Saturday, April 05, 2014

Ohio Migrations to Brown County

Otho H. Roberts and Rebecca Pittman-Roberts

There's always something I've wondered about, but there hasn't been much written on the story. Why was there such a mass migration, or at least it seems so, of Ohio natives to Brown County, Indiana? Our county started out at a very early time in our state's history becoming a county in 1836. During that time a great influx of pioneers came in from the southern states such as Kentucky and Tennessee. There seemed to be a still period afterwards where these pioneers settled down, started a new government, created communities, and developed their land into something that could sustain their families. Then the Civil War came and went and Brown County citizens lended their support. Then all of a sudden another mass migration followed from eastern Ohio counties. What triggered this new mass migration? I know there are histories of that time talking about migration routes and stories of individual families that moved here. That still doesn't answer the question, "Why?"

Doing a search on Google there are a lot of short references to the Ohio migrations in the late 19th century. There are stories of migration routes such as the National Road and the Ohio River. Is there anything else written on the subject about why and what triggered this sudden migration. At least is seems like it all occurred within a short time span. By the end of the 1800s Brown County's native population seemed to be split almost entirely down the middle with half from Kentucky who came in the early 1800s and the other half from Ohio who came in the late 1800s. It seems to me that this would be a good story to tell. Nearly all of the Ohio immigrants came from the eastern counties of Brown, Belmont, Monroe, Washington, and Noble Counties. These counties that are along the Ohio River it's not too hard to imagine that the Ohio River was the main route of transport. But then why would they get off in Indiana and head straight for little, hilly Brown County? Some stories say that Brown County looked more like their old home with the hills and valleys. The terrain can be rough though and farming mainly contained in the more fertile valley soils. Some of my family names that came from these regions are Pittman, Roberts, Reeves, Truex, Skinner, Hoover, and Clark. This doesn't count all the Ohio natives that these families married into and lived next to. They all seemed to move together in a mass. Possibly studying old newspaper accounts would be helpful too.

If anyone can recommend a good historical account of this migration period please post your comment.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Double Enumeration on the Census?

What can you do with a double enumeration? The first thing you need to do is determine if it is actually a double enumeration. Double enumerations are rare, but they do happen. Actually I’ve come across several. What are some of the reasons a family may be enumerated more than once? First thing you look at is the date the enumeration took place. The family could have been enumerated in the two places during the time that they moved from one place to another. I’ve seen where it seems that the enumerator might have made a trip around an area and he might have even crossed over a path that he took the enumeration before. Then there is the instance where the family has a lot of other family in the area and they gave the information to the enumerator even though the family lived in another location. So they were enumerated in their home town and also in their new location even though they may not have moved for some time.

Let’s look at my Reeves family. This is the first enumeration of the Abel Reeves family. They were enumerated on August 11, 1870 by W. B. Creekmore.
1870 Whitley County, Kentucky – Louden Precinct, Meadow Creek, page 2.
Abel Reeves age 35
Martha J. age 30
Anderson age 7
C. C. age 4
G. W. age 2

The second enumeration was done on August 15, 1870 by W. B. Creekmore.
1870 Whitley County, Kentucky – Louden Precinct, Meadow Creek, page 14.
Abel Reeves age 34
Jane age 34
Doctor age 7
Richard age 3
George age 1

Both families were counted by the same man only on different days. How do you know that they aren’t two different families? They had the same amount of people in their family and the ages were very close. The only difference seems to be some of their names. Studying the area of Whitley County one can see that the Reeves family is not a plentiful family line here, and the name Abel is very unusual. Martha J. could be the Jane in the second count. The infant G. W. could be George in the second count and more than likely is George Washington, a very popular name in those days.

Studying the family’s neighbors more closely also gives some clues. In the first enumeration their neighbors are a John Reeves age 35, probably a brother. On down the page is a G. W. Reeves age 60, possibly their father. In the second enumeration the neighbors are different, but there is a clue here as well. Knowing the Abel Reeves family history his wife’s maiden name was found to be Hill from their marriage record. The neighbors on this page shows two other families, one is a John Hill age 64 which is more than likely Martha Jane’s father. The other is a William Hill age 44 possibly a brother. So comparing all this information it appears that the information given on one of the Abel Reeves families was by someone outside their immediate family. There is also the possibility that they might have moved in this short time span of four days, or were in the process of moving.

