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A Deep Dig into the Town of Morges, Ohio

Morges Marker

You’ve checked the tax records for your ancestor OR you found a deed confirming ownership—you’re done right?They lived there; it’s clear. Okay, asking the question and answering so unequivocally was a dead give away. Nope. You aren’t done. You need to check both taxes and deeds.

DON’T ASSUME YOUR ANCESTOR LIVED ON THE LAND DEEDED TO HIM OR OWNED THE LAND WHERE HE PAID TAXES.

Samuel Oswalt, the brother of my 3x’s great-grandmother, Susannah Oswalt Croy, established the little town of Morges, Ohio, in 1831. You’ll also notice by the sign above that Jacob Waggoner, Jr. is, likewise, a town founder.

I wanted to find the original deeded document for the formation of the town of Morges. I also hoped to find Andrew Croy’s original deed for his Morges property, and maybe those of other ancestors living on lots there. Previously, I had documented all those living in Morges using the only surviving early tax records, 1833-1838.(Some wise soul rescued these few records from the waste pile during a courthouse purge.) Andrew Croy, Susannah Oswalt’s husband, appeared on the tax records for Morges, lot #18, from 1833 through 1838. Jacob Croy, his son, was listed on lot #17, 1833-1835. Numerous Croys and Oswalts littered the list.

By using the on-line digitalized courthouse records available through familysearch.com, I had already found one deed in which Samuel Oswalt corrected an error of location for the town of Morges.I, likewise, located a deed transferring lot #18 from Andrew and Susan/Susannah to a John Zengler in 1848. But they weren’t the originals. I found no deed for Jacob Croy.

So who owned all of the thirty-seven Morges lots? The deeds, in Stark County (the town’s home county until 1832) and Carroll County (its home from 1832 forward), were not searchable. They required that I locate names in indexes—both alphabetized and not—then go to the indicated page. Let the treasure hunt begin.

Morges,_Ohio_map_1874

Plat Map of Morges, Ohio 1874

As I searched for the deeds using the individuals named on the tax records, Inoticed something perplexing. The property tax records and ownership records did not coincide. Why not, I asked? Land ownership and property tax should match up, shouldn’t they? The answer? Well, not necessarily.

Early taxation did not always distinguish between personal (movable) and real (immovable) property.An example is my 5x great-grandfather, Jacob Oswalt’s 1779, Bedford County tax record which taxed real property like land, grist mills, saw mills, and distilleries, along with movable goods like servants, negroes, merchandise, horses, horned cows, and sheep.[i]

Even when property was taxed separately from movable goods, determining the owner of property wasn’t always easy.A tax assessor traveling the countryside did not have immediate access to deeds nor were they always recorded with the county.[ii]The assessor often relied on those living on the land for their information.

In Morges, though Samuel Oswalt often owned much of the property, the person living on it (most often a relative) often paid the tax.For those who have an interest in the little town of Morges, a compilation of my research by lot, with occupants and owners can be found here. Morges, OH Tax and deed Records. It’s a work in progress; I’ll update it regularly.Briefly, here are my bulleted discoveries. Eight lots are still a mystery.

  • By the 1840’s (a timespan of about 10 years) Samuel Oswalt and John Waggoner, Jr. owned few of the lots.The Fetters (Casper, Joseph, and Jacob) owned 10 lots, Frederick Harple owned 5, John Zengler owned 4, Stephen Rennniar owned 4, and Abraham Fredrick owned 2. (25 of the lots)
  • Samuel Oswalt originally owned (and/or sold) at least 22 of the 37 lots.
  • John Waggoner bought two lots from Samuel Oswalt and likely owned 3 more.
  • I found no evidence that the following individuals listed on the tax records owned lots.[iii]Mathias or Peter Waggoner, Thomas Simonton, Henry Casselman, Daniel Wymer, John Oswalt, Michael Croy, or Jacob Croy, all related in some way to Samuel.

