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Early 19th Century Croy Occupations: Mill Workers and Carpenters

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Andrew Croy Died Dec 20, 1859 Aged 72y 1m  18d St. Luke Cemetery, Monroe Township, Carroll County, Ohio (For more on Andrew use the site search engine.)

Often we assume that occupations are a family thing, passed from generation to generation. To a certain extent it is true. There are families of teachers, construction workers, even musicians. But the economics of the time and the needs of those inhabitants living in that time play a large role in determining how a family makes a living. I say family because, in the time of Andrew Croy, family usually worked together in the same livelihood. For this family, from at least 1830 to 1869, the profession of wood and mill worker was dominant.

In the early days of our nation, especially on the frontier edge, the inhabitants primary needed housing, food, and a means of transport. Those needs required, first, mills to cut lumber and grind grain (among other things, a nice overview here). Secondly, carpenters and wagon makers skilled in building were in demand. Our family served those needs.

Andrew Croy ran saw and gristmills. He purchased land for a mill on 22 April 1829 in Stark (later Carroll) County, Ohio. He ran that mill until between 20 January 1838 (when he sold 20 acres of that land to Akey Worley) and 27 July 1839 (when he sold the rest to the same).

andrew bark st mill

Site of first of Andrew Croy’s mill, halfway along Bark St, in Carroll County, Ohio

By 20 December 1829, he had moved to White Eyes Township, Coshocton County and purchased a mill from John Gardner, original land grant to John Graham. On 25 March 1856, likely in poor health, he sold the land to David Reed.

andrew mill site

Site of second of Andrew Croy’s mills, one mile NW of Fresno, Ohio in White Eyes Township, Coshocton County, Ohio 

white eyes

White Eyes Creek–The Carroll County site and Coshocton site were similar in that they both had a rise for the mill above a low lying creek to provide power.

Here is a newspaper account of the mill’s history.

“All three (3) mills stood along the creek banks in White Eyes Township and there was a bustle of rural community activity for weeks out of each year.

The first was located on the Ed Steiner farm, one mile north of Avondale, now Fresno. It was built in 1832 by Thomas Diehl and had an undershot wheel sixteen (16) feet in diameter and about three (3) feet wide.

Two runs of burrs, elevators, a bolting chest and other necessary appliances completed the mechanical equipment for the picturesque affair.

Its two stories towered above the wooded slopes of historic White Eyes creek and stood on a foundation 32 x 40 feet. It was enclosed by lap siding and shaved oak shingles and its capacity was seven to eight bushels of wheat an hour.

The mill was purchased by Andy Croy, father of the late David Croy in 1839 and operated by him for 16 years. [until 1855] Thomas Moore then ran the mill for several years after which David took possession. Two years later David Reed acquired it. [Does not jive with deed date of sale.] When Mr. Reed fell at the battle of Winchester in the Civil War, the mill’s years of service came to an end.”

David Croy lived in Coshocton until his death and continued in the occupation his father taught him.

OKC david croy

Photo from Oak Grove Cemetery, David married Eunice Frazee, 2 April 1846, with whom he had Robert, William, Matthew, Margaret, Mary, Eliza Jane, and Jacob. He later married Hannah McPherson. 

“Several decades ago, the second mill was still in operation. It stood at Boyd’s mills and it was operated for years by its builders, brothers William and Journal Boyd. Today the site is part of Rev. C.D. Firster’s farm.

Later the mill was sold to Robert Doak, who sold it to Robert Boyd, who in turn sold it to Adam Gardner in 1864. Mr. Gardner died in 1872 and the property was sold to Thomas Elliot and he later sold it to J.P. Benjamin in 1881. In 1883 it was again sold, this time to Mr. [David] Croy.

A third mill had stood along White Eyes Creek one mile up stream, it was operated successively by Mr. Headley, Wm Frazy,[Andrew’s sons David and Michael married Frazy/Frazee’s] Andrew Croy and David Reed. It suspended operation in 1860.”

