Journey to Indiana 1815

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Journey from North Carolina to Indiana in 1815

From "Journey from N. Carolina to Indiana in 34 Days in the Year 1815", Illiana Genealogy, Fall 1976 (Vol XII, No. 4).

Letter to Nathan Dixon, Chatham County, Tick Creek, North Carolina from George Rubottom, Orange County, Indiana, October 1815

According to the submitter of the letter there were 30 wagons on this trip, so we know wagon travel from North Carolina to Indiana was possible by 1815. Actually from the number of certificates being received at Indiana Monthly Meetings around this time, wagon travel had become fairly common and there was probably a well marked trail.

The destination for these Quakers was Lick Creek Monthly Meeting which had been set off from Whitewater Monthly Meeting in Indiana in 1813. Simon and Elizabeth Rubottom, parents of the letter writer,George, presented certificates for themselves and their 13 children at Lick Creek Monthly Meeting on 11/25/1815. The certificate included sons George, Thomas, William, Samuel, Ezekiel, John and Zane (Zane less than a year old!), and daughters, Hannah, Ruth, Dinah, Betsey & Mahala. (after the letter we will list others who arrived at the same time and were possibly on the wagon train).

A little research on the names given in the letter itself identifies most of the names as Quaker and tells us the journey apparently started in Chatham County, North Carolina, and moved up through Randolph and Guilford County (see North Carolina map page). Simon and Elizabeth Rubottom received their certificates at Cane Creek Monthly Meeting in North Carolina on 9/2/1815, just six days before the start of the journey. Cane Creek Monthly Meeting was in Guilford County. (see Quaker Meeting Page.)

Among Cane Creek records we discovered the reason George Rubottom was writing to Nathan Dixon. Nathan and Sarah Winters Dixon were also members of Cane Creek Monthly Meeting. On 2/1/1817 and 4/5/1817 George and Thomas Rubottom, sons of Simon and Elizabeth Rubottom, of Orange County, Indiana, presented certificates at Cane Creek Monthly Meeting in North Carolina to marry. On 2/16/1817 George Rubottom married Miriam Dixon and on 4/10/1817 Thomas Rubottom married Edith Dixon, both daughters of Nathan and Sarah Dixon, at Cane Creek Monthly Meeting. They immediately took their brides back to Indiana, George and Miriam being received at Lick Creek on 5/31/1817 and Thomas and Edith received 7/16/1817. Young as they were, Edith was appointed an Elder on 7/31/1819, and George was appointed overseer on 9/25/1819. The letter below was addressed to father Nathan Dixon, probably as a courtesy, but was no doubt for the ears of the Dixon daughters.

Thomas and Edith Dixon Rubottom had a daughter, Lucinda Rubottom, who married a Benbow and was mother of Emma Benbow, second wife of Samuel M. Woodward, son of Samuel and Abigail Shelley Woodward, and great grandson of Abraham Woodward.

One of the sons of Nathan and Sarah Winters Dixon, Joel, brother of Edith and Miriam, married Mary Newlin, daughter of Eli and Sarah Hadley Newlin in 1811 at Cane Creek Monthly Meeting. Joel and Mary Newlin Dixon followed the immigrants to Lick Creek Monthly Meeting in 1823. They had a son Nathan Dixon who married Lydia Cook, daughter of Jesse and Hannah Marshall Cook, at White Lick Monthly Meeting in Hendricks County, Indiana. When Nathan died, Lydia Cook Dixon married Benjamin Woodward, son of William and Elizabeth Millikan Woodward, and grandson of Abraham Woodward. In addition, Mary Newlin Dixon was a descendant of John and Mary Woodward Newlin of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Mary Woodward was Abraham Woodward's aunt.

Text of the Letter

Sept. 8 - Got off from home about 12 oclock, traveled to Scottens [a Quaker name] and took up. 14 miles. Nothing remarkable passed today.

