Wednesday, July 30, 2014


200 years ago in Washington County, Indiana Territory, two locations had been named after the largest ruminant that was occasionally seen in the area—the Eastern Elk.  Early settlers such as Moses Thompson and William McKnight had observed elk grazing in the broad valley that was incised into the New Providence Shale that was exposed by the Knobstone Escarpment.  Elk Creek was the name they gave to this tributary that flowed into the Muscatatuck River from this valley. Likewise, settlers such as William Lofton and Robert Armstrong  had hunted elk in the area along the lower reach of Blue River above its confluence with the Mutton Fork of Blue River.  This flood plain in a large bend of this part of Blue River was named Elk Bottom.

The elk that was native to this area at the time it was opened to settlement was the Eastern Elk (Cervus canadensis canadensis). The Eastern Elk was larger than its western cousins. A full-grown bull could weigh up to 1000 pounds, stand 50-60 inches tall at the shoulder, and carry a rack of antlers six feet in length. These elk generally ranged in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves, and bark. The presence of human encroachment on their habitat quickly led to their abandonment of Indiana.  The Eastern Elk was eventually declared extinct in 1880.

Male elk had large antlers which were shed each year. The settlers, squatters and hunters of the Indiana Territory often found spent antlers in the forests.  If you have ever been to the town square in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, you will recall how thousands of spent elk antlers festoon the corral style fence that surrounds it. Adult males usually foraged alone or in small groups when their antlers were fully grown.  After their antlers were molted, they usually grazed in herds for protection from their predators such as wolves, panthers and bears.

The Lenni Lenape [Delaware Indians] that lived here in the days of the Indiana Territory called the elk “wapiti”.  In Algonquian dialects this word meant “white rump”.  The elk was one of the few ruminants that had both antlers and canine teeth.  The Indians often wore necklaces of elk canine teeth as they were symbols of long life.

Elk bulls had a loud vocalization consisting of screams known as bugling, which can be heard for miles. Females were attracted to the males that bugled more often and had the loudest call.  Bugling was most common early and late in the day and, along with the howl of the wolf, was one of the most distinctive sounds in nature.  The natural soundscape heard by the pioneers of Washington County such as the Thompsons, McKnights, Loftons and Armstrongs was much different from the one we hear today.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

JULY 27, 1814

The residents of upper Lost River Township were speculating who would be appointed by the judges of the Washington Circuit Court to be the overseer of the construction of the road leading from Beck’s Mill to the Cincinnati Trace near Freeman’s Corner.  Before the formation of Washington County, the Lee, Roberts, Finley, Carter, Maxwell, Denny and Lewis families, among others, had difficulty in getting their wagon loads of corn to Beck’s Mill for grinding.  These families had made land claims in the most northwestern part of the territory opened for settlement by the Treaty of Grouseland.  They were encouraged that a seat of government would soon be closer to them than Corydon as they now realized the hardships of being on the upper branch of Lost River at the very edge of the frontier of the Indiana Territory.

In April of 1814, Lee and his neighbors petitioned the Washington Circuit Court for the establishment of a public road running “from Major Beck’s mill to Major Jesse Roberts and then on the Sulphur Spring”.  The court appointed Samuel Lewis, John Maxwell and Clement Lee or any two of them to view the way and recommend the course of the road.  Justice of the Peace Samuel Lewis and Clement Lee were the appointees who performed this public task.  They filed their report in mid-July 1814.  The route ordered to be marked was described as follows:
          “A road running with or nearly with the old trace from Beck’s Mill to Lost River, thence in a straight line or nearly so to the Cincinnati Trace about a half mile from the Sulphur Spring.”

The course of this pioneer road probably can be traced, in part, on a Washington County Highway map today.  Zink Road runs on a northwest vector and then connects with Douglas Church Road.  A prolongation of the general direction of this road connects with West Washington School Road north of what was then a large wetland in the northern part of the Barrens.  This part of the West Washington School Road in Vernon Township runs in a northwesterly direction leading to Lost River.  That part of the road that ran in a “nearly so” straight line undoubtedly paralleled the upper branch of Lost River to the Cincinnati Road.