Meanwhile, Andrew’s son Jacob who joined him in Coshocton became a wagon maker, wagons being in demand during the canal days of Coshocton County. Jacob brought his family to Washington County, perhaps floating down the Muskingum River canal improvement where he continued to work as a wagon maker. Jacob’s son, William, briefly owned a sawmill bought in 1869, and son Robert worked as a carpenter.

But times were changing. The steam engine and the movement of civilization into the far west, impacted the needs of the nation and its people. Small local mills slowly faded away. Water as an energy source was replaced by coal. The war spread families apart. We were a nation transformed.

The “good old days” were gone. When I visited David Croy’s gravesite, I met the man who lived there and maintained the cemetery. He told tales of how the lumbermen lived in tents on the Tuscarawas River a small distance south where a dance hall entertained. Across from the gravesite was a small church that had “socials” for the men. The men working lumber might have their “fun” down on the Tuscarawas but usually found their wives at the church socials. Here is how the article explained it.

“Settlers in Coshocton county nearly a century ago [now a century and a half] came many miles to patronize the grist mills, at first on horseback and later in wagons. Each customer waited his turn. During the interval many would unlimber their fishing equipment and combine business with pleasure.

Others spent the time in games and many told of the stories that were related. Evening parties were arranged and old time songs mingled with the beat of dancing feet on the broad beamed floors of the Grist Mill.”

Article printed in the Cemetery History: White Eyes Township Vol XV by the Coshocton County Chapter OGS, pg 174: from an aged newspaper clipping owned by Ed Norris of Fresno, Ohio.
Additional documentation available upon request: Census, Marriage, Land Records


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.

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 Lisa Louise Cooke

Finding Vital Records: Four Lessons Learned

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A wonderfully accurate account of a death.

A wonderfully accurate account of a death.[i]

My goal for 2015 is to document, for the Ohio Genealogical Society, the Civil War service of the seven sons[ii] of Jacob Croy (1810-1872) and Margaret Pugh Croy (1813-1884). If you are familiar with my blog, you know that I have researched this portion of my heritage extensively. (Interested? Search “civil war” at this site and you will find all my entries.)

Given the extent of my research, you would think this an easy task; it is not, and here is why. The Society includes this caveat; “Pre-1880 censuses cannot be used as sole evidence of relationship since no relationships are stated in these records.” [iii] The term ‘sole evidence’ gives a little leeway for proving the relationships. Still, the fact that documentation of Ohio births and deaths only began in 1867, were spotty, and didn’t always include parent names until 1908, complicates things. The Society also requires proof of marriage, and a license “is not acceptable evidence …it only proves intent…” Records of marriages are more numerous in Ohio but some counties record only licenses, and, until 1900, names of the parents were not included.

Bottom line? I was forced to hunt down the necessary vital records, some not easily obtained or valid based OGS rules. Some records were easy enough to find: the birth and marriage certificates of me, my husband, father and mother. Attempting to use the OGS criteria to document the Civil War brothers and their relationships to each other, to their father and mother, and to their spouses would require much more detective work since the majority of the records I needed would be dated between 1810 and 1930.

I knew the brothers familial relationships through so many indirect sources, and knew the truth, didn’t I? That comment just made dyed-in-the-wool Certified Genealogists cringe but, really, my dad knew the name of his grandfather, didn’t he? Relax, I’m joking, and we’ll get to the punch line later, but by gathering the more obvious documents, I was led to my first lesson.

Lesson #1: Gather together those documents so often taken for granted. Beg them from family members, retrieve them from your own files, put them in archival sheets, order them by date, and store them in a fire safe.

Marriage and death certificates of the relationships closest in time proved easy enough to obtain, but they were everywhere. I started to realize how easily these genealogically significant documents could disappear.

Lesson #2: Search wide, and keep going back to your resources. Go to your favorite “pay to view” genealogy site, of course, but FamilySearch is an absolute must. And don’t forget the state genealogical sites. They might require payment for membership so you can access their site but the dollars might be worth it, especially if you have enough ancestors from a particular state.