Sept. 9 - Left camp at 7, went on well, reached Nathan Lamb's at 3 and made preparations for doctoring the wounded horse. Traveled 15 miles. [Nathan Lamb, age 47 in 1815, was son of Joseph and Frances Beeson Lamb, members of Center Monthly Meeting. Center Monthly Meeting was the Woodward's meeting when they lived in North Carolina, and was just north of the line between Randolph and Guilford Counties, so it appears in just 29 miles the wagons had passed into Randolph County.]

Sept. 10 - Rested with our friend Nathan Lamb. Horse is considerable better.

Sept. 11 - Left our benefactors, went to Zeno Worth's, the waggon that was to join us here did not come according to promise, waited until 12 oclock then went on about 4 miles and fed. The waggons joined us this evening and we camped at Armfields [Quakers]. 9 miles. The horse continues to mend.[Zeno Worth appears to be the Zeno Worth of Nantucket who married Abigail Gardner in North Carolina in 1788. We found nothing on them in Quaker records.]

Sept. 12 - We continued our journey before sunrise, passed Clemens at 10 oclock. Fed at Deep River, after dinner went on, camped at John Smiths. 21 miles[John Smith was a charter member of Back Creek Monthly Meeting in Randolph County in 1792 - if they were still in Randolph County and at Deep River they would have been very near Abraham Woodward's old place].

Sept. 13 - Started about 6 oclock, went on very well, took dinner at 12 then went on, crossed Little Yadkin at twilight, traveled 2 miles further and took up lodging for the night.[The Little Yadkin River was at the intersection of current day Forsyth/Stokes/and Surry County lines]. 24 miles.

Sept. 14 - Left camp after sunrise, went on as usual, crossed Tom's Creek about 10 oclock, fed at Flatshore Creek then went on, crossed the Ararat [feeds into the Yadkin in Curry County] at 6, took up at Thomas Parkins [possibly Perkins?]. We had a very considerable shower of rain this evening. Made 18 miles. [at this time they were northwest of present day Pilot Mountain State Park in a very mountainous area.]

Sept. 15 - Left camp about sunrise, went on well, fed at the foot of the Blue Ridges. Began the ascent at Ward's Gap at half past 2 oclock. Our teams had tolerable hard drawing. They went up without doubling. When about half way up we had to assist Thomas White, his team was exactly true, but were overloaded. We gained the top after 6, went half a mile and took up lodging. 14 miles. [The name Thomas White is very numerous in Quaker records, we located none that seemed to fit with this journey, unless he is the one who married at Centre Meeting in Randolph County in 1778. Too many Centre records are missing to determine if any certificates were issued in 1815. A James White from Back Creek Meeting in Randolph County was apparently on the journey and may have been a relative, see list of probable participants below.]

Sept. 16 - Started at half past 6, the road is very hilly and in bad order. Took up at 12 for dinner. Moved on at 2, went till sunset and took up. 15 miles.

Sept. 17 - A cloudy morning, several showers of rain fell last night. Started before sunrise, went on very well, reached Pearces Furnice by 10 oclock, viewed it half an hour then went on. At 12 it began to rain, crossed New River at Porter's Ford at about 3 oclock. It continued to rain till night and was very cool. Took up this evening at one Painters who favored us with a room to lodge in. Made 14 miles. [There is an editor's note that the name may be Pointers, but we found the name to be Painters in Quaker records].

September 18 - Left Painter's, crossed Cripple Creek, went on till 12 and took dinner, then went on. Took up for the night at the head of Cripple Creek. It became clear this evening. Made 19 miles.

Sept. 19 - Is frosty morning, set off a quarter before 7, went on as usual. Stopped at the head of the South Fork of Holston for dinner and viewed the curiosities of the place, went into a cave. It has a spacious entrance as large as a common room. In viewing it we found another, the mouth was small. We got a torch and went into it, sometimes we could walk upright, at others, half bent. Viewed its various winding till satisfied and went out. There are several large springs which offered water enough to turn a mill in a short distance. After dinner went on. Joseph is very unwell, supposed to be cold. Took up at 4 on account of his illness. Made 15 miles. [The head of the South Fork of the Holston was probably in present Washington County, Virginia, just north of the present county of Sullivan in Tennessee. The River has been altered a great deal in present times so it is difficult to tell where it might have been in 1815. The train apparently here began following the Valley of the Holston River along the present boundary of Virginia and Tennessee, as they were still in mountainous territory.]

