farm is found on the south side of Broadway Road northeast of Salem.  The owners of adjoining homesteads were Elisha Denny, John Denny, John Fleenor and Joshua Thompson.  Bogue was a Friend from the Sutton Creek Meeting in Perquimans County, NC. He and his brother, Aaron, were part of the large contingent of Quakers who emigrated to the Indiana Territory from the coastal area by the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. Jesse Bogue was single when he became a landowner in 1813.  In April of 1816 he appeared with Anna White before the Blue River Meeting House congregation and announced their intentions of marriage.  Anna White was the daughter of Caleb White who also had come to Indiana from Perquimans County, NC. The Blue River Friends designated Samuel Nicholson and Jehosaphat Morris to review the proposed marital union.  Upon the recommendation of Nicholson and Morris, the marriage was sanctioned by the congregation and they were married on October 5, 1816.

James Thomas Rodman settled land in the southeast quarter of Section 18, T2N, R5E, in Washington Township, Harrison County, Indiana Territory.  He liked the fact that his claim was in the highest part in the upper part of the waters of Blue River and not too far from the store at Royse’s Lick. His farm adjoined lands of John Robertson, Samuel Herron, Jacob Garriott, Thomas Hodges, Edmund Hensley and a renter of Thomas Carr.  Rodman was born in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania but lived in Shelby County, Kentucky at the time he filed his Indiana land claim.  He married Elizabeth Burton in 1809 while living in Kentucky.  James Rodman built a small stockade on his land in 1812 in response to Governor Harrison’s executive order issued for the protection of settlers during the Tecumseh led uprising of 1811.  He later bought the saw mill and 24 acres from William Lindley that was near the southwest corner of Salem on Royse’s Fork of Blue River.  One the children of James and Elizabeth Burton Rodman was Thomas Jackson Rodman who was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Thomas Jackson Rodman invented the Rodman cannon and perforated cake gunpowder which gave the Union army a huge advantage in artillery during the Civil War.

Adam Wible was attracted to the rolling land on the border between the Mitchell Plain and the Crawford Upland.  He purchased the northwest quarter of Section 4, T1N, R2E for the US government. Wible’s homestead is located today just west of Livonia on the south side of SR 56 at the Orange County line. Wible was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania of German parents (Weible).  He was married in Nelson County, Kentucky in 1788 to Hanna Harris.  They had six children but only one survived childhood.  After his first wife died, Adam Wible married Jane VanCleave in 1795 in Shelby County Kentucky.  She was a native of Rowan County, NC.  Adam and Jane Wible had thirteen children but several of them died as young children.  In 1820, there were ten members of the Adam Wible household.  Adam Wible and his VanCleave inlaws were among the first to settle in the area of Livonia.



                                     QUAKER HOME IN WHITE FAMILY IN 
                                           PERQUIMANS COUNTY, NC


                                                           RODMAN CANNON


                                   GOOGLE EARTH VIEW OF ADAM WIBLE LAND 1813