My “pay for” site didn’t yield much usable information so I turned to FamilySearch. Using its ‘wiki’ resources[iv] I determined what was available by state and county. Their searchable resources have also increased mightily. I found a number of actual documents (not indexes) unavailable when I looked a year ago. Using their information, the Ohio Genealogical Society resources, and what I knew about the location of the family through time, I began contacting individual counties for records and, in the case of Calvin, my great-grandfather, I looked to other state records in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Lesson #3: Not all counties and states are equally responsive concerning record retrieval, and some make you stand on your hands, do a break dance, and a back-flip to boot.

Kiss the ground and shout “Halleluiah” if you have ancestors from Washington County, Ohio. Their library and probate court personnel answered my e-mails promptly and gave me what I needed at almost no cost. Through them I retrieved useful death and obituary records, all through e-mail, and they included very interesting ancillary data. Other counties had no on-line or e-mail connections so I resorted to snail mail. And Oklahoma recommended I go through VitalChek. I had to document my relationship to the deceased (dead since 1922), fax my information, and pay $50 for the results. That leads me to the final lesson, for now.

Lesson #4: Sometimes parts of the records, filled out by fallible humans, are just plain wrong.

I awaited my great-grandfather’s death certificate anxiously. It was, after all, according to the OGS standards a valid record of relationship, and I already had clear documentation that three brothers dying after 1908 where sons of Jacob Croy. This certificate would prove the fourth, very important, relationship. Wrong!

So here’s the punch line. Calvin Croy had moved his family from Ohio between 1880[v] and 1885.[vi] Justus Croy, my grandfather and the person who filled out his death certificate, was between three and five years old when he last saw any Ohio relations. Communication systems were sparse at the time, and, it seems, his mother and father hadn’t talked much about his grandparents. He probably didn’t consult his mother when filling out the form either. He got the first letter of his father’s parents first names right and used his mother’s maiden name for the maiden name of his father’s mother. I researched the John Croy and Mary Smith he named on the death certificate just to be sure. No such Ohio couple at an appropriate time, not that I could find.[vii]

And the not-so-perfect accounting of a death.

And the not-so-perfect accounting of a death.

Seems the census information for 1850, 1860, and 1870 was more accurate than a toddler’s recollections forty years later, no matter what the OGS lineage rules say. So I have more work to do. Hopefully the Civil War records coming from the National Archives will hold definitive proof of the yet unverified relationships. I can also probably “prove” the relationship using the census information as supporting evidence. But for now I search on, four brothers shy of my goal to honor seven brothers who served in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry at a defining moment in their lives and the life of our Nation. I’ll keep you posted.

[i] “Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953,” Database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 June 2015), 1914 > 34601-37460 > image 2483 of 3296.

[ii] Robert, William P. Greer, David, Nathan, Duncan, and Calvin Harrison Croy

[iii] The Ohio Genealogical Society: Lineage Society Rules and Application Procedures.

[iv] example

[v] Year: 1880; Census Place: Keene, Coshocton, Ohio; Roll: 1003; Family History Film: 1255003; Page: 115C; Enumeration District: 048; Image: 0234 accessed September 27, 2012

[vi] National Archives and Records Administration; Nebraska State Census; Year: 1885; Series/Record Group: M352; County: Richardson; Township: Spencer; Page: 18. Accessed September 27, 2012

[vii] Certificate of Death, Oklahoma State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Happy 2015

I decided to do this just for fun. Once I sunk neck deep into the exercise I began to doubt my concept of fun! Anyway, just to put the new year into a genealogical perspective:

Today I have direct family ranging in age from 7 to 95, all living in California,


One hundred years ago today, January 1, 1915 my direct ancestors lived in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri and ranged in age from 2 to 83. There were eight individuals.

My father, Ralph Lewis Croy was 2 years old. He lived in Henryetta, Oklahoma with

my grandfather, Justus Leonice Croy, age 35,

and my grandmother, Mary (Mollie) Elizabeth Ison Croy, age 32.

Also living in Henryetta were

my great grandfather, Calvin Harrison Croy, age 64,

and my great grandmother, Sarah Angelina Smith Croy, age 61.

