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Category Archives: Huston Family History

Be Open to What You Don’t Know…in Genealogy, in Writing, in Life.

gear-butterfly-1447330_1280I haven’t posted anything for a while, but not for lack of research or ideas…just busy with it all. Over the past month I have been both working with Huston family researcher, RBryant, and the chair of the First Families of Ohio, Margaret Cheney. Each communication with these two women required many hours in which to analyze and reassess my work. Both women challenged my thinking, heightened my efforts, and became the catalyst to this post and my New Year’s resolution:

Be open to what I don’t know, accept when I don’t know it, and make sure I admit it; what I don’t know opens me to discovery and growth.

Okay, it’s much too long for a resolution…so let’s go for four.

  1. Be open to what I don’t know. My writing may not hit the mark; my understanding of a life circumstance may be circumspect, or research information unknown to me before might appear.

For example, RBryant approached her research from a different family line; she used surname analysis and DNA information to build her conclusions. The collision of my research and hers put new light on old assumptions. Please, if you are in any way interested in the Huston line, read her compelling argument here, https://boards.ancestry.com/surnames.houston/2902/mb.ashx. It outlines why the old assumptions regarding Andrew Huston Sr., Bedford, PA may be incorrect. And if you are a male descendant of Alexander, Edward, or Robert Huston please contact her and get that DNA test. It will help in her research. Her argument led to some changes in my family tree, so check it out! (Remember, it is a compelling and well-constructed argument, not fact. Unfortunately the dearth of 18th century and earlier documentation make undisputable proof highly unlikely.)

The very construct of a family tree makes it dangerously susceptible to assumptions. A blank or the word “unknown” screams for closure. We want to put something on the line for parent or birth or death or place. We want to provide the familial connection of all those same surnamed individuals living in one place. It is human nature. We like our world packaged and tied with a bow.

While I worked with RBryant on the Huston family line in Bedford County, and with Margaret Cheney, I came across some familial assumptions in my family tree passed from other researchers. I knew they were assumptions particularly regarding female relationships, but I stuck them there without explanation. In the process I also noticed some casual calculations (ie average rather than range) and calculated dates not marked as such or referenced. This year I will update my family trees to reflect what I know (and DON’T KNOW) more accurately and, as I do, I will post a link to the new pages with an explanation of my corrections. I have also put this disclaimer on each of my family pages:

“This material is constantly under construction and errors may exist. Please, search my postings and always research beyond them to confirm and verify information, PARTICULARLY anything before 1790 because with ever greater distance in time less information of a more tenuous nature exists.”

Why? Because no one is perfect (big surprise)—a segue to the next part of my resolution.

  1. Accept when I don’t know. It’s okay not to know, either what is true, what to do, what is best, how to help, or how to proceed—in life, in writing, in genealogy. Facts are unforgiving; theory is more forgiving; conjecture and assumptions…well…then you just don’t know.

I can happily announce nine Huston/Oswalt/Croy/Pugh ancestors have been approved for First Families of Ohio. They are Alexander Huston (confirmed entry to Ohio 1799 before Ohio became a state), Jacob Croy, Sr (1805), Mary Huston Croy Roberts (1807), Jacob Oswalt (1805), Sarah Huston Oswalt (1805), Andrew Croy (1810), Susannah Oswalt Croy (1810), Jacob Croy, Jr (1810), and Margaret Pugh Croy (1813). This was no small feat. A number of triangulated proofs were required. I was sure my application was perfect…and it was rejected. My hackles went up; I knew my research was right, and my knowing threw up a barrier to my learning.

Oh, what I didn’t know! Luckily, my resolution already glimmered inside me. I stepped back and considered that I might not KNOW everything, got humble, and learned. (Boy, this sounds pretty deplorable in print but…skip to “make sure I admit it…”) I read the instructions incorrectly, and without going into detail, my application was a mess. Thankfully, Margaret Cheney, the chairperson, worked through everything with me, took it upon herself to check this web site, and with some effort on my part, gave her stamp of approval. So, that leads to the next point in my resolution.

  1. Make sure I admit what I don’t know. Have you ever not known something and, rather than admit it, stood back and watched until you got the gist of it? Or did you ever want so much for something to be true that you adjusted your “facts” or “truths” to make it fit your desire? Maybe you are better than all that…but I’ve caught myself a few times! So, I resolve to gift others and myself by admitting my weaknesses right off. As my husband has taught me, it’s the way of a quality apprentice. So, while an argument for or against a proposition may ring true, I will attempt to present the argument to which I lean, but not present it as fact. I will ask for help when I just don’t know. I will listen.
  2. Finally, why is it important? Because what I don’t know opens me to discovery and growth. Every time I take a breath, lower my barriers, and exposed myself to the possibility of NOT knowing, doors of wonder open. I grow as a human being, become more tolerant and understanding— and I learn things.