The location of the Cincinnati Road through Washington County is presently unknown.  No reference to it has been found in the original survey records that laid out the congressional township and section grid in 1806 through 1808.  It may have run through Driftwood Township in what was to become Jackson County in 1815 but then one must speculate how it crossed the Driftwood Fork of White River or the Muscatatuck River.  It must have changed course early as its description by a traveler in the 1820s has it running from Vienna to Salem to Paoli.  The Cincinnati Trace was originally blazed by Captain Ephraim Kibbey in 1799 at the direction of General Arthur St. Clair who was the governor of the Northwest Territory.  Now that a peace of sorts had been established in 1795 with the Treaty of Greenville, St. Clair wanted a way to get troops from Fort Washington in Cincinnati to Fort Knox in Vincennes.  The Secretary of the Northwest Territory at this time was William Henry Harrison.  He had his eyes on becoming the Governor of a new territory to be formed out of the Northwest Territory centered around Vincennes.  Harrison’s father in law was John Cleve Symmes who owned a land grant around Cincinnati of over 200,000 acres.  One can wonder if Harrison helped promote the development of the road so that his future desired residence on the Wabash could have access to his father in law’s resources.

The early course of the Cincinnati Trace did take it through present day Orleans, Indiana.  This is known because the description of the road established for Washington County, Indiana Territory in 1814 to run from Beck’s Mill to Major Jesse Roberts says that the Cincinnati Trace was about one-half mile from the “sulphur spring”.  The sulfur spring in question was not one of the springs in French Lick or West Baden.  This sulfur spring was shown on mid 19th century maps to be on the Hoffstetler farm immediately north of Orleans. The location of this former spring would now be on land owned perhaps by the Orleans Schools.
                                           ROAD FROM MAJOR ROBERTS TO BECK'S MILL

                                                 FORT WASHINGTON AT CINCINNATI

                                                   FLAG OF VINCENNES

Thursday, July 24, 2014


200 years ago this month in Washington County, Indiana Territory, 11 different settlers were marking their anniversaries of obtaining title to their lands from the federal government.  On July 15, 1811, deeds were issued in the name of President James Madison by the US Secretary of State  to Joshua Carter and Thomas Hopper.  Carter’s land was located near the headwaters of the area now known as Carter’s Creek which is a tributary of Lost River.  Hopper’s land was located just north of the present location of Hardinsburg.  Carter was mentioned in my post of July 2, 2014.  Hopper was referred to in my posts of May 15, June 15 and June 26, 2014.

On July 18, 1812, George Brock, George Summers, Jacob Doan and Jacob Motsinger,
received their deeds as of this date over the initials of Edward Tiffin who was the Commissioner of the General Land Office.  Brock’s land was located along the creek named after him just north of the present city limits of Salem.  He is mention in my posts of April 23, 2014.  Summers’ land was located on the east bank of the Driftwood Fork of White River immediately south of the present route of SR 235.  Summers was a resident of Montgomery County, Virginia at the time he registered his claim.  He later bought a lot in the plat of Vallonia on August 10, 1814 for $40.  This was more than Zachariah Nixon and Joseph Nixon paid for each of the lots they purchased the Salem plat from John DePauw.  Jacob and Hannah Stupp Doan are reputed to have settled in the valley of the sinking creek system of Honey Creek in 1809.  This land is located south of Hardinsburg and west of SR 66. 

Jacob Motsinger’s land was located in the southeast quarter of section 2, T1N, R4E, in what is now Pierce Township.  This land is now located at the intersection of Martinsburg Road and Temple Road.  Motsinger also added a second adjoining parcel in 1813.  His presumed brother, David Motsinger, claimed a quarter section immediately to the north.  These tracts gently sloped to the Middle Fork of Blue River and were located on or near to the trail from Royse’s Lick to the Falls of the Ohio.

The Motsingers were the son of Felix Matzinger who was probably from the upper Rhine in the Germany/Swiss border area.  Jacob was born in Northhampton County, Pennsylvania about 1761. His family then moved  from this location in the Delaware River Valley to the south along the Great Valley Road where they next settled in the North Carolina Piedmont in the Abbott Creek neighborhood.  He was married to Hannah Brown/Braun in about 1783. About 18 years later, when the Indiana Territory had been opened for settlement, they made the trek through the Cumberland Gap and Wilderness Road to claim land in the uplands north of the Buffalo Trace.
Walter F. Hilton once related to me the local legend that the Motsinger brothers brought broom sedge to Indiana in their beards.