 My maternal great grandfather, Gabriel Washington Ison, age 59,

and my great grandmother Gillian (Gillie) Virginia Morriss Ison, age 54,

lived in Potosi, Linn County, Kansas.

 AND at 83, my great, great grandfather Peter Philander Morriss still lived

near Rothville, in Salt Creek Township, Chariton County, Missouri.

Now, ready to get crazy? I did, figuring this out…hope I got it.

Two hundred years ago today, January 1, 1815, living direct ancestors spread across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia. They ranged in age from 4 to 92. Nineteen people in all, if I counted correctly.

In Ohio:

My great, great grandfather Jacob Croy was 4 years old. He lived in Stark County (to be Carroll County,) Ohio with

my great, great, great grandfather, Andrew Croy, age 34,

and my great, great, great grandmother, Susanna Oswalt Croy, age about 30.

Little Jacob had yet to meet my great, great grandmother Margaret Pugh (Croy) age 1. Her history is unknown.

Jacob’s grandmother, my 4X’s great grandmother, Mary Huston Croy (Roberts,) 53 at the time, lived in Plain City, Union County, Ohio. (His grandfather and namesake had died sometime after 1805 and any history before him is unknown.)

Susanna Oswalt’s father, my 4X’s great grandfather, Jacob Oswalt II, age 49,

and my 4X’s great grandmother, Sarah Huston, age about 49, lived in Rose Township, Stark County(to be Carroll County,) Ohio, as well.

Great, great grandfather Henry Smith was about 12 and living in Southeastern Ohio. (His history before then is unknown.)

Meanwhile, 3X’s great grandparents Zerah Payne and Amy Felch Payne, ages at the time 36 and 27 respectively, lived in Coshocton County, Ohio.

In Virginia:

My 3X’s great grandfather Thomas H. Morriss, age 16, and my 3X’s great grandmother, Malinda Salling (Morriss), age 11, lived in (likely Rockbridge) Virginia.

Thomas’ father, my 4X’s great grandfather, Allison Morriss, age 38, lived in Amherst County, Virginia with my 4X’s great grandmother Nancy Peters Morriss, age 36.

4X’s great grandfather, George Salling, age 44, and 4X’s great grandfather Matilda Caroline Carter Salling, age 40, lived in Estillville (what would be Gate City,) Scott County, Virginia on the Cumberland Gap.

Oh, and the Ison’s? 3X’s great grandparents Isaac Sterling Ison and Charity Ingram (Ison) both were living in Estillville (what would be Gate City,) Scott County, Virginia on the Cumberland Gap as well. They were 16 and 11, respectively.

And in Pennsylvania, amazingly…

In Londonderry Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania,

my great, great, great, great, great (that’s 5 greats now) grandfather,

Jacob Oswalt, age about 92, still lived.

(Great, great grandmother Sephronia Payne Smith, great great grandfather Schuyler Ison, great great grandmother Mary Ann Overstreet Ison lived between these two milestones.)



The Aftermath of Researching the Civil War

Wood Engraving from: Harper's weekly, v. 7, no. 337 (1863 June 13), p. 381.

Wood Engraving from: Harper’s weekly, v. 7, no. 337 (1863 June 13), p. 381.


Is it the way of things that we discover the easier path at the end of a journey rather than the beginning? As in life, also true in research. For the previous six blogs, I searched the net mining the depths of individual records, local written histories, civil war society sites, and records of individual battles. Then, while wrapping things up for this post, I found two sites I wish I had discovered in the beginning.

The first site by the National Archives explains available records and gives an overview of how to proceed with searches, including important disclaimers. I advise you start here. I quote from them here, using it as my own disclaimer for previous Civil War posts and pretty much anything you do in genealogy!

“Do not assume that a particular individual participated in a battle if (1) his unit was at the battle and (2) the person appears likely to have been with that unit. In the War Department’s view, and from a strict adherence to objective information in existing evidence, such an assumption cannot ordinarily be made… military careers are crafted both upon evidence and upon assumptions, with no guarantee that the assumptions are correct.”

