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)

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