So, bless you all in this New Year. I don’t know what the year will bring, but I am ready. I will be open to what I don’t know, accept that I don’t know, admit out loud (or in print) that I don’t know, and embrace the knowledge and discovery that comes from doing so. Because a year of grow is in the wind—whether I know it or not.

The Huntingdon County, PA warrant–Alexander Huston & Jacob Croy, 1794

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land of Alexander and Jacob

X marks the spot…warrant of Alex. Huston and Jacob Croy (see citation below…i)

Two lessons worth repeating:

  1. Never underestimate the importance of connections. (…to nature, the past, community, family, friends, and, in this case, people who share your interests.)
  2. Never stop expecting the unexpected.

The unexpected appeared by e-mail from a valued connection, distant cousin and excellent researcher, Dwight Huston. He shared a Google book[i] with me from 1914, outlining research into vacant land on the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River. The conclusion? The last known owners were Alexander Huston and Jacob Croy. This was based on a warrant issued on 10 February 1794 for 100 acres.[ii]

I have a copy of the warrant which indicates ownership of the land from 1775, but this document outlines the history of that land AND the coordinates for it.[iii] (Note: with references to white oaks and a line from post to stones.) The key information to pinpoint where this land is situated was a note at the bottom of the map shown above. “…vacant unimproved land situated in the township of Penn and County of Huntingdon Pa.” (underlining my own) The parcel is marked with an X on the map above. Here is a Google Map screen shot of Penn Township now.

I theorize the Alexander on the warrant is Alexander Huston Jr. based on census records showing Alexander Huston living in Huntingdon County, PA, 1790[iv] and back in Londonderry Township, Bedford County, PA, 1800[v] (the number of male and female children coinciding with the listing in the Chancery Records.) His father, Alexander Sr. was in Ohio by 1799 petitioning Congress for relief from land payments until the Symmes land controversy was resolved.[vi]

I am aware of no other known Jacob Croy (and there are many) of an age to take out a warrant for land in 1794. So I think it likely the Jacob Croy on the warrant is the same Jacob that moved to Stark County, Ohio with his wife, Mary Huston Croy, by 1798.[vii] (My 4x great grandparents)

According to the research from the 1915 Annual Report, the survey of the property was never registered thus nullifying the warrant. Ohio drew a large percent of Western Pennsylvanians with the end of the Indian threat in 1795, and as always, speculative business ventures abounded. Perhaps, great plans fell through and new dreams took precedent.

[i] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Annual Report of Secretary of Internal Affairs (Harrisburg, PA: Stanley Ray, State Printer, 1915) pg 18-21
[ii] Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Applications, 1733-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.Original data: Warrant Applications, 1733-1952. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania State Archives. Land Warrants. Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA.
[iii] “Beginning at a white oak, thence S 73 ° W. 3.2 ps.; S 22 ° E 6 ps.; S 17 ° E 18.2 ps.; S 30’ W 13.6 ps.; S 8 ° E 30.3 ps.; S 4 ° E 6ps.; S 13 ¼ ° W 16.8 ps. These lines and a part of the northern line of the Sarah Hartsock Junior, N 20 ° W 16 ps.; form the eastern boundary of the part applied for. The line bearing S 30 ° W 47 perches from a post to stones, of the Sarah Hartsock, Junior, forms the southern boundary of the part applied for, and the sixteen courses and distances down the Raystown Branch of the Juniata river, along its meanders, form the western boundary of the part applied for.”
[iv] 1790; Census Place: Huntingdon, Pennsylvania; Series: M637; Roll: 8; Page: 123; Image: 323; Family History Library Film: 0568148 Ancestry.com. 1790 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
[v] Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1779-1863 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Septennial Census Returns, 1779–1863. Box 1026, microfilm, 14 rolls. Records of the House of Representatives. Records of the General Assembly, Record Group 7. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, PA.
[vi] Territorial Papers of the US; Vol3, pg 33; Ancestry.com U.S. Census Reconstructed Records, 1660-1820. [accessed 8-12-2012]. Provo, UT, USA
[vii] Based on child of Jacob Croy, Elizabeth’s marriage in Jefferson County, Ohio on 31 Dec. 1798 to David DeVores, Ohio Index of Marriages, Ohio Genealogical Society, http://ogs.org

