DECEMBER 21, 1814
200 years ago today, William Lindley recorded a deed with Washington County Recorder Basil Prather that he had been holding in safekeeping since December 29, 1813. The deed had been witnessed by Samuel Lindley and Benjamin Brewer. This was one of many deeds that some the settlers of Washington Township, Harrison County, Indiana Territory were holding until a new county and county seat could be established and located. The roads from the upper Blue River Basin to Corydon were not quickly travelled. To record a deed with the Harrison County Recorder often required an overnight trip which entailed the expense of lodging and the livery of a horse. Once word was spread that the creation of a new county out of the northern half of Harrison County was imminent, settlers who were buying land from other settlers during the year 1813 waited to record their proofs of title until a more convenient seat of government was located.
The tract of land that Lindley had purchased was described as six acres and forty poles in the southwest corner of the southwest quarter of Section 2, T2N, R4E. This six plus acres is located today at 2041 North Quaker Road in Washington Township in the Blue River Friends neighborhood. James and Mary Thompson Blair had paid off their land claim for this quarter section on June 8, 1811. They were among the earliest settlers to take up land in the area along the trail leading from the Royse’s Lick trading post to the summer camp of Old Ox and his band of Delaware Indians at the base of the knobs where Elk Creek Valley entered the Muscatatuck bottoms. William Lindley paid the Blairs only $13 which was the $2 per acre price that the US General Land Office was charging for public land at the time. William Lindley owned two quarter sections next to the Blairs so he was anxious to buy neighboring land when it was offered for sale.
James and Mary Thompson Blair exemplified the nomadic course of early American settlement. Blair’s father, Alexander, came from County Amargh in Ulster (Northern Ireland). James Blair was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1772. When he was twenty years old he married Mary Thompson in Orange County, North Carolina in 1792. They then left North Carolina and passed by Ruddle’s Mill in Bourbon County, Kentucky where Blair’s mother, Elizabeth Cochran Blair, had been a widow since 1798. James and Mary Blair came to the Indiana frontier in about 1810 when they filed their land claim. Mary Thompson was probably related to Joshua Thompson and Lewis Woody who were Quaker settlers in the immediate vicinity of the Blair land patent. As James Blair was a Presbyterian, they could not be part of the Friends faith in which she was raised. As their neighborhood was being heavily settled by Quakers from North Carolina, the Blairs sold the remainder of their 160 partially cleared land and moved to the very northwestern part of Washington County in what was to become Lawrence County, Indiana in 1818. In the next seventeen years the Blairs made land claims for 760 acres and took final title to 440 acres. Most of this acre age was in the uplands along Dewitt Creek in present day Shawswick Township. One of the Lawrence County land claims was assigned by Blair to Benjamin Brewer, Jr. whose father owned the land that was bought by John DePauw as agent for the platting of Salem. Benjamin Brewer, Jr. soon thereafter married Rebecca Blair who was one of James Blair’s daughters.
James Blair died in July 1835 and was buried in Leatherwood Cemetery. Mary Thompson Blair then moved to Coles County, Illinois with the family of her son Thomas Garrett Blair where she died in 1855. The laws of descent and distribution did not leave a surviving wife with much to show for her domestic efforts in nurturing and sustaining her husband’s acquisition of land and property. On the expanding frontier of the former Northwest Territory many widows became members of the households of their sons or sons in law who moved further west for their own land and opportunities. Consequently, many husbands and wives such as the Blairs were buried separately in different counties or states.
VIEW OF COUNTY ARMAGH, ULSTER
BIRTHPLACE OF JAMES BLAIR'S FATHER