July 14, 1813 was the date of issuance of deeds by Edward Tiffin as Commissioner of the General Land Office to Jacob Young, James Wright, John Evans, Samuel Blankenbaker and Thomas Carr. Thomas Carr was the subject of my previous post of July 10, 2014.  The oversized tract of Jacob Young/Jung was located on the north slope of Dutch Creek valley adjoining the lands of Henry Wyman, John Bush, Leonard Carnes and Ephraim Goss.  The Evans land was along the reach of Royse’s Fork of Blue River located downstream from the “Canton Curve” of SR 56 east of Salem. Samuel and Amy Yeager Blankenbaker’s land was on Highland Creek where SR 60 and SR 56 intersect today. Godlove Kamp who was a justice of the peace and commissioner of the salt works at Royse’s Lick was their son in law.

James and Elizabeth Sears Wright lived in Clark County, Indiana at the time they registered their claim to the northeast quarter of section 18, township 2 north, range 4 east,  in what was then Washington Township of Harrison County, Indiana.  Today this includes all of the land in Salem located north of Bristol Street; west of Harrison Street and; south of Wendy Heights Subdivision.

James Wright was the nephew of Amos, William and Philbert Wright who had settled along the middle reach of Royse’s Fork of Blue River and along the lower reach of the Middle Fork of Blue River.  Elizabeth Sears Wright was the sister of Jacob and David Sears who had initially settled in the same area.  James and Elizabeth were married in Oldham County, Kentucky in about 1800 where they lived on the farm of Christian and Barbara Stutsman Sears/Zaher.  They soon crossed the Ohio River and lived near Utica in Clark County.  They then moved to a tract east of the Pigeon Roost area which was also in Clark County.  They were not victims of the Pigeon Roost massacre.  However, as a general state of war was perceived to exist, James went to his father in law’s plantation in Oldham County, Kentucky and enlisted some of his slaves to aid in packing up their trappings in wagons for temporary relocation in Pee Wee Valley, Ky. After a few months, they then moved back to the Indiana Territory to settle on their new claim just southwest of the compound of the extended family of George Brock.  As the line of the Indiana frontier extended north, James Wright and his family again relocated to the northern part of Orange County which is now part of Monroe County, Indiana where he entered 9 tracts of land totaling 1163 acres.  He became a prosperous farmer and served as a Justice of the Peace.  He died at the age of 92 leaving 14 children and numerous grandchildren surviving.

The father in law of James Wright died in 1843.  He was raised as a Dunkard but, as mentioned above, was a slave owner in Kentucky.  When his will was probated, another of his sons in law, Philbert Wright of Washington County, Indiana was named as co-executor.  This Wright was the previously mentioned uncle of James Wright and my great, great, great grandfather.  One of the duties he had to fulfill was the execution of these 2 paragraphs of the will:

“First, I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Hannah R. Sears, two negroes, Henry age 14 years, and Betsy age 11 years, to have and to hold the same during her natural life, after her decease the same to be free, provided, however, the same negroes, Henry and Betsey, if all have arrived at the age of twenty-one years, should they be under that age it is my will that they be hired out by my executors until they shall have arrived at that age. Also I will and bequeath unto my beloved wife one negro girl named Cleo, age eleven years, to have and hold the same forever.”

“Also it is my will that Riley, Jerry and Thomas, and male slaves that may be born after this date in my family be hired out until each of them shall have earned four hundred dollars, also that slaves Sallie and Margaret and female slaves that may be born in my family after this date, be hired out until each of them shall have earned two hundred dollars. After the above-named slaves shall have earned by their hire the above-mentioned sums, my Executors are authorized to set them free. Also that Lucy be free at the age of twenty-one years. It is also my will that Lewis, Betsy, and Mary be free at my decease.”

In concluding this current post, it should be noted that Felix Matzinger and Christian Zaher both came from the upper Rhine Valley in Switzerland in the first half of the 18th century.  These brief histories of the Motsinger and James Wright families are further examples of the Germanic origins of many of our Washington County forebearers whose descendants are celebrating the bicentennial of Salem and Washington County, Indiana.