Finding Land Purchases Using Earth Survey’s PLSS and Google Earth

Alexander Huston's Land Purchase W1/2 of Section 30, Township 2, Range 6 Between the Miamis

Alexander Huston’s Land Purchase W1/2 of Section 30, Township 2, Range 6 Between the Miamis

I love maps! As I plan my trip to Ohio (in late April,) I am looking more carefully at the warrants, deeds, plat map, and census information in order to pinpoint exactly where my ancestors lived. This includes five generations of Croys, Hustons, and Oswalts and living in approximately eight locations in the state, so I’ve started early. (Really, I’m just an excited obsessive trying to make planning a trip six months ahead of time look normal.)

I’ve studied the system of land grants recorded in Ohio. The state was a petri dish of survey methods for a brand new nation. The best, most complete assessment of the various systems, nine in all, from the old metes and bounds method (you know, where the corner is five paces from the rock by the big sycamore) to the Public Land Survey System (the standardized system for US lands) can be found at the Old Fort Steuben website. http://www.oldfortsteuben.com/admin/data/files/TheAmericanSurveyor_FabricOfSurveyingOhio_December2004.pdf

I can figure out where land is pretty well if I know the range, township, and section, but it requires some significant cross eyed head twisting on my part…and time. First, where is the land? That determines what survey system was used. Next, how where the ranges, townships, and sections set up? They are all slightly different. Finally, how do you place that information on a modern map?

Too late in the game, I started thinking…maybe there’s a tool to help, and of course, there was. I found it on one of Cyndi’s Lists (a fabulous resource most genealogists know about, but if you don’t, check it out at www.cydislist.com)

The tool I found takes advantage of Google Earth and produces an overlay marking all of the PLSS lines established in the United States. You just download it to Google Earth. Easy…it appears automatically in the Google Earth sidebar. Then you navigate to the part of country in question. And there it is! Pin and label the site using the pushpin tool at the top, and print it out.

Maybe you already know about this wonder tool, but I’m spreading the word because it is TOO COOL. http://www.metzgerwillard.us/plss/plss.html They give a nice tutorial as well, and you can access it by right clicking on each label in the sidebar.

What did I map out and tuck away in my trip file?

  1. If you follow my blog you know I was wondering about the exact location of Alexander Huston’s land grant Between the Miamis named in the Chancery Records as Township 2; Range 6; Section 30. [i](The map above shows the area.)With a move of my mouse, I discovered the land is now a suburb southeast of Dayton, OH. So, first trip decision…I won’t be visiting there. Driving up and down housing tracts isn’t my thing, and besides, their gravesites are long gone. Note: this is an unusual outcome for my ancestor’s land choices. Generally, their lands were (and still are) remote and insulated; it’s a genetic thing.
  2. Jacob Croy’s land originally registered at the Steubenville Land Office on August 2, 1805, Section 29, Township 9, Range 8[ii] and never finalized due to his death between then and October of 1807.[iii]
  3. Three purchases[iv] seen below in what is now Carroll County, OH including
    1. Jacob Oswalt’s land purchase, originally registered at the Steubenville Land Office on September 24, 1805, Section 12, Township 16, Range 7 and
    2. his purchase in 1820 of the w1/2 of Section 17, T16 Range 7 (the eventual site of Morges, OH written about extensively on this site.)
    3. Andrew Croy’s land purchase right next door on the east ½ of the southeast ¼

      The Land Purchases of the Oswalt and Croy Families: originally Stark County

      The Land Purchases of the Oswalt and Croy Families: originally Stark County

I have more mapping to do. Jacob Oswalt II moved from the Carroll County to Seneca County a few years before his death. Need to map that out. And Andrew Croy and his sons, including my great, great grandfather lived in Coshocton. Then there are my great, great grandparents and their daughters and seven sons (chronicled here under Civil War blogs) after their move to Washington County, OH. I’m well on my way mapping those places, but the research required different sources…and maybe a different post. [v]

[i] John Huston vs. Henry McGrath, Chancery Records; Records Center and Archives, Montgomery County Reibold Building 117 South Main Street, 6th floor, P.O. Box 972, Dayton, Ohio 45422-1110

[ii] Early Ohioans’ residences from the land grant records. Mansfield, Ohio: Ohio Genealogical Society, 1976 Ancestry.com [accessed 8-24-13]

[iii] Mary Croy and George Roberts “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” Database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18084-9656-32?cc=1614804 : accessed 22 June 2015), Columbiana > Marriage records 1803-1818 vol 1 > image 15 of 166; county courthouses, Ohio.