Sept. 20 - A foggy morning. Moved off at 7, went on well. Took dinner at the Seven Mile Ford on Holston, then went on, some showers of rain fell this evening. Took up at 6 at William Levis who favored us with a room to lodge in. Traveled 20 miles. Joseph is considerable better. [No hints as to who Joseph was, but apparently Simon and Elizabeth Rubottom had a grown son, Joseph, who was on the train with his family, so he was probably George's brother.]

Sept. 21 - A rainy morning. Continued our journey at 7. Halted at 1 and fed, then went on. Passed thru Abingdon [present day Washington County, Va] at 3 oclock. Traveled about 3 miles further and took up. 17 miles. It continued to rain at intervals during the whole of this day. [M. D. Monk found a description of Abingdon: By 1800, Abingdon was a well-established population center...nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians and secured in the valley formed by the Holston River...a town rich in history and tradition. When the area was a rugged wilderness, the Cherokee nation lived to the South, while the Shawnee made their home to the North...the Great Spirit forbade them to come to this lush area because the living would be too easy and the inhabitants would become corrupt {something of the Quaker philosophy!}...Abingdon carried the name of "Wolfe Hills: until 1774 when a fort was erected and named "Black's Fort", finally being enlarged to hold up to 600 men, women, and children. Here, the townspeople remained during the raiding season from early spring to late fall...Abingdon was incorporated in 1778, named after Martha Washington's English home of Abingdon Parrish. We find it interesting that not more is mentioned of the town in the letter - being Quakers did they not stop for fear of "corruption?"]

Sept. 22 - Another wet morning. Started before sunrise. Went on well. Halted at half past 11 and fed, then went on, took up at 6. A fair evening. Made 21 miles.

Sept. 23 - A foggy morning. Moved on at half past 6, went on well till half past 9 when the tire on one of White's waggon wheels broke. Stopped and had it mended, went on again at 12 oclock, took up for the night at the boat yard on Holston. 16 miles.

Sept. 24 - Another foggy morning. Went on at 6, crossed the North of Holston at 7. Took dinner at 23, then went on. This evening is clear, stopped at 6 and made preparations for the night. 22 miles.

Sept. 25 - This morning is clear, started about 6 oclock, went on well, halted at Rogers Mill half after 8 to have some of our horses' shoes nailed on, then went on, fed at half past 22, then went on, took up at 6. Made 22 miles.

Sept. 26 - A finer morning. Set off at 6, passed Bean Station [present Granger County, Tennessee] about 10 oclock, went 2 miles and fed, then went on, began to ascend Clinch mountain at the Freestone Gap at 1 oclock. The road for about half way up this mountain is in extreme bad order where we found hands at work, from there to the top it was very good. Gained the top at half past 3 then descended the western declivity. Took lodging at Clinch River. Made 16 miles. [from Jamie Ault Grady's book, William Bean, Pioneer of Tennessee and His Descendants, 1985: "Bean Station: 'Once the teeming crossroads of the wilderness, lapsed in later years into village peace.' Here flourished more than a century ago the finest hostelry between Baltimore and the western country. Daniel Boone camped near the spot of the settlement as early as 1760. In all probability William Bean, his companion, also with him. Stagecoach roads, dusty in summer, and muddy in winter, once crisscrossed at Bean Station." And you can be sure those stagecoach roads probably followed the old wagon roads. "The Bean house [built about 1780] faced the gap in Clinch Mountain, through which winds the Daniel Boone Trail into Kentucky...A fort was erected in 1787 as a protection from the Indians, and to insure water for the defenders in case of siege, it was built over a spring...the site was astride the Wilderness Trail, linking Charleston, S. C. with Kentucky...U. S. Highway 25-E...In 1811 Thomas Whiteside built the Whiteside Inn, and in 1814 erected another called Bean Station Inn... ." So we know the wagon train was now following the route scouted out by Daniel Boone. When they reached the Clinch River they were probably in present day Scott County, Virginia. The Clinch River makes its way to a junction with the Tennessee river]

Sept. 27 - Rested our teams today. We spent the day in killing squirrels and so forth. [bet the women spent the day washing children and clothing - sorry, couldn't help that!]

