Monday, August 25, 2014

AUGUST 25, 1813

201 years ago today in Washington County, Indiana Territory, Henry Ratts was granted title to the southwest quarter of Section 6, Township 1 North,  Range 4 East in what was then Washington Township in Harrison County, Indiana Territory. This was the second land patent that Ratts had received from the U. S. government with the first one having been granted to him on February 15, 1812. Henry Ratts negotiated an exchange with the federal government and traded the southeast quarter of Section 6, T1N, R4E for the quarter section adjoining on the west.   The 1812 tract was tucked between wooded ridges on a tributary of the Middle Fork of Blue River below its junction with Royse’s Fork.  The 1813 tract was more attractive to Ratts as the Middle Fork of Blue River flowed through it on the northeast corner as well as the southwest corner.  This real estate is located today on the west side of Cauble Road just southwest of the Cauble Bridge in Pierce Township.

Henry T. Ratts/Ratz was born in York County, Pennsylvania in 1770 as one of the children of Gottfried Ratz and Maria Schweisguth who emigrated to the American colonies from the Hesse area of  Germany.  The Ratz family migrated south down the Great Valley Road to Rowan County, NC as did many families of German origin.  Henry Ratts married Barbara Winkler/Winckler in 1790 and resided in Rowan County, NC during the time that their 10 children were born.  Henry and Barbara Winkler Ratts must have been rather prosperous in their North Carolina home as Henry was still a resident of North Carolina when he registered his 1812 and 1813 land claims in the Indiana Territory.  In the days of settlement of the Indiana Territory, the only requirement for obtaining a land patent was that the buyer pay the $2 per acre price for a 160 acre quarter section within 3 years of registration.  Actual occupation and improvement of the land was not required to obtain title.  An extension of another 2 years was often obtained for full payment.   In fact, many settlers were allowed more time than that to make their payments as many of the original settlers mention in Washington County histories did not obtain their land titles for several years after their reported arrival.  In the case of Henry T. Ratts he was able to pay for his land before his family relocated from North Carolina to help him in the clearing of the land and making it arable for cultivation. The fact that none of Ratts’ extended family moved to the Indiana Territory with him makes his prosperous state in North Carolina even more likely.

The immediate neighbors of Henry and Barbara Winkler Ratts were
Richard and Nancy Ann Wright Gilstrap;  Elijah and Margaret Holmes Brewer Wright; and Jacob and  Elizabeth Wright Copple.  Nancy Ann Wright Gilstrap and Elizabeth Wright Copple were sisters and were first cousins of their neighbor Elijah Wright.  They were also nieces or nephews of Amos Wright and Philbert Wright who were early settlers in the central Blue River Basin.  All were descendants of Richard Wright, Sr. of Randolph County, North Carolina as are hundreds of Washington County, Indiana residents today.

Henry T. Ratts died in 1833 and was buried in the Old Blue River Cemetery associated with the Christian Church established by Amos Wright and his sons.
Barbara Winkler Ratts died in 1849 and was buried next to her husband.
Although Henry T. Ratts was the only child of his North Carolina to settle in Indiana, all of his children started their families in either Clark or Washington Counties and married into the following familes: Maley, Goss, Click, Yarborough, Wilson, Wiseman, Fouts, Work, Wright and Voyles.  Among his noted descendants were: Dr. John Edward Rhetts; Charles Edward Rhetts who was a distinguised attorney in Washington DC and Ambassador to Liberia; Frank Elwin Ratts who was an electric utility executive; Charles R. Ratts who was Washington Circuit Court Judge for over 30 years and Harold G. "Slim" Ratts for whom Slimo’s is named.

Henry T. and Barbara Winkler Ratts are yet additional examples of the unseen German heritage of Washington County, Indiana.

                                      HENRY RATTS LAND PATENTS
                                      FROM GOOGLE EARTH

                                   HENRY RATTS GRAVESTONE

                                     BARBARA RATTS GRAVESTONE

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