Wednesday, October 1, 2014

OCTOBER 1, 1814

200 years ago today in Washington County, Indiana Territory, four different pioneers were granted land titles by President James Madison acting through the Commissioner of the U. S. General Land Office.  These early settlers of our community were: Abraham Fleenor, Thomas Hight, David W. McKinney and Andrew Pitts.

Abraham and Mary Grace Green Fleenor came to the Indiana Territory from Washington County, Virginia located at the east base of the Cumberland Gap.  They were married there in about 1811 and soon followed the Wilderness Road into the Kentucky Bluegrass where their first child was born.  They then crossed the Ohio River into the uplands and the upper part of the Blue River Basin. They first laid claim to the southeast quarter of Section 32, T3N, R4E, and received that title as of April 27, 1813. This acreage is today located northeast of the right angle turn where Delaney Park Road turns north. Their second land claim was for the southeast quarter of Section 27, T3N, R4E which is the title received by them on October 1, 1814.  This land now is on SR 135 North with the former Quaker Overlook roadside park being in the northwest part of it.  Abraham’s brothers Daniel and John William came to the Indiana Territory at the same time he did.  Daniel Fleenor eventually settled and lived out his life in Rush County, Indiana.  John William Fleenor was among the first to operate a still in Washington County and his domestic life is the subject of my post of July 12, 1814.  Abraham and Mary Grace Fleenor raised eight children and died in 1874 and 1865 respectively and are buried in the Winslow Cemetery.  Peach trees were dedicated at the John Hay Center during Old Settlers’ Days on September 21, 2014 in memory of John and Abraham Fleenor.

Thomas and Priscilla May Hight were mentioned in my post of June 8, 1814.  The land for which they received a deed on October 1, 1814 was the southeast quarter of Section 20, T2N, R4E.  This tract is where Lake Salinda Road angles southeast from SR 135 South.  One of the first roads laid out by the Washington Circuit Court in 1814 that went from Salem toward the Falls of the Ohio was placed along the east line of this land.  The Hights purchased land adjoining to the south in the northeast quarter of Section 29, T2N, R4E, on June 27, 1816.  William and Mary Pitts Lindley, John and Elizabeth Baptiste DePauw, Edward and Martha Raper Cooley, and Andrew and Margaret Braxton Pitts were their immediate neighbors.

David W. and Margaret Wallace McKinney came to the Indiana Territory from Fayette County, Kentucky.  David McKinney was of Scotch-Irish descent and was born in Augusta County, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley.  After service as an officer in the Revolutionary War when he was wounded in the Battle of Cowpens, he and Margaret were married in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1785.  In their middle age after all of their eleven children had been born, they followed the Vincennes Road into the Indiana Territory and took out 3 land claims at once on October 1, 1814.  This means that they paid $960 for 480 acres within two or three years which was a considerable sum of money at that time.  Their land purchases were located in the southeast and northeast quarters of Section 7, T2N, R2E and the southeast quarter of Section 17, T2N, R2E.  This land is located today in Orange County, Indiana just west of the confluence of the North and South Branches of Lost River.  These tracts were located near the trace that ran northwest from Beck’s Mill to the Sulphur Spring north of where Orleans is now located.  The road that was established by the Washington Circuit Court in 1814 so that the Lick Creek Friends settlement could have access to Royse’s Lick and the new county seat of Salem passed by this land.  David McKinney died in 1822 and Margaret raised their younger children as a widow.  She died in 1852 at the age of 85.  David and Margaret McKinney are buried in the Trimble Cemetery which near to their pioneer homesteads.

Andrew and Margaret Braxton Pitts were Quakers from the North Carolina Piedmont.  Andrew Pitts was born in Rowan County, NC in 1760.  Margaret Braxton was born in Chatham County, NC in 1768.  They were married in Stokes County, NC where they apparently lived until they came to the Indiana Territory in 1811.  The 160 acres for which they completed their purchase on October 1, 1814 was the northwest quarter of Section 21, T2N, R4E.  This land today is in Salem and includes Reservoir Hill, Etzler Addition and Eastview Terrace Subdivision.  Second of six land claims that Pitts registered between 1811 and 1822.  The first land patent perfected by them was immediately east of the Benjamin Brewer acreage that John DePauw purchased for the original plat of Salem.  That tract had its west boundary on what is today College Avenue. Its north line was an extension of the south line of Salem Avenue and included all of the land occupied by the Fair Grounds and the original part of Smith Cabinet.  The Pitts family sold off the part of this farm located west of Royse’s Fork of Blue River to developers such as Micah Newby and Charles Hay who platted early additions to Salem.  After the death of Andrew Pitts in 1845, his children sold a few small tracts to black families that lived in the “Little Africa” area of Salem until 1864.  Descendants of Andrew and Margaret Braxton Pitts include Pulitzer Prize winning author Booth Tarkington and Arthur Pitts who owned Pitts Package Store on South Main Street.

                                  COWPENS NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD

                                                           BOOTH TARKINGTON
                                            TWO TIME WINNER OF PULITZER PRIZE

                                                        PITTS PACKAGE STORE
                                                     GOOGLE EARTH AERIAL VIEW

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