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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 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


Coverlets, land warrants, and a birth on Will’s Creek

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Laszlo Zonger by a Jacquard Loom at the Coverlet Museum

Laszlo Zonger by a Jacquard Loom at the Coverlet Museum

Please, please, please! If you ever visit Bedford County, Pennsylvania go to the coverlet museum! The coverlets and the accompanying personal tour, both enthusiastically provided by Melinda and Laszlo Zonger, impart knowledge of the craft, its history, the impact of a weaver’s place of origin, and the role of the global economy on weaving in America. So what does this have to do with the blog besides being of historical interest? Well, look below.

Cumberland Evening Times December 21, 1905

Cumberland Evening Times December 21, 1905

Sometimes you find a place so engaging and interesting that dragging yourself away seems impossible, no matter what your plans. After my last posting saying I was off to Ohio, I received this message, “I have my 5 great grandfather David Huston being born in 1796 in Maryland and his Father was Andrew/ Ellinore Devore mother. Do you have any information about the property or where in Maryland he was born?” I went to my records thinking to make quick work of a straightforward question. The hours whirled by. Two new discoveries and some inferential detective work later, I sent an e-mail which, as I looked back, seems a decent example of using the place knowledge to inform questions of birth. At the end of this post, I include a portion of the e-mail, slightly revised to correct errors and hopefully provide clarity. There you will also find links to the probate records mentioned in the e-mail. Andrew Huston Jr. practiced the art of weaving, probably the more basic version of the craft performed by in-home crafters. He, with his Will’s Creek neighbors, lived near the Maryland border and, judging from the newspaper clipping, were economically connected to Cumberland, Maryland. By the way, I nearly passed by the newspaper record because the paper was dated 1905. I only looked twice because, due to information on a land warrant, I knew Andrew was a weaver. Birth and death isn’t everything. Investigating place and the history of place makes a difference, even in ferreting out a birth. How close did they live to the Maryland border? Retracing some records, I also found this land warrant. “Andrew Huston applies for forty acres of Land Situated in Londonderry Township Bedford County adjoining Thomas Potts and Andrew Huston on the West the Maryland line on the South Wills Mountain on the East, & Cornelius Devore on the North.” (signed by Benj Tomlinson as witness and Andrew Huston in a good hand on the 11th day of Sept 1815) Underlining and opinion of his hand are mine. And here is the e-mail regarding David Huston’s place and date of birth. “I can give you this much information from my end. The Will’s Creek community in Pennsylvania is only a few miles from Maryland (2 miles from the border and maybe 4 to Cumberland.) Line disputes ended officially with the Mason/Dixon survey, but who knows how well understood or accepted the survey was in the minds of inhabitants of the area. Here is what I know for sure. 

  • Andrew Huston Jr. was the son of Alexander Huston (verified by the families probate dispute, 1835.) 
  • It, along with the Bedford county dispute, 1832-33, verifies that David was Andrew Jr.’s son. 
  • Alexander’s probate dispute lists David’s residence as Colombia County, Ohio. I suspect this is Colombiana County. Numerous of the Will’s Creek neighbors migrated to the area about 1800, including my great (4x) grandfather Jacob Croy who married Mary Huston, Andrew Jr.’s sister. (added note: the 1820 census lists a David Huston living in Rose Township, Stark County, Ohio once part of Columbiana County)
  • Andrew Jr. is first listed on Cumberland Valley Township (later Londonderry Township,) Bedford County, PA records in 1782 with 3 horses, 6 cows, 6 sheep-no land listing.  Likely living on, grandfather, Andrew Huston‘s land. 1783-85 he is listed as a single freeman. He is also listed as a Jr. on the 1786 Septennial Census for same place. 
  • Andrew’s father Alexander is verified an inhabitant of Cumberland Valley Township, Bedford County, PA from 1773 through the early 1800’s
  • Andrew Jr. married in late 1785 to 86 based on tax data to Elenore (Nilly) Devore (based on probate) who was the daughter of Cornelius Devore, a long time Will’s Creek resident (based on property and tax records.)
  • Based on the probate dispute for Andrew Jr., David is likely the second born son. John is definitely the first born. I do not have definitive dates for births and deaths of his children. (I have made it a “rule” to stick to direct lineage, their children and then basics of brothers/sisters. It can get overwhelming to keep organized otherwise. (added note: I have found little birth information for this period except on gravestones. When I visited the Bedford County Historical Society, I was told that little birth information exists for 18th century Western Pennsylvania.)
  • The tax and census records drop to a single Andrew Huston in Londonderry Township after 1786. My assumption is that Andrew Senior died by then. It is possible that Andrew moved on immediately after marriage and then returned in 1815, but the 1790 census shows an Andrew of Londonderry with one male child under 16 (John?) and two females (one likely a child.) Andrew Senior would not have had young children by then. Even Alexander, Andrew Jr’s father, was living at the time with only his wife. The 1800 census verifies the appropriate number of children for Andrew Jr. (the boy and girl above born between 1785-1790 and 2 boys and 2 girls born between 1791 and 1800) living in Londonderry Township, as does 1810, 20, 30. So if Andrew Senior was not dead by 1787-90, why does the land warrant for 1815 list the land of “Andrew Huston on the south?” Most likely it is additional land that Andrew Jr owned. 