We can study the family further. Finding the correct names for the children it is found that the Reeves family liked to name their children after famous historical figures or important community members. The children’s’ names were: Anderson Barton Reeves, Christopher Columbus Reeves, and George Washington Reeves. The later children were John S. Reeves, William M. Reeves, and Doctor S. Calvin Reeves. I’m currently trying to find out who the later children were named after. The last child’s name was actually Doctor, it wasn’t a title. He could have been named after a family doctor that might have delivered the Reeves children. Can you think of other reasons a family might have been counted twice?

Anderson B. Reeves

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ordering Military Records May be Daunting

Local Brown County WW1 Veterans: Hershel Moberly - front 3rd from left, back row - Dan Lucas, Ben Morris, Charles Swift

We recently held one of our Genealogical Society meetings at our local Veterans Services building. When I called to ask if we could hold our meeting there we got a quick and positive response back that we were very welcome, and they would also like to attend the meeting. Our local Veterans Service officer, I’ll call him Mr. H, receives a lot of requests for genealogical help on Veteran ancestors. Mr. H. doesn’t know how to help them when it comes to doing genealogy, but he is of immense help when it comes to maneuvering through government bureaucracy. They are experts at handling requests for service records, pension records, and veterans’ benefits. The two former items are what we genealogists work with the most when it comes to doing research on our veteran family member.

Many of us that use the internet everyday have become experts at finding these records ourselves. There are those, although, that are still not completely internet savvy to do it themselves. That’s where we need an expert to help us wade through all the paperwork that is required to get those records. I, myself have ordered half a dozen pension files and service records on many of my family members that served their country.

All the while I am still trying to connect the paperwork back to each individual to prove my lineage to these soldiers. I’ll name some of the ones here that I have found in my family lines that were in service for their country.

Revolutionary War: Lawrence Conner, Edward Pedigo/Peregoy, John Booth, Peter Kinder
War of 1812: John Wiginton, William Roberts
Civil War: George Monroe Dunn, Claborn Brown, Eli Brown

These are just the ones in my straight line back that I have gotten records for. I have also collected the records for lateral lines such as brothers to my maternal lines. These records have been invaluable in helping to find new information on my family that could not be found anywhere else. If you have trouble finding these records on your own please pay a visit to your local veterans services, they can help.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Freeman Orchard Homestead Research

Freeman Homestead 1947 (Frank Hohenberger photo)

One of the types of jobs we do at the Brown County Historical Society Archives is to help homeowners do research on their old houses or land. It’s not typically genealogical research, but you apply the same principles and methods. The only difference being is that you have different types of documentation to look for to determine the age of the aged structure or names of the first land owners. Most of my helpers are acquainted with where to start, but one of my hens (as we like to call each other) has very good skills in land/house research.

We were approached recently by a couple that had fallen in love with an old homestead that used to be part of the Freeman Orchard. They had visited us earlier this summer and tried to buy the house, but were outbid in the Estate sale. Fortunately for them the bidder turned around later and put it up for sale again. This time they lucked out and got their dream home. If you want to do research on your old home and don’t know where to begin then one of the best places to try first is your local historical society. If they don’t have info on your individual house then at least they can show you how to get started. I was able to give this couple one of our county’s “Interim Report” that was published by the Historic Landmarks Foundation. These should be available in most counties in Indiana. It is a detailed list of all the old homesteads and other historic structures with a brief description and an age of the structure. This book is a good starting point to see if your home is on this list.

There are a lot of sources out there that anyone can start with to do their own research. The first and easiest is to do whatever research you can on the internet. You can follow some of the examples that my lead researcher found. First there were a couple of mentions in two different stories, then a digital image of the house was found, and finally she mentions an on-line County database that anyone can access.

Reference Links:
1. A Google books search found a “1908 State Geologist Report” that mentions two orchards in Brown County, one being Freeman Orchard in its heyday.
2. An article in an on-line version of “Our Brown County” mentions Freeman Orchard.
3. The Lilly library in Bloomington, Indiana has on-line digital images of Frank Hohenberger’s photos from the early part of the 1900s, one of those was the old homestead on Freeman Orchard in 1947.