[iv] See endnote ii

[v] All imagery from Google Earth with Earth Survey’s PLSS program applied.

Five Hints for Transcribing Handwritten Historical Records or How John Huston vs. Henry McGrath Pickled my Brain

 

Survey from page 80 of Chancery Records, John Huston vs. Henry McGrath Section 30, Township 2, Range 6, Montgomery Ohio showing Lot 1: Edward Huston; Lot 2: to be divided by heirs (eventually H. Stoddard’s) Lot 3: dower of Mary Ann McGrath; Lot 4: John Huston; Lot 5: Henry Stoddard

Survey from page 80 of Chancery Records, John Huston vs. Henry McGrath
Section 30, Township 2, Range 6, Montgomery Ohio showing Lot 1: Edward Huston; Lot 2: to be divided by heirs (eventually H. Stoddard’s) Lot 3: dower of Mary Ann McGrath; Lot 4: John Huston; Lot 5: Henry Stoddard

In March of 1830, sixteen years after Alexander Huston died, John Huston petitioned the Court of Common Appeals for right to divide his father’s land amongst his father’s heirs.[i] The act set in motion a five year process involving over 95 heirs. A gift to future family historians, it outlined familial relationships, residencies, and even some clues to general birth and death dates. Last month I received a copy of the original record from the Montgomery County, Ohio Records Center.

Thirty-nine pages long and handwritten, it covered a five-year court process all shrunk during copying from ledger size onto 8×11 paper. It was a monster to read. After a quick perusal, I began transcribing the record. While I’ve transcribed many shorter handwritten records, this job proved daunting. Okay, truth be told, I hated every moment of it, only dragging my pickled brain from the brine when an occasional tidbit of historical value presented itself. But true to my gift for tenacity, I prevailed…well, sort of. Here is what I learned.[ii]

  1. Decide your purpose ahead of time. This requires two understandings: what you know and do not know about the document, and what you want your audience to know. I started out thinking I wanted every word transcribed. Ten tedious pages in, I discovered that was not true. The document was repetitive, filled with legal jargon, saith’s and aforesaid’s, and errors (the scribes even had a hard time remembering the names and spellings of all those heirs.) So I reevaluated my purpose. I wanted to summarize logically what was in the document including interesting historical information and without sacrificing the timeline and essential elements. Here is one essential I had always wondered about. Why, after 16 years, was John ready to proceed against his mother, Mary Ann?

“That great waste has been committed upon the premises by said McGraw (sic McGrath) by cutting and felling valuable timber; That said McGraw has been in the habit of falling valuable oak timber in large quantities for the purpose of providing the bark to sell to Tanners; … Your petitioner prays that said Alexander (sic Henry)McGraw and Mary Ann his wife who was entitled to dower in said premises maybe made to account for the waste and damage done to said premises, and for the rents.” Pg. 65

  1. Tackle the task in no more than three hour bursts. The words begin to blur and you get lax if you go too long. You might skip over a name, a line, or an important detail like this reference to the age of Edward Huston who petitioned the court to allow him to keep the 50 acres his father had informally bequeathed him.

“that he this defendant was twenty one years old in seventeen hundred and ninety four. His Father Alexander Huston proposed to him that in as much as the farm was new and required much labor, to improve it, and his other sons had left him being the same premises mentioned in complainants bill, that if he this defendant would stay and work for him, he would give him fifty acres off the said …of land. This defendant did then again said work for his Father six years faithfully; and his Father secondly did measure and mark out fifty acres off of said tract, and this defendant secured in the possession of the same. His said Father promised to …to deed to him foresaid premises; but in the late war (note: of 1812) this defendant was out on a …duty on the frontier and his Father died in his absence, …This defendant states that his six years labour at the time he performed it as of on said …at the bequest of his Father was well worth one hundred seventy dollars a year and his clothing was of the shabbiest kind flax and …in the summer and dear skin in winter …” Pg. 73

  1. Record pagination as you type it. Otherwise you have to go back and do it anyway. (Yes, I did.) You need that information to record evidence and revisit the document for clarification. Consequently I was able to return to page 83 of the document and transcribe the following, only alluded to in my summary. From it and the fact that the previous term was in September 1831, I deduced that my 4x great-grandmother died between September of 1831 and March of 1831, information new to me.