Sooooo….I think it likely David was born right there in the Will’s Creek, Cumberland Valley Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania located very close to Maryland between 1791 and 1800, unless mom slipped over the line for a birth. Probate does indicate that John Huston (David’s brother) gave authority to Philip Devore to “sell the same and all other land claimed by me either in part or altogether situate in the state of Pennsylvania or Maryland…” (My underlining.) Others of the community also went into Allegheny County, Maryland for business and land purchase.” Probate records for Andrew Huston Jr.              Alexander Huston wills

Where in Will’s Creek? …and great Library of Congress blog

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Where they lived?

Where they lived?

This week I buried myself in the world of land warrants, attempting to determine approximately where those tenacious Will’s Creek settlers lived. The picture above, with the help of Google Earth, is my best guess. I created a table (found at the end of the post) briefly explaining each number on the map.

Many known settlers who appeared on tax records did not appear in land warrants. Numerous pioneers of the time, especially those on the colonial frontiers, rejected any expectation to warrant and/or pay for land, considering it an infringement on their free right of settlement.

For me, it is time to move on. This time I travel, virtually, to Northeastern Ohio. As the century turned a page, so did our nation’s history. The Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War opened lands to settlement north of the Ohio River. Go to this recent and outstanding Library of Congress blog by Erin Allen outlining early efforts to inform local tribes as well as British outposts of this land transfer to the newly formed United States.

You can also access the journal by George McCully at this site. A member of the expedition charged with sharing the outcome of the treaty, he documents the trek from Pittsburg, PA to Detroit. His detailed account of the excursion gives insight into the journey many in the Will’s Creek community were about to undertake. As always, original source documents are the best way to learn about the past. So, please, access his journal and read Erin Allen’s excellent explanation of the period! While you are at it subscribe to the blog. It is very good.

Land Warrant and Deed Information (As a disclaimer, I am not a resident of the area so lack the “inside track” regarding historical tidbits useful in explaining some references in the warrants. So, please, if you are out there, I appreciate any clarification.)


Warrant Applicant Date Detail
#1 Andrew Huston Sr. From3/1/1763App. 12/2/1784 50 ac bound on W John Hawthorns Tract; NW George Cook; N Nicolas Liberger; E Alex. Ross; S Wills-Town-Tract Mouth of Gladens Run
#2 Cornelius Devore Esq 9/16/1792 150 ac W side Wills Creek joining his 200 and lands surveyed for Andrew Huston
#3CastbarFosholt/Philip Devore 5/20/1793 surveyed for Jacob Oswalt Jr; Oct. 26/ 1795 transferred to Alex. Huston; 5/26/1803 transferred to Castbar Fosholt; 5/10/1830 sold to Philip Devore $300 100 acres adjoining Nicholas Lybarger, Jacob Oswalt Sr. and on W by a Mt. on a small branch of Gladwens Run part of Wills Creek
#4 Benjamin Tomlinson From 3/1/1765 app. 3/29/1790 60 ac E side joining Wills Creek opposite mouth of Gladdens Run joining Wills-Town-Tract
#5 George Cook 4/23/1793 100 ac on Laurel Run both sides of rd from Simon Hays mill
#6 Andrew Huston Jr. 5/9/1815 A weaver applis for 25 ac joining Wills Mountain on E; W Cornilias Devere, Benjamin Tomblingson; S Andrew Huston

So far I have not located any land warrants for Laurence Lamb, Jacob Croy, Jacob Neimyer, Anthony Asher, John Hains, John Albright, Valentine Baker, George Amrine, Martin Fait, Godfrey Woolback, John Blyew, or John Porter to name a few.

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.