26 November 2014

Overland To Michigan In 1846

Did you ever wonder about the experiences of a traveler from the Atlantic coast "west" (in this case "west" was Michigan)? There was a narrative found in Michigan History, Volume 5 (see below):

...meadows or slowly moving down the dusty country road a little cavalcade of covered wagons carriages and horseback riders--men women and children--'out on the sunset road' journeying west to Michigan.

Wagon that went even further west

I notice that wages are low and that even here (on way to Michigan) the people talk of 'going west.'

On...journeying Michigan. As the old man recalls the months of preparation preceding their departure,--the planning, the packing, the baking, the choosing of taverns and overland routes,-- he remembers the newspapers of the day with their marvelous stories of the West and the letters from enthusiastic relatives and friends... .

...we started afoot to Michigan.

...there is the best road in the world from Sandusky to Woodville crosses Portage river and ends at Perrysburg two miles from Maumee city.  

We were at Huffs two days (White Pigeon).  He says it cost him $50.00 to come west. [Huff was a blacksmith once employed by Alex Silliman].  White Pigeon is on the cash system but there is a hard set of shavers here who will stand an hour for half a cent and they are not...keeping the Sabbath, but you can buy goods as cheap as you can at Milton.  Coats made for four dollars, Kentucky jeans, $3.00 and $3.50,--vests and pantaloons, $1.50 to $2.00.  Rents are high,--50 to 60 per yr for a little story and a half house, 16 x 20 and not finished at that.

Land is cheap:  three dollars per acre for unimproved land.  

25 November 2014

The Capture Of David Bell

 Excerpts of the incident were incorporated in an article about David's son, Horace Bell, which was published in the Los Angeles Herald on 16 November 1901 (as well as other sources).

Louisville, KY, Area

In the 1820's David Bell bought land in Harrison County, Indiana, on the Ohio River.  It was thought that the Bells assisted in the escape of fugitive slaves.

"...he [Charles, a slave] was not in the blacksmith shop in Brandenburg, the cry was raised that he had run away. It happened that on the same Saturday starting early the elder Bell [David] rode on horseback across the country to New Albany and thence by ferry to Louisville for the purpose of cashing a draft... .  On his journey back on Monday...he was met by a party of Kentuckians or slave hunters...hunting for the missing blacksmith. They stopped the old man and proceeded to ask him where he had been and for what.  He returned the curt answer, "It is none of your business."' [Source]

"...a body of armed men surrounded the Bell house at night and carried Mr. Bell and his son, Charles...off to the Brandenburg, Kentucky, jail."

On 25 November the grand jury of Meade County, Kentucky, returned 6 indictments against David J. Bell, Charles A. Bell and Oswald Wright:


People on the Indiana side of the river became indignant and a border war was threatened. Homes of other Indiana men were invaded by the Kentucky mob, and finally a company of 500 men organized under the command of Colonel William C. Marsh, with the intention of capturing the town of Brandenburg, and setting the prisoners free.

That rescue fizzled; another plan was in the works.

24 November 2014

Johnstons From Peterborough

John Johnston, son of William and Catherine (Reynolds) Johnston was my great-grandmother's (Anna Cameron) first husband.  He and Anna were married in Roscommon County, Michigan, but moved to Arenac County where John Johnston died.

Death Record, Arenac Co., MI, Book 2 - Rec. #622 - d. May 16, 1896, John H. Johnston, m/w/married, age 46y 27d; Place of Death:  Deep River Twp.; Inflammation of the Lungs; b. Canada; farming; Parents:  William and Catherine Johnston, both of Canada.  Date of Record: 21 May 1897.

My great-aunt, Blanche (Johnston) Stout (1895 - 1990), was the youngest child of John and Anna (Cameron) Johnston.


Many of the Johnston siblings moved to Michigan and settled in the rural Roscommon County, Michigan.  Their vital records provided pieces of the puzzle determining where the Johnston children were born [Smith Township, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada) and their mother's (Catherine's) maiden name [Reynolds].  Probably all of the Johnston children were born in Peterborough county, but not necessarily in Smith Township.

Additional (and corroborating) information was found perusing the Roscommon newspapers.  For example:

8 December 1893
John Johnston, of Sterling [Arenac County], was in the village [of Roscommon] during the week and while here purchased a fine mare from his brother Alex.

An historical publication also helped:

The father [William Johnston] of our subject [also William Johnston Clerk of Roscommon County]...was born near Peterborough, Canada, in 1841, being a son of William Johnston, a native of Ireland, who in early life emigrated to Canada, and, settling on a farm near Peterborough, continued to make his home there until his death.