“And afterwards, to wit, at the March term Anno Domini one thousand eight hundred and thirty two, the death of Sarah Oswald one of said defendants was suggested.” Pg. 83

  1. Summarize, list questions, and outline discoveries along the way. (Of course I didn’t!) Thoughts percolated through my brain and a few stuck. But what of those that drifted out unmet? Here are two I still remember: one to research and one answered.

Where exactly are the two tracts of land owned by Alexander Huston, my 5x great-grandfather?

“to wit, the west half of section thirty in town (ship) two of range six, lying between the great Miami River and the Virginia Reservation, which tract was conveyed to him by President of the United States by patent dated July twentieth eighteen hundred and twelve. Also of another tract of land patented to him by the President of the United States on the twenty third day of October in the year eighteen hundred and six containing one hundred and forty seven acres and thirty hundredths of an acre to be laid off on the east end of the south half of lots on section number thirty of township two in range six between the great Miami River and the Virginia Reservation , both tracts situated in said County of Montgomery and together make the whole of said fractional section number thirty.” Pg. 61

And who was Henry Stoddard? This man diligently and persistently found over 50 heirs of Alexander Huston residing in Virginia, Maryland, Bedford County, Pennsylvania, and counties all over Ohio and bought out their shares, thus acquiring over 180 acres of land. With a little help from the Internet, I answered that question. Henry Stoddard (1788-1869) was a founding father of Dayton, Ohio. An attorney, he was related to General William Tecumseh Sherman and often worked with Sherman’s foster father, Thomas Ewing.He was elected director of the first bank of Dayton, the Dayton Manufacturing Co. opened in August 14, 1814, and was later employed as their attorney for $50 a year beginning in 1833, concurrent with the John Huston vs Henry McGrath petition.

These connections to a larger history, found in the lives of ordinary people, always excite me. At least, when the tedium of slogging through 15,000 words is over and the analysis begins. So we come to my last recommendation:

  1. After completing the task, step away. That poor tired brain needs time to refocus and digest the information. Then, with a depickled brain, return to wonder at the history it represents.

But if YOU are interested in seeing what you might uncover, check the material below.

[i] John Huston vs. Henry McGrath, Chancery Records; Records Center and Archives, Montgomery County Reibold Building 117 South Main Street, 6th floor, P.O. Box 972, Dayton, Ohio 45422-1110

[ii] My summary can be found here. Summary from the Chancery Record of Alexander Huston filed 7 March 1830

[iii] Sherman, William Tecumseh, Memoirs of General Sherman, Library of Alexandria https://books.google.com

[iv] History of Dayton, Ohio 1889, Chapter 17. Page 363; digital image, http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com (accessed 2 November 2012)

 

Probate Records: Why Historians, Genealogists, and Writers Should Love Them

Mary Moore Croy never remarried after David Croy's death in 1878 at 35. The inventory gives insight into her life and interests.

Mary Moore Croy never remarried after David Croy’s death in 1878 at 35. The inventory gives insight into her life and interests.

How excited can one genealogy/history/historical fiction writer get…over probate records?

  • Historically, you discover what ordinary people valued and find hints regarding social hierarchies.
  • Genealogically, the records can provide answers to specific genealogical questions, from the names and relationships of heirs to the actual death date of the deceased, not to mention unveiling the personalities of those involved.
  • For writers, these records paint a picture, through the details found there, of the life they lived.

I didn’t have time to delve any new records on-line. I was busy with the “final” edits of my book of historical fiction based on my Pennsylvania family history and starting a new one on my New Haven roots. So I tried to ignore the big event, Ancestry’s grand reveal of a host of new will and probate records. I tried. I couldn’t do it, and I am so glad I gave in and took a peak!

With a special shout out to the distant cousins, and anyone else out there who follows my blog-search these records! Unfortunately, if you didn’t log on during the Labor Day weekend, Ancestry’s freebie “come-on” has passed. But the information is worth gold (well, come on, I’m a history nerd).

One caveat, the records are NOT complete, so don’t forget to contact individual courthouses and libraries. For example, of all 88 of the Ohio Counties, only eight are included.