There is a database that is accessible on-line from our county government where you can access Property Cards of the land and homes in Brown County. I’m sure a lot of counties probably have these on-line now to be accessible by the public. This is the gist of the report my volunteer found. “The property record card states that the current dwelling was built in 1948, it is my opinion that the original structure was largely gutted and rebuilt at that time, leaving very little of the original structure, thus giving the effective construction date of the dwelling a 1948 date. The dwelling was reconstructed to maintain the same appearance. Need to do some research at the County office building regarding the construction.” As you can see there are more records that can be accessed on-site at the county level. I e-mailed our couple and gave them some more places they could look into. I also told them to examine their house to see if any of the original house structural items seem to be part of the original wood structure. Here are a few of other items that can be looked into for further research at the County level.
Abstract of Title
Property Card
Deed Records
Building Permit Records
Tax Duplicate Books

View from Freeman Ridge towards Bean Blossom (Frank Hohenberger photo)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Restoring our Grand Old Courthouse

"In 1873 during a session of the Circuit Court the courthouse burned almost to the ground. Many valuable county records were destroyed, but certain records were saved. In June of 1874 a contract for rebuilding the brick courthouse on the ruins of the old foundation and a part of the walls, was given to McCormack and Sweeney for $9000. The building is two stories high with the court and jury rooms above and the county offices on the first floor. Two iron stairways on the outside, over the front entrance, lead directly to the second floor. This courthouse still serves the county." (from 'History and Families - Brown County, Indiana 1837-1990')

In the past year our Archives has had more research requests on this topic. There are plans to have our old courthouse renovated and an addition added for more space for county offices. This is one of the types of research requests we receive occasionally. I'm glad that architects, contractors, and even county employees take an interest in preserving these grand old structures. They need maintenance and sometimes an overhaul - wood deteriorates, plaster falls, and bricks crack. Sometimes it takes a little more than an extra nail to hold it together. Our courthouse has been in use for 139 years and hopefully it will go on for many more years.

So I've put my volunteers to the task of collecting any and everything that we can find on the history of the courthouse. Our material has been scattered in books, county records, and photographs. For a good Archive to be useful it must not only gather data to preserve it, but sometimes we must put all this data together in a way so that it can be put to use by the average individual. That might include putting a file together, writing a synopsis, making a timeline (as in genealogy), or even publishing a book on the topic.

Of course, there have been problems with cost and public protests, but hopefully it will be successful in the following year. I don't want to get on my soapbox, but I believe that this grand old building needs to be preserved. I've seen the sadness of a once grand old structure fall into disrepair. We don't need to abandon it and build a new one. Many old courthouses are still in use today, so let's keep ours too.

Judge's Bench

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Mexican War and the Brown County Blues

Decoration Day Parade in 1900

When there was a dispute with Mexico over the boundary of the new state of Texas, Congress voted men and money to go and settle the United States’ claim that the southwest boundary of the new state was the Rio Grande River. On May 18, 1846 President James K. Polk called for troops to carry on a war with Mexico. As always men from Brown County responded to the call for men. Our boys fought in the famous battles of Palo Alto, Buena Vista, Vera Cruz, and Chapultepec. By September 14, 1847 General Winfield Scott entered Mexico City and the war was at an end. Not only was the boundary settled, but we gained California, New Mexico and other parts of the southwest.

The Brown County men that stepped forward to raise a company of soldiers were James Taggart Jr., Thomas M. Adams, Patterson C. Parker, Williamson Wise, and Charles Bolt. A meeting was held at Georgetown and Nashville to enlist volunteers. James Taggart was elected Captain, Thomas M. Adams was First Lieutenant, Patterson C. Parker was Second Lieutenant, and Williamson Wise was Third Lieutenant. The company was assigned to the Third Indiana Regiment. The Brown County boys had already bought bright bluejeans for uniforms and the company was known as the “Brown County Blues” throughout the war.

There’s a story told down through the years of the death of Captain James Taggart on the battlefield. Captain Taggart received a mortal wound from a carbine ball. Stephen Kennedy who was near him picked him up and carried his captain into a deep ravine and remained with him to hear his last words. “Tell my folks to meet me in the good world. Be a good soldier, Kennedy. Go on to your company.” Captain Taggart lies buried on the battlefield where he died a soldier’s death.

Old Settlers Reunion in 1891 - Many were Veterans

Roster of Company E - Officers.: James Taggart Jr., Thomas M. Adams, Patterson C. Parker, Williamson Wise, Charles Bolt, Aaron D. Hedge, James Arwine, Joshua Janklles, Mason Watts, Lazarus Robertson, William S. Roberts, Isaac Lamsel, George Admire, Elias Weddle, John Calvin, Benjamin R. Kelley, Joshua Brummett, William Hamblen, and Thomas S. Calvin.

