Migration to Indiana

Abraham Walton was born 09 May 1777 in Maine which was controlled by and a part of Massachusetts. On 01 Jan 1798 he married Mary (Polly) Hutchinson. They had six children in Maine, the last (Isaiah) being born 18 Feb 1812. Before 1815 they emigrated to Indiana, probably in 1814. They travelled by wagon to Pittsburgh, PA where they bought a flatboat and sailed down the Ohio river to somewhere in Ohio.  There they overwintered and another child (Irene) was born. By early 1815 they were apparently in Indiana and soon held a deed (dated 10 May 1815 and signed by President James Madison) to 80 acres of land in Graham Township, Jefferson County, Indiana.

The exact route they took remains a mystery but we can make some informed guesses. They probably went from their location in western Maine to Boston.  There was not a really good route going west from Boston through present day Massachusetts and New York and then going south into Pennsylvania and over to Pittsburgh. Using the Mohawk Trail and Great Genesee Road (see below) would have gotten them west but far north of Pittsburgh with no good road south.

Principal Routes 1795-1812 Catskill Road

Not shown on the map is part of the route they probably took from Boston.  A major road existed from Boston through New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia going further south. Prior to the Revolutionary War it was called The Kings Road but afterwards renamed The Boston Post Road (gee, I wonder why?)  Abraham and his family probably went from upstate Maine through Portland, down to Boston. They then left Boston and almost certainly traveled through Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey to Philadelphia. At Philadelphia they then could take a road west through Harrisburg to Pittsburgh.

Once in Pittsburgh they bought a flat boat and continued their journey on the Ohio River. If they spent the winter near Cincinnati, that distance is well over 1000 miles and probably closer to 1500 miles.  They might not have gone that far.  Parkersburg, West Virginia and Portsmouth, Ohio both existed at that time and they may have spent the winter in either of those locations.  Or they may have spent the winter some where else along the route.
Hall, Hiram; March 14 1922; “A Pioneer Settler of Graham Township”; Madison Courier; Madison, IN

Ohio River Flatboat.    This image is from:


Regardless of the end point, traveling that far in the early 1800’s was a daunting task.  Today, we could drive that distance in a couple of days but then they would probably have been lucky to average 15 to 20 miles per day.  So the trip would have taken them about 75 to 100 days!!  They (at least the adults and older children) probably would have walked beside the wagon. 

More information on travel and roads in the Colonial and post-Colonial era, as well as the major westward migration can be found at:      http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gentutor/trails.html

That website and much of the information in this post are taken from:

Early American Roads and Trails, Beverly Whitaker, Kansas City, Missouri, Copyright 2002

Once winter was over and they could travel again, the distance to go was much less.  They may have stopped at Madison which was founded about 1809 and is right on the river.  Apparently they started inland at Hanover’s Crossing not far down river from Madison. They went west to  Graham Township and developed a farm on 80 acres.
Hall, Hiram; March 14 1922; “A Pioneer Settler of Graham Township”; Madison Courier; Madison, IN


About larrytom2

Older guy interested in genealogy and family issues.
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3 Responses to Migration to Indiana

  1. Pingback: 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks: 8th Week Abraham Walton | larrysgroup

  2. Pingback: 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks: 9th Week Ebenezer Hutchinson, my 4th Great Grandfather | larrysgroup

  3. Pingback: 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks: 17th Week Eliza Jane Hall | larrysgroup

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