I recommend going directly to the new information on the Ancestry site. Here’s how:

  1. After logging on to Ancestry, make sure you are on their home page.
  2. At the top you will see “New and Exclusive U.S. Wills and Probate Records.” Click “Search Now”
  3. There you may begin your search, get a quick introduction, or view a research guide. Note: you must view all this on their new site. They are encouraging those who use Ancestry to break away from the old version of their search site.
  4. Now put in the name you are interested in researching. I used surname only so I could browse with my family sheets in mind.

What did I find so far? (I say so far because it will take some time to ferret out all the wonders hiding in these records.)

  1. Probate records for Alexander Huston, Montgomery County (father of Mary Huston Croy Roberts…the heroine in my book of historical fiction), including wonderful tidbits like the fact that he owned a Rhone, Sorrel, and Bay mare and colts. Also, his wife, Mary Ann, purchase 8 yds Muslin for $5, 1 and ¾ gallons whiskey for $1.32, and 1 lb coffee for $.50. The purchases of other family members are also recorded.[i]
  2. The will of Jacob Oswalt II who married Sarah Huston. (Parents of Susannah Oswalt who married Andrew Croy, my 3x great-grandfather.) Recorded in Seneca County, where he finally ended up, it includes this comment “Michael Oswalts, John Oswalts, Samuel Oswalts, Jacob Oswalts and Joseph Oswalts…each one Dollar to be paid out of my money that Jacob Shoe Jr has in his possession…” His daughters split the proceeds from the “two forty acre lots lying in Big Spring Township, and one town lot lying in the town of Springville, Seneca County, Ohio…” (I also found the records of Jacob Oswalt’s father, his stepbrother, and his son.)[ii]
  3. The names of two of Edward Huston’s children. (A son of Alexander)[iii]
  4. The will of Mat(t)hias Croy (likely brother of Jacob Croy, husband of Mary Huston, out of Londonderry Township, Bedford PA) which included the married names of his daughters.[iv]
  5. The probate record of John Croy (again, the likely brother of Jacob Croy) where, on one of many pages, I found this: “…money on hand at the decease of John Croy on the 2nd of August 1824” (and the records of a number of his children).[v]

And then, when I didn’t think it could get any better, this e-mail arrived: “I have copied the handwritten recording of the will of Alexander Houston.  I have also copied the Chancery Record of John Huston v. Henry McGrath (40 pages).  For these copies and postage, please send $10.05” So, never let Ancestry or any on-line source be the only place you research. If you aren’t lucky enough to live where you’re researching, a letter (snail or e-version) and a stamp do wonders.

Media credit:Probate Records of Mary Moore Croy, wife of David Croy: 1 December 1899. Washington County Probate Court, 205 Putnam St., Marietta, OH. Microfilm Copies: acquired 13 August 2015.

[i] Ancestry.com. Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [database on-line, accessed 9 September 2015] Montgomery County, Ohio, Case # 139, Ca. 1810-1887; Probate Place: Montgomery, Ohio.

[ii] Ancestry.com. Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [database on-line, accessed 9 September 2015] Probate Records, 1828-1954; Probate Place: Seneca, Ohio; Probate Date: 26 September 1836.

[iii] Ancestry.com. Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [database on-line, accessed 9 September 2015] Montgomery County, Ohio, Case # 3234, Ca. 1841-1861; Probate Place: Montgomery, Ohio.

[iv] Ancestry.com. Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [database on-line, accessed 9 September 2015] Will Records, 1804-1919; General Index to Estates, 1801-1935: Ohio. Probate Court (Belmont County); Probate Date: 9 October 1837.

[v] Ancestry.com. Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [database on-line, accessed 9 September 2015] Montgomery County, Ohio, Estate Files #597-666, # 659, Ca. 1810-1887; Probate Place: Montgomery, Ohio.

“The family became widely scattered.” Part 5

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The Huston Sisters’ Journey: Rachel and Sarah [i]

Rose Township, Section 17, Site of Morges, Ohio

Rose Township, Section 17, Site of Morges, Ohio from US Indexed Early Land Ownership and Township Plats