Privates: Joseph G. Arter, Charles Adams, Joshua Brummet Jr., James Brown, Reese Brummett, Caleb Bidwell, John Bolt, Thomas I. Breedlove, James Burns, John Calvin, George Comingore, Benjamin Callahan, Hanson Chase, Harmonious Cooley, George W. David, George W. Davis, William Davis, Stephen Debord, Joseph Fox, Cornelius Followell, Stephen Fread, Frederick Fleener, John Followell, Lewis Followell, Richard Goforth, Elijah Graham, John Gibson, Harrison Graham, David Hamblen, William Hatchet, William Hoover, Simeon Hubbard, Levi Hatton, Elisha Henley, William Hughes, Ephraim Hurley, Joshua Jackson, James Jackson, Stephen Kennedy, John H. Kennedy, Daniel King, Doherty, Logston, Abraham Lawless, Richard Lucas, Brackenridge Mason, Robert Marshall, Mathew Mathis, Alfred McGuire, George McKinney, Silas Morety, Martin Percifield, Philip Pike, Zachariah Polley, Misinor, Percifield, Hiram Reynolds, Joseph Robertson, John Robertson, William Robertson, William H. Raper, Alex Sturgeon, John L. Sumana (or Summa), Daniel Schrougham, James Shelton, ‘Squire’ Stewart, Henry Sipes, Lewis Tull, James W. Taggart, Mathew Wise, Theodore Whitney, Lewis Waggoner, William E. Weddle, and John Wilkins.

Benjamin R. Kelley who served in the war named these additional soldiers in his Day Book: John Brummett, Abraham Lollar , Lawrence Robertson, John Surrey, Stephen Fore, and Charles Roatt. Names gleaned from other sources were: George W. Marshall, John S. Kephart, and William H. McCarty.

Some of the above names may have been repeated due to differences in spelling found. If anyone can add to this list please let us know so we can add their names to our list of Mexican War soldiers who served from Brown County or later moved to Brown County.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Historic 1913 Flood - Where Was Your Ancestor?

Brown County in the 1913 Flood

I just realized I’ve been putting myself through an education not realizing what was occurring. When I became Archivist for our little local historical society I found there is so much more to historical documentation than just birth, death, and marriage records. I think as genealogists we are constantly looking for that new type of documentation that we had never known about before. There is a world of documents that have been created by governments, churches, and organizations that are endless. Even in a small community such as mine, our Archives is full of stories, and data that can be used to fill out a story, about your ancestor. This event or story was a part of their life!

Just watching the nasty weather this evening occurring here in Indiana brought to mind this topic for a blog post. Earlier this month I did a story on the 100th Anniversary of the 1913 Flood in Indiana. Doing research on the topic in our Archives and on-line I found gads of photos from all over the state. This brought to mind the term “historical context” again. Sometimes we get so involved in trying to find those dates that we forget that our ancestor lived during these historical events.

Martinsville in the 1913 Flood

I usually concentrate my research on Brown County, but my family lived in many parts of Indiana. The one photo that grabbed my attention was the flooding that occurred in Martinsville, Indiana. That date of 1913 stuck on my brain – Martinsville in the spring of 1913 – what happened then? It came back to me then. My 2nd great granduncle that I’ve been researching lived in Martinsville at that time. Wow, sudden realization, George Washington Brown was living in Martinsville in the 1910s (he died in 1915). He would have been 77 years old at the time of the flood. The homes and flooding in the photo is what his town looked like during that time period. Then I got to thinking, how did he handle this disaster especially at 77 years old? His wife, Rebecca Ann, would have been about 61 years old. They had living with them a grand daughter, Jessie Odetta, about age 8. They also had a son, George Washington Brown Jr. and his family living in the same town.

How did his family fare in the flood? Was he able to make it to his parents to see if they were okay? Many questions arise. What would be the next course of action if one wanted to check on these people at that time? Probably the next best thing would be to look at the old newspaper accounts. Our local newspaper had a pretty good story about the problems and heroic acts that occurred at the time in Brown County. This would be a great personal research project for any family historian. Look at major events that occurred during your ancestor’s lifetime. See if you can find someway to find the story, if not about your personal ancestor then maybe about the community they lived in or some of their neighbors. Okay, time for a research trip to Martinsville, Morgan County, Indiana.