Immigrant Trails to Harrison County

The route from Pennsylvania was usually overland to the vicinity of Pittsburgh and thence by flat-boat or overland following the Ohio, usually on the Kentucky side, to the Falls of the Ohio, Louisville, and thence to Harrison County,.
From Virginia the route was up the Shenandoah Valley to what is now eastern Tennessee, through the Cumberland Gap and over the old Wilderness Road to Louisville or to the mouth of Salt River, thence to Harrison County. The route from North Carolina was northward to Tennessee and over the same trail.

(By E. W. Perrin)

The settlement of Harrison Co. by white people dates back to the beginning of the present century. No special importance attached to the section until the capital of the territory was removed to Corydon. Hitherto, its settlement progressed slowly, much as in other portions of Southern Indiana, but with the location of the capital within its limits an influx of immigration set in such as before unknown. A large proportion of the early settlers were from VA., and North Carolina, with a few from TN. and KY.

A little curious as to the motive which set journeying hither so many people from the States south of the Ohio, investigation develops the fact that with many it was for the purpose of escaping what is termed the “curse of the caste”. Indiana was a territory reposing under the provisions of the famous ordinance of 1787. Not a few of the pioneers have left their record that they sought homes here because the land would never be blemished by Negro slavery, and civil and social distinctions be yielded, only to those who owned “Negroes”. Some of the early settlers brought Negroes with them, but not as slaves, or, if as slaves, they soon freed them in compliance with the ordinance above alluded to. Much the larger portion of the early settlers, however, were such as did not nor would not own slaves. They were mostly poor in worldly wealth, but rich in possibilities. They were ready to endure all the privations of a new country if a home, free, and untrammeled, was the result of their toil.

Among the early settlers of the county who names have been rescued from oblivion are; “first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts his countrymen” Gen. William Henry Harrison; and Gen. Thomas Posey, Jonathan Jennings, Squire Boone, and his sons Isaiah, Enoch, Moses and Jonathan, and 5 nephews: Henry Heth, William Branham, Thomas Smith, Laurence Black, John Hickman, Isaac Richardson, Laurence Bell, William Sands, Benijah Brown, Christopher Fort, Patrick Shields, John G. Pfriener, George F. Pope, John Keller, Capt. Brice, Peter Copperas, Spier Spencer, Dennis Pennington, John Smith, William Nance, George Gresham, George Crutchfield, Henry Rice, Reuben Wright, Jacob Conrad, Eli Wright, William Vest, Isaac V. Buskirk, James Shields, Pearce Chamberlain, Joseph Decker, Sanford Randsall, Robert Cochran, Sack Pennington, George Given, Edward Smith, Richard McMahon, Andrew Johnson, John Dawson, Paul French, Benjamin Brown, Jacob Richardson, Hays McCallen, Edward Ransdell, Bennett Wood, Joseph Latta, Peter McMickle, Richard Arnold, James Stephens, Ignatius Abel, John Sturgeon, Jacob Yountzler, Joseph Nelow, Robert Rusk, George Tenor, John Harbison, Henry Wireau, Wm. Liedley, John Hurst, George Arnold, Joseph Mackfield, Jacob Miller, John Beck, Tice Light, etc, etc…..

Many other names might be given, but these are deemed sufficient to show who were the pioneer’s. Many of them still have descendants in the county.

Gen. William Henry Harrison was the most prominent citizen of Harrison Co. and one of the eminent men of the Union. He was born in Charles Co. Va. Feb. 9, 1773, and was a son of Benjamin Harrison, a man of considerable prominence in Virginian affairs; Speaker of the House of Burgesses in 1764, and1777-82; a member of the general congress 1774-77; one of the signers of the Declaration of independence and Governor of VA., in 1782-85. William Henry received a liberal education, graduating from Hampden-SidneyCollege, which he had entered with a view of adopting the medical profession. In 1791 he became and ensign in the army, and the next year a lieutenant on Gen. Wayne’s staff. He was promoted Captain in 1795, and made commander at Fort Washington, now Cincinnati. In 1797-98, he served as secretary of the Northwest Territory, although but a few years past his majority, and in 1799 was its delegate in the Congress of the United States. He was Governor of the Indiana territory from 1801 to 1813, and superintendent of Indian affairs, and as such, concluded 13 important treaties and gained the battle at Tippecanoe,Nov. 7, 1811.Ky. made him a major General of her militia in 1812, while the Federal Government made him a Brigadier General in the regular army, and the next year (1813). He left the army in 1814, and was employed by the government in Indian