                                                  MOTSINGER BROTHERS TRACTS

                                                   JAMES WRIGHT TRACT

                                                           JAMES WRIGHT (1781-1873)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

JULY 15, 1814

200 years ago today in Washington County, Indiana Territory, word was circulating throughout its 5 townships that the Washington Circuit Court had imposed a new tax of 18 2/3 cents for each horse, mare, mule or ass over 3 years of age.  Indeed, such action was taken by the provisional court on July 13, 1814.  The Territorial Legislature had granted authority to its counties to levy certain taxes to raise revenue for the funding of county government.  The amounts of these taxes authorized had been adjusted often in recent years. These authorized local taxes included:
          Each horse, mare, mule or ass of three years and upwards, a sum not exceeding 50 cents.
          Each head of neat cattle, of three years and upwards, a sum not exceeding 10 cents.
          Every stud horse of three years and upwards, a sum not exceeding the rate for which he stands for the season.
          Each bond-servant or slave between the age of 16 to 40 a sum not exceeding 1 $.
          A poll tax of no more than 1 $ and no less than 50 cents on every able bodied man at least 21 years of age with less than taxable property of $200.
          A tax on town lots, out lots, houses in town, and mansion houses in the country which shall be valued at $200 and upwards, a sum not exceeding 30 cents on each 100$ of their appraised value.
          Each ferry $10 per year.
          Each tavern $20 per year.
          Each billiard table $50 per year.

These local taxes were in addition to the territory land tax which was levied as follow:
          First class land levy was $1 per 100 acres
          Second class land levy was 75 cents per 100 acres
          Third class land levy was 37 ½ cents per 100 acres

There was undoubtedly local discussion that the Washington Circuit Court must have been under public influence to keep the tax low as the rate established was less than half of what it could have been.   However, with at least 7 new roads being declared by the court in 1814, the money to clear and maintain them had to be raised.  The Washington Circuit Court had just determined that each road established was to be 2 rods [33 feet] wide. Apparently, the Territorial Legislature had decided that as horses would be the main burden on these 2 rod wide local roads then it should be a tax on the horse that paid for them. The labor to clear and maintain the roads was to be provided by able bodied men between the ages of 21 to 50 who had lived in the township for at least 30 days.  Each male of this description was work up to 12 days a year on local roads under the supervision of overseers appointed by the circuit court.

Sheriff William Hoggatt was charged with the duty of collecting these taxes after Lister Alexander Little had documented  the items present in the county that were subject to these various taxes.  Little wondered how he was going to determine the age of each horse, mare, mule and ass.  He also had decided that he was not going to climb the hills and hollows looking for unbarned horses.  He figured that each horse owner would rather be subject to the tax than take a chance of losing a hidden horse to a wolf, bear or panther lurking in the woods. Little also assumed that a billiard table would be hard to hide.  No record remains to indicate how many billiard tables were actually found and taxed in the County in its early days.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

JULY 13, 1814

200 years ago today, the three judge panel of the Washington Circuit Court had just opened its third quarterly session to conduct the business of the county. As the upland frontier of Washington County was being settled without the benefit of an established town, its official business continued to be conducted out of the residence of William and Mary Pitts Lindley on their developing farm on the knoll overlooking the Royse’s Fork of Blue River about a furlong south of the Salem plat.  The judges knew that this was a severe imposition upon Lindley’s family but it was compensated for by the demand for lumber from Lindley’s  sawmill operating below the bend of the river downstream from its confluence with Brock Creek.

Jonathan Lindley, Simeon Lamb and Moses Hoggatt determined that it was time to fulfill their duty to erect a seat of justice by commencing plans for the construction of a court house and a public prison.  They entered written findings that because of:  1)  an examination of the county treasury showed funds amply sufficient; 2)     the very flourishing situation of the town of Salem; and 3)     the fertile and prosperous state of the county generally;        it therefore, “appeared to warrant and require the erection of a handsome, convenient and durable public building”.

They then proceeded to enter an order containing the general specifications for the court house to be erected in the Public Square of DePauw’s plat as follows:
            A building 45 feet by 30 feet
            Arches not less than 8 feet high
Supported by 14 pillars of stone sunk 3 feet deep in the earth unless founded on solid rock
One story above the arches to be 14 feet high built of brick
4 windows of 24 panes each in the court room
2 windows for the jury rooms of the same size
2 outside doors and 2 inside doors in proportion to the building
A fireplace in each of the jury rooms
Walls to be laid in limestone mortar well pointed and pencilled and to be plastered and whitewashed
The cornice to be handsomely made of brick moulded for the purpose
The materials to be of the best kind and also the work to be done in a good workmanlike manner

This order was followed by another one establishing the specifications for the jail as being;
A building 25 by 18
Walls 1 foot thick laid close together
Outside walls to be built on a rock wall 3 feet into the ground
Inside walls on a platform of rock 2 feet thick the size of the floor
Partition walls 1 foot thick extending through the inner walls
Iron gates and a double door

Judges Lindley, Lamb and Hoggatt finally ordered that these contracts be awarded to the lowest bidders on the 3rd Saturday in August of 1814.  A materials list and a draught of the buildings were on file in the office of the Clerk [the personal care of Clerk/Recorder Isaac Blackford].  Advertisement of this invitation for bids was to be published in the Western Eagle in Madison, Indiana and the Western Courier [unknown].

