Monday, April 30, 2012

The Evidence at Hand

The Indiana Genealogical Society has a new lineage society that goes by the name of the “Territorial Guard Society of Indiana” which was formed in honor of the bicentennial of the War of 1812. To qualify you must be an Indiana Genealogical Society member who is a direct descendant of someone who lived within the boundaries of present-day Indiana on or before December 11, 1816 (the date of Indiana statehood).

In this previous post I stated that I have one possible ancestral candidate who could be considered - John Bray of Switzerland County - but the information I currently have that says he was here in 1816 is hearsay...

John Bray, my 4th Great-Grandfather, was born April 28, 1761 (251 years and 2 days ago - perhaps it is a “good omen” that I learned of the Territorial Guard Society on the 251st anniversary of his birth!). John Bray is a proven Revolutionary War Patriot who, thankfully, lived long enough to file for and receive a soldiers pension (filed June 20, 1818 in Switzerland County, Indiana). John enlisted in September 1777 in Romney, Hampshire County, Virginia as a Private in the company of Capt. William Voss - he was 16 years and 5 months old at the time of his enlistment. His pension application states that he participated in the battles of Brandywine (where he was wounded), Dela, Monmouth, in N. J. and in the taking of Stoney Point and in several small skirmishes. He was honorably discharged at York town in Pennsylvania in 1780 after having served three years, the length of his enlistment. John is buried at McKay Cemetery in Craig Township, Switzerland County, Indiana.

After the Revolutionary War, John Bray, along with his parents Henry & Cathryn Bray, and six of his adult siblings, some of whom had families of their own, left their home in Hampshire County, Virginia (now West Virginia) and moved into the wilderness of western Virginia, to the area that would become Nelson County, Kentucky.

Henry Bray begins appearing in tax lists for the area in 1790 with a deed dated December 15, 1792 showing him purchasing 550 acres of land on Pottinger's Creek (south of Bardstown). However, John Bray and several of his brothers begin appearing on the tax lists in 1785 when John is taxed on 2 whites, 1 white tith. “Somewhere on the southern waters of Rolling and Beech Forks, westwardly of the waters of Hardings Creek." It is thought that John and several of his brothers entered the area first while his parents and other siblings followed later.

In fact, John may have been the first of his family to go into the area that would become Kentucky. In February 1781, a John Bray was one of five men examined and found to be qualified for the office of Deputy Surveyor for Lincoln County (Virginia) “whereupon they took the oath of allegiance and the oath of office.” I don't know for certain that this is my John Bray - he would have only been 19 years old at the time. He would turn 20 on April 28th. (Lincoln County was one of three counties created in 1780 from Kentucky County, Virginia. The other two were Jefferson and Fayette. On November 29, 1784 Nelson County was created from Jefferson.)

Tax lists from 1785 through 1796 show that John Bray resided in Nelson County. He was listed as having 50 acres of land in only one year, 1793. I have not (yet) done land record research on him. A John Bray appears in the Hardin County tax lists for 1799, 1800, and 1805. It could be the same man - Hardin County borders Nelson county on the west and was formed in 1792 from part of Nelson county. It has been a few years since doing this research so other tax lists as well as other resources may have become available, but John seems to have “disappeared” for a while. In 1807, John is mentioned in a deed record along with his brothers and sisters, all of whom are listed as being “of Nelson County” Kentucky. However, it is known for certain that several of those siblings were definitely not living in Nelson County at that time.

Nelson and Hardin counties in Kentucky are circled in red. The blue circle is where Switzerland County, Indiana is located.

So where was John Bray after 1797 (or 1805 if he was the John Bray in Hardin County) and until June 20, 1818 when his pension claim was filed in Switzerland County, Indiana? At this time all I can say for sure is “I don't know.”

A few years ago my cousin Caroline found an article written March 20, 1949 by Carrie Bray of Vevay, Switzerland County, Indiana. Carrie was a great-granddaughter of John Bray through his son Daniel. I don't know if this is the full article, it is what I was given.

“The first blacksmith was Nathan Morgan and son Willis. Nathan Morgan and Nancy Morgan Bray are brother and sister. The braytown Christian church was built in 1850. Our father David Bray, helped haul the brick on Ox carts.

