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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

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)

 

Tidbits from a Month’s Hiatus

The Cave: a creation corner

                                                      The Cave: my creation corner

I’ve been knee deep (nose deep?) in the final edits of my first book of historical fiction. I love creating a fiction account from the bits of data and unanswered questions unveiled during my research. While I’ve grown attached to the characters and the story, tentatively titled Mary’s Mountains, it is time to move on. After cleaning up what my husband calls my “cave”, I wrote a page long list of long neglected “to do’s”. Number one on the list? Update this blog! Two big genealogy wins occurred while I hunted out misplaced commas and redundancies in my book. Here they are:

  1. In the last week of September, I received notice that my applications were approved in the Society of Civil War Families of Ohio based upon my descent from these Civil War veterans: Calvin Harrison Croy, Robert Croy, William Croy, Greer Croy, David Croy, Nathan Croy, and Duncan Croy.

I’ve written about them extensively on my blog (just search Civil War).

Now all marriage, birth, death, obituary, and military documentation from that application can be access through the Ohio Genealogical Society. If you have Ohio ancestry or an interest in learning more about a pivotal state in our nation’s history, I recommend them. www.ogs.org

I will attend the 2016 OGS Conference in Mason, Ohio, April 28-30, 2016, receive my certificate, and then take my own two week research tour of Ohio. I’ll post more about the conference later.

  1. Soon after receiving the above notification, my mail box offered up another treasure…a copy of the will and probate records for Alexander Huston. They come from the original documents housed at the Montgomery County, Ohio Records Center and Archives. I have only found these records summarized, transcribed, or in partial form until now. Unfortunately, the records, from an oversized register, were shrunk down to 8×11 paper, so transcribing will take a while! (Besides the fact that there are 40 pages to transcribe.)

Already, there are some exciting discoveries, like why John Huston sued in court to retrieve his father’s property from his mother’s new husband, and why Alexander’s will gave money to children already dead…but that is for a different post. Stay tuned.

One last thing…I attended the Fresno Genealogical Society all day conference starring Lisa Louise Cooke. Combined with the fact that I shared the event with two good friends, the conference was excellent and well-organized. I first saw Lisa Louise Cooke at the San Antonio, 2014, conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. She is always fabulous and informative. FresnoGS on facebook https://www.facebook.com/FresnoGenealogy Lisa Louise Cooke www.lisalouisecooke.com

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 3

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Between the Miamis

Between the Miamis

The Patriarch’s Risk: Alexander Huston and the Symmes Purchase

In the previous post I summarized the migration of the Croys of the Will’s Creek community (Londonderry Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.) Now I turn my attention to another community member, Alexander Huston, father to Mary Huston and Sarah Huston who were my 4x great grandmothers.

In the excitement of the time, sometime before 1799, Alexander bought land in Ohio between the Big and Little Miami Rivers from John Cleves Symmes. His sons, Samuel, Edward, and John, along with John Devores (Devor/Devore,) all neighbors in the Will’s Creek community, bought land through the Symmes’ land company as well. Each name appears on the Memorial to Congress from Citizens of the Territory dated October 22, 1800. [i]

This petition pleaded that Congress allow the undersigned to maintain rights to lands that Symmes sold illegally. Through poor surveying and villainous behavior, he sold lands north of the tract he had purchased from Congress. The petitioners discovered this in June of 1799, after “Many of us migrated with our families immediately after the termination of the Indian War under all the disadvantages incident to such a crisis, since that, much of the money remaining after payment for our lands has been expended, and the whole of our labour employed in clearing the wilderness, and making such other improvements as the wants and conveniences of Society require…”i

Rather than labor inadequately to give you background into the Symmes Purchase, I refer to an excellent resource.i

https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-14-petitions—what-can-we-do-list-names Not only does the site provide superior documentation of this petition but outlines strategies for researching history in general. Elizabeth Shown Mills has created a series of “Ouick Lessons” that are excellent. https://www.evidenceexplained.com/tags/quicklesson

By the time of the petition in 1800, Alexander and his sons had likely moved to their new homes but had not yet broken connections with the old ones. While they all still appear on Pennsylvania’s Septennial Census results,[ii] John Devore and Alexander Huston do not appear on the Federal Census for the same year.[iii] Had they gone ahead to maintain their claims while waiting out the Congressional action regarding their petition, make improvements and preparing this new frontier for their families? The journey entailed traveling overland to the Ohio River and floating down river on flat boats to the mouth of the Miami. One can only imagine the dangers they faced. We do know that Alexander died in Montgomery County between the 4th and 28th of February, 1814. His death precipitated two petitions over the next 20 years. These disputes provided us with much that we know about the closely connected Croy, Oswalt, and Huston families.[iv]

Alexander’s other sons, Andrew and Alexander Jr., stayed in Bedford County.[v] But David Huston with wife Rebecca Oswalt, Rachel Huston with husband Isaiah McClish, Sarah Huston with husband Jacob Oswalt II, and Mary Huston with husband Jacob Croy moved north to what would soon become Columbiana County in Ohio. Certainly, the prospects of a new fecund land teeming with the hope of prosperity drew them there. But for Mary Huston, Ohio Territory would reap tragedy and test her strength of spirit and fortitude; genetic traits future generations employed again and again. That story comes with my next posting.

[i] Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 14: Petitions—What Can We Do with a List of Names?” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage  (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-14-petitions—what-can-we-do-list-names  [access July 2, 2014])
[ii] 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. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1779-1863 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
[iii] Year: 1800; Census Place: Cumberland Valley and Londonderry, Bedford, Pennsylvania; Series: M32; Roll: 36; Page: 418; Image: 62; Family History Library Film: 363339.Ancestry.com. 1800 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
[iv] See probate record attachment Alexander Huston wills
[v] Year: 1800 & 1810; Census Place: Cumberland Valley and Londonderry, Bedford, Pennsylvania; Series: M32; Roll: 36; Page: 418; Image: 62; Family History Library Film: 363339.Ancestry.com. 1800 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

The Croys, Oswalts, and Hustons

BedfordCo1872-townships copyWestern Pennsylvania became the primary destination of new immigrants and those with wanderlust in their veins. In order to better understand our family migration, its timeline as well as the approximate birth date of family members, I put a spreadsheet together of all land warrant, tax records, and Revolutionary War records for these three much intermingled families. Bedford PA spreadsheet They include Andrew Huston, Alexander Huston and Mary Johnson, Jacob Oswalt and Rebecca Huston, Jacob Oswalt Jr. and Sarah Huston, and Jacob Croy and Mary Huston. Western PA. Family Sheets a pdf document One thing is sure. The majority of their lives in the last half of the 1700’s was spent in Londonderry Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania along Wills Creek not far from the Mason-Dixon line. I am indebted to Larry Smith whose excellent website  Mother Bedford – The Pennsylvania Frontier Of The 1700s. provided many insights and some missing information. I recommend it highly.