Another valuable site from the National Parks Service provides a very user-friendly portal for following regimental movements through the length of the Civil War. You search by your ancestor’s name and up pops information that unfolds detail by detail, and it comes right from the National Archives! The site’s interactive nature saves you the time and energy of reinventing the war.

I say I wish I knew then what I know now (and probably had known and ignored like most humans who begin anything, including life,) but do I? My world is richer for the serendipitous details I discovered on the way. True in research, and infinitely true in life.


As Sherman said, “War is hell.” The aftermath goes to the living. Amazingly, all seven brothers lived, though some not for long. Below find what I know so far from census, find-a-grave, and other documentation. I list the brothers by order of birth and give a brief description of their lives after the war. For a complete family sheet, including the three sisters, check here: Ohio family sheets 1-17-2015

Robert Croy came home to his wife, Emily Gassage Croy, and family in Marietta, Ohio. Within five years of his return Emily died. Less than a year later he married Mary Atkins. Between them they had a son, Arthur. Four years later his oldest son, Stanton died. Robert continued to live in Marietta working as a carpenter and wagon maker like his father. Late in life, he bounced from his daughter Josie’s home in Kansas to the Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. He suffered from heart disease and chronic arthritis. He died in 1908 at the age of 76 in the home of his sister, Fannie Croy Schoonover, in Marietta.[i]

William Croy came home to his wife, Rebecca Hasten Croy and son Anderson. He farmed the land in Decatur Township until nearly 80 and, according to newspaper articles, he and Robert attended Civil War reunions regularly.[ii]

Greer Croy returned to Marietta and married Malona Basim in 1867. They had three sons. Greer named his first child Sheridan after the General who led decisively at Cedar Creek where he was last wounded. His youngest son died of consumption in March of 1872. Six months later Greer died. He was only thirty-four.[iii]

David Croy came back to Washington County and worked as a laborer. He married Mary Moore in 1867. They had no children and, in March of 1877 at age 35, he was dead.[iv]

After his short 100-day service, Nathan returned to work the land of his parents. When he was thirty-one he married nineteen-year-old Ida J. Nelson. They had to children and cared for Mother, Margaret, for twelve years after his father died. Nathan outlived his wife by 27 years and died in 1919 at 73. [v]

Duncan Croy tried his hand at farming for a while after returning from the war, but soon found milling and selling lumber more to his liking. He married Elizabeth Mayhew and had ten children. After moved down river to Pomeroy for a time he returned to Marietta where he died in 1914 at 68.[vi]

After the Grand Review in Washington D.C., Calvin Croy, my great grandfather, spent a brief period of time in Louisville, Kentucky with the 31st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. After his returned he worked as a farm laborer for a while and then headed back to his birthplace in Coshocton County, Ohio. He worked with his uncle, David, who owned a sawmill for a while. He was soon introduced to the coal industry and Sarah Angeline Payne Smith. (I will delve into her family heritage after a little holiday hiatus.)[vii]


The story leaves many questions unanswered, especially how and why Greer and David died so soon. Some indirect information indicates that their father Jacob Croy died of consumption, as did Greer’s four-month-old son. Was tuberculosis passed around in the family? Did the brothers bring it back from the war? Or were they compromised by their war injuries? I hope to find the time and money to get the boys’ pension records from the National Archives. Then, perhaps, the answers to these questions and more may be unlocked.

No matter how complete, these outlines cannot fill in the haunt of memories. We cannot color in who these soldiers became from an outline of incidents. “Strict adherence to objective information” ignores the heart of the matter. But the heart of the matter impacts the fathers, mothers, wives, and descendants down through time.