As I mentioned in the previous post, by 1800 three Huston sisters had migrated with their husbands to what would be Rose Township, Stark County, Ohio. Mary and Rachel would lean heavily on Sarah when, within a ten year period, they both lost their husbands.  One remarried and the other maintained her independence, but both would need a comforting hand and thoughtful heart. Mary’s husband, Jacob Croy died soon after recording his land grant at the Stubenville Land Office on August 2, 1805. He may have made the trip to Stubenville once again, this time with Sarah’s husband, Jacob Oswalt. Their friendship had flourished in Pennsylvania, and their families were close, very close. Perhaps their adult sons, Andrew Croy, young Jacob Croy, and Samuel Oswalt, joined them on the fifty-mile journey. For sure though, Jacob laid claim to Section 12, Township 16, Range 7 in Stubenville on September 24, 1805, barely two months after Jacob Croy. [ii] Meanwhile, Rachel’s husband, Isaiah McClish, never appears on any records for Rose Township. He, like Jacob Croy, died early, before 1818. [iii] By 1820 Rachael McClish appears independently on the census records, a sure indication that she was widowed or abandoned. The US census only began recording the names of women and children in 1850. She was still widowed and living in Rose Township in 1840, not far from Sarah. Andrew Croy, son of Sarah’s sister Mary, had married Sarah’s daughter Susanna and stayed close to the family. He purchased the southeast quarter of section 17, Township 16, Range 7 on April 2, 1829.[iv] By this time, Jacob and Sarah Oswalt were over sixty years of age.[v] They began thinking of their families’ futures. Meanwhile, the American Dream dangled before every eye. Land was plentiful, undeveloped, and in demand. The new settlers both required goods and longed to profit from producing, selling, and transporting them. The canal system connecting the Great Lakes was conceived as the two Jacobs registered their land grants. By 1817 construction on the Erie Canal began and was completed in 1825. Ohio men of vision, including Jacob Oswalt’s brother Michael[vi], began planning canals to connect the Erie and the Ohio River. Towns sprang up everywhere out of both necessity and hope. The town of Morges in Rose Township grew from the dreams of Samuel Oswalt and John Wagonner.[vii]  By 1828 Wagonner had purchase Jacob Oswalt’s section, the one he claimed in 1805. The funds from that purchase probably financed the Oswalt portion of the gamble called Morges, platted in 1831. The two men relied heavily on family to further the project, but the direction of commerce can shine or tarnish a dream.  Ohio’s star would shine elsewhere in the state.Morges Marker

References:

[i] Direct Ancestors: Jacob Oswalt and Sarah Huston Oswalt (child- Susanna), 7th gen. Jacob Croy and Mary Huston Croy (child-Andrew), 7th gen. Andrew Croy and Susanna Oswalt Croy 6th gen.
[ii] National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Township Plats of Selected States; Series#; T1234; Roll: 50 from Public Land Survey Township Plats, compiled 1789-1946 Records of Bureau of Land Management (Ancestry. Com. U.S., Indexed Early Land Ownership and Township Plats, 1785-1898 (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.)
[iii] Will and Probate Dispute ADD
[iv] Ancestry.com U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907[database on-line] Provo, UT, USA:Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008 Original data: United States. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. Automated Records Project: Federal Land Patents, State Volumes. http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/ Springfield, Virginia: Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 2007
[v] 1830 US Census: Census Place: Rose, Stark, Ohio: Page: 206; NARA Series: M19; Roll Number: 140; Family History Film: 0337951 Source Info: Ancestry.com 1830 United States Federal  Census NOTE: by error recorded as Lexington Township.
[vi] Letter to Thomas Rotch from Michael Oswalt dated Jan. 9, 1818 re: canal connecting the Eerie to “the hed waters of the Tuscaraurs branch of muskingum River…” Archive # B-133-1, records of P McHenry, private holding
[vii] Karen Gray, Rose Township, Carroll county, Ohio (September 2008) pg. 4, http://www.carollcountyohio.com/history/townships/Rose/Final%20Rose%20History.pdf

“The family became widely scattered.” Part 4

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The grave of Mary Huston

The grave of Mary Huston

The Huston Sisters’ Journeys: Mary Huston

For twenty-eight years Mary Huston Croy called the enclave at Will’s Creek home. Now, in 1789, her husband Jacob packed up his family and moved on. Did the politics of the day play a part? The new Constitution, Bill of Rights, and President Washington’s election put the new nation on the beginnings of stable footing. Was it simple wanderlust and a sense of adventure? Jacob had served the local militia for nearly ten years and likely enjoyed the regular scouting missions. Did the need to provide for a growing family make the difference? By 1789 Mary was likely pregnant with their sixth child, and no evidence exists of any attempt by Jacob to warrant their Londonderry home. Only Jacob, and maybe Mary, can know; but after 1789 the family disappears from the records of Londonderry Township.

