Range VII Township 8: The Croy Brothers and the Ohio River Survey
Our country’s new leaders loosely governed a nation land rich and money poor. Nearly our only resources, land and people, required a system of documentation. The Constitution required a count of the population, the 1790 census being the first, and the Land Ordinance of 1785 outlined how land would be surveyed and recorded. From a genealogical perspective, I salute them. These records help clear a foggy past. For my family, which was moving from Pennsylvania to Ohio, these records clearly help with some issues; and not others. But the things I DON”T know will be left to another blog.
An excellent article about the various Ohio survey systems explained that, “Ohio was on the edge of the frontier at that time and it became a veritable testing ground for survey systems and the birthplace of the Public Land Survey System, (PLSS).” [i] Fort Stuben was built on the Ohio River in 1786 to protect the surveyors and was the site of the first Federal Land Office. By 1805 the Croys, Oswalts, and Hustons began registering claims for PLSS land at the Stubenville Land Office. For much more detail regarding the survey system of Tracts, Ranges, and Sections, including the above-mentioned article and an interesting history of the fort, check here http://www.oldfortsteuben.com/northwestterritory.php
In 1793 Richard Croy still lived in Bedford County, Pennsylvania,[ii] but by 1798 tax recorders listed him as “unseated,”iii his land abandoned. He was likely exploring the Ohio lands with his family, trudging by foot and by horseback, through thicketed mountains. They perhaps crossed the wide confluence of rivers in Pittsburg to enter country where native tribes viewed them as intruders. It was an adventurous and dangerous undertaking, and he was up to the challenge. By now, about forty years of age, he had lived most of his life in the wilderness of Pennsylvania and spent ten of those years on numerous scouting missions as a Revolutionary War militia man. [iii]He was looking for a new frontier.
Migrating slowly westward from the Ohio River, the family settled in what would be Beaver Township: Township 8, Range 7 of the Ohio River Survey. Beaver Township would, over the next fifty years, be included variously as part of the counties of Belmont (1806), Guernsey (1811), and, finally, Noble (1851).[iv]
Another Croy named Mathias, settled there, as well. Hoping to clear up some inconsistencies, I submit two observations about him. While the dates 1734-1840 are carved into his tombstone sitting in Farmington Cemetery, Belmont County, Ohio,[v] the 1830 census indicates his age between 70 and 79,[vi] putting his birth between 1751 and 1760, a more likely scenario. He was also designated a Revolutionary War Veteran, but his name isn’t on any actual military record that I have found, only the 1789 list of men “subject to the militia laws of this state.”[vii] Perhaps a larger than life man, or his children, created a larger than life persona. We do know Mathias left Londonderry, PA after 1797 and registered land in Township 8, Range 7 of the Ohio River Survey, the same time as Richard and a John Croy.[viii]
The History of Noble County states, “John Croy and James Edgars lived on a farm together. They came soon after 1812.”[ix] Could this be the John Croy who married Susannah Huston in Pennsylvania?[x] My suspicion is that it was, and that these three Beaver Township settlers were brothers who, joined by the bond of kinship, tackled this new wilderness together. They settled here and, through the 1820-1830’s, raised children who also began to appear on tax and census records.
But another likely brother, my 4x great grandfather Jacob Croy, along with some Oswalts and Hustons, reached out across the murky Ohio River into other directions. In one of those directions they met the slick, greedy hand of one of the unscrupulous people taking advantage of the Ohio land grab, John Cleves Symmes, the subject of my next post.