Affairs until 1816 when he was elected a member of Congress from Ohio, having removed tot hat State, serving until 1819, and State Senator 2 years from that date; in 1825 he was elected to the united States Minister to Columbia in 1828-29, after which he retired to his farm at North Bend, Ohio, 16 miles below Cincinnati; and Cincinnatus-like betook himself the plow. He was elected to the presidency in 1840, over Martin Van Buren, receiving 234 electoral votes to Mr. Van Buren’s 60. The election was one of the most exciting ever held in the Republic up to that time. The battle-cry of “Log Cabin & Hard Cider” referring to statements of his adversaries as to his home and his favorite beverage, were effectively used by the Whigs, the party to which General belonged, and carried him to an overwhelming victory. These are some of the public services of General Harrison; and the fact that is the grandfather of the present President detracts nothing from his name or fame. He died Apr. 4th, 1841, just 1 month from the day of his inauguration as President. Many local incidents of the life of General Harrison are given in Harrison Co. which was named for him, showing how absolutely he was a man of the people.

Gen. Posey & Gov. Jennings were not permanent citizens of the county, but merely residents during their official careers. Their history can scarcely be said to belong in the history of Harrison Co. They were men of intelligence and patriotism, and the virtues of each are perpetuated by a county in the state, bearing their names. The following publication in a newspaper in Oct. 1888, referring to Gov. Jennings, should find an echo in every patriotic heart, and is not out of place in this sketch:

“At the next session of the Indiana Legislature a vigorous effort will be made to have the Assembly pas an act appropriating a sufficient amount of money to erect a suitable monument over the grave of Jonathan Jennings, the first Governor of the State. The body now lies interred in an abandoned little graveyard at Charlestown without stone or slab to indicate the location. The mound has long since disappeared, and it is hardly probable that there is any one now living who can point out the exact spot where the bones of the first executive of one of the chief States in the Union now lie.

At one time, the cemetery was little better than an open commons, and hogs, cattle and fowls roamed at will over the grounds. Of late years a fence has been placed around the place and the weeds kept in bounds. Although a spot at present but little resembles a home of the dead, it is still kept sacred, and but a few people are allowed to sojourn in the town any length of time without being reminded that Gov. Jennings lies buried there.

Many efforts have been made to obtain by private subscription, the needed funds to erect a marble shaft, but nothing ever resulted from the attempts. It is not expected that any costly pillar will be placed at the head of the grave, but is thought that the State should have sufficient pride to expend a few hundred dollars for the purpose. It this is not done, in the course of a few generations it will not be known to the general mass of people of the State, who the first Governor of it was. As it is, at the present, there are thousands of persons who could not answer the question if it was propounded to them, or tell where his remains are interred.

Gov. Jennings has been dead 54 years, and with the death of each pioneer his memory passes that far out of recollection. Besides holding the highest office of the State, Gov. Jennings was Grandmaster of the Order of Free masons, from Oct. 1823-to Oct. 1826, and it has recently been suggested that this fraternity should use its influence to carry out the contemplated action.

Early Settlers

Who were some of the settlers coming to Harrison County from these states? Squire Boone came from Rowan. County, N. Carolina about 1802 following his brother, Daniel, who had made extended hunting trips into what was later to become Harrison County. with little doubt, he followed his brother a trail which later became the Wilderness Road.

Jacob and John Lopp, who lived in the vicinity of the Boones in Rowan County, followed Squire Boone in 1807 - 08. They entered land on 6/10/1807, evidently returned to N. Carolina, and returned to Harrison County with their families in 1808.

Catherine Bierly Beanblossom and her six sons, her brother John Bierly  later spelled Byerly by some branches of the family, and John Frank; neighbors of the Lopps followed them in 1811.

David Ham from Rowan County came via Kentucky and/or Tennessee in 1814 Daniel McRae came from near Wilimington, N. Carolina, in 1814.

John Kepley, the founder of New Salisbury, came from Rowan County at a later date.

James Bean came from Burke County, N. Carolina, via Franklin County, Term., where he married Sallie Littell, to the county about 1816.

Jacob Conrad Sr. and Henry Stonecypher (Heinrick Steinsifert) left Washington County, Pa. about 1790 and first settled at the mouth of Bear Grass Creek in Jefferson Co., Ky. About 1805, the Stonecypher family removed to Clark Co., Ind., where several of the children were married, and thence to Harrison County. The Conrad family also reached the county, exact date unknown.

John Shuck left Northumberland Co., Pa. about 1795 and removed to Washington Co,, Ky. Three sons; Philip, Christopher and George Sr. and one daughter, Rozann who married Daniel Venner, came to the county prior to 1810. They were listed as residents of the county when their father's estate was settled in Washington County in that year.