They probably moved to the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River in what would be part of Hopewell Township in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. There, on February 10, 1794, Jacob applied jointly for 100 acres of land with his father-in-law, Alexander Huston. It was his first land warrant and indicated improvements and “Interest to commence from the first day of March 1775,” an indication of its use for 19 years before applying for the warrant.[i]

I postulate that the family, with Alexander’s support, moved to the waters of the Raystown Branch to run a saw or gristmill. The profession seems to have run in the family. Brother Mathias Croy operated a saw and gristmill in Londonderry Township in 1792.[ii] Jacob’s son Andrew, no more than six when they likely moved to the Raystown Branch property, owned a saw and gristmill in Ohio as an adult, and Andrew’s son took over his business.[iii]

The whole Raystown experiment lasted, at most, 10 years. No doubt Mary was lonely. Part of a family of twelve children, the first five no more than five years apart, she would likely yearn for companionship. Perhaps Jacob was restless. Regardless, by 1800, their family, which now included eight children between twenty and three years of age, packed up for the Northwest Territory. Included in the procession were the families of Mary’s sisters, Rachel McClish and Sarah Oswalt, and her brother, David Huston who had married Rebecca Oswalt.iii At least 25 men, women, and children, together or in small family groups, made the journey.

Did they wander for a while looking for a likely home; one abundant with cool, flowing water for mills, livestock, and farming; one with hardwood forests giving off the musky scent of home? Likely. Certainly, during the time it took to finalize surveys, name Ohio the 17th state in the Union (1803,) and designate, the land in which they settled as Columbiana County, Jacob and Mary had created a home.

On a muggy day on August 2nd of 1805, Jacob walked into the Stubenville Land Office to claim Section 29 (a section set aside for Revolutionary War Veterans,) Township 9, Range 8 as his own.[iv] By the time he registered the warrant for his 160 acre plot, part of what would one day be Pike Township, Stark County, Ohio, a great deal had happened in his and Mary’s life. Little David (named after David Huston?) and Margaret were born; his two first-born sons had married and given them their first grandchildren. Their life together, I imagine, bore a joy that only comes from such an increase.

Then, sometime between 1805 and about 1810, Jacob died. Whether it was from the yellow fever that ran rampant at the time, an accident in a harsh land, or a hard life early taken, we can never know. But Mary, left with at least 6 children in her care, needed to stand strong and, in these times, required a man’s help. She soon married a George D. Roberts. No record of him exists beyond the court records filed after alexander Huston’s death in 1814, and, by 1820, she was living independently with her two youngest children in Darby Township, Union County, Ohio, far from the land Jacob had claimed.

From my perspective, there is no evidence of warmth in the brief union of George Roberts and Mary Croy. The boys in the family found solace and support in the families of their spouses. Jacob Croy connected with the Stoner family and, even after his wife died in 1825, joined with Rachael Croy Stoner and John Stoner in Indiana.[v] Richard Croy found work in the burgeoning canal economy of Portage County and moved away completely.[vi] Mathias went with brother Andrew to joined Jacob Oswalt and their Aunt, Rebecca Huston Oswalt, in Rose Township, Stark County.iii This was a logical move since Andrew had married Susannah Oswalt, his “kissing cousin,” and my 3x great grandmother.

Meanwhile the youngest children and Elizabeth, her oldest daughter, rallied round their mother in Union County. They made the county their home and lived by her until she died on August 9, 1824, [vii]19 years and 6 days after Jacob walked into the Stubenville Land Office to make his claim. My her request or from their own understanding, they had these words carved into her gravestone, “In Memory of Mary Croy, Wife of Jacob Croy, Forever in Our Hearts.”

[i] Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Applications, 1733-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.Original data: Warrant Applications, 1733-1952. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania State Archives. Land Warrants. Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA.
[ii] Londonderry Township Tax Record, 1792 Bedford County Historical Society, Pioneer Library, 6441 Lincoln Highway, Bedford, PA 15522, (814)623-2011.
[iii] Additional information and documentation to follow in a later post.
[iv]Ancestry.com. Early Ohioans’ residences from the land grant records [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: Riegel, Mayburt Stephenson,. Early Ohioans’ residences from the land grant records. Mansfield, Ohio: Ohio Genealogical Society, 1976.
[v] Find A Grave. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi. Eagle Cemetery, LaGrange County, Indiana and Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Marion County, Ohio
[vi] Chancery Records Alexander Huston wills Ancestry.com. 1840, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.Original data: Sixth Census of the United States, 1840. (NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
[vii] Find A Grave. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi. Plain City Cemetery, Union County, Ohio