Two WOWS!I found the transfer of land from Jacob Oswalt to Samuel and John Oswalt on November 17, 1827,[iv]along with the transfer of land from John Waggoner, Sr. to John, Jr. on February 25, 1826.[v]Thus the seeds for the town of Morges were sown.

I also discovered the transfer of land from John Waggoner, Jr. to the Bishop of Cincinnati.[vi]This deeded donation was the beginnings of St. Mary’s Catholic Church located in Morges and pictured below.morges

I never found the original Stark County record filed by Samuel Oswalt for the town of Morges, though I found many deeds in which he sold lots to others.The exact page of the entry—“which is recorded in deed book J, page 417, in the recorder’s office for the county of Stark”—was provided in a correction to the town location on August 21, 1832.[vii]But, look as I might on the exact page (and in books I in case I read it incorrectly, I couldn’t find it. Any help out there?Looks like I might need to go to Canton.

I also never located my 3x great-grandfather’s original lot 18 deed. A later deed in which he sells the property for $12 to a John Zengler, recorded on May 9, 1848, indicates it is housed at the Stark County Courthouse[viii], but I couldn’t find it in the on-line records for Stark County found at Familysearch.com. Another reason to go to Canton, I suppose.

I keep finding more and more reasons for that next trip to Ohio. Oh, darn!

[i]As time passed, Bedford County tried to track land ownership by indicating who had a warrant to the land or a deed and who was simply living on the land, a difficult business in the wilds of Pennsylvania in the 1700’s.
[ii]I found examples of deed transfers, sometimes as many as 4 separate transfers with dates from the 1830’s into the 1840’s listed page after page, to complete a transfer of ownership.
[iii]The original Morges deeded record may shed more light.
[iv]Deed Records of Five Ohio Counties; 1809-1902: Columbiana and Stark Counties, Deed Records, V. 51, 1809-1834, pg. 230-234; accessed on-line through familysearch.com
[v]Deed Records of Five Ohio Counties; 1809-1902: Columbiana and Stark Counties, Deed Records, V. 51, 1809-1834, pg. 368-369; accessed on-line through familysearch.com
[vi]Deed Records of Five Ohio Counties; 1809-1902: Columbiana and Stark Counties, Deed Records, V. 51, 1809-1834, pg. 537; accessed on-line through familysearch.com
[vii]Ohio Justice of the Peace, Stark County, Volume 51, page 503; Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 2004; accessed on-line through familysearch.com.
[viii]Carroll County, Ohio, Courthouse Record of Deeds; Vol. 10, 1845-48, page 489; Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1964; accessed on-line through familysearch.com.

Progeny of Jacob Oswalt and Sarah Huston Oswalt

Maggie Carter Smith feels like one of those little wind up ducks you find in an import store, the ones that skitter along, turning and circling with no clear direction. So many things tug at her: the books stacked for reading, the list of research possibilities, the garden. Her to-do list fills her head; the ideas buzz there, near to bursting. She slugs down her handful of vitamins and minerals, an attempt to extend a meaningful life, and looks up at the multicolored India-ink drawing of Yama, the Lord of Death, hanging on the wall. His mouth opens wide, regurgitating the world, an endless wheel of compassion and suffering. Maggie stares at it, envious. Right now she wishes–almost, ‘wishes to hell’ but she won’t go that far, not with old Yama looking down on her–still, she wishes she could cough up the rumblings inside her, fling them out once and for all, a magnificent mouthful. The older she gets, the more urgent all this ‘doing’ becomes.  

(From my next book chronicling 17th century New Haven, fictionalizing a kernel from family history. But that’s another story.)

This quote expresses my feeling precisely–overwhelmed! Andrew Croy and Susannah Oswalt (3x great-grandparents) married by 1800. They were first cousins…yep, first cousins. Their fathers married daughters of Alexander Huston. Those fathers, Jacob Croy (see last post) and Jacob Oswalt, came to the part of Ohio now encompassing northeast Carroll County and southwest Stark County. This week I review Jacob Oswalt and Sarah Huston Oswalt and their thirteen children. Consequently, overwhelmed!