Garrett and William Applegate came from Allegheny and Washington Counties, Pa. about 1816.

Richard McMahon came from Pennsylvania in 1806. His daughter, Rosannah who married Joel Wright, is said to have been the first white child born in Harrison County.

Others from Pa. were: James Hays in 1808, John Zenor in 1808, John Simler in 1809, and Samuel Current in 1815. Charles Reader and Jacob Stockslager came at a later date.

Perhaps the greatest number of Harrison County families came from  Virginia, many of them from Shenandoah County. Most of these were of German origin, some of whom were probably descendants of Hessian soldiers. There was a large Hess­ian prison camp near Winchester, Va. where many prisoners were supposed to be interned however, since these men had no interest in continuing resistance against the Colonies, they were allowed unusual freedom and privileges. They became acquainted with local girls and after the War remained in America, married and became the progenitors of many prominent families. Some Harrison County families from Shenandoah County, Hessian descendants or otherwise were:

Polly Hammon Casner (Kesner) came with her family about 1816, via Tennessee, where her husband died in 1810. She married Peter Vandeventer in Tenn, in 1811 and he too came to the county.

Ephriam Fleshman came in 1806. He was buried in a small cemetery not far from the bank of the Ohio River about half way between Morvin's Landing and the mouth of Buck Creek. I have been told by what I believe to be a reliable source,. that a former owner of the. land paid a resident of Mauckport  $5.00 to remove the three stones in a skiff during one of the floods and drop them: in the river channel.

Moses Funkhouser came in 1808, Jacob Doll in 1817, John Mauck in 1813, some say as early as 1808-09 but this seems incorrect, Jacob Sherman. in 1824, and John Fravel in  1824.

Others were; Jacob Haas, Philip P. Sonner, John Pitman, William Gwartney and the Wiseman family.

Thomas Smith came from Frederick County, Va. in 1807 and Amos Brandenburg in 1816.

Robert Shields, the progenitor of the Shields family in Harrison County removed from Rockingham Co., Va. to Sevier Co., Tenn, in 1784. Jesse Shields, his youngest child, married. in Sevier Co. and came to the county in 1807. Robert's, daughter, Janet, married John Tipton and they also came in 1807. Others from Virginia, county unknown were; Reuben Littell in 1817 and William Woodward in 1845. Benjamin Borden and James Shrigley came at a later date.

Adam Croiser, Anthony Dodds, Adam Douglas and others came from New York state in 1816 and settled near Lacona.

Libraries are another source of information. The Corydon Library has other books in addition to those mentioned above. They also have the 120 census of Indiana. Here the heads of families are listed alphabetically with the county residence together with the number of males and females in various age groups. This is not too much help but it will show whether or not  your ancestor was in the county prior to this and also show the total number of children in the family. The 1830 & 1840 census gives about the same thing. However, starting in 1850, the census gives the name of each member of the family, their age and place of birth. The New Albany Library has microfilm copies of these census records for many Indiana counties. The attendant told me they had all from 1830-1880, the latest released, for all counties south of Indianapolis. I know they also have records for some of the northern counties. These records are most helpful in establishing the names of all members of a family with the year and place of birth. The Indiana State Library and the Fort Wayne Library, said to be the second best genealogical, library in the country, also have valuable information. The Filson Club Library in Louisville has very good Kentucky records if any of your ancestors lived in that state. They also have several books on the thirteen original colonies. The Kentucky Library, located on the campus of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, also has excellent Kentucky records. The Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Library in Salt Lake City is the best genealogical library in the country and possibly in the world. I am told that they have a card file containing thousands, perhaps millions of names. When a Mormon child starts to school, he must bring a chart showing four generations of his family on both his father's and mother's side. For a small fee, they will search this file for any name in which you are interested. They will not do any extensive research but if they find your name, they will send you a list of names of people who will do this work.

All of the above work is directed towards finding the names of your ancestors and where they lived. However, if you want a complete family history, you will probably have to visit the counties where they have lived and search the records there or have someone do it for you. What records are available at the county courthouses and what should you look for? Records differ slightly from county to county and state to state. However, in general, the same information will be found in any county although perhaps under another name and in a different place. So let us use Harrison County as an example, the one with which I am most familiar.

Perhaps the most interesting and most used record is the marriage records. These are recorded in a series of books starting in 1809 and continuing to the present time. We have been particularly fortunate, in this county that none of our records have been destroyed by fire, floods or other disasters as has been the case in many countries. Many courthouses were burned during the Civil War with the loss of many records. Others have burned inadvertently or records have boon lost by floods.

