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.

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