Sept. 28 - Packed up our lumber and started, crossed Clinch on a bridge which was 150 yards long. Paid 2 dollars for crossing. Went on till 12 and fed, then went on, passed thru Tazwell, seat of justice for Clabourn county [Tennessee]. Went till 6 and made preparations for the night. 15 miles.

Sept. 29 - Set off at 6, crossed Powell's River this morning, began to ascend Cumberland Mountain at 11 oclock, gained the top in half an hour, went on to Yellow Creek and fed, then went on till 6 and took up. 18 miles. [Cumberland Mountain extends from present Campbell County, Tennessee into present Lee County, Virginia]

Sept. 30 - A foggy morning, moved on at 6, went about 5 miles when we came to the Cumerland Turnpike, paid $2.87 1/2 to have the gate opened, then went on till half past 11 oclock and fed, after dinner went on till sun set and took up, made 20 miles. We had a hard shower of rain today, also a slight one yesterday. [They are probably now in Bell County, Kentucky]

Oct. 2 - This morning foggy, set off at 6. Nothing remarkable passed. Fed at 12 oclock, then went on, crossed Little Rock Castle, went over some rough nobs. Crossed Big Rock Castle when it was nearly dark. Drove half a mile and took up. 22 1/2 miles. [Rock Castle County, Kentucky]

Oct. 3 - Scarcely a morning passed without fog, continued our journey at 7, went on well, took dinner at 1 at Mt. Vernon, halted at 6 and made preparations for the night. 18 miles. [Mt. Vernon's are legion, too many to identify just where they are]

Oct. 4 - A clear morning, proceeded at 6, passed thru the Crab Orchard at 9, halted at 1 for dinner, then went on a mile to Stanford [Lincoln County, Ky], waited 2 hours to have White's waggon wheels clamped, then drove 5 miles and took up. 19 1/2 miles.

Oct. 5 - Set off before sunrise, passed thru Danville [Boyle County, Ky] at 9, halted at half past 11 for dinner. Went on again at 1. Passed thru Haroldsburg at 3, went on till sunset and took up. 23 miles.

Oct. 6 - Started about sunrise, went on well, halted at 12 for dinner then went on. It began to rain about 2 and continued to rain thru the night, sometimes very hard. We found a cabin to lodge us. 20 miles.

Oct. 7 - A cloudy morning. Several showers fell last night. Moved on about 7, went on tolerable well tho the road was very slippery. Stopped at half past 12 for dinner then went on, passed through Shelbyville [Shelby Co, Ky] about 5, went 1 mile and took up, made 20 miles.

Oct. 8 - Another cloudy morning. Took up the line of march before sunrise, went on till half after 11 and fed, then went on, passed through Middletown [Jefferson County, Ky] at 3, took up for the night about 6. Some light showers fell today. Made 21 miles.

Oct. 9 - A clear morning. Made an early start, traveled 71/2 miles to Lewisville, staid in town till 11 oclock, then went to the river, it took from 1 to 3 oclock to take the waggons over, paid 2 dollars for each waggon ferriage. Then went on about 2 1/2 miles and took up. 14 miles. [Apparently crossing the Ohio River at Louisville, Ky - interesting this is the only place they mention staying in a town for awhile - no doubt they had to get in line to do the crossing]

Oct. 10 - Set off early went on tolerable well. Fed at 12, then went on, took up on Blue River [Washington County, Indiana], 22 miles. We have had a long fatigueing journey, but have stood it well, nothing more than a cold to complain of, we are in fine spirits and expect to reach Lick Creek [Orange County] tomorrow.