Early marriage records are quite different from what we know today. As recorded they give the name of the groom and bride, date of license consent given by ---- if either was not of age, and the return showing actual date of marriage and by whom performed. No printed license forms were available in the early days out were written longhand on slips of paper  this was scarce then, as were the returns also,

 A typical example follows:

To anyone authorized to perform marriages:
You are required by law to join together in the Holy state of Matrimony- John Smith and Mary Jones
and this shall be your authority for so doing. Dated this 2nd day of March in the year of our Lord 1810.

Robert Brown, Clerk of H.C.

Many of those slips may be found in file boxes stored in the east vault on the first floor of the courthouse. If you are lucky, you may also find the consent form showing the name and the relationship of the person giving consent for the marriage.

As time went by, books with printed forms became available and still later a witness form was added. However, many of these were never used, ln some cases, the father or brother signed these forms and this gives valuable information. At a still later date, about 1880, an application form was added giving the name of the parents, age of groom, etc. However, this was a separate form not bound in the book so that many have been lost but if available, they too will be found in the boxes mentioned above. Beginning about 1809 ,these applications were pasted in the book with the license and later they become a part  of the printed forms in the book. Thus, one can readily see that the amount of family information to be obtained from these marriage records depends upon the date of marriage.

Wills are also an important record. These are also recorded in books, each of which is indexed. These sometimes gives the name of the wife and each of the children and this gives a good family record. However, many wills simply states that the property "be equally divided among  children” some  times giving the number, i.e. “among my four children”. Unfortunately, many people died living  no will. However, estates had to be settled, especially if there were minor children These “estate settlements" are stored in boxes and indexed
in a book marked "Probate". These give the value of the estate, administrator and his final settlement. in several cases with which I am familiar, the administrator took what was left after, paying all debts as payment for his services. This record sometimes contain a list of heirs but most times not. Search of these records requires a lot of patience to scan each bit of paper to determine if they contain any information of value.

Records of civil, action in the Court are perhaps not one to which a person would turn when seeking genealogical information but they are often important. This is especially true where a person died without leaving a will and the heirs cannot decide on a division of the estate. In this case, the administrator or one of the heirs will sue the remaining heirs and the matter will be settled by the Court. Records of the case will name all heirs, perhaps on a subpoena summoning them to court. Another is where there is not enough cash on hand or derived from the sale of personal property to pay all debts and the administrator must sell some real estate to get additional money. In this case, he petitions the Court for permission to sell and names each of the heirs. These records are recorded in books arid file boxes with an index in a book marked, "Civil”.

Other records includes guardianship bonds and proceedings dealing with orphans. All of the above will be found in the Clerks office or vault adjoining.

Records under the jurisdiction of the Recorder are land or real estate transactions, mortgages and soldiers discharge papers. The earliest land transact-ions are recorded in the “Tract Book” and shows the first owners of each piece of land as purchased from the land offices at Vincennes or Jeffersonville. These are listed by section in each of the townships and unless you know the section or at least the township, finding the name of your ancestor may be rather difficult. Fortunately, however, Youth Corps workers under the direction of hr. Fred Griffin, indexed this book by name in 1971. A copy of this index is in the Corydon Library. Deeds are recorded in books and indexed under Grantor (seller) and Grantee (Buyer). These records are useful in several ways. Sometimes a person purchased land before moving to the county and his place of :residence at that time will be given. Also people sometimes loft the county before selling their land and the deed will often show the county and state to which he moved. These deeds will also give some indication of when a person came to the county since they usually purchased land just before or soon after coming. At the very least, it proves that a person was in the county at a given time. However, little family information can be gained from deeds. The given name of the wife is sometimes stated and if the deed is to one of the same surname, one may assume that it is a son. However, this can not be certain unless other records prove that there was a son of this name. If you are interested in tracing a certain piece of land, look in the tract book and obtain the name of the original owner. Then look for this name in the Grantor index book to see when and to whom sold, the grantee. Then look for this second name in the Grantor index to determine when and to whom sold., Continue this process to the present time.

Your ancestors probably lived in several counties in several, states. From the above you will see the various records which must be searched in each of these counties. This is not a short or easy task and may take years. to complete depending on the time you have to spend on it. But it is a rewarding task! Not only will you have a family history of which you can be proud and enjoy but you will , also have the satisfaction of having done something well worth leaving to your posterity. This is most rewarding, at least I have found it so. I hope the above will make your task a little easier.

Written by Walter S. Beanblossom

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