Hi Ruth, I have lots of information and will start with this little blurb I wrote about William Boatman, my direct ancestor and Revolutionary War veteran:
A small, 38 page article published in the online collection catalog of The Scholarly Journal of the Ohio Historical Society, Volume 19, pages 190-227, titled “Reminiscences of a Pioneer” by Highland County pioneer Thomas Rogers, has enlightened my Boatman family research, to put it mildly. The light bulb in my head went on and I have had several “oh, now I understand” moments while reading it.
The Ohio History site is indexed and contains search engines(more than one way to do a search there):http://publications.ohiohistory.org/ohstemplate.cfm?action=d
Personally, one of my biggest questions has been, why did my William Boatman family leave Virginia, move to Pennsylvania, move to the counties around Lexington Kentucky (Fayette and Bourbon), and move finally, settling in the area of Highland County, Ohio?
Off and on through the years my mother would ask migration questions about this family. Not a Boatman herself, but she spent many years researching my family, along with my dad, and I think I have a little bit of the puzzle solved. Now to find out the name of William Boatman’s wife.
The author, and Highland County, Ohio, pioneer, Thomas Rogers, and his family, is a parallel to my Boatman line, and the Rogers family may be related to me. More about that later.
My g-g-g-g-grandfather William Boatman was born in 1757 in Prince William County, Virginia, apparently the part that became Fauquier Co. in 1759. The Rogers family was from adjoining Loudon County, Virginia. Thomas Rogers’ father, William Rogers, was a Revolutionary War soldier, as was my g-g-g-g-grandfather William Boatman. Thomas Rogers (the author) was born in 1782, approximately the same age as my g-g-g-grandfather Elias Boatman., William Boatman’s oldest child.
It is at the close of the Revolutionary War where Thomas Rogers begins his story
Through the article, Thomas Rogers, near 90 in 1872, tells of those early days in Virginia. His father owned a three life lease which covered three generations or 99 years ,on a large tract of land. At the time the lease was taken (ca. 1760) the County was under British rule. At the close of the Revolutionary War the Country fell into new hands and his father’s title to the property was disputed. Additionally “two large slave holders settled on each side of him and so angered him with their barbarous treatment of their slaves that he began to meditate on a move to some other part.” He mentions the slavery issue several times.
My William Boatman gives a detailed account of where he was and what he did during the War when he applied for his pension in Ohio in 1835, for $20 a year. In William Boatman’s petition, he states his former residence as Redstone Fort, Pennsylvania. Redstone Fort is located right below Fort Pitt (Pittsburg). At least two of William Boatman’s children are born in Pennsylvania, included his oldest son, my g-g-g-grandfather Elias Boatman.
For the Rogers family it was time to move and leave Virginia. They had heard about the rich land in Kentucky and how well everyone was doing there.
My William Boatman family was by now living at Redstone Fort, Pennsylvania, and at the same time that the Rogers family arrives. This is where the Virginian/Pennsylvanian families, including the Rogers, depart from to get to Kentucky. They traveled by flat-boat to Limestone, now Marysville, then set out for Lexington, Kentucky. He talks about how families, two or three of them, would join in and purchase a flat-boat the size that would hold this group and begin the dangerous voyage down the Ohio. Commonly, they went down in companies of three to four boats. They would all tie together at night and float near the center of the river for fear of the Indians.
At the time, Lexington was one of the largest settlements in Kentucky off from water navigation. It was a stockade fort, but the inhabitants were “beginning to venture to settle out some distance.” The Rogers families and Boatman families lived in the same two counties, at the same time. I say families, not just my direct line, because we know from the census records that several Boatman lines left Virginia at the same time and moved to Kentucky. Friends and family in Virginia heard of the “fat land” in Kentucky and wanted to join them - and they did.
A typical lease of property was within five to six miles from Lexington. The first thing the settlers did was plant corn and build a cabin. Thomas Rogers goes into detail of everyday life in these early settlements. What they ate, what they planted, how they hunted and fish (at night), what the neighbors did, how they worshiped - it is just a treasure trove of history. Much of his writing is in regards to how “Indians committed depredations on the settlements around” them. A lot of depredations! these were horrible times, for both the pioneers and the Indians. Participation in the Indian campaigns and camping out with his father’s old friend, Daniel Boone, and listening to these two old Indian fighters and their stories are recounted by Thomas Rogers.
The Boatman and Rogers families were at different times in these early years strong Presbyterian and Methodists. Both families were involved in the establishment of church services. At the same time the Rogers family made whiskey. I have no idea if my Boatman family did. Mr. Rogers says “this may sound strange at this day of reform”, but make whiskey they did. It was considered a provision.
So times were comfortable in Kentucky. Thomas Rogers refers to all the brothers and grandparents buying farms and settling in one “neighborhood.” I think of my William Boatman family that way, probably because I wish it was that way now, who knows? The clan form of living is practically gone.
In those days, in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s in Kentucky, they seemed to have it made, he writes, but not for long. Again his father wants to move because he “does not want to be annoyed by the screams of the tortured slaves.” By the time Kentucky gained enough population that entitled it to a constitution of her own, many were hoping it would be a free state. In 1792 slavery passed by one vote in Kentucky.
Besides the slavery issue another factor may have influenced my Boatman ancestors to leave old comfortable Kentucky - the land. Because there were so many different methods of taking up wild land in those days, it was difficult to know when they got a clear “title” on land and if it would stand to be yours by law. A person could show up and lay claim to your property and you would have to buy them out, sometimes more than once. Or battle it out in a pioneer court of law. Some of the settlers did not want to do this, over and over again.
The patriarch of the Rogers family declared he would not be staying and would be going to the Northwestern Territory - which is now Ohio.
Along came Nate Massie. Mr. Massie issued a proclamation to all who wished to explore the Northwestern Territory, including what is now Highland County, Ohio - that they were to meet on a certain day at “Three Islands, now Manchester and he would make a tour with them of that area” in the Northwestern Territory. About 50 men went. Some were old Indian fighters and some were young men.
The author tells of seeing the Ohio for the first time with its beautiful, rich, rye-grass bottoms and streams over water-falls. All this is in about the years 1796-97.
Massie had money. He bought up land warrants very low. He had his own surveyors, and through all accounts where I’ve researched him, he seems to be reputable. He would send out handbills to where he would be on a certain day. You’d be require to pay in advance one-half the money, at $80/one hundred acres, for your property. He’d go back up to the Territory with the surveyors and the money, and shortly thereafter, you would follow.
Now let me just say, that my ancestor, William Boatman arrived in this area of Ohio in about 1800. He was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and his land was granted to him. So his property was acquired a different way, but as we know his sons, and other family members moved with him from Kentucky and they may have been clients of Massie or another gentleman like him.
Thomas Rogers little story is just full a names, he’s a real name-dropper. I kept getting distracted with this article because I would see a name, recognize it and tie it in with families that I am working on.
Several names in Thomas’ story tie in with my family. One important link may be this: William Boatman’s fourth child, Robert Boatman married on 12 Sept 1825 Hannah Rogers, born in Virginia! Robert was born in Kentucky in either 1793 or 1799 and died 4 April 1859 in Highland County, Ohio. I have quite a bit on this family. There was a Hannah Rogers who was a sibling to Thomas Rogers, not sure yet if she is the same Hannah Rogers that was married to my Robert Boatman.
There is no written evidence that my William Boatman migrated from Virginia, to Pennsylvania, to Kentucky, to Ohio because of the beliefs, and hardships that Thomas Rogers writes about. Through further research I’ve done on my family, I do propose that these are some of circumstances and events why William Boatman and many others moved across the Cumberland’s - a better life.