Oct. 11 - Crossed Blue River, went on well, took dinner at 11, then went on. Reached the place of destination before sunset and found the neighbors very unhealthy. Apply to Joel Dixon for particulars concerning the complaint. The expense of the journey from North Carolina to Lick Creek, Indiana is $81.00 including ferriage, bridge tolls, turn pike fees etc. [Indiana was very unhealthy for the settlers with a myriad of diseases - many caused by mosquitos that inhabited the swamp lands]

This with ease to Nathan Dixon and neighbors in general, Uncle George and Aunt Molly in particular./s/ George Rubottom

We have identified enough of the route to mark a map and post it if we can find a suitable background map that will cover the whole journey. Until then there is a Western Migration Route map on a Haworth Association Web Site that will give you an idea of the route. Paoli shown on the map is in Orange County, as is Lick Creek. For those interested in the Rubottom Genealogy there is a Rootsweb Rubottom Site. For those interested in the Dixon Genealogy there is a Dixon Web Site. An interesting item on the Dixon Web Site is that Simon Rubottom was a famous gunsmith of those days. There is always continuing disbelief that Quakers had guns, because of their well known pacifist beliefs; however, they certainly had to hunt to eat in the early days so guns are much more common than one might think!

Others who may have been on the Journey

Blue River Monthly Meeting had been set off from Lick Creek Monthly Meeting 1st day 7th month 1815 and since the wagon train crossed the Blue River we feel some of the certificates received at Blue River Meeting in this time period may have been from wagon train participants. It is interesting to note that a number of young men with North Carolina Quaker names were disowned at Blue River on 11/4/1815 and Lick Creek on 11/25/1815 for joining the militia. It seems possible the young men were anxious to join in the Indian Wars that were still going on in the area, and it also seems possible they were on the wagon train.
*Solomon and Ruth [Atkinson] Stout and son Osborne received a certificate at Cane Creek Monthly Meeting on 9/2/1815, the same day as the Rubottoms, and it was presented at Lick Creek the same day as theirs, 11/25/1815. John and Elizabeth Stout and family received a certificate on 9/2/1815 at Cane Creek as well.
*Elizabeth Gifford and children William, Jonathan, Pheby & Hester were received in membership at Lick Creek Monthly Meeting on 11/25/1815 [were they Quaker converts after being on the wagon train?]
*Simon and Ruth Dixon were granted a certificate to Lick Creek on 9/2/1815, the same day as the Rubottoms. Simon and Ruth were received by request at Cane Creek in 1812 and we do not know their connection (if any) to Nathan Dixon.
*Catharine Pickard presented a certificate at Lick Creek on 10/28/1815 which was prepared 8/26/1815 at Spring Monthly Meeting a few miles east of Cane Creek in Orange County, North Carolina.
*Robert Holaday and sons Jacob Henry and Robert (all adults), and Hannah Holaday and daughters Abigail, Mary, Deborah, Hannah, and Rebecca, also received certificates at Spring Monthly Meeting on 8/26/1815 and presented them at Lick Creek on 10/28/1815.
*John D. Hadley received a certificate at Cane Creek on 9/2/1815, the same day as the Rubottoms, but it was not presented at Lick Creek until 12/30/1815.
*Samuel Lindley presented a certificate at Lick Creek on 12/30/1815 but we find no corresponding certificate in North Carolina. Many Lindleys had arrived earlier at Lick Creek.
*Hannah Cosand, daughter of Aaron and Sarah, was received on 11/4/1815 at Blue River Monthly Meeting. Sarah had requested a certificate on 8/26/1815 at Back Creek Monthly Meeting, Randolph County.
*Samuel Price, was received on 11/4/1815 at Blue River from Back Creek Monthly Meeting.
*James and Sarah White and son Nathan were received on 11/4/1815 at Blue River on certificate granted 8/26/1815 at Back Creek Monthly Meeting.