I delved into the land purchases in Carroll County in some depth because of my interest in the little town of Morges. The first evidence of Jacob Oswalt is when he registered for S12 T16 R7 on September 24, 1805. Using the Bureau of Land Management records, I discovered that, in 1810, Michael Oswalt (Jacob’s brother) purchased the SE ¼ of that section. The other quarters went to other purchasers. Jacob continued living in Stark/Carroll County, and in 1819 he purchased the NE ¼ of T16 R7 S17, what would one day contain a portion of Morges, Ohio.

By 1820 the Oswalt family was ubiquitous in Stark County. By 1830 the family still lived in Stark County but Jacob Sr. had moved with his son Jacob Jr. to Lexington Township, near Maximo. Jacob Jr. would live his life out there. Son Samuel acquired his father’s property in Rose Township.

Between 1830 and 1840, the Oswalt family dispersed. After his wife’s death, Jacob Sr. headed to Seneca where he purchased land in Big Springs Township and town lots in Springville, and then died in 1836. Back in Rose Township, Carroll County, Samuel worked with neighbor John Waggoner to establish little Morges. Family relations, including Croy, Simonton, Waggoner, and McClish all paid taxes on lots there (as an aside, in correction of an earlier error, Jacob Oswalt who paid Morges taxes was not the patriarch but a son of likely John, possibly Samuel.) But by 1838, most of the family had moved on and Andrew Croy and Samuel Oswalt were delinquent on taxes for their lots.

Was the death of Sarah Huston Oswalt in 1832 a catylst, unraveling family connections, or was it the natural realignment of family connections over time? Was it the lure of land farther west; the Panic of 1837 precipitated by the end of the National Bank and rampant land speculation? We can’t know. The timeline of documentation found below helps tell the story.

While I have all documentation for the narrative that follows, I did not source it here…too much…to long. One thing though, I’ve discovered my grasp of the comings and goings of the Oswalt family (thanks to a helpful cousin much removed) is pretty darn good! So I’m ready for Ohio if Ohio’s ready for me. Before I go, however, the family of Andrew and Susannah Oswalt Croy deserves one more look.