It is not known who had the experience and expertise to recommend these dimensions and specifications but as William Lindley was the County Surveyor and was known to have expertise in building mill dams and millworks, his handiwork is probably present in the building plans ordered.  With a plat that set out Main and Market Streets  to be 80 feet wide and a central public square with a dimension of 392' by 392' (3.525 acres) , it was obvious that the 3 judges appointed by Governor Thomas Posey and their appointee, John DePauw, intended for the Washington County seat of government to be of impressive scale.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

JULY 12, 1814

200 years ago today, the first divorce action was filed in the Washington Circuit Court.  John Fleenor filed a libel for divorce against his wife Elizabeth Hensley Fleenor.  Johannes Wilhelm Flinner was born of German descent in Frederick County, Maryland in 1771.  His father was Nicholas Flinner and his mother was Maria Catherina Fulkerson/Voelkersen who were believed to be from Wurtemberg in southern Germany.  Elizabeth Hensley was born of English descent in Culpepper County, Virginia in 1773. The Fleenors had been married in Washington County, Virginia on October 6, 1786.  They may have lived in east Tennessee briefly.  Around 1800 they moved to Kentucky living in Woodford and then Jefferson County. John Fleenor entered a claim northwest of Royse’s Lick in 1809 or 1810 and acquired title to his farm on April 27, 1813.  As stated in my post of May 20, 2104, Fleenor operated one of the early distilleries in the County.

It appears that Elizabeth “Betsy” Fleenor declined to move to the uncertainties of the Indiana Territory with her husband and remained in Kentucky with their 9 children.  Fleenor engaged the services of attorney George Pope to represent him in the proceedings. When John Fleenor appeared before Jonathan Lindley and Simeon Lamb as the judges of the Washington Circuit Court, they found that Elizabeth was not a resident of Indiana.  Mrs. Fleenor was given until the second Monday of October 1814 to show cause as to why the divorce should not granted. Notice of filing was to be printed for 3 consecutive months in the Western Eagle which was published in Madison, Indiana. The newly appointed Prosecuting Attorney, John T. Ross, was assigned to represent Elizabeth in her absence. The divorce became final on November 24, 1814 with the newly appointed Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit, Jesse L. Holman, signing the decree. Elizabeth Hensley Fleenor eventually moved to Roane County, Tennessee where she married David Haley in 1825.

 John soon thereafter married Mary Grace Grisamore near the end of 1814. The exact date is not recorded as there was no procedure for the issuance of marriage licenses in the Indiana Territory until 1816. Although John was 44 years old at the onset of his second marriage, he and Mary Grace proceeded to have another 6 children.  Mary Grace Grisamore Fleenor died at the age of 60 giving birth to a child in 1831.  John then married again to Rebecca Jane Puttorff/Bottorff on July 21, 1831.  John and Rebecca Jane then had 7 children together during the next 13 years.  John Fleenor died on September 18, 1853 having fathered at least 22 children.  My stepsons are two of his 4th great grandsons.  Johannes Wilhelm Fleenor/Flinner is another example of the forgotten German heritage of Washington County, Indiana.

                                                  JOHN FLEENOR LAND PATENT 1813

                                           JOHN FLEENOR GRAVESTONE

Friday, July 11, 2014

JULY 11, 1814

200 years ago today in Washington County, Indiana Territory, Thomas Lindley and Samuel Chambers were ready to file their road viewing report with the Washington Circuit Court.  George Henton, William Holliday and other citizens had filed a petition with the court in April asking that that a public road be established “from the Knox County line at either Section 7 or 18 in T1E, R1N thence running by William Holliday, George Henton and then to Salem town”. Henton and Holliday had settled in the western part of Washington County which is part of Orange County today. They had only a crude  trail that eventually led to Royse’s Lick to travel on to reach the new county seat when it became built up.  The court appointed Thomas Lindley, Joseph Wells and Samuel Chambers or any two of them to recommend the most convenient route.

As Wells was unable to participate in the project, Lindley and Chambers proposed that the road be laid out as follows:

            1.         Beginning at Section 7, T1N. R1E on the Knox County Line….
This is south southeast of where Paoli is today.  The Washington-Knox County line was immediately east of were Paoli was established in 1815.

