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“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