“Great grandfather Bray, revolutionist, enlisted Sept. 1777 in Romney, Va. His wife Nancy Morgan Bray, who died before coming to Indiana, so grandfather and four sons and two daughters - Nancy, Betsy, John, James, and Samuel, and Daniel - my grandpa, his wife, Catherine Wallace Bray and their 2 children, Susan who married Meshac Lanchmen and Benjamin, never married. These are the ones Braytown was named for. The state was created 4 days after their arrival, March 5, 1816. Mr. George Craig was one of the first settlers. Mr. James Shaw named the Post Office Craig after him. The first mail carrier was in 1870.”
I have very little information on Nathan Morgan - he is on my to do list and I consider him to be one of the members of the John Bray FAN Club. Nathan may be Family, if he is indeed a brother of the wife of John Bray. (As far as I can determine, the above article is the only “documentation” available that John's wife was Nancy Morgan. Of course, her name has been posted in numerous online trees as well, sans sources.) Nathan could also be an Associate as well as a Neighbor. What I do know is that he applied for a pension based on his service during the Revolutionary War. When he filed his application on June 7, 1832 he was 80 years old and a resident of Switzerland County.

Nathan Morgan stated that he entered service in 1777 or 1778 as a volunteer and served as a private in the Virginia Militia under Captain William Love. He marched to North Carolina, and was stationed part of the time in Chirels [?] Head Mine in Montgomery County, Virginia. He did not receive discharge papers and no one that he knows of that is living can verify his service. Nathan was born in the state of Delaware on the 22nd of October 1752 and he has evidence of birth at home in his father's records. Nathan lived in Virginia prior to enlisting and resided in Virginia two years after service. He then removed to Georgia and lived there 8 years, then to South Carolina for 3 years. He lived in Kentucky about 27 years and has lived in Indiana 20 years. [Abstract from Switzerland County Probate Record Book A, page 326] If he had been a resident of Indiana for 20 years in 1832, that means he came here about 1812.

According to published cemetery transcriptions, Nathan Morgan is buried in McKay Cemetery, the same cemetery as John Bray. Also according to the published transcriptions, Find A Grave, and several online trees as well as information from another researcher (way back in 1999 and 2000), Nathan Morgan died on September 4, 1839. However, when I was in Salt Lake City last October, I happened across a record for Nathan in Switzerland County Probate Order Book 1 (page 328) dated the 17th day of October 1835 in which Lewis H. Morgan was named Administrator of the estate of Nathan Morgan based on the report of Robert McKay the 3d that “fifteen days had fully Elapsed Since the death of the Said Nathan Morgan.” An online tree shows that Nathan had a son born October 24, 1809 named Lewis Howell Morgan. That tree lists 15 children born to Nathan, from 1776-1813 by two wives, both named Elizabeth!

Administration of the Estate of Nathan Morgan, granted to Lewis H. Morgan. Switzerland County Probate Order Book 1 (page 328) dated the 17th day of October 1835.

I don't know if pursuing additional information on Nathan Morgan will provide any clues as to when John Bray arrived in Switzerland County but it may well help with the identification of his wife, reported in the above article by Carrie Bray to be Nancy Morgan, sister of Nathan.

Reviewing the article by Carrie Bray a little further, she names the children of John Bray at the time he came to Indiana as “Nancy, Betsy, John, James, and Samuel, and Daniel” but she left out one daughter, Jane. Named in his will (dated June 26, 1832) were sons John, Daniel, and Samuel and daughters Jane Ray, Elizabeth Cotton, and Nancy Culver. Also named were his second wife Elizabeth, whom he married in 1820, and their three children George, Amelia, and Sophia.

In her article, Carrie says “The state was created 4 days after their arrival, March 5, 1816.” This is either an error on her part or a transcription error on the part of my cousin. I'm hopeful, but skeptical, that the date of March 5, 1816 is actually the date John Bray and family arrived in Indiana, which was admitted on December 11, 1816 as the 19th state of these United States. Do you think the evaluation committee for the Territorial Guard Society would allow John Bray to be admitted based on Carrie's story? Not likely...

I have three versions of the pension application of John Bray! Portions of the file were printed from microfilm in the late 1990s at the Allen County Public Library (those are stuck away in storage). Twelve pages (all that were available at the time) were downloaded in 2006 from Heritage Quest. Then in 2007 I downloaded 78 pages from Footnote (now Fold3). A few pages have been transcribed but nothing that gives any clues as to when he came to Indiana. I'll be reviewing those documents as well as the few land records that were obtained at Salt Lake City in October of last year. Maybe I'll get lucky and find something of use in his pension file!

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "The Evidence at Hand," Kinexxions, posted April 30, 2012 ( : accessed [access date])


Tina Lyons said...

It was great to meet you and spend a little bit of time talking on Saturday. Good luck trying to find the documentation to prove your Territorial Guard ancestor. I'm trying to work on mine as well and just need something to help me prove it.

Carol said...

Good luck on this, I'll be watching the blog for further developments. Detailed research, that you are so good at, will hopefully provide you some answers.