            2.         to the land of William Holliday….
William Holliday had received his land title on February 23, 1813 for the northeast quarter of Section 9, T1N, R1E which is southeast of present day Paoli.  William and Jane Andrew Holliday were both born in Chester County, Pa in the 1750s and were part of the Lick Creek Friends community.  William Holliday didn’t get to use the road for very long as he died in 1818.

            3.         to the land of George Henton….
George and Mary Rigney Henton were Virginians.  George was from Shenandoah County, Va and was a soldier in the American Revolution.  Mary was from Pittsylvania County, Va.  They owned land in the area near present day Millersburg.

            4.         to the land of Joseph Wells….
Joseph Wells had registered a land claim in the southwest quarter of Section 4, T1N, R2E.  This located just southwest of where Livonia is no located.  Wells sold his claim to Stephen Smith who obtained the land patent in 1818.

            5.         then through the woods to the Poplar Cabin….
Lindley and Chambers were coursing the road around the hills where the Crawford Upland abuts on the western edge of the Mitchell Karst Plain.  Obviously the area around Livonia in 1814 had not yet been cleared of the old growth forest present in the area.  The Poplar Cabin was the residence of Abraham Rife who operated a small store in his home.  This location is in the wetlands northeast of Livonia. Rife/Reiff was of German heritage having been born in Rockingham County, Virgina.  His first wife Anna Henigan died in 1814 and he was remarried in 1819 to Polly Collier.  Polly was the daughter of John and Cassandra Crook Collier who had settled where the West Washington School is now located. Abraham Rife later relocated to Clay County, Illinois which was a popular place of resettlement for Washington County pioneers.

            6.         then through the Barrens…
The Barrens consisted of interconnected treeless prairie like areas in the karst plain that transverses the western half of Washington County.  The Barrens were found mostly south and west of Beck’s Mill but extended north into present day Vernon Township where there are no surface streams.

            7.         along the main road to the Walkers through the woods to intersect the new road…
Obadiah Walker lived in the northeast quarter of Section 27, T2N, 3E for which he had registered  his land claim.  This is located on the east slope of Mill Creek just north of the Mill Creek Cemetery and SR 56.  Walker sold his claim to William Lee and then moved north of Millport where he obtained a land patent north of the Muscatatuck along the road that led from the old ford to Vallonia.  The main road referred to may have been one of the road that radiated out from Beck’s Mill.

            8.         thence along the road to the Rocky Branch….
Rocky Branch has to be the branch that runs southeast out of Spring Meadow Subdivision under SR 56 then under Quarry Road and then west of the quarry to Royse’s Fork of Blue River.

            9.         then the nearest way to Highland Camp….
This is one of the few [only?] references in the public records of Washington County to a specific location where Indians lived at the time of settlement.   Highland was a Lenni Lenape [Delaware] leader of a band of Indians that lived along Highland Creek.  The camp is near where West Market Street crosses Highland Creek probably near the spring that became the quarry.

            10.       then by James Harbison….
James and Nancy Ann Glazebrook Harbison owned the quarter section immediately west of the Benjamin and Catherine Brewer land purchased by John DePauw to lay out Salem.  This is the area west of Shelby Street along and east of Tarr Avenue.  James Harbison died in the 1820s and his wife moved to Henderson County, Illinois with some of her grown children.

            11.       thence to the west end of the main street in the town of Salem….
This would be where Market Street and Shelby Street intersect.

This road was officially established by the Washington Circuit Court on July 11, 1814.  It was altered on the west end soon after Paoli was platted in 1815.  Today’s West Market Street out to the “Cozy Corner/Eagles Lodge” intersection of SR 56 certainly follows its end part. Some of SR 56 between Salem and Banks Corner follows it today.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

JULY 10, 1814

200 years ago today in Washington County, Indiana Territory, Thomas Carr was marking the third year of receiving title to his land from the Federal government. Thomas Carr obtained his land patent for the northeast quarter of Section 13, T2N, R4E on July 10, 1811.  This tract was 2 ½ miles due east of Royse’s Lick on the north tributary to the Harristown Branch of Royse’s Fork of Blue River. Carr would purchase 3 other land patents in Washington Township, Harrison and then Washington County between the years of 1812 through 1815.  Thomas Carr was a land speculator as he never lived in Washington County outside of Clark County, Indiana where he had settled in 1804.