[i] 1860 census Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; M653_1048; pg: 124 and 1870 census Decatur, Washington, Ohio: M593_1278; pg: 85A and 1880 census: Decatur, Washington, Ohio; roll 1075 pg 79A and 1900 census Franklin, Jackson, Kansas; Roll: 483; pg 6A and find-a-grave for Decatur Prsbyterian Cemetery, Washington County, OH Emily Croy and U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Records of Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives
[ii] 1870; Census Place: Decatur, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593_1278; Page: 97A; and 1880; Census Place: Decatur, Washington, Ohio; Roll: 1075; Page: 77B; and 1900; Census Place: Decatur, Washington, Ohio; Roll: 1330; Page: 3B; and 1910; Census Place: Decatur, Washington, Ohio; Roll: T624_1237; Page: 3B; and find-a-grave Centennial Cemetery, Washington County Ohio for William P (J) Croy and Rebecca
[iii] 1870 census; Place: Decatur, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593_1278; Page: 96B and find-a-grave Decatur Presbyterian Cemetery, Washington County, Ohio
[iv] 1870 census; Place: Barlow, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593-1278; Pg: 34B; and find-a-grave Decatur Presbyterian Cemetery, Washington County, Ohio
[v] 1870; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593_1278; Page: 116A and 1880; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: 1075; Family History Film: 1255075; Page: 100B and 1900; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: 1330; Page: 4A and 1910; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: T624_1237; Page: 3B and find-a-grave Decatur Presbyterian Cemetery, Washington County, Ohio
[vi] 1870; Census Place: Belpre, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593_1278; Page: 75B and 1880; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: 1075; Page: 99D and 1900; Census Place: Pomeroy, Meigs, Ohio; Roll: 1303; Page: 6B and 1910; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: T624_1237; Page: 6A and National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934
[vii]  NARA. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 ( T288_105 and 1870; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593_1278; Page: 116A and 1880; Census Place: Keene, Coshocton, Ohio; Roll: 1003; Page: 115C and Jordan Dodd, Liahona Research. Ohio, Marriages, 1803-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2001.

“The family became widely scattered.”

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 Part 1: Researching a Family Migration

More than a year ago I found this simple quote in a book written in 1887 about the history of Noble County.[i] The quote referenced Mathias and Richard Croy who settled in Beaver Township, Ohio in 1806.[ii]  That unassuming quote encompasses all the digging, analyzing, and convoluted tracking I have engaged in since my last entry.

My goal? Trace the migration of my direct descendants and their families from Will’s Creek[iii] to where ever in Ohio they finally settled. The reality? Well, to be concise, “The family became widely scattered!”

It is unclear just how soon word reached Will’s Creek regarding the many political changes afoot at the end of the Revolutionary War. Did word trickle in, one voice to another? Did one of the few who could read get access to a newspaper that spelled out the changes? Or did they return from exploring the Ohio Territory with soft pelts and their own grand stories?

How ever it happened, their little wilderness community soon felt the impact of the Treaty of Paris, as well as the “Ordinance of 1787” opening land west and north of the Ohio River.  General “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s defeat of the Shawnee and Delaware Indians eased, if not eliminated, the threat to their personal safety. The sweet, crisp smell of opportunity wafted over the Alleghany Mountains into Will’s Creek, and its inhabitants followed the scent. By 1798, five years before Ohio became a State, the U.S. Direct Tax Lists began recording a separate category of resident, the “unseated.” The label indicated a property owner who no longer occupyed the land. In most cases, these “unseated” had migrated west, and west mostly meant the Ohio Valley.

By 1806, all of Jacob, Richard, John, and Mathias Croy’s families (with approximately 30 children in tow,) along with the family of Jacob Oswalt II (7 children at the time,) and Alexander Huston (11 children) had made Ohio their home. My contrary self argued that recording all of this was a time consuming boondoggle, but I work from the premise that Place matters. People interact through a point in time and geography to form, in the end, their lives. And to really know these people, one must understand their time and their place.

If I intended to continue with this convoluted adventure, and I did, I needed a plan, a system for organizing the whirlwind. Some of this “system” definitely evolved as I went. I only wish I had been less serendipitous, but that, I fear, would have required some essential changes to my character. Still, in case the method that unfolded might help others with their own research, I include it below.[iv]

During the next two weeks I plan a series of posts about the Ohio migration. Until then, check out another enlightening post from the Library of Congress about the first map published after the “Ordinance of 1787” when some very independent minded States jockeyed for the Ohio Valley prize.  It includes a very revealing look at punishment in the 1700’s. One of the great surveying accomplishments of our Nation would soon make this map obsolete. But that is the subject of another post.