Timeline of Family of Jacob and Sarah Huston Oswalt
1805 Jacob Oswalt, a resident of Columbiana Ct, registers for S12 T16 R7, 24 Sept
1810   Jacob sells/releases ¼ of land to Michael Oswalt
1816-1825 Jacob, Stark County Tax Index
1816 Margaret marries Thomas Graden (Graton) in Stark Ct. on 10 Jan
1818 John marries Hannah Neill in Harrison Ct on 29 Jan
1818 Sarah marries Peter Waggener (Waggoner) in Stark Ct. on 25 Aug
1819 Jacob Sr buys NE1/4 of T16 R7 S17 (later Andrew Croy owns E1/2 SE1/4)
1820 CENSUS Jacob with 3 M and 5 F, John, Sarah wife of Peter Waggoner, Rebecca wife of David Huston census Rose, Stark Ohio; Susannah wife of Andrew Croy Brown, Stark Ct; Margaret wife of Thomas Graden, Ross, Jefferson Ct
1824 Elizabeth marries Thomas Simonton June 1
1825 Thomas Graden husband of Margaret, Tax Records for Ross Township, Jefferson Ct R3 T11 S14
1826-1838 Thomas Graden husband of Margaret, Tax Records (including distillery) for Springfield Township, Jefferson Ct R4 T11 S16
1826-1829 Jacob Sr., Samuel, John, Jacob Jr. Tax records for Land/Personal Prop, Rose Township, Stark Ct
1829 Mary (Polly) married Jacob Shoe in Stark Ct on 14 May
1829 Martha married Daniel Weimer in Stark Ct (Wymer) on 17 Sep
1830 CENSUS Jacob (1M and 1F), Jacob Jr., Lexington, Stark Ct; Joseph, Samuel, John, Susannah of Andrew Croy, Elizabeth of Thomas Simonton Rose Township, Stark Ct; David Huston husband of Rebecca Oswalt Census Brown, Stark Ct: Sarah of Peter Waggoner, Brown, Stark Ct;  Martha of Daniel Weimer Harrison, Stark Ct;  Margaret of Thomas Graden Clinton, Jefferson Ct
1832 Chancery Records Sarah Huston Oswalt, his wife died in Stark County 1832 Listed children in 1834 as John, Samuel of Carroll County, Margaret wife of Thomas Graton of Jefferson County, Martha wife of Daniel Wymer of Seneca Ct in Ohio Sarah wife of Peter Waggoner of Virginia and Joseph, Jacob Jr., Michael, Susanna wife of Andrew Croy on of the heirs of Mary Roberts deceased, Catharine Oswald, Elizabeth wife of Thomas Simonton, Mary wife of Jacob Shoe and Rebecca wife of said defendant David Huston son of Alexander Huston. (matches will)
1832 Jacob Jr. moves to Maximo (Lexington, Stark County, OH
1833-1838 Sons in Morges, Rose Township, Carroll Ct (Jacob’s land now in Samuel’s name)
1833 Michael marries Salome(a) Hergar (Hagar) 24 Jan
1836 Jacob Oswalt will Sept 1836 Seneca County 2 40 acre lots in Big Springs township and town lot in Springville: given to 8 daughters in equal portion. Michael, John, Samuel, Jacob Jr, and Joseph each one dollar. 29 August 1836
1840 CENSUS  Jacob Jr Washington Township, Stark Ct; Rebecca of David Huston Brown, Carroll Ct.; Samuel by sister Margaret wife of Thomas Graden in Jefferson Ct(? Thomas remarried by 1841); Elizabeth wife of Thomas Simonton in Tuscarawas Ct; Mary wife of Jacob Shoe Perry, Wood Ct; Sarah wife of Peter Waggoner Perry Wood Ct; Susannah of Andrew Croy White Eyes, Coshocton Ct; Sarah wife of Peter Waggoner Lewis Ct, Virginia
1850 CENSUS Martha wife of Daniel Weimer (Wymer) Jay, Noble, Indiana (note: child born in Indiana 1845); Jacob Jr Washington Township, Stark Ct; Sarah Oswalt Waggoner Perry, Allen Ct; Rebecca of David Huston, Harrison Ct; Susannah of Andrew Croy, White Eyes, Coshocton Ct;  Michael, Mahaska, Iowa (child born in Iowa in 1846); John, Keokuk, Iowa (child born in Iowa in 1841); Joseph, Wells, Indiana (child born in Indiana 1846)
1853 Joseph, Knottingham, Wells Ct Indiana
1854   Rebecca of Peter Waggoner Land Grant Richland Ct. Wisconsin
1856 John, Iowa census
1860 CENSUS Joseph Knottingham, Wells Ct Indiana; Jacob Jr Washington Township, Stark Ct; Mary of Jacob Shoe Hopewell, Seneca, OH; Martha of Daniel Weimer Lancaster, Keokuk, Iowa;  Michael, of Pleasant Gap, Bates, Missouri (child born in Missouri 1858)
1864   Susannah dies in Carroll Ct (returned from Coshocton after 1850) 26 Oct
1870 CENSUS   Jacob Jr Washington Township, Stark Ct;  Joseph, Wells Ct, Indiana; Michael, Keokuk Ct, Iowa;  Sarah with Peter Wagner (Wagonner) Rockbridge, Richland, Wisconsin
1873 Joseph dies in Wells County, Indiana Aug 11
1876 Michael dies Reed Cemetery, Keokuk County, Iowa 28 Jan
1880  CENSUS  Jacob Jr Washington Township, Stark Ct Maximo PO
1887   Jacob (Jr. 3rd) died, buried Beechwood, Stark County, OH
Catherine, no record except inferred in 1830 census; Elizabeth, no record after 1840; Samuel, no definitive record after 1840; Mary, no record after 1840; Margaret died by 1841 based on new marriage of Thomas Graden; Rebecca, no record after 1855; John, no record after 1856; Martha, no record after 1860; Sarah, no record after 1870 (1880 Peter widowed)

“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