Thomas Carr was of Irish descent with the family name having been Kerr.  He was born in Washington County, Maryland in 1755.  His family soon moved to Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania in the watershed of the Monongahela River.  Thomas Carr served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He married Hannah Coombs in Westmoreland County, Pa in 1784. They lived in Fayette County Pa for 13 years before moving their family to Kentucky.   As did hundreds of Kentuckians, they crossed the Ohio River and moved to the frontier of the recently established Indiana Territory.  They settled in Clark County, Indiana in 1804.  His brother and sister in law, Elisha and Nancy Coombs Carr, had settled in Clark County, Indiana in 1801. Thomas and Hannah soon became a part of the Silver Creek Baptist Church which had been established as the first Protestant congregation in the Indiana Territory on November 22, 1798.  His brother, Elisha, was a deacon of this congregation from 1802 to 1822.

Thomas Carr soon became active in the public life of Clark County, Indiana Territory.  After the US Congress passed the statehood enabling act for Indiana, Carr was one of the 43 members of the Indiana Constitutional Convention.  This convention debated much of the summer of 1816 over many issues including whether slavery should be allowed. Since the State Capitol was a hot and cramped building, the convention delegates often gathered in the shade of a large elm tree to stretch their legs and cool down. Slavery was not allowed in the final document and the right to vote was extended to all white males over the age of 21.  After the adoption of its constitution and an election, Indiana officially became the 19th state of the Union on December 11, 1816.  Carr served in the state legislature until 1818. Thomas Carr died on October 26, 1822 at the age of 67. He is buried in the Silver Creek Cemetery where his brother, Elisha, had donated the land for the church and the cemetery.

Friday, July 4, 2014

JULY 4, 2014

Today is the first Saturday in July.  200 years ago, the first Saturday in July was July 2, 1814.  On that date in Washington County, Indiana Territory, the Sharon Baptist Church met for its regular monthly meeting as it had since October 1810.  The congregation began its meetings at the house of John and Jemima Shipman Dunlap who had registered a land claim just north of Pigeon Roost.  This tract is located today at the southeast corner of the intersection of Boatman and Collins Roads in Scott County, Indiana.  During these years Amos Thornburgh was the moderator and Jesse Spurgeon was the clerk.  Given the location of the Dunlaps house below the Knobs, Jesse Spurgeon often recorded that no one attended some of the monthly meetings.  Spurgeon also recorded that it had been determined not to meet during the months of October through December of 1812 “by reason of the hostilities of the Indians”.  The Pigeon Roost massacre had occurred on September 3, 1812 in the neighborhood immediately east of the Dunlap home.  The Indians that had committed this atrocity had undoubtedly travelled the same trail through the Old Trace Gap to reach the Pigeon Roost settlement that the church members would take to get to the Dunlaps.

In spite of these early difficulties, the congregation grew quickly.  Many of the settlers located on the upper reaches of the Harristown Branch of Royse’s Fork of Blue River and the Middle Fork of Blue River were members of the Sharon Baptist Church.  While the Quakers were predominant in the area around Brock Creek and the Canton Branch of Royse’s Fork of Blue River and the Free Will Baptists led by Amos and John Wright were predominant in the area around the lower parts of Royse’s Fork and the Middle Fork of Blue River, the Sharon Baptist Church was predominant in the area between.

This increase of membership led the congregation to change its place of meeting in September of 1813 from the Dunlap house to the house of Isaiah and Susannah Spurgeon.   The Spurgeons had  bought out Dr. Simeon Lamb’s land claim just east of Royse’s Lick and had taken title to the land in February 1813.  Isaiah Spurgeon’s brother, Jesse, who was the clerk of this congregation was reputedly the first person of European descent to settle his family in the central part of what became Washington County.  On October 1, 1814, the congregation decided to build a church house 25’ by 30’ in the northwest corner of the Spurgeon land.  A subscription was sought from the membership to pay the builder and could be paid in “corn, work, wheat, pork, marketing or cash”. It took 1 year for sufficient funds to be raised.  In October 1815, Archibald Johnson and David Denney were appointed Trustees to supervise the construction.  David Denney and Jesse Spurgeon who was a Justice of the Peace were appointed to stake out the site and write the deed for Isaiah and Susannah Spurgeon to sign.  The deed was presented to the congregation on December 2, 1815.  The church was completed and the first service held on June 1, 1816.

