Wednesday, September 3, 2014


201 years ago today, Edward Tiffin as the Commissioner of the General Land Office issued deeds to seven settlers in Washington Township, Harrison County, Indiana Territory who had each paid $320 at the Jeffersonville Land Office for their 160 acre land claims.  Edward Tiffin was a native of Carlisle, Cumberland, England who came to Virginia in 1783.  He was one of the original settlers of Chillicothe, Ohio and became a prominent pubic figure in Ohio.  He was the first Speaker of the House of the Northwest Territory.  He was the first governor of the State of Ohio.  He then served as a Senator representing Ohio in the US Congress.  He then became the first Commissioner of the General Land Office when it was created as a separate federal agency in 1812.  He issued these deeds in the name of President James Madison on September 3, 1813.

When Washington County was created from parts of Harrison and Clark County, Indiana Territory on January 17, 1814, these families became residents of this new County. These settlers were part of the cohort of North Carolinians and Virginians who came to the Indiana Territory by way of Kentucky when the land that had been purchased from the Indians in 1805 at the Treaty of Grouseland had been surveyed and opened for settlement.

James and Delilah Wright Allen took out their land patent in the southeast quarter of Section 31, T2N, R4E.  Their homestead was located where Hoggatt Branch emptied into the Royse’s Fork of Blue River a short distance west of the trail that led from Royse’s Lick to the Vincennes Road.  Mrs. Allen was a first cousin of Philbert Wright who had received his land patent the previous year for the tract immediately to the north.  The Allens then claimed the quarter section on their west line and received title to it in 1818. They were of English heritage and had come from Rowan County, North Carolina.  They moved on to Putnam County, Indiana after it was organized in 1820.

Robert Denney and the families of his sons had come to Indiana from Mercer County, Kentucky.  The parents of Denney/Denny were natives of Ireland.  They first settled in Berks County, Pennsylvania and then moved to Virginia.  Robert and Rachel Thomas Denney made several years of crops in different counties in Kentucky when Mrs. Denney died in 1808. Although he was in his fifties, Robert served as a corporal in Lt. Decker’s Fourth Regiment of the Indiana Militia during the Tippecanoe Campaign of 1811. He was paid $15.63 for his 2 months and 4 days of service.  The Denny land claim was located in the southwest quarter of Section 35, T3N, R4E.  This tract is found today in Washington Township on Broadway Road and North Trueblood Lane on the level upland between upper Brock Creek and the north reach of the Canton Branch of Royse’s Fork of Blue River.

Edmund Findley’s land patent was located in the southeast quarter of Section 10, T2N, R2E, at the confluence of the 2 north branches of Lost River.  This is southeast of what used to be the community of Claysville in Vernon Township.  Findley/Finley may have been the son of David Finley from Mercer County, Kentucky and may have been related to the Findleys that settled at the northwest edge of Harrison/Washington County near present day Orleans.

Richard and Nancy Ann Wright Gilstrap took up land on a bend of Blue River below the confluence of Royse’s Fork and the Middle Fork in the southeast quarter of Section 1, T1N, R3E.  This is now the northeast corner of Howard Township.  This location included one of the better river bottoms near to Beck’s Mill. The Gilstraps had come to the Indiana Territory from Rowan County, North Carolina by way of Wayne County, Kentucky.  The name Gilstrap is believed to be of English origin with a Norse influenced name for hamlet which is “Thorpe” i.e. Gilsthorpe. They are mentioned in my post of August 25, 2014.

James and Ann Glazebrook Harbison settled on a gently rolling upland north of Royse’s Fork of Blue River and east of the branch by Highland’s camp in the southeast quarter of Section 18, T2N, R4E.  This was on the trail from the Lick Creek Quaker settlement to Royse’s Lick.  They too were natives of Virginia that had come to the Indiana Territory from Mercer County, Kentucky.  In less than a year, the Harbisons unexpectedly found themselves next to the developing county seat of Salem.  James Harbison was awarded the contract to construct the bridge across Blue River at the south of Main Street in 1817.  The bridge lasted fourteen years until it was torn down and rebuilt in 1831.  The bridge outlasted Harbison who died in 1822.  The Harbisons have been previously mentioned in my blogs of April 15, April 18 and July 11.

Martin and Elizabeth Coons Pottorff/Putorff/Bottorff/Batdorf claimed their land in the southwest quarter of Section 33, T3N, R4E.   This is now in Washington Township on the north side of Lewellen Road where Jim Day Road enters from the south.  Martin Pottorff had originally registered a land claim in 1809 for the adjoining southeast quarter of Section 33.  Apparently, he liked the 160 acre tract to the west better as he assigned his 1809 claim to to his brother in law, Jacob Shreader, Jr.,  who took title in December of 1811.  Pottorff then bought out the claim of Bright Prewett/Pruitt which for which he completed payment and received his patent of September 3, 1813. Pottorff later bought his brother in law's adjoing tract in 1827. These tracts were a mile and a half west of the Robert Denney homestead. Martin and Elizabeth Coons Pottorff were both of German descent.  Pottorff was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania and like so many other Teutonic travelers moved south to Virginia and then northwest through Kentucky to the Indiana Territory.  The Pottorffs had seven children who married into the following families of Washington County settlers: Medlock, Barnett, Winkler, Fleenor, Brown, Chambers and Mize.  Some of the next generation of this family changed the spelling of the name to Bottorff.

William and Martha Morgan Wright made their first settlement in the Indiana Territory in the southwest quarter of Section 32, T2N, R4E. This is now on the west side of SR 135 South southwest of the Rudder Road intersection in Washington Township.  Wright registered four different land claims in Washington County and took title to two of them. He assigned one to Zachariah Nixon and assigned another to Mark Maudlin. He had served in the Revolutionary War in Rowan County, North Carolina and had lived for a few years in Wayne County, Kentucky before coming to the Indiana Territory with his brothers Benjamin, Amos, Peter and Philbert.  William Wright also made two land entries in Jackson County, Indiana and two additional entries in Lawrence County, Indiana. Their children married into the following families: Holmes, Cooler, Brinton, Kooter, Allen and Goss. One of these children, West Lee Wright, established the town of Medora, Indiana in 1853. [Medora is taken from me, do, ra—the third, first and second notes of the octatonic musical scale.]  William Wright died on September 17, 1838 in Jackson County, Indiana where he had moved after the death of Martha.  He has the posthumous distinction of having two different gravestones.  One is in the Wright Cemetery in Carr Township, Jackson County, Indiana.  The other is in the Philbert Wright Cemetery in Washington Township, Washington County, Indiana.  Ground penetrating radar may be needed to settle the mystery of where he is actually interred.

                            US LAND COMMISSIONER EDWARD TIFFIN



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