If you followed this blog previously, you may notice that I am making an admittedly time consuming effort to document my sources both as a nod to genealogical standards and because it frees me to write without constantly alluding to sources and asides.

[i] History: Noble County, Ohio (L.H. Watkins, 1887,) pgs 576-579; digital images, New York Public Library, GoogleBooks

[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: Operations, Inc., 2011.)

Note: Township 8, Range 7, Section 10: part of Belmont County , 1806; Guernsey County, 1811; Noble County,1851

[iii] See previous posts


  1. Work from the most accurate version of a Family Sheet for each family you are tracking.
  2. Determine the last recorded residence at the original location. (In my case Londonderry Township, Bedford County, PA) Record it on the family sheet and file the documentation. (I used Evernote so it is searchable.)
  3. Record the first point of recorded residence FOR EVERY FAMILY MEMBER if possible. You never know what you might uncover. In my case, I was trying to track a mother and her family after her mate’s early death. The information spoke volumes.
  4. Create a file for each place. People migrate, not just by family, but by age groupings, marriage, and reasons of history.
  5. Research the places they went. What laws, events, boundary changes, establishment dates of schools, cemeteries, churches etc. might give insight into those lives. This happens as you go along.
  6. Consider birth and marriage dates and places (those that are backed by records.) They can provide migratory clues.
  7. Finally, create an outline of your information. Study it and build their story from it


The Will’s Creek Community

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Andrew Huston Land Warrant

Andrew Huston Land Warrant

In southwestern Pennsylvania, between present-day Bedford, PA and Cumberland, Maryland, run a series of long narrow valleys created by a system of ridges in the Allegany Mountain Range. In one of them, between the Allegany Front on the west and Will’s Mountain on the east, runs Little Will’s Creek joining the main artery of Will’s Creek. The valley then opens up to where numerous “runs” traverse the valley, emptying into the ever widening Will’s Creek as it works its way to the Potomac. Situated on the edge of the frontier, European settlers began trickling into this valley in the mid 1700’s.

The area was under the jurisdiction of Cumberland Valley Township up until 1785 when Londonderry Township was formed. By taking the first tax records for Cumberland Valley Township, 1771 (found in The Kernel of Greatness: an informal bicentennial History of Bedford County) and comparing them to the Londonderry Township list from 1786, I was able to infer the names of the first and subsequent settlers into the valley. An overview of the results is found here. Outline of inhabitants of Wills Creek (If anyone is interested in the spreadsheet where I calculated my results, let me know and I will send it to you.)

Andrew Huston, father of Alexander Huston, my five times great grandfather, was the first recorded settler in the Will’s Creek area in 1771. His land warrant, recorded in 1784, gives March 1763 as the date of first habitation.  In 1773, Laurence Lamb entered the valley (again based on tax records.) His daughter, Mary Lamb, married, Richard Croy, the probable brother of Jacob Croy. The Croys first appear on Cumberland Valley tax records in 1776. Jacob Croy married Mary Huston, the daughter of Alexander Huston. Jacob Oswalt, who married Rebecca Huston, Andrew’s daughter, arrived in 1776 as well. If that isn’t hard enough to follow, the son of Jacob and Mary Croy, Andrew, married the daughter of Jacob and Rebecca Oswalt, Susannah.

While today’s society views blood ties as close as these skeptically, frontier America during the revolutionary period was scantly populated and these close-knit relationships were inevitable. Based on my research, for example, no more than 15 to 20 families represented by no more than 8 or 9 surnames lived in the isolated Will’s Creek community by 1779.

Note in the land warrant pictured in this blog that the warranted land borders a Nicholas Liberger. The lives of these people best finds expression through their own first-hand accounts. One vivid account comes from Nicholas. My next blog looks at the more intimate details of those lives.