Having worked in family genealogy for nearly 35 years now, I have come to believe that most stories told within a family are 90-percent accurate. Some facts have been forgotten over the years with some added, as the story is retold in each generation, but the basic kernel of truth remains.
One of my favorites, a story told in the Bricker family and recorded in the 1862 Knox County, Ohio, history book, tells about Ludwig (Lewis) Bricker, whose kin ended up in Fayette County and live here today.
Lewis Bricker was born in Germany in 1754 and came to America with two brothers. He settled for a time in Maryland before locating in Washington County, Pa.
“Lewis Bricker Sr. had a very large family and was determined to distribute them in the western country (Ohio), where lands were cheap and he could provide them with farms.
“Accordingly, he bought 1600 acres and started the elder members of his family to it by 1810. They went out in the wilderness region, camped one night and by noon the next day were on their way back to Pennsylvania.
“They saw many Indians, heard the wolves howling and the owls hooting, and unaccustomed to these things, they agreed with their wives to let the land go to the devil before they would risk their lives and their children in the Owl Creek regions.
“Lewis, accustomed to frontier life, determined in the fall to make another effort at a settlement. He sent another delegation of his tribe and they stayed. George, Jacob, John Peter Bricker and son-in-law, George Lewis, who had married daughter Susanna, each purchased an Ohio land tract from Lewis.”
Some descendents say that Lewis was unhappy with the whiskey tax, and this prompted him to buy land in Ohio.
The Fayette County Brickers descend from son, John Peter Bricker, whose son, Aaron, headed further west soon after 1850, settling near Funkhouser in Effingham County.
There are many reasons our ancestors left the safety of their homes in the settled areas along the Eastern shore. The search for land was one, freedom was another.
Following the Revolution and the War of 1812, soldiers were paid in land grants – with varying amount of acreage granted according to rank.
Military districts were then set up, one in Ohio and later in Illinois, thus encouraging settlement in the interior of these states. After the 1832 Black Hawk War in Northern Illinois, men who served as soldiers were given land as their pay.
A few years before Lewis sent his children to the wilds of Ohio, the government offered colonists free land if they would settle the area where Cincinnati came to be platted. The Indians were stirring up trouble, and earlier settlements had been driven out. Lewis’ children were among other Washington County, Pa., citizens who formed colonies in Ohio.
These settlers were promised protection in the form of General St. Clair and his troops, but even this did not stop the massacres. Some of the families returned to Pennsylvania and safety, while others remained in Ohio and lived within forts.
Eventually, enough colonists moved to this region and the Indian attacks became fewer as the Indians were driven from their land.
Is there a story in your family that has been passed down through the generations? As with the Bricker family, the core truth of the event is there with a few additions or omissions.