The first meeting in the new building was eventful.  Jesse Spurgeon acknowledged himself guilty of drinking intoxicating liquors and offered concession. Brother Spurgeon was then reproved and admonished by Rev. James McCoy of the Silver Creek Baptist Church and then “peace abounded”.  The membership during these early years included the following:


As seen above, John and Elizabeth Baptiste DePauw were among the early members of the Sharon Baptist Church. The minutes show that upon a few occasions, a deputation of the congregation was sent to the DePauws to encourage and confirm their attendance and support.   In spite of their sporadic attendance, John DePauw was selected to attend regional meetings of the Baptist Association on the Indiana frontier.  It is also worthy of note that DePauw turned to one of his fellow congregants, Amos Thornburgh, to be one the sureties on his $5,000 fidelity bond as agent for the sale of lots for Salem.

                                          GOOGLE EARTH VIEW OF SALEM, ROYSE'S LICK, ISAIAH                 SPURGEON TRACT AND JOHN DUNLAP TRACT

                                         PIGEON ROOST KNOB FROM JOHN DUNLAP TRACT


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

JULY 2, 1814

200 years ago today in Washington County, Indiana Territory, a deed executed on April 9, 1814 by Clement and Susannah Beck Lee transferring 160 acres of land to Jesse Roberts was finally officially recorded by Isaac Blackford as the Clerk/Recorder. Roberts had delivered the deed for recording to Blackford on April 11, 1814 at the house of William and Mary Pitts Lindley where public business was being conducted until such time as a Court House could be built in the developing town of Salem.  Although Isaac Newton Blackford was a young lawyer of considerable intellectual acumen, he was unable to gain possession of a leather bound volume of sturdy blank paper suitable for the entry of official land documents until June 26.  After the transcription of DePauw’s plat of Salem; Lindley’s deed to DePauw as agent for the town of Salem; Brewer’s deed to DePauw as agent of the town of Salem; and a deed for 120 acres sold by John and Miriam Hollowell Hobson to Edward Wayman on March 31, 1814; Blackford then transcribed the Lee to Roberts deed on Saturday July 2.  As there was a backlog of documents to record, Isaac Blackford was working on that weekend.

The real estate that Roberts had purchased from Lee was located in Lost River Township in the karst plain along Lost River downstream from the confluence of its tributary Carter’s Creek. William Brooks who was a son in law of Henry Wyman of the Dutch Creek neighborhood in Blue River Township had originally registered the claim to this tract but sold his rights to it to William Lee.  Lee paid off the balance of the $320 owed to the Federal government and obtained his land patent on August 13, 1812.  William Lee died early in 1814 and it must have been informally decided that one of his sons, Clement Lee, had either inherited the property or was acting as sale agent for the entire family.  The sale took place within 3months of the owner’s death.  There must have been some urgency to the sale as the price of $250 which Roberts was paying was less than the $2 per acre price charged by the Federal government.

The Roberts and Lee families had come to the Indiana Territory from Cumberland County, Kentucky.  Jesse Roberts served in the Indiana Militia in 1812 and obtained the rank of Major.  Like many officers of the Indiana Militia, Roberts was appointed to serve in various public capacities in the early days of Washington County.  He and James Mansfield were the two Overseers of the Poor for Lost River Township appointed by the Washington Circuit Court on April 13, 1814.   His house was designated as the polling place for Lost River Township for the 1814 territorial election. His first land claim in Section 33, T3N, R1E was located on the road laid out from Major George Beck’s mill to the sulphur springs in Knox County, Indiana Territory.

The adjoining neighbors to the 160 acres sold by Clement Lee to Jesse Roberts were William Denny on the south; Clement Lee on the east; and David Finley on the north and west.  These settlers were rather far removed from that part of Washington County where the county seat was being laid out by John DePauw.  One of these settlers in Lost River Township, Samuel Lewis, was the Justice of the Peace who prepared and witnessed the Lee to Roberts deed.  He lived a mile west of the original Jesse Roberts tract.  Lewis was giving some thought to establishing a town on his land as a central location for trade in his neighborhood as Salem was not going to be conveniently located.  In fact, Samuel Lewis did so in when he filed the original plat for Orleans with the Washington County Recorder on March 11, 1815.  After the subdivision of their farm, Samuel and Sarah Lamaster Lewis moved to the  Coahuila y Tejas and took out land in the Bevil Settlement between the waters of the Sabine and Neuces Rivers.  The former Washington County Justice of the Peace died in the Republic of Texas in 1838.