Census Year: 1851
Surname: Johnson
Province: Canada West (Ontario)
District Name: Peterborough (county)
Sub-District Name: Otonabee

Source [1851 Canadian Census]

William Johnson, Farmer, b. Ireland, 35 years old
Mrs. Johnson, b. Ireland, 34 years old
Martha Johnson, b. Canada, 15 years old
William Johnson, b. Canada, 13 years old
Margaret Johnson, b. Canada, 5 years old
John Johnson, b. Canada, 1 year old

Source [1861 Canadian Census]
1861 Census
Township of Smith, Peterborough, Ontario [Canada West]

William Johnson, farmer, b. Ireland, E. Church, 50 years old
Catherine Johnston, b. Ireland, E. Church, 45 years old
William Johnston, Laborer, b. W. Canada, E. Church, 23 years old
James Johnston, Laborer " ", 16 years old
Margaret Johnston, 14 years old
Alex Johnston, 12 years old
John Johnston, b. W. Canada, 10 years old
Elizabeth Johnston, 8 years old
Sarah Johnston, 3 years old
Harriet Johnston, 1 years old

1861 Census (Agricultural)
Township of Smith
Ontario [Canada West]
#26: William Johnson
Concession or Range: 4
Lot or Part of Lot: 3
200 acres

Catherine (Reynolds) Johnston died 4 Feb 1869, in Harvey Township, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.  Her husband, William Johnston, died 12 February 1873.  They are both buried in Lakefield Cemetery (see map).

23 November 2014

The James Gooch Family And Their Connections

A family tree entitled Descendants Of John Johnston provided the following information regarding James Gooch and Sarah Porter, (a couple who has ties to Jim's Coleman/Kohlmann family) :

James Johnston and Jane Greer had the following child living with them [links added]:

PARTHENIA3 THORNE [Jane Greer Johnston's niece] was born on 25 Dec 1804 in Stewart County, Tennessee. She died on 02 Sep 1876 in Robertson County, Tennessee.

She married David Alexander Gooch, son of James Gooch and Sarah Porter about 1825 in Robertson County, Tennessee. He was born on 28 Jan 1803 in North Carolina. He died before 1860.

There was a link between the Johnstons and the Bell Witch legend (there's a Bell Witch Facebook page, too).

From the Chattie Coleman Westenius book:

James Gooch and Sarah Porter had ten children.
David Alexander, born January 28, 1803.
Nicy, born November 7, 1805.
Lucinda, born August 16, 1807.
William Jefferson,born in February 1809.
Rebecca Caswell, born December 29, 1813.
Ardra Hart, born December 22, 1815.
Franklin R., born October 9, 1817.
Claiborne Shelby, born November 16, 1819.
Mary Elizabeth, born December 27, 1821.
Francis Williamson, born August 11, 1823.

22 November 2014

Hamtramck Issued Abijah Hunt's Pass To Detroit

From the Quarterly Publication of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio:

Pass issued by Lieut. Colonel Hamtranck [sic] to Abijah Hunt, merchant, in 1795, to go to Detroit; and a Permit to J. & A. Hunt to sell merchandize in the Territory, 1800; 

Memorandum of a contract between Titus Mershon and Jeremiah & Abijah Hunt, Nov. 22d, 1795, the former to deliver to the latter, at Cincinnati, merchandize at prices seemingly improbable to us of today, such as bacon, butter, cheese, each 1 shilling per pound, eggs 5)4 pence per dozen, peach brandy 9s. 4p. per gallon and whiskey 4s. 6p. per gallon, etc

21 November 2014

Mormons At DeWitt

At Nauvoo, After Dewitt

The story from Chipman's Family's Life Among The Mormons from the History of Leeds and Grenville Ontario from 1749 to 1879... (links added):

At DeWitt [Missouri] the Mormons were surrounded by a mob and threatened with extermination. The Mormons numbered about two hundred men, women and children. Skirmishing was kept up for some time, until a steamboat arrived, by which a message was dispatched to the Governor of the State, asking for protection. The Governor, whose name was Boggs, paid no attention to the message but sent word to the mob "to kill every Mormon."

A compromise was effected by which it was agreed that the heads of the Mormon Church should surrender themselves as hostages, the remainder of the Mormons to be set free. Accordingly, Brigham Young, Lee, Lyman White, Lyman P. Pratt, Austin Pratt, and others, surrendered and were incarcerated in Clay County Gaol; subsequently they were tried and acquitted.

19 November 2014

Autodidacts Among Us

An interesting infographic was sent to me via e-mail (click on the image for full effect):

True Learning is Free

Source: CheapestColleges.org

[Stephen] Grover Cleveland (featured in the infographic) was my 6th cousin 4x removed. Frederick Douglass married a descendant of John Richmond; I too am a Richmond descendant.